Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Shin of Beef Stew

I know what you're thinking.....why the hell are you posting this recipe now when the sun has finally starting shining?  The answer is that I'm on a mission to use everything in my freezer before buying anything else.  There are two reasons for this, 1) I'm skint and 2) my freezer really needs defrosting as it takes the strength of ten tigers to close the bloody drawers!  So I decided to start with the shin of beef whilst there's still a chill in the air. Hope you enjoy this one (even if it is next year before you get around to trying it!).

Shin of Beef Stew

Ingredients

2 Tbsp Rapeseed or Olive Oil
500g Shin of Beef
250ml Ale/Beer/Lager/Whatever is in the house!
1 Tbsp Rapeseed or Olive Oil
2 Onions, diced
2 Carrots, diced
2 Cloves of Garlic, diced
1 1/2 Tbsp Plain Flour
2 Bay Leaves
500g Mushrooms
Salt and Black Pepper

Method

1.  Pat the beef dry and season generously with salt and black pepper.  Heat the oil in a casserole dish on the hob until smoking hot then add the beef and fry until well-browned.  Remove to a bowl.
2.  Deglaze the pan by pouring in the ale and scraping all of the residue from the bottom of the pan.  Bring to the boil to cook off the alcohol.  Pour over the beef and place pan back on the hob over a low heat.
3.  Add the additional 1 tbsp of oil to the pan and add the onions and carrots and salt/pepper.  Place lid on and gently cook until onions are softened (around 8 mins).  Remove the lid, add the garlic and fry for a further 2 mins.
4.  Turn up the heat and add the flour, stirring all of the time until all of the vegetables are well coated.  Pour in the reserved beef and ale and add the stock and the bay leaves. Stirring continuously, bring to the boil making sure to scrape any residue from the bottom of the pan.
5.  Once to the boil, place the lid on and simmer on the lowest possible setting until the beef is meltingly tender (around 4 hours for me).  Give the stew a stir every now and again and skim any impurities from the top.  Around 30 minutes before it is ready, pop the mushrooms in.
6.  Serve with your choice of veg (I went for spring greens and roasted parsnips).

If you want to be a bit cheffy and make everything glossier and more powerful, feel free to do the following:
1)  Once the stew is finished, heat a pan until it is red hot.
2)  Use a slotted spoon to remove some beef and place in the red hot pan.  Add some sauce and bubble away until the beef is glossy and the sauce well-reduced.  Serve, remembering to charge a few extra quid for your now glossier beef!

This is such a simple dish and one which requires very little effort, yet it really packs a punch in terms of flavour.  Shin of beef is such a great cut of meat and it brings a great depth of flavour to the sauce.  Quick confession:  I went to the cupboard to retrieve the alcohol for the stew and discovered that I only had Stella Artois!  In it went and it was still bloody delicious so any beer snobs out there can stick that right up their.......!

Enjoy!

FoodandFrets

Monday, 10 March 2014

Onion Bhajias - The quest for perfect beer food!


Pretty much every time I see the sun I think of beer!  I love beer gardens, barbecues, anything that involves food, drink and sunshine.  The sun has been making some decent cameo appearances lately; add that to the anticipation of summer in a world cup year and it leads my simple mind to ponder food that suits a bottle of beer and a pair of sunglasses! (and inevitable footballing heartbreak!)

The onion bhaji is a truly great invention; not only is it spicy, but it is also deep-fried!  Only good things happen when food is allowed to be dunked into hot oil (although a trip to any of my local takeaway establishments would instantly disprove this theory!).  The problem with a lot of Bhajis though is that they are too big.  There isn't enough of that crisp coating and too much of an often stodgy interior.  When I first came across 'Bhajias' in the Christine Manfield book 'Tasting India', (such a beautiful book) I knew that they were the solution to the bhaji problem.  Only a tablespoon of the mixture is deep fried to give the perfect balance of textures which makes them a great contender for the ultimate bar snack! (Although to be fair, they contain no pork so they may always struggle to win that coveted title!).

