Month: March 2016

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Is late March too early to call Dish Of The Year for 2016?  Because I think I have a winner.

At the very least, my version of Four and Twenty Blackbirds’ Salted Caramel Apple Pie will be Top Ten. I would love to think that over the course of the next nine months I could cook ten things that are better than this.  I just very much doubt it will happen. It’s THAT good!

Salted Caramel Apple Pie.   Even the words sound good together.   You know how when you first fall in love and you want to say the name of your beloved all the time?  That’s what I’ve been like all week, just walking around with my head full of “Mmmm…caramel…salted caramel…with apples…in a pie….salted caramel apple pie….oooohhhh  yyyyyeah”. And sometimes not only in my head. There’s been a few awkward moments when I’ve said some version of the above only to be met with a blank look and someone saying “Ok, sure…but what’s the time?” That’s how good this is.  It will send you into inner rhapsodies.  Which sometimes become outer rhapsodies. 

Salted Caramel Apple Pie6

It’s starting to get a bit colder here now, much more autumnal – and nothing quite says Autumn like an apple pie!  I pretty much used the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Recipe that you can find here for this.

However, I twisted it up a bit as follows:

  • I used Rhubarb Bitters instead of Agnostura Bitters in the filling – because I already had some and rhubarb and apple is a classic combo right?
  • The original recipe calls for four to six lemons.  I think this is waaaaaaayyyyy too many.  I used three and I feel my apple mixture was too wet.  I had to drain a lot of liquid off before I put the apples in the pie.  I would use two as a maximum and ideally, the minimum amount I needed to stop the apples from browning. 
  • I also used less nutmeg because I’m not overly fond of it and for my palate, a little of it goes a long way.
  • I used bought pastry – a sweet shortcrust pie shell for the base and puff pastry for the topping
  • I used less salt than the recipe specified because the fussiest eater in the world is not a fan of salt and sweet. 
  • I also swapped out the flour in the recipe for almond meal and used demerara sugar in the filling and sprinkled over the top of the pastry.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie3

To me, the salted caramel sauce is the star of this dish.  Without it, you have…apple pie. Tasty but ho-hum.  With it – with the caramel sauce taken to the edge –  so you get a hint of bitterness, then a flood of sweet then a kick of salt in the finish – you have a taste sensation!

Having said that, the spiced apples had a lovely flavour! 

Salted Caramel Apple Pie5

This was the first time I had ever latticed a pie and it shows.  My lattice was quite uneven.  Or, as we shall be calling it henceforth – rustic! 

Here is a guide on how to do it properly!

How to Make A Lattice Pie Crust

 

Salted Caramel Apple Pie8This was soooo good!  We ate it plain and also with cream and some of the leftover caramel sauce.  It would be DIVINE with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

Salted Caramel Apple Pie10

The leftover sauce can be used over ice cream or other desserts and will keep in the fridge for a week or so.  I am combining it with chocolate mousse and raspberries for a recipe from our latest Tasty Reads book which I hope will be as amazing as this. 

Salted Caramel Apple Pie
Best Apple Pie Ever. That is all.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 sweet pie crust
  2. 1 1/2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed and cut into even strips
Salted Caramel Sauce
  1. 1 cup white sugar
  2. 1/4 cup water
  3. 113g unsalted butter (1 stick)
  4. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  5. 1/2-1 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
Apple Filling
  1. 4-6 medium to large apples,
  2. 2 lemons
  3. 1/3 cup demerara sugar
  4. 2 tbsp almond meal
  5. 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  6. 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  7. 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  8. 4-6 dashes Rhubarb bitters
To Assemble
  1. 1 egg beaten
  2. Demerara sugar to sprinkle
The Salted Caramel Sauce
  1. Cook the sugar and water together over low heat until just dissolved.
  2. Add the butter and bring to a slow boil.
  3. Continue cooking until the mixture turns a deep golden brown, almost copper colour.
  4. (Keep an eye on it, it can turn from under done to burnt very quickly.)
  5. Once it is the coppery colour, remove from the heat and add the heavy cream. Be careful as the mixture will bubble and steam.
  6. Whisk the mixture over a low heat and add the salt.
  7. Set aside.
Apple Filling
  1. Juice the lemons into a large bowl. Add the bitters. Core, peel and thinly slice the apples - a mandoline is perfect for this. Place the apples in the mixing bowl, ensuring each slice is dipped in the lemon juice to prevent browning.
  2. In a large measuring cup combine the sugar, almond meal, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Pour over the apples in the mixing bowl. Use your hands to gently mix and coat the apple slices in this mixture.
To Assemble the Pie
  1. Preheat your oven to 190-200C (375-400F).
  2. Place 1/3 of the apples into the sweet shortcrust pie shell, ensuring that the base is well covered and there are minimal gaps.
  3. Pour 1/4 of the caramel over the apples.
  4. Repeat with the caramel and apples twice.
  5. Assemble the lattice crust from puff pastry.
  6. Brush the crust with beaten egg.
  7. Sprinkle with demerara sugar.
  8. Place the pie on a baking paper lined baking sheet (to protect your oven if the caramel bubbles over).
  9. Reduce the oven temperature to 165C / 335F and bake 25-35 minutes or until the apples are just done when tested with a skewer.
  10. Allow to cool. Serve with the remaining sauce, cream or ice cream.
  11. Enjoy!
Adapted from Four And Twenty Blackbirds Salted Caramel Apple pie
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
Meantime I have pie to eat so, have a wonderful week!

