Blackberry and apple crumble

Bramble season in the Hebrides, much later than on the mainland. The blackberries we picked last weekend were sharp and flavourful, juicy and small. I’ve frozen some for making bramble jelly later, but I made a crumble for Malcolm, because he loves it. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 very large cooking apple 
  • around 200g blackberries
  • 1 tbsp date syrup or dark brown sugar
  • a pinch of cinnamon, or allspice
  • 90g butter
  • 180g self-raising flour
  • 90g sugar

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Make a crumble mix – rub the butter into the flour and then add the sugar. You can add porridge oats, ground nuts, use brown sugar, or add spices if you wish.
  • Peel and chop the cooking apple, and then combine with the blackberries and the date syrup and allspice (or other sugar, sweet spice). 
  • Put the fruit evenly in the bottom of an oven-proof dish, then cover with the crumble mix. 
  • Bake for around 30 minutes, then serve with custard or cream. 

Turkish candied pumpkin with tahini

We learned how to make this extraordinary dessert when we were on holiday in Istanbul. The first night we went out, I ordered this, thinking it looked really unusual, and then the next day, it was one of the dishes we prepared at our Cookistan cookery class. Our teacher explained that this was a dish invented at the end of the Ottoman empire, for the palace.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g peeled pumpkin cut into large cubes, about 2 inches across.
  • 450g granulated sugar,
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cloves
  • 100g tahini (about 7 tbsp)
  • chopped walnuts.

METHOD:

  • Place the pumpkin cubes into a large saucepan and cover with the sugar, and leave overnight.
  • Add a little water if required, so that the liquid in the pan reaches about half way up the pumpkin. Add the cloves and vanilla.
  • Put the lid on the pan and cook for 30 to 35 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft and absorbs all the water it initially released. Check regularly to ensure that the syrup doesn’t stick. Baste the pumpkin in the syrup.
  • Let it come to room temperature. This dish can be kept in the refrigerator.
  • Garnish with tahini and chopped walnuts to serve.

Plum pudding

We had wet cyclists staying so I fed them lots of hot food, followed by pudding. I made a steamed plum pudding from the Pudding Club Book

INGREDIENTS:

  • 120g caster sugar
  • 120g butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 180g self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp ground almonds
  • 1/4 tsp almond essence
  • 2 tbsp soft plum jam (you can use stewed plums, or apricot jam instead)

METHOD:

  • Grease a 1.7 litre pudding basin
  • Cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy
  • Add the beaten eggs a little at a time, with a little sifted flour
  • Fold in the remaining flour and the almonds and almond essence
  • Put the jam in the bottom of the pudding basin, and then add the pudding mixture
  • Cover securely and steam for 2 hours. 
  • Turn out and serve hot with custard, or cream, or ice-cream. 

St Emilion au Chocolat

I made this last night. We ate quite a lot of it today. It is very rich and most delicious. If you don’t have ratafia biscuits, you could use amaretti, or any other small almond biscuit.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 250g plain chocolate
  • 125g ratafia or amaretti biscuits
  • brandy
  • 150ml milk

METHOD:

  • cream the butter and the sugar together
  • beat the milk and egg-yolk together
  • melt the chocolate with a spoonful of water
  • Stir the melted chocolate into the mil mixture, and then beat this into the creamed butter and sugar.
  • In ramekins, put a layer of the chocolate mixture, then a biscuit and a teaspoon of brandy, and then another layer of chocolate.
  • Allow to set; store in the fridge.

The number of dishes is dependent on the size and number of ramekins – this is so rich that the smallest ramekins work the best.

Seville Orange Tart

This is a delicious tart, and a grand way of using the January supply of marmalade oranges. The juice is used to make a delicious orange curd that is baked in a pastry case. The recipe is from the Moro cookbook.

INGREDIENTS:

For the pastry shell:

  • 140g plain flour
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 75g chilled butter, chopped small
  • 1 egg yolk

For the curd filling:

  • 140g caster sugar
  • 170ml seville orange juice
  • 170g unsalted butter, chopped small
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 whole eggs
  • grated zest from one orange

METHOD:

  • To make the pastry case, sift the flour and icing sugar together, and then rub the butter into the mixture to fine bread-crumb texture
  • Add the egg yolk and mix until the mixture comes together – it will be quite stiff and dry. You may need to add a teaspoon or two of milk or water. Shape the pastry into a ball, wrap and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.
  • When you are ready, grate the pastry on a coarse grater, and press it evenly around the edges and base of a tart tin, to a thickness of around 3mm. Prick the base and rest the pastry case in the fridge for 30 minutes. Put the oven to 220C.
  • Bake the pastry shell in the top of the oven for 15 minutes – should be light brown. Remove and cool on a rack. Turn the oven up to 240C
  • Next, make the curd. Put all the curd ingredients into the top pan of a double boiler, and cook slowly, stirring until thick. The mixture will thicken quite suddenly, after about 15 minutes or more.
  • Spread the curd into the tart shell, and bake at 240C for 10 minutes until the surface starts to brown.
  • As soon as the tart is baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool before serving.

This is delicious served slightly warm, with something cool and creamy. Try beating 50/50 creme fraiche and mascarpone together.

