Sunday, 26 September 2010

Mini apple pies

A few weeks ago a friend of ours gave us a carrier bag full of cooking apples from his garden. (Apparently, his next door neighbour has been complaining about the apples which have been falling into his garden - I can't help thinking what a miserable sod this neighbour must be!) Until today, time and energy to do something with them has eluded me.

I wanted to make something that we could share with the friend who gave us the apples, so I decided to make mini apple pies. This was a bit of an experiment, in that I used the pastry recipe from this mince pie recipe (because it is easy to make and scrumptious too) and the filling from this apple pie recipe.

Above is one of the ones that broke when getting it out the tin.

If I make something similar to these again, I will make a different kind of pastry - this pastry works brilliantly with mince pies, but doesn't seem to quite have the structural integrity to cope with sloppy apple. However, their wobbly framework does not impair the flavour - crumbly and sticky and sweet and tart and gooey. Heaven.


Ok, I have a confession to make. I am 27 years old and I love sweets. I always have, probably always will. I'm something of a sugar addict.

I know that most sweets are filled with enough E-numbers to send even the dourest child into a hyper-manic frenzy and enough sugar to cause a diabetic coma; but love them I do, and they are one of my biggest weaknesses when it comes to food.

It probably all started when we sometimes used to stop at the Corner Shop on the way home from school, and if I'd been good (which was, you know, ALWAYS), I'd be allowed to get 20p worth of penny sweets. Fizzy cola bottles were my favourite.

However, I think that most 'modern' sweets such as Haribo and those pick'n'mix you get from cinemas nowadays do not taste the same as the sweets I had when I was a kid; in fact, many of them leave quite a nasty, bitter aftertaste in the mouth.

Yesterday afternoon, as the weather was so glorious, we took a trip to Bourton-on-the-Water for an afternoon of English cream tea and Christmas Corner. There are also a couple of old fashioned sweet shops in Bourton, so naturally I bought some sweets.

Now, these sweets taste like the ones I used to have when I was a kid. My fiancé reckons it's all in my head and it's just because they come in jars. But what would he know? He doesn't even eat sweets! Also, they had flying saucers. FLYING SAUCERS!!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Carluccio's, Stratford-upon-Avon

Last week we visited Stratford for my birthday. We did some shopping, had a scrumptious pub lunch and went for a cruise on the Avon. As we started walking back to the carpark, I suggested we stopped at Carluccio's to pick up some things for dinner.

I'd decided that for tea we'd have bread from the breadmaker with some olive oil for dipping, and maybe pick up some olives at Carluccio's to accompany it, as I'd heard that they had a deli in there. This is what we ended up with:

Freshly sliced mortadella and parma ham

 Sun blushed tomatoes, as well as some olives (not pictured).

It was really good stuff and made our dinner a whole lot more exciting than I'd planned! We haven't actually eaten in Carluccio's yet, but plan to next time we are down Stratford way - it seems like a great place if you like your Italian food.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Tomato fever

After posting a while back that things were all going horribly wrong with my tomato plants, they managed to recover from the blossom end rot and have been producing healthy fruit for a while now. At first there was just the odd one or two at a time that had ripened, but now we're almost getting a glut, and that's just from 4 plants!

I'm planning to make this chutney with them, which I made last year, but this year it'll be even more special with my homegrown tomatoes!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Bread machine

For my birthday this year (which was yesterday), my fiancé bought me a bread machine. Now, although I went on a course and technically know how to bake bread by hand, I haven't managed to do a lot of it because of being busy and illness and being disorganised etc. etc. etc.

There's a great bit on the Campaign for Real Bread website here about bread machines and why they can be a good idea.

I'm not going to give up completely on making handmade bread, and will still do so when I get the time and the urge and the inclination, but at least with my bread machine, in between those times I don't have to rely on supermarket bread.

We baked our first loaf in it yesterday and this was the result:

It was yummy:

The breadmaker I have is the Panasonic SD257. It has a brioche programme, a gluten-free programme, a raisin and nut dispenser and a bake-only and dough-only feature. So, it seems very flexible in what you can do with it and I look forward to trying out all the different features in the years to come!