Apple and walnut crumble

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

You cannot go wrong with an über buttery sweet dessert. Adding fruit makes it vaguely healthy, even…

Apple and walnut crumble (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday)

Ingredients 

For the filling

  • 100g roasted walnuts
  • 1.25kg apples, peeled, cored and finely sliced
  • 50-100g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

For the crumble

  • 225g plain flour
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 200g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 150g caster, granulated or soft brown sugar
  • 75g medium oatmeal
  • 100g grounded almonds (optional)

Method

Scatter the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in an oven preheated to 180C for about 5-7 minutes, giving them a shake halfway through, until just beginning to colour and develop aroma. Leave to cool, then chop very roughly.

To prepare the crumble, you can your own hands or use a food processor, at it fits better. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingers (or pulse briefly in the processor) until the mixture resembles course crumbs.

Stir in the sugar, oatmeal and ground almonds, if using. If you prefer to have a chunky crumble, squeeze a few handfuls in your fist to make lumps

Put the apples in a large bowl, sprinkle over the sugar, to taste. Add the walnuts and the cinnamon, if using, and mix roughly. Spread in a pie dish or other ovenproof dish, getting the fruit as compact as you can.

Scatter the crumble over the apples in a fairly even layer and bake for 40-45 minutes, until browned on top.

Serve hot, with cream, custard or ice cream; or, once it is cold, serve it with  a thick, rich yoghurt.


Mango lassi

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sweet and rich: the perfect drink to start off a brunch. And dead easy to do…  Choose thinnish full fat natural yoghurt for best results.

Mango lassi (adapted from The Food Network)

Ingredients 

  • 500g of full fat plain yoghurt
  • 500 mL milk
  • 1 ripe mango.
  • Sugar to taste
  • Groung cardamom to taste
  • Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend for 5 minutes.

Method

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and blend it for about 5min. Adjust the sugar if necessary. Poor into individual glasses and serve.


Mixed berries quick jam

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I always associated jam making with huge undertakings, which would take days,  if not weeks, to complete. Nothing a single girl could make – and eat – on her own. But, slowly by slowly, I start noticing quick jam recipes, with relatively small size. Like this one, which can be done in less than 1 hour, with almost no fuss what so ever.  I have to add I am not a great fan of super sugary food, but this is the kind of thing you can add to your yoghurt for a sweet treat…  (Not that may) calories definitely worthwhile taking.

Berry Quick Jam (adapted from theKitchn)

Ingredients

  • 350g fresh raspberries
  • 250g fresh blackberries
  • 250g fresh strawberries, hulled and thickly sliced
  • 200g raw cane sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Method

In a large bowl, combine the berries and sugar, and let them macerate for about 10 minutes, or until the sugar has begun to dissolve into the fruit.

Transfer the berries to a heavy pot and bring to boil over a medium heat. Add the salt, lemon zest and lemon juice and reduce the heat to medium-low.

Allow the berries to gently simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the fruit breaks down and the mixture starts to cook down, thickening slightly. When almost done, the jam will still be loose, but should coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Remove the jam from the heat and pour into a clean glass jars,  cap them and allow it to cool completely.


Poached pears with ginger, chilli pepper and star anise

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I saw it on TV, I did it and I ate it… well, with a bit of help from the mobile calorie intake units. It is just the perfect dessert – it is glamorous, delicious and can be made in advance. There is not much technique to it, except, maybe, peeling the pears. And, it might be the healthiest part of dinner, even…

Poached pears with ginger, red chilli pepper and star anise (adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Home Cooking) 

Ingredients

  •  8-10 ripe conference pears, peeled but with the stem intact
  • 200g of sugar
  • 3 thumbs of ginger, cut into thick slices (about 20cm)
  • 4 star anise, crushed to fine powder with a mortar and pestle
  • 3 peperoncino (or red chillies peppers, to taste)
  • Enough cold water to cover the pears.

Method

Peel the pears with a potato peeler, taking care to leave the stems intact.

Put the water, the sugar and the ginger in a saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer until the sugar is dissolved.

Add the pears and peperoncino and poach for about half hour until their are soft and cooked through.

Set aside and leave the pears to cool in the syrup.

When you are ready to serve, just put the pears in the plate and sprinkle them with the star anise dust.

If you want, you can bubble the syrup for a a few more minutes to thicken a bit and serve with the pears. Or, you can prepare a chocolate sauce (just melt the chocolate in bain marie, with a bit of butter, being careful not to boil it. Add some cream and mix well). Add a pinch of cayenne pepper for an extra quick.


