This week our cooking columnist Chef Martin Anderson gives us some inspiration for what to do with apples, and shares a mouth-watering recipe for an apple and red berry pastry box!
The autumn is here and according to all sources it’s been a bumper year for apples, so this week I’m going to give you a few ideas to use up any windfalls you might find.
As a rule I only use eating apples when baking, this is because it takes less sugar but as the cooking Apple season is here and they can be quite bitter make sure you have plenty of sugar on standby and I’m going to break my own rules.
Firstly make sure your apples are good quality and they are not bruised, damaged and have no bugs inside them. Apples can be stored in a cool dark place for a long period of time but they must all be good quality if any of them are bad they will turn the rest of the apples rotten too.
Before using them remove any stems, leaves and give them a good wash.
Decide what you’re going to make and make sure you have enough apples and sugar for the recipe. Cooking apples break up quite easily during the cooking process and you must be careful not to overcook them as they will turn to mush and will ruin any of your recipes the only time you would over cook apples is when you’re making apple jelly or apple sauce, it’s always nice to have a bite in the apple in any dessert or chutney you make so pay attention to your recipe.
For apple crumble try and use a few red apples and leave the skin on, the pigment in the skin will give the crumble mix a lovely red colour and if you add some frozen red berries to the mix also it will taste fantastic. Also for a crumble I like to precook the sliced apples in a little butter until the are just softened this helps the final cooking process and also releases some of the sugar, it will make it easier for you to taste them and then sweeten as desired, you make also add a dash of cinnamon or even whole cloves and sliced ginger to give that extra zing!
For apple pie my aunt Eileen grates the apples and then sugars them, again this helps the cooking process and makes it easier to taste them.
It takes a serious amount of sugar and apples to make Apple jelly so make sure you buy jam sugar which has added pectin, this helps the setting process, a good quality muslin cloth and clean jars is a must, don’t try hanging a pillowcase over an upturned chair and expect the juices to run free, use the proper cloth for the job.
Make sure your hats are well sterilised and you have proper lids or wax paper too, dirty jars will only help mould grow on top of the jelly, many folk put the jars through the dishwasher on high heat, this is a great idea instead of boiling them in massive pots of water, you may do the same with the lids, let them air dry instead of using a cloth – don’t worry if they are a bit wet they will be fine. Store your finished jelly in a cool dark place or if you only have a few jars jeep them in the fridge.
When making a crumble topping or even for the cooking of the apples I always use real butter, salted is fine – it will taste great.
When making pastry I use margarine, the one named after the bird Sstork” always use this straight from the fridge, it makes it easier to blend into the flour, the same rule applies for crumble topping, I only use real butter. So much tastier and crunchier when cooked properly.
When making apple pie, use a good quality recipe for the pastry, you may buy frozen or chilled pastry but try to make your own so you can see the difference.
For today’s recipe I have used the pink lady apples but you may use cooking apples, frozen puff pastry sheets are ideal also, you may buy the chilled but I find it difficult to work with in a warm kitchen and you will get better results with the frozen pastry.
Recipe for pink lady apples and red berries in a pastry box, with cinnamon cream!
You will need:
>Puff pastry sheets.
>Pink lady apples peeled and sliced into 8’s,
>Butter and olive oil for cooking.
>Brown sugar, to taste.
>Fresh or frozen red berries.
>Lightly whipped cream.
>Egg yolk for glazing.
Method for the box:
>Place your pastry sheet onto a greased baking tray .
>Cut an even strip from each side of the pastry and brush the egg around the edges.
>Place the strips of pastry around the remaining pastry and over lap the edges.
>This should form the walls of the box, decorate the centre of the box and brush with egg.
>Bake at 200c until risen, cooked and golden in colour.
>When cooled push the risen pastry back down but be careful not to b eat the base .
Method for the apples:
>In a non stick pan or heavy bottomed pan heat a little butter and olive oil.
>Add the sliced apples and cook gently until they are nearly cooked and coloured.
>Flame with the whiskey and add the sugar and red berries.
>Heat through and allow to reduce slightly, if using frozen berries make sure they are defrosted and heated through. Allow to cool slightly.
>Add a good pinch of cinnamon to the cream and whip again until nearly stiff.
>Spoon the cooled apples into the puff pastry.
>Serve with your cinnamon cream or a scoop of ice-cream.
If you enjoy my recipes perhaps you would also enjoy a visit to my new Coffee Shop Sonder. We will have our official opening today Friday the 30th at 4pm so so call in if you are in Letterkenny this evening!
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