Welcome to my new series: Alphabites. The idea is simple: each post will be about a different food, or something related to food that begins with the next letter of the alphabet. It’s just a way of bringing together lots of different things that I want to write about. And also to challenge me a bit to come up with ideas for some of the trickier letters, and to write a bit more regularly.
So, here goes.
A is for…Apples
I love the idea of ‘living off the land’, but given that I struggle to keep on top of mowing the lawn, and plants have yet to live long under my care, tending a vegetable patch is probably not an obvious calling for me right now. However, recently I have received an abundance of apples from trees of family members (family trees??), and even a few from a small apple tree in our garden. So I set about finding a variety of apple recipes and then got busy in the kitchen. Here’s what I made:
1 – Apple crisps
I made two batches of these – one worked really well and one didn’t. For the set that worked well I sliced the apple super thin, and laid the slices out on a lightly greased oven tray, and then sprinkled some cinnamon over them. I then cooked them for an hour at 160 degrees C (140 fan), turning them over every 15 minutes or so. The result was a lovely crisp apple snack.
The ones that didn’t work well I think I cut too thick and then didn’t cook for long enough so they didn’t become sufficiently crispy. They were nice to eat as a slice of apple but just tasted like a slice of apple, and wouldn’t last as long.
2 – Apple and blackberry crumbles
I also went blackberry picking (which involved walking about 10 metres from my house) and made a load of apple and blackberry crumbles – a few small ones in ramekins, and then a few more in freezer proof dishes which I’m hoping will defrost and be delicious later in the season. I used to make crumble a lot, but hadn’t done for a few years. I’ve never used a recipe for them but just made it by feel and taste and it always seems to come out pretty tasty. Incidentally I’m a big fan of crumble cold the next day too.
3 – Apple and oat muffins
I found this recipe on the calendar in my kitchen (The official Great British Bake Off 2015 Calendar apparently), having spent a while looking through the internet and not noticing the recipe that was staring me in the face several times a day. I’ve made a couple of batches and would definitely recommend them. Easy to make and really tasty. I can’t find the recipe online to link to so here it is:
For the topping:
50g porridge oats
50g demerara or caster sugar
50g plain flour
50g unsalted butter, at room temperture
For the base:
250g plain flour
175g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
zest of 1 medium lemon
150g unsalted butter, diced
2 medium eggs
1 large eating apple, cored and cut into small pieces (about 1cm)
1 – Heat oven to 190 degrees C. Make the crumble topping first: Put the oats, sugar and flour into a mixing bowl and combine with your hand. Cut the butter into pieces, add to the bowl and rub into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Set aside until needed.
2 – Now make the base: Put the oats, flour, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest into a bowl and mix together thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Gently melt the butter in the microwave (use 10 second bursts) and allow to cool. Beat the eggs and milk into a small bowl with a fork until just combined. Add the melted butter and the milk mixture to the flour mix in the bowl and stir gently until just combined – there’s no need to beat this mixture.
3 – Spoon the mixture into the 12 paper cups of the muffin tray so they are evenly filled. Top each with an equal amount of the chopped apple and gently press the pieces into the muffin mixture (they should remain visible). Cover with the crumble topping, dividing it equally among the muffins, and gently press down on the base.
4 – Place in the heated oven for 30 – 35 minutes until golden and just firm when gently pressed in the centre. Set the tray on a wire rack and cool for 3 – 4 minutes, then carefully lift the muffins out of the tray and on to the rack. Delicious warm, or cool over the next couple of days.
4 – Stewed apple
Very easy and a nice tasty dessert to have hot, or keep in the fridge, delicious with some low fat Greek yoghurt. Simply chop up the apples into small pieces, keeping the skin on, and put in a saucepan. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until you have a sauce consistency. Mine took about 45 minutes for 3 large apples.
5 – Apple flapjacks (or flapplejacks?!)
I used this recipe and they were pretty tasty. They came out a bit wet though, I think the apples weren’t dry enough, so if the apples you use are particularly wet then I suggest adding a few more oats to counteract that. The sunflower seeds were a nice touch. Similar to crumble, I used to make flapjack a lot and previously never used a recipe, so it was nice to have one to follow.
I also received a lot of rhubarb recently, and enjoyed making (and eating) rhubarb and lemon curd cake, and stewed rhubarb. But that doesn’t begin with ‘A’ so I can’t tell you any more about that here.