This posts commemorates two firsts. Incredibly, the first time I have ever made a crumble. I can’t quite figure out why; crumble was a regular fixture following my Mum’s Sunday roast, and still get treated to one every now and then. I think it was rewatching all of Friday Night Dinner, where “crimble crumble” is the weekly dessert.
Second, and even more incredibly, it marks the first time I read Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef. Yes, his first book. I’ve read loads of his, and watched the series at the time. Yet mystically, I’ve never read it. I grabbed a copy from the library, and it’s so interesting to use it as a time machine to see how his style has evolved. Back then you can see glimpses of his verve and fun, but he is still restrained by the River Cafe style (which is great, but almost too simple for Jamie). The names of dishes are also intricate and a little prosaic. Still great eating though.
I got very nostalgic eating this. And it wasn’t until after I realised I should’ve used some brown sugar to get treacley goodness on the top. Next time…
Apple crumble (serves 6):
Pinch of cinnamon
225g plain flour
Pinch of vanilla salt
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel and core the apples, finely slice (I used a food processor) and tip into a baking dish. Dust with the cinnamon.
- Whizz the other ingredients in a food processor until it resembles crumbs, then tip over the fruit. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbling. Serve with custard, cream, ice-cream and other sweet dairy things you can find.
I’d heard about these gorditas (“little fat girls”) ages and ages ago and then forgot all about them. I was recently reminded they exist and decided to make them straight away. They are little cornmeal pancakes that you can use to top with anything, but with some leftover veal from Farmers Choice to use up I went for a fruity, sharp salsa and a salty feta for a really zingy combo. This is one of those recipes you can dump pretty much everything from, the key part is the gorditas themselves – tasty little breads you can use for a canape, starter or main course as I did here!
Gorditas with apple salsa (makes 16 pancakes):
250g plain flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
700ml hot water
200g cooked veal, sliced
200g feta, diced
For the salsa:
1 apple, finely diced
3 tomatoes, peeled and diced
4 spring onions, sliced
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Red wine vinegar
- Mix the flours and baking powder together in a bowl with a pinch of salt. Gradually add the hot water until the dough comes together. Split into 16 and squash into small discs. Dust with flour and put aside while you make the salsa.
- For the salsa mix together all the ingredients and balance with salt, sugar, vinegar and hot sauce until you get a lovely tang.
- To cook the gorditas get a frying pan very hot and with a dash of oil cook them on both sides until puffed up. Serve with the veal, feta and salsa. If you have some a little shredded coriander would be great too.
apple pancakes with maple syrup
Pancakes for breakfast are the perfect Sunday treat. Usually the whole family gets involved, someone peels apples, someone cracks eggs, someone whisks up the batter and someone cooks. I can almost pass it off as healthy when there’s fruit involved… OK, maybe not. The presence of apples here is bittersweet against the tang of Greek yoghurt and the sticky sweetness of maple syrup, all soaked up with a fluffy pancake.
There’s nothing wrong with the accepted crêpe-style pancake on Shrove Tuesday, but for a change you could do worse than these more American types. And while you’re thumbing your nose at tradition check out this amusing Miffy pancake and mould. The mould plops out pretty rabbit heads! Apologies for the self-indulgence but my 3 year old would go absolutely bananas (sorry, apples) for this, given that she sleeps in a Miffy bed-spread clutching her Miffy rabbit nearly as big as her, after being put to bed with a Miffy story.
If you can’t get hold of one of those, a round pancake would be just as good. Just don’t let my daughter know they come in rabbit-shapes or she’ll never eat anything else.
1 apple per person, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon sugar
Knob of butter
Pinch of cinnamon
A mugful each of flour and milk
Greek yoghurt and maple syrup to serve
- Get the apples going by melting the butter and sugar together in a pan, then adding the cinnamon and apples. Toss the apples in the flavoured butter but be careful not to stir too much – you don’t want apple sauce. Keep cooking gently until they are tender and then keep warm. You may wish to add a little more or less sugar depending on the variety of apple you’ve used.
- Whisk the flour, milk and egg together with a pinch each of sugar and salt until smooth.
- Melt a little butter in a pan and ladle in some pancake mixture – it should spread to about 10cm across. Continue to cook until browned on one side, then flip.
- Serve the apples on top of the pancakes, dollop over some Greek yoghurt and drizzle with maple syrup.
If there’s ever leftovers from a Sunday roast, just try and stop me making bubble and squeak. This is proper Autumn grub, with apples, cider, pork… just the kind of thing I could eat all season long. The pork here comes from Farmer’s Choice, a lovely butcher’s providing excellent meat delivered to your door.
Pork chops with bubble & squeak and creamy apple gravy (serves 2):
250g leftover mash
250g leftover cooked veg (maybe carrots, sprouts, spinach, parsnip – anything really)
1 red onion, sliced
2 pork chops
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
250ml creme fraiche
2 firm apples, peeled and sliced
- Get two frying pans on a medium heat. Season the pork chops and scatter over the marjoram.
- Mix the potato and veg together in a bowl and season well. Form into little patties and add a little oil to each pan.
- Put the pork chops in one pan and cook for 5 or so minutes until coloured on one side, then flip over. Add the onions and apples to the pan.
- Meanwhile fry the bubble ‘n’ squeak patties on both sides until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper before serving.
- When the pork chops are done, transfer to a board to rest and cover with foil. Turn up the heat and deglaze the pan with cider.
- When the cider has bubbled away to almost nothing, add the creme fraiche and reduce the heat right down. Stir well to combine with everything in the pan, check for seasoning and serve over the chops with the bubble on the side.
When you have a batch of leftover caramel and a few apples knocking about, it’s time to have some crunchy super-sweet caramel apples! Just the thing for Wintry nights.
Baked caramel apples:
2 apples (I like something firm and crunchy to stand up to the baking, Empire do the trick for me here)
½ pint caramel sauce
A handful of raisins
A handful of roasted salted peanuts
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
- Core the apples and stand in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle over the caramel and make sure plenty goes down into the core.
- Scatter over the peanuts and raisins and bake for 20 minutes, or until tender.