Onion Bhajias

This recipe uses the basic ratios of the original recipe in Tasting India but I have made a few additions to the spicing to suit my tastes.

Ingredients
2 Red Onions, sliced into rings
3 Green Cardamom Pods, crushed and husks removed
3/4 tsp Coriander Seeds, crushed
Pinch of Dried Ginger
1 Green Chilli, finely diced
1/2 tsp Salt
100g Gram Flour
Oil for deep-frying

Method

1.  Combine the onions, spices, green chilli and salt in a bowl.
2.  Squeeze together to release moisture from the onions.
3.  Sprinkle over the flour and stir to combine.
4.  Add enough water to until it resembles a coleslaw type consistency, it should not look like a batter.
5.  Set deep fat fryer to 180C.  To fry, drop a tablespoon of the mixture into the oil and fry for 2 minutes until golden and crisp.  I did 4 or 5 at a time so the temperature of the oil didn't drop too much.  If you're preparing ahead as I was, you can get them all prepped and ready to go on a tray for last minute frying.

Prepping ahead is always best as it allows more drinking time with guests!

6.  Drain on kitchen roll and serve with dip of choice. ( I used yoghurt, shredded mint and lemon juice.)

I also served mine with a spiced fillet of lamb (unbelievable!) but I didn't measure the spices I used so will have to do it another day properly so I can post the recipe!  If you're curious it was a combination of ginger/garlic puree, garam masala, chilli powder, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, cumin, salt and black pepper.


These Bhajias are a bit special!  They are perfumed from the coriander and cardamom and slightly fiery from the green chilli.  They are so light that they almost feel good for you and you can easily forget the deep fat fryer was involved!  Oh, but don't forget the beer, enjoy!

FoodandFrets

Monday, 24 February 2014

Ham, Chorizo and Bean Broth


I can't quite believe I'm typing a blog post!  I haven't managed to publish a damn thing since November for a variety of reasons, mainly the endless list of illnesses that my 3 year old has contracted at nursery.  A list that includes the Norovirus (on more than one occasion), Conjunctivitis and Hand, Foot and Mouth which I had never even heard of before!  Naturally, these delights were passed around the family especially to little Sophie who is 9 months old.  Basically, I'm saying that I haven't slept for 3 months hence the lack of bloggery!

Anyway, hopefully between now and the next bout of pestilence I'll be able to resurrect this sadly neglected little blog.  Hope you haven't completely given up on me!

Here's a delicious and simple recipe which will keep you warm and give you the occasional glimpse of sunshine which will keep you going until the spring!

Ham, Chorizo and Bean Broth

I finally got around to cooking the other half of the ham joint (which had been in the freezer since Christmas) at the weekend and I was planning to make a Pea and Ham Soup.  However, when I left work today the sun was shining so brightly that I changed my mind to something which reflected both the sunshine and the never-ending search for warmth which is standard in the North East of England in February!  Hope you enjoy this one!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Red Onion, diced
1 Carrot, peeled and diced
1 Red Pepper, diced
100g Chorizo, skin removed and diced
150g Cooked Ham, diced
Pinch of Saffron
2 sprigs of Fresh Rosemary
2 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 Tin Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
Good splash of White Wine
650ml Stock (I used the stock from cooking the ham but veg or chicken would work as well)
Handful of Fresh Parsley, finely chopped

Method

1.  Heat olive oil in a saucepan and add the onion and carrot with a pinch of salt.  Gently soften with lid on for around 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove lid and increase heat a little and fry until onions are beginning to caramelise.
2.  Add the red pepper and chorizo and fry until coloured and the chorizo has released its oil.
3.  Add the ham, saffron, rosemary, beans and paprika and stir so the paprika evenly colours the ingredients.
4.  Add the wine and bring to the boil to cook out the alcohol.
5.  Add the stock, bring to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes until the carrots are cooked but still have a slight bite to them.
6.  Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.  Serve.


