Thursday, September 08, 2011

An Apple a Day...

A week or so ago we seemed to be knee deep in courgettes, now - due to the gales - we have the same glut of (fallen) apples. So today will be putting up apple recipes in the hope to come up with good uses for them.

Thanks to Cheesepare for comment. Sprouting spuds should produce enough new ones for around Christmas. If grown in sacks they can be brought indoors to a cool area (porch?) to keep on growing to get larger ones in the earlier months of next year.

The winds have subsided for the moment, but raindrops are on the window in front of me. If you have time Urbanfarmgirl, get those spuds planted today/tomorrow as the forecast is for high winds and worsening weather this coming weekend.

Not sure if you are a new commenteer Polly, if so welcome, if you have written before, then welcome back. I've not seen Jamie Oliver's prog mentioned as am always writing my blog at that time. Maybe can catch up with it on iPlayer.
Pleased you enjoyed 'Have a Goode Year'. Nowadays every festivity seems so commercialised that all we seem to do is pay for things that are not at all necessary to enjoy the good times. In the book hoped to show that practically everything can be home-made from things we already have. Also, if we bring more 'days of celebration' back into our lives we then have more to look forward to. Children particularly enjoy that.
Almost every day is a 'Saint's Day', and many saints have a special food or dish that is eaten on their day. None of these expensive at all, so worth bringing back the idea so that we have a good reason to celebrate a special day by eating something that probably will cost less than the meal we might normally have planned.

We've probably got our own favourite ways of using apples, but as this is the season where we start making preserves to put on our shelves, here are a few recipe you may not have yet come across. Many use ingredients we may also have (green tomatoes, rose-hips etc), other ingredients can come from the larder.
As most of the recipes are old ones, the weights are in imperials, not the metrics. But then as many readers are old enough to have used the imps. in the past, hope this will come as some relief (in any case not that difficult to convert from one to t'other, I just feel lazy today).
When sieving apples best to use a nylon sieve and a wooden spoon as metal tends to cause the fruit to discolour.

Due to our bad summer, most of us who grow tomatoes will find they have many green ones hanging on the vine. Either cut the whole string up and hang them in a sunny window, or place green tomatoes with red ones (they will then ripen over time) or use them in this recipe. This can be eaten either as a 'relish' (with cheese, meat etc) or as a sharp jam (on toast etc).
Green Tomato and Apple Jam: makes about 5 lb
2 lb green tomatoes
2 lb cooking apples
2.5 lb granulated sugar
4 tblsp vinegar
4 tblsp water
Thinly slice the tomatoes. Peel core and chop the apples. Put tomatoes, apples and the rest of the ingredients into a preserving pan, give a good stir then leave for 2 - 4 days until it becomes a syrupy mess. Place over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then raise the heat and boil rapidly until setting point is reached.
Pot up into hot sterilized jars, and cover. Keep for at least a month before eating.

If you have climbing roses in your garden, then don't deadhead - leave the 'hips' to form and use for this jam. The old-fashioned roses are best for hips. The wild roses that scramble over hedgerows have the best ones - so you might be able to gather some whilst out picking blackberries and elderberries.
Apple and Rosehip Jam: makes about 4 lb
2 lb apples
2 lb rosehips
3 pints water
2 lb sugar
Wash the hips well and put into a pan with the water. Simmer for a couple of hours, then put into a jelly bag (or sieve lined with muslin) and leave to strain overnight. Next day peel, core and slice the apples, put in a preserving pan with the rose-hip liquid and cook until pulped. Stir in the sugar and heat gently until dissolved, then raise the heat and rapid-boil until setting point is reached. Pot up in the usual way.

A good sized knob of root ginger is worth keeping in the freezer as part can be used as in this recipe, or - for other dishes - can be grated whilst still frozen (the skin usually hangs down and can be removed when grating), then replacing the rest (in a bag) to use at other times. Myself always keep a large coffee jar full of cubes of crystallized ginger (useful for many dishes), and together - with apples they make this next jam.
Apple and Ginger Jam: makes about 5 lb
3 lb apples
1 oz piece of root ginger
1 pint water
juice of 1 lemon
3 lb granulated sugar
4 oz crystallized ginger, chopped
Peel, core and chop the apples. Put the apple peelings and cores in a piece of muslin along with the piece of root ginger that has been 'bruised' (hash it with a rolling pin).
Put the prepared apples, water, lemon juice and muslin bag into a preserving pan and cook until the apples are tender, then remove the bag, squeezing it gently to extract as much pectin as possible. Add the sugar an
chopped crystallized ginger, give a stir then heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then raise the heat and boil rapidly until setting point has been reached. Pot up in the usual way.