Roasted chicken, fennel and mandarines

yotam orange fennel chicken roast ok ok

A not so good picture for a great dish.

Roasted chicken, fennel and mandarines (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi‘s Jerusalem)

Ingredients 

  • 100ml pernod (or other anisaldehyde licor)
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 3 tbs lemon juice
  • 3 tbs orange juice
  • 2 tsp grain mustard
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, sliced into wedges
  • 1 free range chicken, divided into 8 (see here for help)
  • 3 mandarins, unpeeled, sliced horizontally into 1 cm slices
  • a good few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • salt and pepper

Method

In a dish combine the first 6 ingredients and mix well. Add the chicken, fennel, mandarins and thyme and let marinate for a few hours. If you’re not super organised (which I wasn’t) you can skip the marinating and just jump straight into the cooking.

Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Transfer the chicken, fennel and all its marinade into an oven proof roasting tray large enough for everything to sit in a single layer. Making sure the chicken is skin side up. Place the tray in the oven and roast for 35-45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked, and its skin is crispy and golden.


Roasted sweet potatoes and fresh figs in a reduction of balsamic

roasted sweetpotatos with figues and a reduction of balsamic

Apparently, it is one of the most popular Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes – and rightly so…. A few tweaks to the recipe, though. Onions were replaced by leeks as one of the mobile calorie intake units guests is allergic to it. Fresh figs were replaced my dried ones, due to sourcing and budgetary constraints. Probably not the dish Yotam envisioned, but still… it is a pretty good way to start your Autumn.

Roasted sweet potatoes and fresh figs in a reduction of balsamic (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi‘Jerusalem)

Ingredients

  • 4 small sweet potatoes (1 kg in total)
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 40ml balsamic vinegar (you can use a commercial rather than a premium aged grade)
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 3 leeks  halved lengthways and cut into thin slices
  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 250g of dried figs, sliced
  • Maldon sea salt and black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 240oC/220oC Fan/Gas Mark 9.

Wash the sweet potatoes, halve them lengthways and then cut each again similarly into three long wedges. Mix with three tablespoons of the olive oil, two teaspoons of salt and some black pepper. Spread the wedges out on a baking sheet, skin-side down, and cook for about 25 minutes until soft but not mushy. Remove from the oven and leave to cool down.

To make a balsamic reduction, place the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 2–4 minutes, or until it thickens. Be sure to remove the pan from the heat when the vinegar is still runnier than honey; it will continue to thicken as it cools.

Stir in a drop of water before serving if it does become too thick to drizzle. Arrange the sweet potatoes on a serving platter.

Heat the remaining oil in a medium saucepan and add the spring onions and chilli. Fry on a medium heat for 4–5 minutes, stirring often, making sure not to burn the chilli, and then spoon the oil, onions and chilli over the sweet potatoes.

Dot the figs among the wedges and then drizzle over the balsamic reduction. Serve at room temperature.


Lemon pudding cake with berries

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To keep up with the spirit of seasonal cooking,  a lemon pudding cake with raspberries… Only one word to describe this: yum. Too bad soon enough berries will be gone from the supermarket…

Lemon pudding cake with berries  (adapted from Bill Granger‘s Easy)

Ingredients

  • Enough berries to cover the bottom of a tray (about 250g)
  • 75g of plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch sea salt
  • 300mL buttermilk
  • 125g unsalted butter (melted and cooled down)
  • 3 eggs separated
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

Method

Preheat the stove to 180oC

Grease a 750mL to 1L baking dish. Make sure this dish fit fits larger tray, so you can have a bain marie. Scatter the berries over the base of the greased dish, making sure the whole surface is covered

Combine in a large bowl the flour, baking powder and pinch of salt.

In another bowl, lightly whisk together the melted butter,  the buttermilk, the yolks, the sugar and the lemon zest.

Stir into the flour mixtures

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks forms

With a metal spoon, fold in the batter half of the egg whites until well incorporated. Then, fold in the remaining half.

Spread the batter over the berries in the baking dish.

Put the baking dish in the large baking tray. Poor boiling water in the larger dish until it reaches halfway up the sides, creating a main marie.

Transfer to the stove for about 45m to 1h, until it starts to get fluffy and golden (it should be cakey on the top and soft in the middle).

Let it cool for a bit and serve.