Apple, raisin and cinnamon pancakes

apple cinnamon and raisin pancakes3

The world and his wife are going crazy for crepes at the moment, and we’re no exception here at Chez Bangers where pancakes are always a regular feature on our menus.

Just in time for tomorrow’s Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day, I thought I’d share with you my apple, cinnamon and raisin pancake recipe, which is one of our favourite weekend breakfasts and very quick and easy to rustle up. Continue reading “Apple, raisin and cinnamon pancakes”

Cheddar and apple rough puff pie

cheddar and apple rough puff pie

It might be unseasonably mild in the UK for January, but these interminably dank, grey days still lead my body and mind to craving wholesome, hearty, warming dishes. Puddings and pastries in particular are at the top of my wish list, and what could be more wholesomely tempting than a slice of hot apple pie smothered in cream? Continue reading “Cheddar and apple rough puff pie”

Chocolate, apple and blackberry chutney

chocolate apple and blackberry chutney

Now, chocolate is not of course a complete stranger to savoury dishes so I can’t say I’ve invented something radically new here. In fancy restaurants I’ve been served sumptuous chocolate sauces with roast venison and partridge, while at home I’ve added chocolate to a chilli con carne. But I’ve never come across chocolate in a chutney before.

I have though tried, and very much enjoyed, a chutney featuring chocolate stout. Last Christmas, my not-so-secret Santa gift from my mate Sam in the office was a jar of chocolate stout, plum and chipotle jam from Ginger Beard’s Preserves. It was very, very good and got me wondering: if chocolate stout works in a chutney, then couldn’t chocolate itself work rather well too? It took me a few months to finally get around to it, but I eventually put my hypothesis to the test. Continue reading “Chocolate, apple and blackberry chutney”

Apple and mincemeat streusel slice

 

If you’re anything like me, at the start of December you have all these great plans for all the foods you’re going to make from scratch for Christmas. But as the month passes by, you realise there’s no just no way you can do everything you planned and you resort, as usual, to the shop-bought versions instead. Mince pies are a case in point for me. Every year without fail, I promise myself I’ll make my own this year. And every year without fail, I end up buying them in.

So, if like me, you have a jar of mincemeat sat in your cupboard, don’t let it skulk there until next Christmas. Now that we’re into January and things have calmed down a bit, why not make the most of it by baking this gorgeous apple and mincemeat streusel slice? It’s just the ticket for cheering up a wet and dreary afternoon with a good strong cup of hot tea. Continue reading “Apple and mincemeat streusel slice”

Pretend it’s still summer with an Appletiser mocktail

appletiser mocktail 2

The weather’s turned rather grim here in the West Country. Just yesterday we were out paddling in the local stream, and then the heavens opened overnight and it suddenly feels rather chilly and wintry today. The slippers and big jumpers have come o ut and I think the central heating might be back on soon.

But that hasn’t stopped us from pretending it’s still summer. Appletiser sent me some bottles of their new Apple & Pomegranate sparkling fruit juice to try out, which are the perfect base for some summerlicious cocktails and mocktails, particularly if you have a bag of berries stashed in the freezer. Continue reading “Pretend it’s still summer with an Appletiser mocktail”

A right pair of raitas

raita

Whenever we eat curry, we always have raita on the side. It’s quite simply a match made in heaven. I’ve never actually followed a raita recipe though, generally just making it up as I go along, chucking together some yoghurt, mint, cucumber and perhaps a pinch of spice or squeeze of lime, depending on my mood.

But the other day when I made Madhur Jaffrey’s wonderful chicken tikka kebabs from her Ultimate Curry Bible, I came across a couple of her raita recipes and thought I’d give them a go. And they are ever so good. Continue reading “A right pair of raitas”

Spiced plum and apple compote

plums and apples

It’s that time of year when fresh fruit and vegetables are in glorious abundance. I really should be pickling and preserving, and I fully intend to soon, but for the moment most of our fruit seems to be making its way into compotes of one kind or another.

spiced plum and apple compote

Fruit compotes are such an easy way to transform a huge pile of fresh fruit into a luscious bowlful of sweet, saucy pleasure. Make lots, as it keeps in the fridge for a few days. Simply tuck into your compote just as it comes or serve with creme fraiche or yoghurt for a delicious and healthy desert. My family’s favourite way to eat it is layered with thick, creamy Greek yoghurt and homemade granola for a light yet satisfying breakfast.

We’re enjoying vast volumes of plum and apple compote, making the most of fruit from our own and friends’ trees. Plums and apples both work terribly well combined with strong spice flavours; in this recipe, I’ve used star anise, cinnamon and vanilla. It really is heavenly. You’ll frequently find me surreptitiously tucking into it straight from the bowl in the fridge when no-one else is looking.

spiced plum and apple compote2

Spiced plum and apple compote

400g plums, stoned and roughly chopped
2 or 3 eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped
juice of 1 orange
½ tsp cinnamon
1 star anise
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
4 tbsp demerara sugar

Place the ingredients in a medium saucepan, give it all a good stir and bring to a gentle simmer over a medium heat. Cook for around 10 to 15 minutes until the fruit is soft and just beginning to break up. Leave to cool and remove the star anise before serving.

spiced plum and apple compote3

This compote is my entry into the #AgaInspiredRecipes challenge hosted by Rix Petroleum. The theme this month is cooking with plums.