This next recipe is for a type of sweet (not a dessert, more a fruit pastille), and again made with apples. For small children best to leave out the nuts, but as these do have nutritive value, worth leaving them in for older children/adults to enjoy.
Nut-apple Jellies: makes 1lb 8 oz
2 lb sound cooking apples
half pint water
granulated sugar
gelatine crystals
lemon juice
4 oz chopped nuts
icing sugar
Without removing peel and core, slice the apples and and put in a pan with the water. Simmer until the apples are cooked, then rub them through a nylon sieve. Put the pulp in a pan and boil until reduced and quite thick, then measure. To each pint allow 1 lb granulated sugar, 1 1/2 oz gelatine crystals, and 2 tsp lemon juice, plus 1 tblsp water.
Put the sugar in the pan with the apple puree and boil, stirring, until a teaspoonful dropped into cold water holds its shape (called 'soft ball'). Meanwhile mix the gelatine, juice and water together until the gelatine has dissolved, then - when the apples are at soft ball stage - fold the gelatine mixture in, finally stirring in the chopped nuts. Pour into an oiled tin and allow to set. Cut into small shapes and roll in sifted icing sugar.

Next recipe is for scones. As with most scones, best eaten whilst fresh and still warm from the oven, but these can be reheated in the microwave for a few seconds. Probably would freeze well (then thaw before reheating).
Apple Scone: makes 1 round = 8 wedges
1 cooking apple
8 oz plain flour
good pinch salt
3 tsp baking powder
2 oz butter
2 oz caster sugar
approx. quarter pint/5 fl oz milk
1 oz demerara sugar
Peel the apple, remove core and coarsely grate the flesh. Sieve together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Rub in the butter until like breadcrumbs, then add the sugar and apple. Mix to a soft but not sticky dough with as much milk as needed, then roll out on a floured board to an 8" round. Place on a greased baking sheet, brushing the top with milk, then sprinkle over the demerara sugar.
Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with butter.

Fruit butters and fruit 'cheeses' are traditional country preserves, usually made only when there is a glut of fruit as a large quantity ends up with only a comparatively small amount. Use a fruit butter as you would jam, but don't store it too long (and keeps longer in the fridge). Fruit cheeses are usually served with meats.
Apple Butter:
3 lb cooking apples (or crab apples or both)
scant 2 pints water (or half cider, half water)
bare teaspoon cinnamon
half tsp ground cloves
12 oz sugar to each pint of puree
Wash and chop the fruit (incl peel and cores). Put in a pan with the water and simmer until really soft and pulpy. Rub through a fine sieve and measure the puree. Return this to the pan with the spices and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then boil GENTLY until thick and creamy in consistency, stirring often to prevent sticking. The finishing point is determined by the consistency rather than by set/temperature. It needs to be thick but semi-set so that it can be spread. Pot into sterilized small jam jars or pots, and cover as for jam. Serve spread - like jam - on scones etc.
apple cheese: made the same way as apple butter, but use 1 lb sugar to each 1 lb puree, and cook until so thick that a spoon drawn across the bottom of the pan leaves a clean path. To pot up the 'cheese', brush the insides of small clean (wide-mouthed) jars or pots with olive oil (this enables the 'cheese' to turn out easily) then pour in the cheese. Cover as for jam and store for 3 - 4 months before using as the flavour develops over time. Turned out onto a plate and serve sliced as an accompaniment to meat, poultry and game.
savoury apple cheese: prepare apples as for apple cheese, but just before it is ready add either 4 tblsp of chopped mint leaves, or 4 tblsp chopped sage leaves. Both are excellent served with hot or cold lamb and pork.

Although most of us grow geraniums for their large bright flowers (their true name being 'pelagonium'), there are several varieties that have very small flowers but beautifully scented leaves. Although this recipe just says ''geranium leaves" - and maybe this means the 'true' geranium and not necessarily scented, possibly ordinary leaves would suffice, but myself would used the scented variety as these are often used for flavouring when cooking, so if you have one with an aroma that goes well with apples, then why not make this jelly.
Worth knowing that when using a fruit that sets well (such as apples, currants or gooseberries) the strained fruit can be put back into a pan with half the original amount of water, boiled up and then strained again. The two liquids can then be mixed, and measure the total amount to work out how much sugar is needed.
This way we get the most out of the fruit. Alternatively, the strained fruit (soft fruits, not apple because of the peel) might be able to be then used - with a little sugar to sweeten - as a pie filling. Or add to other fruits to make jam.
Apple Geranium Jelly: makes about 4 lb
4 lb cooking apples
12 scented geranium leaves
2 pints water
No need to peel or core apples, just wash and then chop up. Wash the leaves, removing any imperfections, then put apples and leaves into a preserving pan with the water and simmer to a pulp. Put into a jelly bag and leave to strain overnight (longer if you wish but never longer than 24 hours). Measure juice and allow 1 lb sugar to each pint. Cook over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then rapid-boil until setting point is reached, skim and pot up in the usual way. Serve with hot savoury dishes.