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The Black-Eyed Susan

“I am the star of screaming headlines and campfire ghost stories. 

I am one of the four Black-Eyed Susans. 

The lucky one”

Black Eyed Susan 1

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin is the story of Tessa Cartwright.  As a teenager, she was abducted and left for dead in a field of Black-Eyed Susan flowers along with other dead and dying girls. They become collectively known as the Black-Eyed Susans.  Tessa is the only survivor.

Now, in her thirties, the man accused of the crime, the man whom Tessa’s testimony helped put away is facing death row.  And Tessa is having doubts about his guilt.  And if he’s innocent, then the real killer is still out there….

Black Eyed Susan 2
I came to this book in two ways. 

It was one of the selections we had for our Crime /Thriller month in bookclub along with Maestra (the one we chose), The Method (which I am currently reading) and The Ex (which I just bought as I noticed it was super cheap as I was getting the link).

Then, the  very next day after we had made our choice,  Heather who writes the blog Meta’s Meals wrote a very positive review of Black-Eyed Susans on Goodreads and I promptly decided that it was going to the top of my reading list!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Black Eyed Susan’s. It was very suspenseful and the plot was original which is a really hard thing to do in crime fiction. I only hope Maestra which is our book club choice is half as good.  Mind you, last year we chose Girl on The Train which…urrggghhhh…I cannot even tell you how much I hated that book. 

But this one’s good.  And it has a gorgeous cover!

Black -Eyed Susans

Whilst reading The Black-Eyed Susans, I discovered that there is a cocktail called the Black-Eyed Susan.  It is the official drink of the Preakness Stakes Horse race which is run in Baltimore each year as the winning horse is draped in a blanket made of these flowers. 

This was delicious.  I love pineapple juice and St Germain in cocktails so there was no way I wasn’t going to like this.  The lime juice gave it a nice little kick of tanginess too!

The Black-Eyed Susan also got the thumbs up from resident bon vivant F Scott. 

Black Eyed Susan 3Oh, and before anyone complains, I know the flowers I have used in my photos are not Black-Eyed Susans.  I am not even sure if they grow here, or, if they did when they would flower.  Anyhoo, the gerberas were the closest (only) thing my local florist had that came close!

Here’s the recipe.  Why not make one and have a sip whilst reading the book!

Black Eyed Susan
A delicious refreshing pineapple and citrus cocktail with a hint of Elderflower.
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Ingredients
  1. 45ml Vodka (The Preakness recommend Finlandia)
  2. 15ml St Germain
  3. 60ml pineapple juice
  4. 7.5 ml lime juice
  5. 22.5ml orange juice
To Garnish
  1. Orange Slice
  2. Amarena cherry
Instructions
  1. Combine all the drink ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Shake, baby, shake.
  3. Pour over ice into a Collins glass
  4. Garnish with an orange slice and an Amarena cherry
Notes
  1. I used Amarena cherries for this because their darker colour looked more like a black eye than a Maraschino.
Adapted from www.preakness.com
Adapted from www.preakness.com
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
 Thank you Heather for the recommendation.  If anyone else would  like super book recommendations from Heather, why not follow her, or me on Goodreads!

Have a wonderful Easter!