Woohoo, i'm back on the blogging horse!  Here's a few pics of the dishes that I had planned to blog about over the last 3 months but never got a chance!  Hopefully it won't be as long until my next post, fingers crossed!

FoodandFrets

Surf n Turf!
Turkey and Ham Pie (Christmas leftovers!)
Roast Loin of Pork with Focaccia
Butter Chicken



Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Roast Chicken Leg with Crispy Smoked Bacon and Sweetcorn Puree


Right, let's get back to writing some recipes!  This was a recipe of necessity in that I had 2 chicken legs which had to be used on the day and 2 corn on the cob on the verge of being past their best!  So this dish was born!  As ever, I was short on time so needed something that could be knocked up in under an hour but still wanted to make something that I really wanted to eat.

This is a simple recipe where almost everything gets stuck in the oven to roast whilst you make the puree and do last nights dishes!  Hope you enjoy it!

Roast Chicken Leg with Crispy Smoked Bacon and Sweetcorn Puree

I think I stole the technique for the puree from a Masterchef Australia Masterclass but I'm not entirely sure!  The quantities for the puree are approximate as I really just threw a lump of butter in the pan and later poured in enough milk to cover the corn but they should be about right!

Ingredients

2 Free Range Chicken Legs
4 Potatoes (peeled and diced)
2 Carrots (peeled and diced)
2 Cloves of Garlic
Fresh Rosemary and Thyme
2 Corn on the Cob
15g Butter
60ml Milk
4 rashers Smoked Streaky Bacon
Salt and Black Pepper

Method

1.  Preheat oven to 200C.  Pat the chicken legs dry and season generously with salt and a little cracked black pepper.  Place in a roasting tin with the diced vegetables, season the veg and then add a couple of sprigs of the rosemary and thyme.
2.  Peel a bit of skin off the garlic cloves and rub the garlic all over the chicken and the veg and then place on the chicken.  Generously pour over olive oil and place over a high heat on the hob just to get it started, then transfer to the oven for around 45 minutes, turning the veg occasionally to ensure an even roasting.


3.  Grate the corn using a box grater straight into a saucepan.  Add the butter and cook over a medium heat on the hob for 3 minutes.  Add the milk and simmer for 10 minutes until thick and soft.  Season with salt and puree in a blender.  Strain through a sieve, add a few picked thyme leaves and leave to one side until needed.
4.  After the chicken has been in the oven for around 30 minutes.  Place a sheet of greaseproof paper on a baking tray and place the streaky bacon on, cover with another sheet of greaseproof and weigh down with another tray or pan.  This helps to keep it flat.
5.  Place in the oven for 15 minutes or until crisp; your chicken should now also be ready.  Remove from the oven along with your chicken and veg.
6.  Gently reheat your puree and add to plate, followed by chicken, veg and top with streaky bacon.  Drizzle with a bit of the juices from the roasting tin and serve.

Can't take a photo to save my life!  The winter light doesn't help!



I was delighted with this one!  It's cheap, tasty and looks like you've gone to more effort than you really have!  The crispy saltiness of the chicken skin and bacon balance the sweet puree and roasted carrot.  It's comfort food; I think you'll like it!

FoodandFrets
P.S.  If you ever try any of my recipes I'd love to hear what you think. :-)



Saturday, 9 November 2013

The White Lead, Hebburn: Restaurant Review

I've lived in Hebburn all of my life and probably will for the rest of it!  It's home and I love the place for all of its faults!  One of the major faults is a lack of a decent place to eat. Your choices are dreadful pub food, Greggs, Dicksons, various lousy fish and chip shops or Chinese and Indian takeaways.  Until recently Hebburn had only one 'sitty-down' restaurant, Mambo's II; if you've been to Mambo's in South Shields you'll get the picture. Think Sambuca's (1 to 500 or however many they have now!), Uno's and Pinocchios in Newcastle or just think 99% of 'Italian' restaurants in the North East!  So we were delighted and excited to hear of the opening of Hebburn's newest (2nd!) sitty-down restaurant, The White Lead. (I even tried to score an invite to the opening night and failed miserably!)