With Hallow'een only a few weeks away, worth making some of these to offer children that come knocking at the door. Just make sure they know the difference in case any have a nut allergy. Best made the day of giving.
Peanut Toffee Apples:
6 medium size ripe eating apples
8 oz granulated sugar
2 oz peanut butter
6 skewers or sticks
Wash and dry the apples, but leave intact (do not peel or core). Remove stalks and in their place insert a stick. Liberally butter a large plate and at the side place a bowl of cold water.
Put the sugar and peanut butter into a pan over low heat, and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil - stirring all the time - and cook for a few minutes until a little of the mixture dropped into a cup of cold water sets - it should make a slight crackling sound as it drops in.
When this happens, dip each apple into the cold water, then into the boiling syrup, then back again into the cold water. Stand upright on the buttered plate and leave to set. Wrap each in cellophane or cling-film to hand to children.

Final recipe today is one of the delights that can never be bought over the counter as these really must be eaten whilst still very fresh, in other words straight from the frying pan. This alone makes them very special.
Apple Cakes: makes 8 - 10
a good 4 oz (125g) self-raising flour
pinch of salt
a bare 3 oz (7og) butter, cut into small cubes
2 oz (50g) demerara sugar
1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and grated
approx 2 tblsp milk
caster sugar for dusting

Start by putting a dry frying pan (or bakestone/girdle) over low to medium heat. This gives it time to heat through completely and evenly.
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, the rub in the butter until fine crumbs (or whizz in a food processor), then stir in the sugar and the grated apple with enough milk to make a mixture that can be gathered into a ball of soft and fairly moist dough. Knead very gently to ensure the flour is well mixed in.
Place dough on a floured surface and roll out to about 1/4" (5mm) thick. Using a scone cutter ( not more than 3" (7.5cm) wide cut into rounds. Gather up surplus and re-roll to make more.
Smear a little butter onto the now hot pan and cook the 'cakes' in batches, for about 4 - 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. Lift onto a wire rack, dust with caster sugar and serve a.s.a.p.

Beloved has picked up as many fallen apples as he can find (still plenty lost in the undergrowth at the back of the tree no doubt), all seem to be a bit 'maggoty', or pecked by birds. Hopefully those still left on the tree are less damaged and if so should be able to be stored for some weeks before use. They are 'cookers', but smaller than Bramleys with a red flush to one side.
B also picked some of the pears which are now on the conservatory table in the hope they will ripen as the sun (what sun?) shines on them. With only a few tomatoes left on the vines in the greenhouse, think I may also pick those in the hope they will ripen indoors, then I won't have to keep remembering to go in and water the plants. No point if they have given up growing more fruits. Previous years (and in a larger greenhouse) have had much larger tomato crops, think this year - from what readers say - its been a bad year for tomatoes, so not necessarily my fault.

Beloved was out last night at a distant meeting, so decided to eat on his way home. Decided to bake myself another jacket potato (in the microwave) which I ate with baked beans and tuna. At least it filled a gap, and - having eaten it at lunch time - was filling enough for me not to want to eat anything else the rest of the day. That's the good thing about potatoes eaten in their skins - they are very 'filling'. In fact I love eating the 'jacket' skins so much (with a little butter of course) that I could eat just those and leave the 'innards' to mash up for another dish another day.

Definitely today has to be spent mainly in the kitchen for still have loads of things that need making. A beef casserole OR beef curry (as have defrosted the stewing meat so have to make something with it). That fruit cake must be made today. Probably gingerbread as well. Then there are at least SOME of the fallen apples that need today to be made into a crumble or pie. So had better leave you now and start working.

The sky is getting darker, the rain is now falling again, the wind has returned and for once am almost pleased there are no windows in our kitchen to look outside (the only windows being in the conservatory at the open but far end of our L shaped kitchen). When at the sink I face a tiled wall, ditto at the hob. At the kitchen table I look across the square part of the room onto a plain wall, but at least on that is a small set of shelves holding my spice jars and some savoury sauces (Tabasco, Worcestershire, soy etc). With the larder door open (back of the table on the right) with the light on in can see several full shelves, and that is almost as good as looking through a window on a fine day. At least to me it is.
On a day like this have to have the ceiling lights on to enable me to see what I'm doing, unfortunately these are 12 small 'inset' lights that continually seem to need replacing. B had to put 8 new ones in yesterday. Bet these cost more to run than a central light, and unfortunately all have to be on at the same time, even though we normally only need the ones over the table area. If not 'working' at the table, we can manage (even at night) with the fluorescent lights under the cupboards that are over the wall units. Even the hob has its own light fixed to the extractor fan.cover above. That's more than we had at Leeds where our kitchen was lit (in the day) by two windows (east and south facing), and two big florescent lights in the ceiling. But however much it lacked in amenities, how I loved that kitchen and how much I miss it you will never know.

Will be back again tomorrow, and hope to see you then.