Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Best Ever Apple Pie





Sadly, I don't have memories of the smell of apple pie coming from my grand mother's kitchen. I have very little memory of my paternal grandmother. I know she had a blue budgerigar in a cage because I remember it biting my finger. Unfortunately my grandmother did not have good health and became blind in her eighties.   

But I do have great memories of my next door neighbour's fantastic apple trees.

My sister and I weren't allowed to hop over the fence and pinch the apples because the neighbours had a mad dog called Bryn. We were terrified of that dog and would never venture into their garden. 

But when our neighbour kindly gave us a few of the fallen apples, I knew it was time for mum to make an apple pie. And I watched as she made the pastry, peeled the apples, added sugar and turned that mountain of lush fruit into the most amazing dessert.


As a kid you don't really care if the pastry is bit rustic, in fact the more rustic the more mouth watering you know it will be and once that golden pastry was lifted from the oven, you couldn't wait until dinner time when you knew you would get a slice of that perfect pie, topped with ice cream or cream.

My favourite dessert as a kid was apple pie and rice pudding - oh that beautiful, slightly burnt, brown skin on the top of the rice and a hint of nutmeg and butter. 

Rhubarb and apple figured highly because dad grew heaps of rhubarb, so often Sunday roast was followed by rhubarb and custard. What was your favourite dessert?


There are so many delicious recipes on the web for rhubarb; spiced, roasted, devilled, tarts and I think you will find a couple on my blog, so there's plenty to choose from.


I don't make pies that often, but when I look over at the bowl of Granny Smith apples that I have just bought, I know it's time to recreate a little magic in my kitchen. Just like my mum did. 



APPLE PIE

Ingredients

700g prepared Granny Smith apples
250g plain flour
125g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon icing sugar
2 tablespoons iced water
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of cloves
2 tablespoons water
zest of a lemon
1 tablespoon milk

Prepare a pie plate by rubbing with melted butter, then place in fridge until ready to use.

Make the pastry by sifting flour, icing sugar and then rubbing the butter into the flour, either by hand or food processor. I prefer to do it by hand. Add enough water to bring it all together in a soft dough. Now cover in plastic and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

While the pastry is resting peel, core and chop apples, add to a saucepan with a little water, lemon zest, cinnamon stick and a pinch of cloves. Cook for around 10 minutes until they are slightly softened. No need to add any sugar. Remove from the pan and cool. 

While the apple is cooling , take pastry from fridge, divide in half and roll out to fit your prepared pie plate. Line your pie plate with one half of the pastry and add the apples, removing the cinnamon stick first.

Pile the apples in so you have a nice high pie. Wet the rim of the pastry edge with milk, ready to stick the top down.

Add the pastry lid and seal the edges by pressing them together. Cut off excess pastry. Brush the top of the pie with milk, making a couple of tiny cuts in the top of the pastry for the steam to escape.

Place in a pre heated moderate oven 180º/350F for around 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

Serve with cream, ice cream or just by itself.


















Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Bakewell Tart Slice



Sugar free is fine most of the time but occasionally I get the urge to have something sweet. I try fruit but it just doesn't do it, know what I mean?

Family members are getting restless, they haven't seen me rummaging in the cupboard for a cake tin and they keep checking the pantry to see if anything has been hidden.

I got the message! I thought a nice little slice sounded perfect. A Bakewell tart usually consists of a pastry base, lots of raspberry jam and a frangipane topping.




 I used a jar of Beerenberg Raspberry and Violet Jam, a gift from a friend and it is perfect for the jam layer. The violet just provides something a little more fragrant and a lovely vibrant colour. Technically you could use any jam you like but hey, I'm going with tradition today.


The sun is out and I've served these, fresh from the oven, on the deck in the sun! What a great way to enjoy a public holiday.


Bakewell Tart is traditionally English and as Southern Australia celebrates Queen Elizabeth's birthday this week, (actually it's pretty crazy because it isn't really her birthday) it is a rather fitting recipe to mark this occasion.



BAKEWELL TART SLICE

You will need a slice tray approximately 30 x 23cm or 12 x 9 in, lined with baking paper.

For the pastry layer
170g plain flour
75g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
iced water


For the frangipane layer
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
175 g self raising flour
100g caster sugar
1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 - 1 cup of raspberry jam
1 handful of flaked almonds


To make the pastry, combine sugar, softened butter and plain flour in a food processor. Add iced water, approx 1 - 2 tablespoons mixing to make a soft dough.
Press the dough into the bottom of the lined tray and bake in a moderate oven 180º/ 160 fan forced,  for 15 - 20 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

In a large bowl beat eggs and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Fold in flour, baking powder, almond meal, mixing to a medium batter.

On top of the pastry, spread the jam - be generous.

Now top with the frangipane mixture.

Sprinkle the top with flaked almonds and bake for a further 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and cool in the tin.

Once cool, cut into slices and serve. This is lovely served with cream or custard. Yum!




Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Greek Cheese Pastries - (I Quit Sugar - well nearly )



Got more than I bargained for when I decided to try and take sugar completely out of my diet. Massive headaches, migraines, blurred vision and nausea - but that was a long time ago. My doctor at the time told me I was too crazy; "get some fruit into your body and the pains will stop", he told me - and he was right of course.

But now there are new ways to quit sugar and I've realised that if I do it slowly and readjust some of my recipes, it may not be THAT bad. But I've got to thinking what drives us to eat such sweet meats? From what I've read it appears that once you start eating something sweet, the high you get from that tells your brain to eat more, so you get onto that vicious cycle - the more you eat, the more you want.

So I'm trying to do it bit by bit - yes I still have the occasional craving for a sweet treat and sorry Sarah Wilson I will continue to eat the odd fresh date, but I am trying to rid myself of the cakes, biscuits, ice cream, chocolate and hidden sugars in any packaged foods. I'll just have to go back to my kitchen and try out new ways of cooking without sugar or honey.  I hope you will stay with me for the journey.

So when I long for a piece of cake - I just dip into the Hummus instead! Bwahhhh!

Now these incredibly tasty pastries have no sugar, so I am happy to start with these. I've served them with a fresh Greek Salad (minus the Feta) and I think they make a delicious meal. Hope you enjoy them.

Anyone got cake recipes without sugar or honey???



GREEK CHEESE PASTRIES

Ingredients - Makes enough for 4 people

2 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 lemon, zested
1 tablespoon lemon juice
5 sheets filo pastry
200g feta cheese
250g cottage cheese
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1 egg beaten
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbls plain flour
grated nutmeg
1 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
2 tbls finely chopped coriander
Vegetable oil


Mix together feta and cottage cheese, yoghurt, egg, garlic, flour, grated nutmeg, lemon zest, juice and coriander. Keep a little coriander for serving.

Take 5 sheets of filo pastry and brush with melted butter.

Divide the mixture between the sheets of filo, spreading it on the long side of the rectangle of pastry. Leave enough at the ends to roll up, tucking in the sides.


Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

In a non stick fry pan heat oil and fry each pastry until nice and brown, turning over once. This will only take a few minutes. Now cut each one into 2 pieces and serve with a wedge of lemon and a sprinkling of chopped coriander.