However, I must admit that later when I realised it was a Sonnet 43 restaurant (part of the Tavistock group) I wasn't going to bother going at all.  I've been to The Rattler in South Shields and Tavistock Italia on the Quayside and, well, they weren't going to get a third chance!  However, a couple of factors changed my mind; proximity and the menu.

We were booked up for lunch at Blackfriars but were a bit anxious about how long it might take to get home if little Sophie (6 months old and still refusing a bottle!) decided she wanted her Mam!  So The White Lead had geography on its side.  Their menu also read very differently from the usual Tavistock fare; they offered rare breed pork and Grand Reserve beef.  I used to be a butcher and we stocked Grand Reserve beef so I was pleasantly surprised to see it on the menu.  Anyway, we decided it was worth a shot!

When we arrived it was clear they'd spent a bit of cash renovating the former Dougies Tavern but it does feel very self-conscious.  Old machinery props and books placed on window sills; Uncle Tom's Cabin on my sill clashing somewhat with the local/British theme they're aiming for and the Union Jack plastered across the entrance!  It's all a bit theme-park (bath tub as sink in toilets etc.) and slightly confused but pleasant enough to sit in nevertheless.

It was when the starters arrived that I knew I'd made a dreadful mistake! An oversized sprig of parsley is sometimes all you need to see to know that you're in trouble!


I'd gone for the rare breed pork belly with black pudding which came with a peppercorn 'jus' poured all over where the crackling should have been!  I'm not sure whether the chef did this to hide the fact that his crackling was crackless or if he just didn't think.  Needless to say the skin was inedible; this was a pity as the pork was good quality (reared by Charlie Hird, the son of Tavistock MD, Mark Hird) and the black pudding was decent enough.  The peppercorn sauce was unpleasant, overly acidic and offered nothing to lift the pork.  This was more an assembly of ingredients than a complete dish but would have been forgivable if that crackling had been crisp!

Mandy had decided on the chicken liver parfait (the joys of no longer being pregnant!) but the waitress checked and returned to tell us that they were waiting on it being delivered (no comment!).  Mandy went for the goat's cheese crostini instead which arrived with 'oversized sprig of parsley's' sister ingredient, the balsamic glaze (shudder!).

The red stuff in the ramekin was said to be chutney but was more like a salsa and the less said about the yellow stuff the better!

As the waitress (who was lovely) took our plates away she asked if everything was ok; I said that it was a pity the crackling wasn't crispy, she replied "ah I know, a bit of crackling is lovely isn't it?" and then left!  Oh well!

I don't really want to go into too much detail about the rest of the meal because I feel a bit like I'm shooting fish in a barrel!  Poor Mandy had ordered pork (3 little pigs) for main which included 'crispy pork belly', you can guess how that one turned out and was accompanied by over-cooked pork loin and dry pulled shoulder.

There's my parsley again!  What's that around the edge of the plate?  Don't say it!

I'd gone for the fisherman's basket (£16.95) which included prawns, sole, salmon and cod in a Sonnet 43 batter which tasted like a pretty standard batter with the addition of turmeric.  The fish was over-cooked and the chips were reminiscent of Hebburn's finest Indian takeaways, big, soft and greasy.


At £16.95 I could've had turbot and chips at Colman's in South Shields and still had change or 3 courses for £18 at Blackfriars in Newcastle!  I suppose that's why this isn't 'shooting fish in a barrel'; when a lunch bill passes the £60 mark (drinks inc.) you expect some value for money and decent cooking.  Any restaurant in Hebburn is going to have to be either cheap or good; The White Lead is neither.

You may be surprised to learn that we stayed for dessert!  We get out so rarely that we wanted to make the most of it!  The desserts were the best of a bad bunch.

I enjoyed my sticky toffee pudding (despite a pretty non-descript toffee sauce) with Beckleberry's ice cream and Mandy's chocolate brownie was ok but the damage had been done!  They were both garnished with a distant relative of 'oversized parsley and balsamic glaze', the lone strawberry/sprig of mint combo (insult to injury!).


