17 September, 2011

Easy cheesy horns

These are my version of croissants (although admittedly they have very little in common with the real thing), only healthier and very easy to make. I always make a huge batch for the freezer... And then another batch a couple of weeks later after the first one has magically disappeared.

Easy cheesy horns

3 1/2 dl plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
50g Flora Cuisine
2 dl Total 0% greek yoghurt (or similar)
mature cheddar cut into strips
(you could also add some ham)
1 egg
poppy or sesame seeds

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add the Flora and mix with your hand until crumbly. Add the greek yoghurt and mix into a dough. Divide the dough into two and put half aside. Roll the other half into a circle and cut it into eight sectors (like you would slice a pizza). Put some cheese (and ham if using)  into the widest end of the sector, roll towards the pointy end and lift onto a baking parchment. Repeat with the rest of the slices and the remaining dough. Once all of the horns have been rolled brush them with a beaten egg and decorate with seeds of your choice. Bake 225°C /10–15 mins. Serve warm.

16 September, 2011

What to do with crab apples?

As our apple harvest was somewhat small, I was hoping to find someone with a surplus and get some cooking apples for making preserves. I was in luck and found a lovely gentleman with a huge crab apple tree nearby. We were told to help ourselves to as many apples as we wanted and we were happy to oblige. We came back with a full bucket having barely made a dent in the tree!

I've never cooked with crab apples before, but I had a look in Pam the Jam's trusted preserve book the night before and decided that jelly would be the way to go. It turned out beautifully and made the whole house smell very Christmassy. Maybe I can convince myself to part with a jar or two for Christmas hampers. Or maybe it will get smeared on numerous pieces of toast well before it's time to start wrapping presents.

Spicy crab apple jelly

1 kg crab apples, washed and roughly chopped
600ml water
around 450g granulated sugar
a couple of cloves and cinnamon sticks

Place the apples and spices in a saucepan, pour over the water and bring to simmering point. Simmer until all the fruit is soft and remove from the heat. Pour the contents into a scalded jelly bag (I bought this one for the purpose) and leave to drip overnight at its own pace. If you squeeze it, the jelly will turn cloudy. The next day measure the juice and allow 450g sugar for every 600ml juice. Bring the juice slowly to the boil and add the sugar. Keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Then boil rapidly for 9-10 mins without stirring until setting point is reached. Skim, pour into sterilised jars and seal as quickly as possible. Use within 12 months.     

I had quite a lot of crab apples left after making the jelly, so I decided to use the rest for making fruit leathers. As the mush for the jelly was straining, I pushed a second batch of spiced mushy apples through a sieve and decided to add to the flavour by heating up a mixture of frozen berries. This too was pushed through a sieve (note to self: get a mouli for next year!) before mixing in with the pureed apple. For the leathers I followed this simple recipe.

Fruit leathers

spices such as cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, ginger
sugar or honey to taste

Wash your fruit and discard any damaged or bruised fruit. Chop roughly and add 1 cup of water for every 4 cups of fruit. Add your chosen spices and simmer until the fruit has softened. Rub the mushy fruit through a sieve or use a mouli and return the pulp to the pan. Taste and sweeten if necessary. Pour the mixture onto baking trays lined with baking paper and spread it out thinly. Leave them in the oven to dry for 4-8 hours/below 60°C at your lowest setting, preferably with the fan on and the door open. Alternatively you can leave them overnight in a dehydrator if you happen to own one. Keep the leathers in a tin at room temperature, rolled in baking paper (they will keep for a few weeks) or in the fridge in an airtight container (this way they will keep for months).

No need to buy any sweets for a while then, I'll quite happily munch these tangy strips until we run out!

Our first apple harvest

Our Discovery on the left, a shop bought Pink Lady on the right.

And the grand total of apples this year is... six! That's from all four potted trees; two per tree, not counting the naughty Cox's Orange Pippin which lived up to its reputation and refused to play. We had plenty of blossoms in the spring (and very pretty they were too), but as I was advised to limit the number of apples on the first year, I chopped all but two tiny apples off all the trees. Maybe it's for this reason (there was certainly enough room for growth) that all our apples have grown absolutely huge.

Our Fiesta on the left, a shop bought Discovery on the right.

We've left both of the James Grieves on the tree, so we've got one more tasting to come!