Seasonal cooking in October – apples and pears

Apples

apple juice
Freshly pressed apple juice

Well over 200 kg of apples were harvested from gardens all over Tayport for the recent Ferryport Fruit Fest.  Most of the apples have been turned into juice, or are waiting to be juiced and pasteurised, but I managed to rescue a few to turn into some apple-based puddings and cakes.

Apples and blackberries are a marriage made in heaven and apple and blackberry crumble (made with locally foraged blackberries) is perfect comfort food for this time of year.  It’s also really easy to make.  Follow the recipe for plum crumble, substituting apples and blackberries for the plums.  (To serve four, use 2 large apples (about 450 g in total) plus 100-150g blackberries, 65-75 g sugar and 400 g of crumble mix).

blackberry and apple muffins
Blackberry and apple muffins

Apple and blackberry muffins are quick and delicious.  This recipe is for 6-8 muffins, depending on the size of your muffin tin.

140 g plain flour, 1/2 tbsp baking powder, pinch of salt, 60 g soft brown sugar, 125 g cooking apple (peeled, cored and finely chopped), 50-75 g frozen blackberries, 1 egg, 50 g yoghurt (vanilla is nice, but plain will do), 75 ml milk, 3 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp Demerara sugar.

Sift the flour with the baking power and salt, stir in the sugar, apples and blackberries.  Beat the egg, yoghurt, milk and oil together and pour into the dry ingredients.  Mix quickly and spoon into muffin tins (either silicone or metal lined with paper cases).  Sprinkle with demerara sugar and bake at 180 ºC for 20-25 mins.  Best eaten on the same day as they’re a bit soft the following day (but still delicious!)

apple cake
Anna’s apple cake

Anna’s apple cake.  Anyone who went to the fruitfest will have noticed – and possibly sampled – the lovely cakes that had been baked for the event, including this delicious apple cake made by my neighbour Anna.  Here’s her recipe:

5-6 medium apples, 150g caster sugar, 3 eggs, 150g flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon and 100g melted butter.

Peel, core and finely chop the apples, add the sugar and leave for about 30 mins until the juice begins to run.  Add the eggs, flour sifted with the baking powder and cinnamon, and the butter.  Mix with a spoon, turn into a 24 cm diameter cake tin (or 21 cm square cake tin) and bake for 30-35 minutes at 180 ºC.  Dust with icing sugar when cool.  Optional extras are raisins and walnuts.

Apple sauce is a doddle to make.  Use 450g cooking apples (bramleys are best, but you can use any cooking apple that cooks down to a fluff), 2/3 tbsp water, 30 g butter, and caster sugar to taste (1/2 tbsp).

Peel, core and chop the apple.  Add the water and cook over a low heat until soft.  Either puree, liquidise or beat very hard to break up any lumps.  Add the butter and sugar to taste.  Serve warm.  Goes well with roast pork, roast ham or sausages.

Pears

Apples and pork may be a wonderful combination, but pork also goes well with pears.  Here’s a really quick but quite stylish recipe using pears and pork.

Pork with pears (for 2)

Pork with pears
Pork with pears

200g pork fillet, sliced into medallions (about 1.5 cm thick), one large firm pears, 200 ml cider, (or perry if you can find it),2 tbsp creme fraiche, 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard, a few sprigs of fresh thyme (lemon thyme if you grow it.)

Slice the pear into 8 slices and fry the slices in a little butter and oil until they are golden.  Remove and keep warm.  Fry the pork medallions until just cooked.  Add to the pears.  Add the cider to the pan and simmer until reduced to half the original volume.  Whisk in the crème fraiche and mustard and bring to a simmer.  Keep cooking if the sauce looks a bit thin, or add more cider if it looks a bit thick.  When it’s at the right consistency, stir in the pork and pears, and heat through.  Season to taste and scatter with the thyme.

Pear crumble.  Pears also make a wonderful crumble.  Use the recipe for plum crumble, or blackberry and apple crumble (above) but reduce the sugar to 30 g for 500 g pears.

Pickled pears.  At this time of year I start looking out for small pears to pickle for Christmas.  Small comice pears work well.  I normally use Delia Smith’s recipe, (although I halve the pears rather than leaving them whole) but other recipes are available, including this one for pickled pears on the BBC Good Food website.

I recently picked the first crop of apples from one of my new ‘supercolumn’ apple trees. I only planted them at the end of 2014 so was surprised to get a crop so quickly.  Maybe I was just lucky (the other tree has yet to flower), but I’ve got the apple growing bug and am now planning on replacing a hedge with a row of columnar fruit trees.  These are grafted to dwarfing root-stock so don’t grow very big and can be planted as little as 2 ft apart – which means I can have a go at different varieties.  So hopefully it won’t be long before I have my own little orchard, and can make all these yummy apple and pear recipes with fruit from my own garden.  Watch this space!

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