Like me you might have missed my seasonal apples recipes last month as the issue of Waitrose Weekend they appeared in was only in store for a day or two. So here they are or you can find them I recommend all three as we move properly into winter. There’s an easy one pan chicken dish using my favourite chicken thighs – best for flavour, a lovely sticky toffee apple baked sponge pud and a Dutch apple tart with an easy pastry that you just press into the tin. And a lovely new layout for my recipes 🙂 Thank you, Waitrose – they look fab.
Thousands of apple varieties are grown around the world. Here in Britain our own temperate climate, with its mix of cold, hot, wet and dry (all very much in evidence this year!), allows us to grow some of the very finest here at home. At Brogdale in Kent, home of the national apple collection, they have over 2,000 varieties alone and apples have been developed to enable us to eat top quality locally grown fruit for a much longer season. But it’s here in October that the English apple is for me, as a cook, at its peak.
As I get back in the kitchen after our incredible summer, the choice of apples with all their versatility of use, has me salivating with anticipation. Crisp or yielding, tart or perfumed, I can enjoy my apple(s) a day in dishes both savoury and sweet. The secret is to choose one, depending on what you want it to bring to the dish. Some cook to a froth, others stay whole but tender all the way through. You don’t need toalways use a cooker such as the ever-reliable Bramley so feel free to swap to a desert apple and see what a difference your choice makes to the results.
Dutch apple tart
Versions of this apple tart are still made at home or eaten in cafes across the Netherlands, with every mother claiming her recipes to be the best. The pastry is the secret – buttery and short, you can press and shape it into the pan, and it cooks like shortbread.This tart works with any apple – the resulting tart will just be different
Makes one 26cm tart/ Prepare 20 minute/Cook 50 minutes
600g tart eating apples, such as Granny Smiths, peeled, cored and diced
30g caster sugar
grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
100g mixed raisins
1 tsp cinnamon
For the dough
300g plain flour
220g unsalted butter, at cool roomtemperature, cubed30g light muscovado sugar
1 Preheat the oven to 180˚C, Gas 4. Mix together all the ingredients for the filling andset aside. Sift the flour into a bowl then add sugar and butter then mix and cut with the blades of two kitchen knives to break the butter into little pieces the size of raisins. Knead quickly and lightly in the bowl to bring together to form a smooth dough
2 Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to a circle about 10cm larger than the base of a 26cm spring-release tin. Cut a circle to fit the base from the middle and use to line the base. Use the rest of the pastry to line thesides, pushing into place and pinching and pressing the bottom edge where it joins the base to create a seal. Leave the pastry with a rough edge.
Baked chicken with apples, parsnips, kale and bay
3 Spoon the filling over the base and make it level. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes until thepastry is golden brown and the filling is tender. Serve warm or cold in slices with thick cream or vanilla ice cream.
I love dishes where everything goes in one pan without too much effort and comes out tasting wonderful. This is one of those. You can use any chicken joint – boned skinless thigh fillets or breasts work as well, just cook for a little less time. I like using thighs with the bone in for more flavour and the crisp skin
Serves 2 Prepare 10 minutes Cook 1 hour
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into wedges
1 eating apple such as a Cox, peeled, cored and thickly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thickly sliced
4 free-range chicken thighs
6 fresh bay leaves
150ml chicken stock
200g shredded kale
1 Preheat the oven to 220C gas Mark 6. Place the parsnips in a deep roasting tin and scatter with the oil. Cook in the hot oven for 10 – 12 minutes until starting to brown.
2 Reduce the oven temperature to190C gas mark 5. Add the apple to the tin with the garlic and plenty of seasoning and mix with the parsnips to coat in oil. Season the chicken thighs and tuck amongst the parsnips and apples in a single layer. Tuck the bay leavesin between and pour over the chicken stock.
3 Bake for 40 minutes then scatter the kale over the top, baste with the juices and return to the oven for a further 5 – 10 minutes until the parsnips and kale are tender and the chicken is golden and cooked through. Serve on warm plates.
Toffee apple, blackberry and walnut pudding
A good old-fashioned sponge pud, this one really does what it says on the tin. It’s comforting and tasty and goes down a treat with lashings of vanilla custard at the end of family Sunday lunch after a long bracing walk through the autumn landscape
Serves 6 Prepare 15 minutes Cook 50 minutes
175g soft light brown sugar
1 tsp ground mixed spice
150g fresh blackberries
2 small or 1 large Bramley apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
grated rind and juice of 1 orange
1 large free-range egg, beaten
175g self-raising flour
50g walnut pieces, finely chopped
1 Preheat the oven to 180C gas Mark4. Place 50g each of butter and sugar in a pan with the spice and heat gently until melted together. Bring to the boil and stir over a high heat for minute. Stir in the chopped apple and the blackberries. Leave to cool.
2 Beat the remaining butter and sugar together until pale and light. Beat in the orange rind and egg. Sift the flour and fold into the creamed ingredients with the walnuts and orange juice to give a soft consistency.
3 Spoon half the melted fruit mixtureinto the base of a buttered 1.2litre pudding basin (or ovenproof dish). Top with half the creamed mixture then another layer of fruit. Top with the creamedmixture and level the surface. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes until golden and a skewer emerges clean from the centre. Turn out onto a warmed plate and servewith custard or pouring cream.
Note: You can also cover and steam this pudding for about 1 ½ hours which will give a softer moister sponge
Three quick ideas with apples
Pork burger with apple and mint sauce
– cook chunks of Bramley apple with a little water until soft, add sugar to taste and chopped fresh mint (it goes wonderfully withroast pork or duck too). Make burgers from fresh minced pork, seasoned withchopped garlic, fresh thyme and smoked paprika bound with an egg. Cook on agriddle and serve in buns with the apple sauce
Easy autumn apple and ginger chutney
- For a classic yet simple chutney to go everything from cheeses to sausages, cook prepared apples (Bramley or Granny Smith) with half their weight in brown sugar, adding chopped onion, root ginger, some mustard seeds, a little chopped red chilli andadd cider vinegar to cover. Simmer together for 40 minutes until thick. Cool and pot.
Apple, smoked mackerel and celeriac remoulade
- sweet, sour and salt all marry perfectly in this salad. Peel and shred celeriac and toss in lemon juice then mix with equal amounts of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt flavoured with Dijon mustard. Leave for 30 minutes then fold in cubes of a crisp eating apple and flaked smoked mackerel.