Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Mulled Wine



Winter! It has its own beauty. Foggy mornings, rain to refresh the garden after the summer heat and a rare sun to warm that spot on your back. 

It has it's downfalls too. Dark, stormy clouds, unremitting rain and cold and the proverbial runny noses and high fevers. 

We can cook soups and stews to head off the winter chills and warm our bodies and spirits but nothing will clean the head like a glass of mulled wine. 

Close your eyes; Can you smell the fragrance of the cinnamon, the musky pungence of cloves and star anise. A burst of citrus and the sweet smooth taste of syrup. What does it conjure up for you?


Oh England, my England it brings back memories of Christmas and family and home.

Oranges and tangerines were scarce and only ever came to our tables at Christmas. They were a fabulous treat to find in your Christmas stocking along with peanuts and chocolate bars. And the joy of peeling that first orange, stains on the hand and orange lips. The fruity smell of tangy, sweet goodness.

And of cinnamon sticks and star anise - my first encounter when I was in my twenties. Now a staple in my pantry.

As the years slowly pass, I am thankful for the abundance of what I have. A wine growing region on my doorstep, orange and lemon trees in my garden and spices, the best antidote for winter blues and home sickness.

MULLED WINE (GLUHWEIN)

Juice and zest of 1 orange - I used a blood orange
zest of 1 lemon
60g caster sugar
500ml red wine - (I used Yardstick Fleurieu Cabernet Merlot 2015)
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
2 cloves
fresh ginger
Couple of slices of orange for decoration

Nothing could be easy than making mulled wine. Just remember not to boil it unless you want to remove the alcohol!!

In a small saucepan, add the cinnamon stick, star anise, nutmeg, cloves, juice, zest, sugar, a small grate of fresh ginger and 50 mls wine. 

Place on a low heat and simmer for 4 - 5 minutes stirring all the time until sugar dissolves. Once the mixture becomes syrupy, take off the heat and add the rest of the wine. Stir quickly to incorporate the wine and the syrup then over a very gentle heat warm the wine until it just starts to steam.

Strain the mixture and tip into glasses. Decorate with slices of orange and serve immediately.



This makes 4 glasses. But if you want to serve more, increase the sugar content at the beginning and add more wine.

Fleurieu Cabernet Merlot 2015 was used for the mulled wine








Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Best Ever Apple Pie





Sadly, I don't have memories of the smell of apple pie coming from my grand mother's kitchen. I have very little memory of my paternal grandmother. I know she had a blue budgerigar in a cage because I remember it biting my finger. Unfortunately my grandmother did not have good health and became blind in her eighties.   

But I do have great memories of my next door neighbour's fantastic apple trees.

My sister and I weren't allowed to hop over the fence and pinch the apples because the neighbours had a mad dog called Bryn. We were terrified of that dog and would never venture into their garden. 

But when our neighbour kindly gave us a few of the fallen apples, I knew it was time for mum to make an apple pie. And I watched as she made the pastry, peeled the apples, added sugar and turned that mountain of lush fruit into the most amazing dessert.


As a kid you don't really care if the pastry is bit rustic, in fact the more rustic the more mouth watering you know it will be and once that golden pastry was lifted from the oven, you couldn't wait until dinner time when you knew you would get a slice of that perfect pie, topped with ice cream or cream.

My favourite dessert as a kid was apple pie and rice pudding - oh that beautiful, slightly burnt, brown skin on the top of the rice and a hint of nutmeg and butter. 

Rhubarb and apple figured highly because dad grew heaps of rhubarb, so often Sunday roast was followed by rhubarb and custard. What was your favourite dessert?


There are so many delicious recipes on the web for rhubarb; spiced, roasted, devilled, tarts and I think you will find a couple on my blog, so there's plenty to choose from.


I don't make pies that often, but when I look over at the bowl of Granny Smith apples that I have just bought, I know it's time to recreate a little magic in my kitchen. Just like my mum did. 



APPLE PIE

Ingredients

700g prepared Granny Smith apples
250g plain flour
125g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon icing sugar
2 tablespoons iced water
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of cloves
2 tablespoons water
zest of a lemon
1 tablespoon milk

Prepare a pie plate by rubbing with melted butter, then place in fridge until ready to use.

Make the pastry by sifting flour, icing sugar and then rubbing the butter into the flour, either by hand or food processor. I prefer to do it by hand. Add enough water to bring it all together in a soft dough. Now cover in plastic and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

While the pastry is resting peel, core and chop apples, add to a saucepan with a little water, lemon zest, cinnamon stick and a pinch of cloves. Cook for around 10 minutes until they are slightly softened. No need to add any sugar. Remove from the pan and cool. 

While the apple is cooling , take pastry from fridge, divide in half and roll out to fit your prepared pie plate. Line your pie plate with one half of the pastry and add the apples, removing the cinnamon stick first.

Pile the apples in so you have a nice high pie. Wet the rim of the pastry edge with milk, ready to stick the top down.

Add the pastry lid and seal the edges by pressing them together. Cut off excess pastry. Brush the top of the pie with milk, making a couple of tiny cuts in the top of the pastry for the steam to escape.

Place in a pre heated moderate oven 180º/350F for around 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

Serve with cream, ice cream or just by itself.


















Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Bakewell Tart Slice



Sugar free is fine most of the time but occasionally I get the urge to have something sweet. I try fruit but it just doesn't do it, know what I mean?

Family members are getting restless, they haven't seen me rummaging in the cupboard for a cake tin and they keep checking the pantry to see if anything has been hidden.

I got the message! I thought a nice little slice sounded perfect. A Bakewell tart usually consists of a pastry base, lots of raspberry jam and a frangipane topping.




 I used a jar of Beerenberg Raspberry and Violet Jam, a gift from a friend and it is perfect for the jam layer. The violet just provides something a little more fragrant and a lovely vibrant colour. Technically you could use any jam you like but hey, I'm going with tradition today.


The sun is out and I've served these, fresh from the oven, on the deck in the sun! What a great way to enjoy a public holiday.


Bakewell Tart is traditionally English and as Southern Australia celebrates Queen Elizabeth's birthday this week, (actually it's pretty crazy because it isn't really her birthday) it is a rather fitting recipe to mark this occasion.



BAKEWELL TART SLICE

You will need a slice tray approximately 30 x 23cm or 12 x 9 in, lined with baking paper.

For the pastry layer
170g plain flour
75g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
iced water


For the frangipane layer
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
175 g self raising flour
100g caster sugar
1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 - 1 cup of raspberry jam
1 handful of flaked almonds


To make the pastry, combine sugar, softened butter and plain flour in a food processor. Add iced water, approx 1 - 2 tablespoons mixing to make a soft dough.
Press the dough into the bottom of the lined tray and bake in a moderate oven 180º/ 160 fan forced,  for 15 - 20 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

In a large bowl beat eggs and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Fold in flour, baking powder, almond meal, mixing to a medium batter.

On top of the pastry, spread the jam - be generous.

Now top with the frangipane mixture.

Sprinkle the top with flaked almonds and bake for a further 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and cool in the tin.

Once cool, cut into slices and serve. This is lovely served with cream or custard. Yum!