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Lamb Kebabs Without A Herbed Sauce

The original name of this recipe in The A-Z of Cooking is lamb kebabs with herbed sauce.  Except I needed a bowl to make the salad and in a moment of madness threw out the marinade so I could wash and reuse the bowl it was in. 

About ten minutes later I went to make the sauce…”Hmmm…better get started on that sau…..oh….oh….” The marinade which is the basis for the sauce…oh, who am I kidding, it is the sauce, heated up was at the bottom of my bin bag and now covered in onion skins, an empty can of cannellini beans and other detritus.  Oops. 

There was no yogurt to make some more and really, any sauce/ marinade I had made in the moment would have also lacked the lambiness that would have come from marinating those chops for a good 24 hours. 

Lamb Kebabs

Despite the lack of sauce, the chops had sat in the herby marinade for ages and I made not one but two of Sabrina Ghayour’s Salads from Persiana to go with the kebabs and they both had heaps of herbs, so I’m calling “H is for Herbs” done.  It’s just a shame I made these before the start of the Persiana Project so these will not count towards my numbers.

These lamb kebabs are delish!!!.  I used lamb chops instead of diced lamb because that’s what I had.  I also really wanted the meat to stay tender and I thought that rendering the fat off the chops as they cooked would do that.  Combined with the marinade, this worked a treat.  Even though they were fairly big chunks of meat the chops were incredibly juicy and tender.

Lamb Kebabs2The lamb kebabs were a colourful, fun meal and quick to cook and so pretty with all the different vegetable colours. I will definitely make these again. And maybe even make the sauce next time – I’ll keep you posted!

Lamb Kebabs3 The veg I used were mushrooms, red onion, red peppers out of a jar, cherry tomatoes and green olives because that was what I had on hand.  Zucchini would be nice here or eggplant or tiny par boiled potatoes – really whatever veggies you like could be used!

The marinade / sauce contained tomato juice which seemed weird to me.  I would have normally used tomato paste. 

And with the lamb kebabs we are done with H in the A-Z of Cooking! There was also H is for Home Baking but I already made the brioche here.

Here’s the recipe for the lamb kebabs, I would love to know if you make these with the sauce!

Lamb Kebabs 1970

The two salads I made from  Persiana were:

Turkish White Bean Salad

Tomato Salad With Pomegranate Molasses (PS,this links to an awesome blog which you should all be reading)

Have a wonderful week!

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The Dishiest Dish – Rhubarb, Rose and Passionfruit Sorbet

 We are having a lovely spurt of late summer…OMG, it’s autumn now….warm weather, just perfect for enjoying this delicious rhubarb, rose and passionfruit sorbet.

Rhubarb, Rose and Passionfruit SorbetLet’s talk about it shall we?

  • It’s fruity, tangy and not too sweet so incredibly refreshing on a hot day.
  • It is the most glorious shade of pink.
  • The passionfruit and rose water make it smell like a summer garden.
  • It has a  Rhubarb Almond Shard
  • And is sprinkled with Rhubarb Crumble Dust
  • And for the cherry on the top, it’s got…well…a cherry on the top.

I based this recipe on the Rhubarb and Rose Sorbet in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage, Light and Easy which was my selection when we did a stint on Celebrity Chefs for Tasty Reads. I usually find Hugh very engaging, hence choosing the book, however I admit I have struggled with it a bit.  I’m all for dairy and wheat free however it just seemed like a bit of a chore, not to mention expense to have to buy new ingredients for just about every dish – this one has buckwheat flour, that one had chestnut flour, the other had chickpea flour.  Never even mind the expense.  Who has the space?

But I pretty much had everything for the sorbet, except the rhubarb already.  I also had a little passionfruit left over from the Valentine’s Day Soufflé so I popped that in as well. 

Rhubarb, Rose and Passionfruit Sorbet26 Week Challenges

These have been a bit of a disaster.  I downloaded an update to my phone weekend before last. And it killed it.  #epicfailnexus5  The phone would no longer read the sim card.  So after spending the weekend trying every fix available on Google on Monday I got a new sim card, even though I kind of already knew it wasn’t the sim card.  On Tuesday the phone went in for a service.  Then there was a WEEK of daily calls of “Is it fixed?  “Is it fixed? Is it fixed?”  Then after seven days they said “Oh, we now know it’s not hardware, it’s software” and they got a “I KNOW IT’S NOT HARDWARE I TOLD YOU IT WASN’T HARDWARE ONE WEEK AGO.  YOU HAVE SPENT A WEEK WASTING MY TIME AND YOUR TIME. JUST PUT IT BACK TO WHAT IT WAS BEFORE THE UPDATE” And an hour later it was fixed.  Seriously I hate being such a bitch to service people.  But really.  A week.