Spiced port and wine sorbet

I made this one Christmas, but had to leave before it was served. I got rave reviews. Never made it since, but I think I will soon. Because of the alcohol, it is easy to serve and doesn’t go icy.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 175g sugar
  • 175ml water
  • 275ml red wine (such as a rioja)
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp ruby port
  • 1 egg white

METHOD:

  • Make a syrup. Add the sugar to the water, bring to boiling and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool and then chill in the fridge
  • Use a shredding tool or small knife to remove strips of zest from the orange and the lemon. Halve the fruit and squeeze out the juice.
  • Put the wine, spices, orange juice, lemon juice and zest in a saucepan, simmer for 5 minutes and then cool.
  • Once the wine is cold, add the port and put this in the fridge to chill
  • When the syrup and the wine are well chilled, add 225ml of the syrup into the wine mixture, and put this into an ice-cream machine and churn for 8 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, beat the egg whites with a whisk, until foamy, and add that to the ice-cream maker, and keep churning for another eight minutes.
  • Put the sorbet into a rectangular plastic box, and store in the freezer for up to a month.

If you don’t have an ice-cream machine, put the port and wine mixture in the freezer for a couple of hours, and then beat in the egg-whites, and return to the freezer. Take it out every hour or so for the next six hours, and give it a stir.

Nigella’s sticky toffee pudding

A friend told me about this recipe. She makes it gluten-free. You’ll need a 23 cm square baking dish. This should serve nine people. Serve with additional cream, or ice-cream, or clotted cream…

INGREDIENTS:

For the sponge:

  • 200g dried dates, chopped
  • 200ml freshly boiled water
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp black treacle
  • 50g dark muscovado sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150g plain flour (gluten free if you wish)
  • 2 tsp baking powder

For the sauce:

  • 150g unsalted butter at room temp, soft
  • 300g dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbsp black treacle
  • 200ml double cream

METHOD:

  • Heat the oven to 180C
  • Grease the dish
  • Make the sponge first. Put the chopped dates, boiling water and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl, stir and leave to stand for 10 minutes
  • Cream the butter and treacle together, then beat in the sugar. You could use a food mixer for this.
  • Beat in the eggs slowly a bit at a time, then gently mix in the flour and baking powder to make a smooth cake mixture.
  • Gently stir the dates, and then pour the whole lot, water and all, into the batter and gently mix in.
  • Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes.
  • MEANWHILE make the sauce. Melt the butter sugar and treacle over a very low heat in a heavy pan.
  • Once the butter is melted, stir gently until everything is melted, then stir in the cream and turn up the heat until it is bubbling hot.
  • As soon as the sponge is out of the oven, stab it with a knitting needle and pour about a quarter of the warm sauce over the pudding until the whole thing is covered with a sticky glaze
  • Leave the pudding to stand. Then take it to the table, warm but no longer dangerously hot. Serve with the sauce in a jug, and with cream or ice-cream.

Plum tarte tatin

I made this one Christmas, after a trial run at home. The trial run went better, my oven heats evenly and I know the sizes of my pans. On the day, in a rented house, it came out unevenly, but it was still delicious. This is a simple recipe that is worth rehearsing to get it right.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 large ripe plums, stoned, quartered, and chilled overnight
  • 60g butter
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 300g puff pastry

METHOD:

  • Put the plums into a dish lined with kitchen paper, cut side down, and chill overnight.
  • Turn the oven to 200C
  • Take a non-stick oven-proof pan, and cover the base with the butter, sliced, and the sugar. Next, put the plums in, cut side down, in a well-packed layer, and then sprinkle with cinnamon. Heat until the butter/sugar caramelises, gently agitating the pan and keeping a close eye. (An 8 inch dish would be fine) This doesn’t take long, five to ten minutes, and the caramel should be a lovely brown colour.
  • Next, roll out the pastry, cut to fit over the plums in the dish. Tuck the edges down over the plums to create an upside-down pastry case.
  • Bake for 15 minutes. If the pastry is not completely golden-brown and crisp, lower the heat to 180C and continue for up to another 10 minutes.

Turn the tarte out onto a serving dish, and serve with thick cream, mascarpone or ice-cream.

 

Poached pears with chocolate

We had poached pears with ice-cream and chocolate sauce tonight, inspiration from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 pears
  • 2 heaped tbsp caster sugar
  • a vanilla pod
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • ice-cream

METHOD:

  • Pour a litre of water into a large saucepan, add the sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and bring to the boil.
  • Meanwhile peel the pears, halve them and remove the cores with a teaspoon.
  • Add the pears to the boiling syrup, and poach for 15 minutes
  • Allow to cool in the syrup
  • To serve, take 200ml of the syrup, and boil this with the chocolate.
  • Serve the pears over the ice-cream with chocolate sauce poured over the top.

Apple and pecan pudding

For the person who left us some apples.

We came home to find a line of cooking apples marching across the kitchen table. Tonight we had apple and pecan pudding.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped small
  • 2 oz organic pecan nuts or walnuts, chopped
  • 4 oz organic dates, stoned and chopped
  • 4 oz self-raising flour, organic/wholemeal for preference
  • 4 oz fairtrade soft brown sugar
  • 1 oz melted butter
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 200C
  • Mix the flour with the chopped fruit and nuts, then add all the other ingredients and stir well
  • The mixture should be scraped into a greased 8 inch square baking dish, and baked for half an hour

We had this served with cream. The pudding had a wonderful mixture of flavours and textures.