  

So it is with deep sadness and regret that I inform you that Hebburn still has nowhere good to eat!  One day......

FoodandFrets

Saturday, 12 October 2013

All the world's a chain... Review: The Red House and The Ladhar Group

There are a lot of strong opinions regarding restaurant chains.  Some bloggers won't review them at all, some restaurant critics see them as easy bait; seemingly safer to lambast a faceless corporation than an independent trader.  I can understand this as it is a difficult position to pan an independent restaurant when the livelihoods of the owners are directly at stake.  However, this is problematic when it comes to integrity (not to mention the fact that I have eaten at several lousy independent restaurants based on these 'kind' reviews!).

The main issue with 'chain hating' is that on closer inspection there are few places that aren't part of one!  In this economic climate it is only possible to open a new venue if you have a lot of money to back you.  That money has to come from somewhere and often it comes from successful entrepreneurs who have achieved success and are looking to replicate it.  The Apartment group are a prime example of this (they operate As You Like It, Mr. Lynch, Baby Lynch, Madame Koos, Floritas, Nancy's Bordello) as are the Ladhar Group who operate The Red House on Newcastle Quayside.

If you're not familiar with the name Ladhar, you'll certainly be familiar with the places they have operated past and present:
Pleased to Meet You, Lady Grey's, Gotham Town, The Lounge, For Your Eyes Only & Blue Velvet (Lap dancing venues) Bar 42, Sinners, The Den, Hoko 10, Legends, Hop and Cleaver(soon to open).....I could go on!  Not to mention the fact that they have businesses located from Glasgow to Bournemouth; so maybe some of these places aren't quite as independent as they appear!

I don't really have a problem with this; it's not the romantic vision that I prefer but how often does that vision actually exist?  We all love the image of the passionate owner who pours their heart and soul into their restaurant or bar; living the dream and passing the business from generation to generation.  However, in reality this is a rarity.  What happens instead is astute business people spot gaps in the market and engineer a solution.  The Ladhar Group don't quite engineer solutions but they do spot trends very well.  Their new venture Hop and Cleaver is a prime example of this; it will capitalise on the current BBQ/Smokehouse trend.  However, if the product is good and the ethics are sound then we don't really mind.

So is the product any good? (We'll get to the ethics later).  We went to the Red House last Saturday afternoon.  I was slightly hungover and a plate of pie, mash and peas felt like the perfect cure (plus we couldn't get seated at The Bridge Tavern!).  These are the only options on the menu; you choose your pie, then your type of mash, then your peas and liquor (gravy to us in the north!).  The pies are really good (I had Steak), sourced from Amble Butchers.  The steak was tender and the gravy in the pie was satisfyingly thick and seasoned nicely with pepper.  The pastry had seen better days and had dried out (the black strip across the top suggests it was either overcooked or 'hot held' for rather too long!) but overall it was a good pie.  The 'buttery' mash was disappointing and lacked seasoning and most importantly butter!  The mushy peas were directly from a can without any further assistance!  They were served in a polystyrene cup which I'm assured by a Chef friend of mine is about speedy microwave service; portion them all up before service and then 'ping' your meal is ready!  This rang true with our experience as our meal for 3 arrived approximately 4 minutes after ordering!


The meals are £6.95 each which is a competitive price.  However, there was some confusion when I tried to order a pie without the mash, peas and liquor.  Initially the barman said it would be £2 less for just the pie but then doubted himself half way through ringing the order in and went to check with his manager.  When he returned he apologetically informed me that they had recently changed the rules and there was no longer a discount for ordering just a pie and it would be £6.95 with or without!  As you can imagine, I stubbornly asked for all the accompaniments even though I knew my son wouldn't eat them.(Principle!)

It's this type of inflexibility that generates ill-feeling toward chains and it's easy to understand why.  It's unjustifiable greed but I'm a bit more chilled these days than I used to be; a few years ago I would have just told them to cancel the order and walked out!

