Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Apple Shortcake

Sometimes the old ones are the best ones. Old friends. Old jumpers completely soft from so many washes. Old jokes and old memories. Old films. Old recipes!DSC_0226This apple shortcake is a recipe from my Granny, which she had printed in a WI cookery book years ago. It was one of my Dad’s favourites when he was little – he even had it instead of a birthday cake one year. It is super simple to make, and a very good way of getting rid of a glut of apples from an apple tree. The shortcake is made of two thick layers of shortbread – so they go almost cakey in the middle – with a layer of sliced apple in the middle. Easy!DSC_0239The cake is very moreish and perfect for afternoon tea because it isn’t really heavy or rich like a big slice of layered cake. My Mum and I considered adding a drizzle of icing on top but it really doesn’t need it because you don’t really ice shortbread and the simple caster sugar topping works just deliciously :) I’ve got the original instructions below, but for the shortbread you can just bung all the ingredients in a food processer and pulse until they begin to come together. Also, be generous with the apple because I only used one but I think it was more medium than large and I could have used more. Hope you enjoy!
Apple Shortcake, from my Granny
Ingredients: 6oz plain flour
3oz ground rice
6oz margarine
3oz caster sugar
1 large/2 medium cooking apples, peeled and cored

Method: 1. Sieve together the flour and ground rice. Rub in the margarine and add the sugar.
2. Knead and press the mixture until it forms a smooth ball leaving the bowl clean.
3. Roll out half to fit a lined 7in cake tin. Add thinly sliced apple. Add other half of the shortbread.
4. Cook for 30-40mins at 160’C. Remove from the oven and scatter generously with caster sugar when cooled. DSC_0243

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Mini Pork Pies

I just don't get the jelly in pork pies.

The pork sausagemeat: obviously, yes, delicious. The pastry: thick, crunchy, preferably in generous amounts.The hard boiled egg: technically we're talking a Gala pie now but still very much acceptable and welcomed. The jelly? No. Not a fan. A strange added layer squeezed between the pork and pastry which I find slimy and tasteless and annoyingly time consuming to remove. Hence why I got rather excited when I saw Lorraine Pascale’s Pork Pies with Cider recipe – due to its total lack of jelly.DSCF8753I’m sure that to a lot of people a jelly free pork pie seems like sacrilege (and a jelly-free pork pie with a quails egg in the middle even more so) but stick with it. These are delicious. I made these with my friend E. (my fellow foodie friend and a savoury cooking genius) on a bake day. We had an immense day and have another day planned – involving duck dumplings! We didn’t have any cider for the pork pies so we used apple juice which worked very well as you could taste the sweetness this brought and made the meat mixture extra juicy. DSCF8755These were mini pies, so they were a bit time consuming to make, but really enjoyable and strangely relaxing! It was our first time making hot water pastry and although we found the bright white lard a bit strange, the pastry was very easy to work with. I’d also never used or even tried a quails egg before – they are so adorable!DSCF8743The end results were delicious. Whilst the recipe states it makes 8 pies, we ended up with 12 – a happy bonus. They would be perfect for a picnic or a delicious summer lunch with salad. The pies got our imaginations going and we are looking forward to making more variations on pork pies – spiced ones, herby ones, a large one in a loaf tin with a whole line of full eggs. So, maybe I just haven't tried a good enough jelly-included-pork pie yet. Perhaps it is a taste that grows with age. Until then, I'm more than happy eating these little guys instead. Enjoy!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Strawberry and Passion Fruit Meringue Roulade

So I’m back from my holiday! Whilst I recover from jet lag and organise my photos, here is a post I wrote earlier (Blue Peter styley). A few weeks ago, on a rare sunny London summers day, my Mum and I visited Books for Cooks in Portobello Market. Books for Cooks is – as the name just about suggests ;) – a bookshop containing pretty much every cookery book you could imagine. Sweet and savoury, old and new, American authors and English authors, books for every country’s cuisine. But not only is it a fabulous place to browse and discover new gorgeous books (whilst trying not to buy everything you see) the shop also has a tiny restaurant at the back. From Tuesday to Saturday the resident chef chooses a three course menu from different books in the shop. You don’t know what will be served until you get there and you have to turn up early in order to bag a highly coveted seat. The day I went, the menu was this…IMG-20110721-00339 The trip really gave me a chance to try new things that from a bigger menu it is unlikely I would choose. The soup was amazing. I’d never tried prawns and still found their texture a bit strange for me, but the actual soup broth was so unbelievably full of flavour. There was garlic, lemongrass, chilli, tomato, kaffir lime leaves, all manner of different sauces – it was incredible! I’m gutted I was too busy eating to photograph it. Next came the chicken – again IMG-20110721-00341delicious, bursting with flavour and different to what I normally eat. Then, the puddings. There were four cakes to choose from: Chocolate Caramel Pecan Cake, Elderflower and Lemon Cake, Raspberry and Almond Cake or Mango and Passion fruit Roulade. I went for the roulade and, yet again, was not disappointed. The meringue was crisp on the outside and marshmallowy on the outside and there was plenty of bright fresh fruit tucked inside. The best lunch I have had and will have in a long time! IMG-20110721-00349 Once home, I knew I wanted to recreate the pudding. I also want to attempt the fabulous soup – but am nervous it just won’t live up to the Books for Cooks version! I swapped the mango for strawberries because whilst I love mango I wanted to take advantage of some fresh English produce. On the way home from Portobello Market we passed a grocer selling large bowls of 12 passion fruit for just £1 – bargain! This meant I could be much more liberal with the number of passion fruit I used in the roulade which was great as I adore their sweet scent and tropical flavour (I think in the end I used 8-9). Meringue is so easy to make that I’ve vowed never to let a spare egg white go to waste again. Whilst the actual rolling of the roulade was a little tense, the finished product was delicious. I used this recipe, but used all cream (not cream and yoghurt) and added passion fruit. Enjoy!DSCF8729

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Gone to the beach!

I'm currently on holiday in America, hence why the blog has gone quiet. I'm having an amazing time - beautiful places, great weather, scrumptious food and lots of family time. America is so different to London - and England generally - so everything is really interesting for me here. I look forward to sharing the pictures and stories of my travels with you all when I get back! Until then - Happy summer holidays! :)