A week where, I was without my meditation app and my flexibility app.  So they fell by the wayside.  I downloaded some mediation podcasts to my ipod.  Which promptly broke. 

Oh and my car wouldn’t start this morning.

Technology hates me. 

On the more positive side, my March resolution of 6 weeks without Candy Crush is going amazingly well! 

Silver linings!

I’m starting a new challenge today:

The Persiana Project

As of now, I have 32 dishes left to cook from the very many I marked as “Want To Cook” in Persiana.  Sabrina Ghayour’s new book comes out in 50 days.  Technically, I can cook them all between now and then.  Realistically, it is unlikely however, to raise the stakes, I have made a deal with myself not to by Sirocco until I have cooked the 32.  And I REALLY want that new book.

We’re going to be eating a LOT of Middle Eastern Food over the next few weeks.   I can’t wait!

Reading

The Shut Eye – Belinda Bauer

Loved it – a great thriller about a missing child and a suspect psychic.

When We Were Invincible – Jonathan Harnisch

I feel really bad about saying that I am not enjoying this because it seems quite ungrateful seeing as I got it for free off Net Galley.  But I am half way through and I ‘m really struggling.  The plot…what there is of it….revolves around a teenager who suffers from Tourette’s and his life at an elite prep school.  I’m finding it all bit too stream of consciousness-y; with not nearly enough context for me to be able to enjoy the story.

Ummmm….let me think of some positives….

  • It’s very likely a very real description of being in the head of someone who is mentally ill. 
  • It’s short. 
  • I love the cover.

Watching

I watched the movie Compliance and it totally ooked me out.  Seriously, watching it made me feel dirty.  Several times I wanted to turn it off  because it was painful to watch. Having said that I would actually recommend it.  But be warned it is TOUGH going.  It will also make you question every person who ever calls you on the phone.  Not a bad thing really seeing as it is based on true. 

Then I watched The Breakfast Club.  Damn, I love that movie!  And it made everything all right with the world again.   And I spent about three days walking around singing “Hey, hey, hey, hey….”

I’m still not trusting anyone who calls me who is not on my speed dial though.

Cooking

I haven’t been cooking much as I have been working all the hours!  I have been living on toast or things from the freezer.  Hopefully things will slow down soon because next week I have marked out to cook:

  • Margaret Fulton’s Quail in Vine Leaves with Muscat Grapes
  • Sabrina Ghayour’s Safavid style beef pastries
  • Laurie Colwin’s Broccoli Salad

Ok, here’s the recipe for the Sorbet:

Rhubarb, Rose and Passionfruit Sorbet
A lovely light, refreshing sorbet, not too sweet with a glorious pink colour.
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Ingredients
  1. 750g rhubarb
  2. 75ml orange juice
  3. 75g passionfruit pulp
  4. 100g caster sugar
  5. up to 50g icing sugar
  6. up to 2 tsp rose water
  7. 100g passionfruit pulp
Rhubarb Crumble Dust & Almond Shard
  1. 18 Rhubarb Crumble boiled lollies (or any fruit flavoured boiled lollies)
  2. 100g flaked almonds
  3. Oil
To Serve
  1. Ice Cream Cones
  2. Maraschino Cherries
Instructions
  1. Trim the rhubarb and cut into 3-4cm lengths. Place in a large saucepan with the caster sugar and the orange juice.
  2. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until the rhubarb is completely soft. Puree in the pan until smooth.
  3. When cool, stir in the passionfruit.
  4. Taste and add the icing sugar as required.
  5. Stir in the rosewater. Start at about 1/4 teaspoon and add it gradually until you get your desired level of rosiness.
  6. Chill until cold and churn in an ice cream maker until soft set, then transfer to a freezer container and freeze until cold. Alternatively, pour the mixture into a freezer container and freeze for an hour. Then remove from the freezer and break up the frozen sides, pushing them into the softer centre. Return to the freezer and repeat every hour until the mixture is soft-set.
  7. Then let it freeze solid.
Rhubarb Crumble Dust
  1. Place the boiled lollies in your blender and grind into a powder.
  2. Remove a third of the mixture to sprinkle over the top of your sorbet as your dust.
Almond Shard
  1. Heat your oven to 180C
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper and lightly grease. I used coconut oil.
  3. Sprinkle the paper with the almonds, then with the remaining crushed lolly powder.
  4. Place in the oven until the lollies melt.
  5. Remove from the oven and all to cool.
  6. Break into shards
To Serve
  1. Place two scoops of sorbet into an ice cream cone.
  2. Sprinkle a teaspoon over the Rhubarb Crumble Dust over the icecream, stab with an Almond Shard and top with a cherry.
  3. Enjoy!
Adapted from River Cottage Light and Easy
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
Have a great week!  And let me know what you’ve been cooking, reading, watching! 