Although there were a fair few negatives in our visit we did enjoy it overall and it was a great way to see off the remnants of my hangover!  The pint of IPA and the Chilli Vinegar that I used to bring the mushy peas to life certainly helped! (although my wife wasn't happy that they didn't offer normal vinegar as well).  As we left we were thinking that the quality of the pie was probably worth giving the place another try.  However, since researching The Ladhar Group I'm sure I won't be back anytime soon. Here comes the ethics bit!

The Ladhar Group have quite a chequered past:

In 2011, Ladhar Leisure were fined £10000 and ordered to pay £4000 in costs after a 6 year old boy fractured his skull after falling through a gap in a staircase at The Lounge in Newcastle.  Ladhar were found guilty of failing to provide a suitable and sufficient side guard for the stairs and of failing to conduct adequate risk assessments.

In 2010 Ladhar Leisure were fined £2000 and ordered to pay £2093.85 in costs for selling watered down rum in their Billingham Arms Hotel.  In an initial inspection in 2009 the rum they were selling was found to contain 20% water; despite a warning, when the inspectors returned in January 2010 the rum was still 14% water, hence the high penalty.  Ladhar Leisure installed CCTV and implemented staff training to deal with the issue.

In 2009 Sinners bar in Newcastle was at the centre of controversy after displaying a sign offering free shots to women who flashed their breasts to bar staff.  Students from the University of Newcastle held protests outside the bar and Labour MP Denis MacShane described the bar as "wretched" in Parliament.  The Ladhar group stated that the directors of the company had no knowledge of the sign and had disciplined the member of staff responsible for displaying the sign.

In 2010 and again in 2012, the Inside Out Nightclub in Darlington was surrounded in controversy regarding an alleged ban on Armed Services personnel.  Marine Commando Stephen McCabe was refused entry in 2010 and then two years later, 6 members of the Military Police were prevented from entering by door staff who allegedly refused them after ascertaining they were part of the Armed Services following an ID check.  The Ladhar Group insist there was no ban on Armed Services personnel.

Perhaps the most worrying information to surface regarding Ladhar is concerning their care homes which fall under Crown Care (formerly Ladhar Healthcare).  They have had a number of warnings from the Quality Care Commission following routine inspections of their care homes.  Problems cited include the incorrect storage of medication (stored alongside urine samples) in Wallsend, failure to meet national standards in cleanliness and infection control and failing to assess risks, or to implement measures to protect against risks in Doncaster.  They are currently under a warning to make immediate improvements to their Flexible Support Options site in Pengarth, Morpeth for failing to meet national standards ensuring safe and suitable premises and safe, available and suitable equipment.

The other side of this story is that Ladhar provide hundreds of job to our region and operate some of the more attractive venues in town.  I like Lady Grey's and I've wanted to try Pleased to Meet You for a good while now.  I was looking forward to trying Hop and Cleaver when it opens but now I don't want to give this company any more of my money. (I've given them thousands over the years!)

In the title of this post I parodied the 'All the world's a stage' monologue from Shakespeare's As You Like It. That monologue ends with the words "sans taste, sans everything".  Does this sum up the Ladhar Group?  I'm not sure but what I am sure of is that I simply don't trust the Ladhar Group at this moment.

How do you feel having read this?  Would any of this information make you think twice about visiting the Ladhar Groups venues?

I have been unsuccessful in trying to contact the Ladhar Group regarding the issues raised in this post.  I did manage to contact John Munsey (Area Manager for Ladhar overseeing The Red House, Lady Grey's and Pleased to Meet You); I sent him a copy of this post but I have received no reply to date.

