This months Apple Pie Project goes to my home country, England. Although the apple pie is seen as an American symbol, in England it is an historic dish which has been eaten for centuries. The British apple pie also has many differences to it’s American counterpart. Instead of a super sweet filing, the English pie is more tart and sour with a hint of sweetness, using good old large cooking apples, such as the Bramley. This apple is a vibrant green, the size of a fist (or larger), sour and juicy. Once the Bramley apple has been cooked its keeps a more stable form, rather than turning mushy, being hailed the apple ‘King of Covent Garden’.
I have decided to use a very famous British cookery writers recipe to illustrate the quintessential English apple pie. Mrs Beeton produced a very famous Victorian book on how to run the perfect household, and within it holds a wonderful collection of recipes, with useful hints and tips. Her apple pie recipe is simple, straight to the point and flawless, which for me represents traditional English cookery at its best. I also recommend every cook to own the book. (^-^)
Looking at the market stall inspired me to to buy some lovely ruby red and emerald green rhubarb. I always remember as a child having rhubarb in crumbles, pies and with custard. The sour and sweet taste and the soft texture is enough to make my mouth water. I saw a recipe on television where Gizzi Erskine used rhubarb on top of a Pavlova.Sadly I could not find her recipe online, so I recreated my own version with a few twists, as an ode to February Cook of The Month. Erskine is a product of Nigella Lawson, a glamourous, cocktail dress wearing cook from England. Her food is quick, bright and unapologetic, as she kneads bread in stilettos. Mentioned in the latest issue of Vogue, she is tipped to be a rising star in the cookery world.
Ingredients: 5 eggs whites, salt, 500g caster sugar, 1tsp white vinegar, 2tsp corn flour, 500g rhubarb, 1tsp orange blossom, 400ml double cream, 50g icing sugar, 25ml cointreau.
Preheat the oven to 150C.
Firstly make the meringue base. Simply whisk the egg whites and a pinch of salt until white and thick and gradually whisk in 300g of sugar. Do this until you can form peaks, or even hold the bowl over your head. Now fold in the vinegar and corn flour until combined well. Place in the shape you want and put in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Leave to cool.
For the rhubarb, chop into think length way slices and mix with the rest of the sugar and the orange blossom. Lay on a tray and bake in the oven on 200C for 20 minutes. Once donn drain the syrup from the rhubarb and leave to cool.
When the meringue and rhubarb is cool it is time for the Chantilly cream. Take the double cream and whisk with the icing sugar and alcohol (you can use orange blossom if you wish). Once thick, pile on top of your meringue base followed by the rhubarb. Serve or chill for later. (^-^)
Since watching Gone with The Wind and reading Cold Mountain for the first time last year the American South has become an intriguing obsession, especially when it comes to food. I have never been to the south but the romantic descriptions of sweet tea, salt pork, red eye gravy and fried chicken skins makes my mouth water. So today i decided to bake something I have never tried or made before, Pecan Pie. First of all finding dark corn syrup in rainy Cambridge was my first mission, which i failed and had to settle for golden syrup, corn syrup can only be bought in the UK online or in specialist stores. I used a mixture of different recipes I have picked up and tried to create my own… which turned out not so bad. (^-^)
What You Need:
Pastry: 1 egg, 175g butter, 250g plain flour, 20g caster sugar, 1 tbsp water
Filling: 100g pecans, 50g butter, 3 large eggs, grind of salt, 250ml golden syrup, 25ml apricot brandy, 200g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 180c.
In a mixing bowl sieve the flour and rub in the butter to create bread crumbs, then stir in the sugar. Add the egg and water and combine with a round edged knife in cutting motions. Once into a ball, kneed lightly on a floured surface and refrigerate for 10mins. Then roll out the pastry to fit the case and refrigerate for a further 20mins.
For the filling, add the syrup, sugar and salt to a pan and melt down and boil. Set aside. Whisk three eggs in a heatproof bowl and pour in the slightly cooled mixture. Over a tray of boiling water place the bowl of mixture into the bath and stir vigourously making sure it is combined well, then adding the butter and brandy. Place the chopped pecans into the refrigerated pastry case and pour over the warm mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 45 mins or until dark brown. Then serve.
So here is what i made with my mincemeat filling from before. What a perfect traditional christmas treat. Especially served hot with brandy butter and a glass of baileys. Simply follow my mincemeat recipe, incase in any pastry type of your choice, glaze with a beaten egg, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 10-12 mins on 180C, eat warm or cold. Good for freezing and using when you want, or even leave a few out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
My Family sat down today to a lovely traditional pork roast dinner, which was lovely. So I decided to make a dessert for everyone. I was a bit dubious at the start as for starters when it comes to pastry making I feel a little devil is sitting on my shoulder watching me screw up, and secondly cooked bananas have never been my taste, ever since eating a tin foil wrapped hot banana with chocolate sauce on a very cold and wet camping trip with the Cub Scouts when I was a child. However, a new challenge is always good, and I will never perfect my pastry making skills unless I keep practising, and the result was not bad at all, but quite delicious!
What you Need:
Filling: 7 bananas, 100g of butter, 1/2 cup of water, 1tsp of mixed spice ( cinnamon, coriander and cloves), 2tsp vanilla extract, 1tablespoon of caster sugar. Syrup : 4 tsp butter (melted) 1/2 tsp of mixed spice
(For the pastry I followed a simple short-crust pastry recipe, which I let rest in the refrigerator for one hour and the rolled out and baked blind)
Preheat the oven to 180c
Simply, slice four bananas and add to a saucepan with the water, butter, vanilla, spices and sugar. On a low heat gently heat and watch the the butter melt and the bananas soften, until it forms a nice thick sauce. Set aside to cool. Then pour into the awaiting pastry case and even out with a spatula. With remaining bananas chop and arange on the top of the mixture. Place in the oven for 10mins.
Whilist in the oven prepare a light syrup with melted butter and mixed spice. Once the pie is heated take it out and pour over the syrup and spinkle the top of the tart with sugar. Pop the tart under a hot gril for 2-3mins, or until golden brown.
Serve hot with a dollop of fresh cream. (^-^)