Spiced plum and apple Eton mess

spiced plum and apple eton mess

I enjoy a little serendipity in the kitchen. Those occasions when an accident turns into a wonderful new creation for example.

This pudding came about by accident a few weeks ago when friends came over for Sunday lunch. I intended to make an impressive pavlova but managed to crack the meringue and I was forced to improvise. The broken pieces of meringue, along with the spiced, stewed fruits, were gently folded into whipped cream for a winter version of an Eton mess.

I’ve made it again since – the second time I took photographs for the blog. Instead of folding the ingredients together, I layered them in cocktail glasses for a slightly prettier and more refined dessert.

spiced plums and apples

I like bold flavours and so the plums and apples are quite heavily spiced with star anise, cinnamon and ginger. If you’re not so fond of strong spices, you may wish to hold back a little.

This mess would provide a fantastic finale to a festive meal, perhaps as an alternative to the traditional trifle.

spiced plum and apple eton mess

Spiced plum and apple Eton mess

Serves 6

For the meringue:

3 egg whites
pinch of salt
175g caster sugar
1tsp corn flour
½tsp vanilla extract

For the spiced, stewed fruit

6 red plums, stoned and quartered
4 cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into large chunks
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
100ml water
200g caster sugar
1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger

500ml double cream
80g icing sugar

Start by making the meringue.

If you don’t have an Aga, preheat the oven to 150ºC / gas mark 2.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until stiff. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar a teaspoonful at a time, and finally whisk in the corn flour and vanilla. Lay a sheet of silicone paper on a baking tray and onto dollop small evenly-sized rounds of the mixture.

If you have an Aga, put the baking tray on the floor of the roasting oven for three to four minutes, until the meringues are slightly coloured. Then move down to the floor of the simmering oven for about an hour until the meringues are firm on the outside but still a little gooey in the middle.

If you’re using a conventional oven, bake for an hour and then turn the oven off. Open the door halfway and allow the meringues to cool to remove to room temperature before removing.

For the stewed fruits, simply place all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir well and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for around 20 minutes, stirring now and again, and skimming off any froth that forms on the surface.

When the fruit is tender and the syrup has thickened, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Pour the double cream into a large bowl and sift into the icing sugar. Whip until the cream forms soft peaks.

When the fruit and meringue are completely cool, you can assemble your desserts. Break the meringues into bite-size pieces. Spoon some stewed fruit into the bottom of your bowls or glasses. Place some meringue on top and them some whipped cream. Continue until you have filled each bowl/glass. Serve chilled.

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This dish is spiced with cinnamon sticks and so I am entering it into this month’s Spice Trail challenge, which I just happen to be  hosting.

fsf-winter

Party Food is the theme this month at Four Seasons Food, hosted by Delicieux and Eat Your Veg, and so I thought these puds would be good for a festive party.

FFF

And lastly as a very British dessert meets a very Oriental spice, I thought I’d also enter this Eton mess into December’s Fabulous Fusion Food challenge hosted by Deena Kakaya.

Dried fruit and nut balls

dried fruit and nut balls

Admittedly, these might look like something you’d hang out for the birds in winter but trust me, these dried fruit and nut balls are delicious. Ask my children – they love them in their packed lunches or after school as a quick and healthy snack.

They’re very easy to make and the recipe is extremely versatile – play around with the recipe and add your own favourite nuts and dried fruits. I’ve used dried apple in this version as I’d dried some of our own apples as one way of storing them. If you’ve never tried drying your own apples, you really should. The apples develop such a gorgeously intense flavour and they have a wonderfully satisfying texture, rather like chewing on a soft toffee but with none of the sugar-guilt. My girls can’t get enough of them.

Dried Apple Collage

If you fancy having a go, here’s what you do.

Peel and core your apples and cut into rings. Sprinkle with cinnamon or leave plain if you prefer. Spread out on a baking tray and put in a very, very low oven for a few hours. If you have an Aga you could put them in the bottom oven or do what we did and tie with string and hang in bundles over the top. They’re ready when they’ve gone all wrinkly and have gained that lovely chewy consistency.

We eat them as they are, chop them up and mix into plain yoghurt, or add them to homemade granola.

granola

But back to those dried fruit and nut balls. It’s simply a case of whizzing up all the ingredient in a food processor and then using your hands to shape the resulting mixture into balls or, if you prefer, bars. It’s a fairly messy business, which is probably why children quite like getting involved.

Dried fruit and nut balls

100g blanched almonds
100g walnuts
100g dried apple
100g dried fig
100g dried apricot
100g sultanas
20g dessicated coconut
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp apple juice

Put the nuts and dried fruit into a food processor and process until it you end up with a mushy, sticky mixture.

Add the oil and apple juice and whiz again briefly to combine.

Mould the mixture in your hands into small balls and store in an airtight container in the fridge (for a couple of weeks) or the freezer (for a couple of months).

I wrap individual balls in foil, like sweetie wrappers, when I put them in the girls’ lunchboxes.

dried fruit and nut balls

 

Since my children enjoy them in their lunchboxes, I’m including both these fruit and nut balls and the dried apple in November’s Family Foodies challenge, which as you probably know has lunchbox ideas as its theme.

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