FoodandFrets

Sources of information in this post:
http://thecourieronline.co.uk/who-owns-newcastle/

http://www.newcastle-city-council.gov.uk/press.nsf/newsbyid/428EAE7A07BA001E80257838004AD660?opendocument

http://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/General-News/2k-fine-for-selling-watered-down-spirits

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/tyne/8008891.stm

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/9938320.Military_Police_refused_entry_to_nightclub/

http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/medicine-kept-next-urine-tyneside-1361872

http://www.cqc.org.uk/node/762392
















Monday, 30 September 2013

Spiced Apple Pie made with Soured Cream Pastry


A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be given a carrier bag full of apples from my brother-in law's mam's neighbour's tree!  They sat in the cupboard for longer than I'd anticipated but life's been pretty hectic recently (hence the lack of blogging!).  I got a few spare minutes on Friday and decided to stew them with some butter and sugar in order to preserve them until I had time to make either a pie or a crumble/cobbler; I didn't really know at this point but certainly didn't want them to go mouldy!

They then sat in my fridge for a further couple of days until Sunday afternoon when I got some unexpected free time after a very short trip to Willow Farm pub in Cramlington for lunch (don't ever go there, truly dreadful!).

I'd decided by this point that I wanted to make apple pie after seeing Maggie Beer on Masterchef Australia; she wasn't making her famous Soured Cream Pastry this time but every time I see her it makes me think of it!  I've made it in the past and it is delicious but ridiculously rich!  I decided to lessen the butter content from almost equal to the flour to the standard shortcrust ratio of half fat to flour.  Basically just replace water as the binding agent with soured cream, yum!

So here's my improvised Spiced Apple Pie completed over a number of days! (not by choice!)

Spiced Apple Pie

Ingredients

For the pastry:
250g Plain Flour
125g Butter
2 Tbsp Golden Caster Sugar
60g Soured Cream

For the filling:
570g Peeled, Cored and Diced Apples (random weight I know, but it's what I had!)
35g Butter
165g Molasses Sugar (I use Billington's, available in supermarkets.)
1 Cinnamon Stick
1/2 Star Anise
Couple of handfuls of Golden Sultanas
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
1 Egg Yolk for glazing
Golden Caster Sugar for sprinkling

Method

1.  For the Pastry:  Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Stir through the caster sugar.
2.  Add Soured Cream and stir until the mixture starts to come together as a dough. (It took 60g this time but it could alter depending on conditions.)  Gently bring together and rest in fridge for 30 minutes. (Obviously I didn't have time to rest it so just rolled it out immediately, tut!)
3.  Preheat oven to 200C with a sturdy baking tray inside.  For the filling:  Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the apples, molasses sugar and spices.  Bubble until the apples are softened but not cooked through.  Add sultanas and lemon zest/juice.  Bubble for a further minute.  Set aside to cool.
4.  Roll out your pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 2mm thick.  Use a cutter to cut the bases to the size of your muffin tray holes.  Line your muffin tray with the pastry circles pressing into the edges.


5.  Roll out remaining pastry and cut with a smaller cutter for the pie lids.
6.  Fill the bases with cooled filling almost to the top. Dampen edges of base with a little water.

Filling this full will result in leakage but who cares!

7.  Place lid on filling and press into base to seal, fold excess pastry back over the top of the seal. (You could crimp or use a fork if you prefer.)


8.  Brush with beaten egg yolk, sprinkle generously with golden caster sugar; cut a cross with the tip of a sharp knife to let the steam escape.
9.  Place muffin tray onto pre-heated baking tray and bake for 25 minutes until dark golden brown. (the pre-heated baking tray reduces the risk of a soggy bottom!)
10.  Allow to cool slightly in the tray before removing to a cooling rack.  Serve warm with your choice of Clotted Cream, Custard or Ice Cream or whatever you fancy!




These pies are truly delicious!  I was so pleased with them, especially as I made it up as I went along!  I'm usually a planner!  The pastry was beautifully short and melt in the mouth; the filling comforting with gentle spice, a deep caramel sweetness from the molasses sugar which was lifted by the acidity from the lemon and cooking apples.

This will be my 'go to' apple pie recipe from now on (and I've tried a few being a Food Tech/Catering Teacher!).  It's such a simple recipe, give it a go now that our wonderful British apples are in season.  Enjoy!

FoodandFrets