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History Happy Hour 1764 – The Leland Palmer

It’s baaaaacckkkk!

And what a way to bring it back, even if I do say so myself.  Today we a celebrating the 1764 birth of a British Lord, with a drink inspired by our favourite filicidal maniac!

Leland Palmer1Charles Grey, born 13 March 1764 was the Second Earl Grey and the Prime Minister of Britain from 1830 to 1834.  And yes, he is THE Earl Grey that gave the tea it’s name.

Earl Grey Tea, which is traditionally black tea flavoured with bergamot, is reputed to have been made for the Earl by a Chinese Mandarin to offset the taste of the dodgy water at the Earl’s ancestral home.

And today we are celebrating the Earl with my version of a drink named after Leland Palmer, which in turn is a twist on the Arnold Palmer.  I know, it’s like going down a rabbit hole isn’t it?

For those of you not of a certain age, Leland Palmer is a character from the tv show Twin Peaks.  He is the father of Laura Palmer and ****spoiler alert***** (if you can still have spoilers on something that is 25 years old) later revealed to have killed her whilst under the possession of an evil entity called Bob. 

The Leland Palmer cocktail is the creation of Daniel Boelte who was inspired to make it after being hungover at his girlfriend’s house and watching an episode of Twin Peaks.  The original Leland Palmer uses jasmine tea, whilst, in honour of the day, I used Earl Grey Tea –  as well as being Charles Grey’s Birthday, it’s also my wedding anniversary.  So I guess I can switch up my cocktails however I want. 

So, did my twist on the Leland Palmer result in unleashing a Bob of cocktail?  I am totally, utterly may be slightly biased but I think not.  This was delightful!

Leland Palmer 3

The bergamot in the Earl Grey combined beautifully with the fresh citrus and the limoncello.  The herby notes of the tea also works really well with the botanicals in the gin. 

The bitterness in the grapefruit and the tea is balanced by the sweetness of the honey and the limoncello with the lemon adding some zing. 

Leland Palmer 4

This is totally gorgeous.  Everything balances beautifully and you can add as much or little soda as you like depending on your needs.  We drank them quite long (ie with lots of soda) over a summer afternoon and it was perfection however I can also envisage drinking it with just a splash of soda in winter in colder months. 

Leland Palmer 2Happy Birthday Charles Grey, Happy wedding anniversary to me and the fussiest eater in the world, thank you Daniel Boelte for the original recipe and to Leland Palmer for inspiring you to make a drink.

Here’s the recipe!

Leland Palmer (My Way)
A delightfully well balanced and refreshing cocktail made from gin, l[imoncello and Earl Grey Tea
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup honey
  2. 3 cups freshly brewed Earl Grey Tea
  3. 3/4 cup gin (I used Hendricks)
  4. 3/4 cup limoncello*
  5. 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  6. 1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  7. Chilled club soda
  8. Ice cubes
  9. 6 lemon wheel (for garnish)
Instructions
  1. Stir the honey into the Earl Grey Tea, whilst it is still warm. Set aside to cool in fridge for a few hours.
  2. Mix honey tea mixture, gin, limoncello, grapefruit juice and lemon juice.
  3. Fill glasses with ice cubes
  4. Pour in the tea mixture.
  5. Top with chilled club soda to your taste. More for weaker drink, less for a stronger version. Mine was about 50/50.
  6. Garnish with a lemon wheel
Adapted from Daniel Boelte
Adapted from Daniel Boelte
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
 Have a wonderful week!

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