There has been a bumper crop of apples and pears this year…
I have benefited from surplus sharing of pears, cooking and eating apples from friends, family & neighbours.
We are slowly making our way through them and if I can sneak any into a dish however much, I will.
Below are some of the winners, both sweet and savoury.
Pear and Almond Tart
Almonds and pears are a great combination. This tart is delicious served warm with fresh cream, Greek yogurt, crème fraiche, custard or ice cream. It also keeps well in the fridge for a few days.
225g rich shortcrust pastry
75g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
6 cardamom pods, shelled & the seeds ground
4 to 5 pears
Pre heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6
Roll out the pastry thinly and line a 26cm flan dish. Bake blind
For the filling, cream the butter and sugar together, add the eggs and beat well. Stir through the almonds and ground cardamom seeds.
Peel, core and quarter the pears, cut each quarter into 3 slices.
Reduce the oven heat to 190C/375F/Gas5
Level the almond mixture into the baked flan case and press the pear slices into it. Bake for around 30mins.
Allow to cool a little and serve warm.
Sausage & Apple Pie
Comfort food that can be made ahead and frozen. Tart dessert apples are best & don’t scrimp on the sage. Serves 2
3 good pork sausages (185g)
1 tsp sage
1 eating apple – Granny Smith or Cox
½ tsp ground nutmeg
Boil the potatoes & mash with butter, milk & nutmeg. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
Peel, core & finely slice the apple, remove the skins from the sausages.
Set the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.
Put a layer of apple in the bottom of an oven proof dish, tear off blobs of sausage & scatter on top. Sprinkle with sage, then repeat with another layer of apple, sausage & sage.
Top with the mashed potato and bake for 45min.
Pecan & Apple Tart
Serves 8 to 12
This recipe started out as a reduced sugar pecan pie. By adding the stewed apple I removed almost half the sugar and the result is this very light, delicious pie. It’s also good with walnuts or almonds.
225g plain flour
1 small egg
250g pecan nuts, 2/3 chopped, 1/3 left whole
225g light brown sugar
1 large cooking apple (approx. 225g)
Juice of ½ lemon
Make the pastry: rub the butter into the flour, mix in the egg and mix to a smooth dough. Refrigerate for 30 mins, then roll out, line a 26cm flan dish and bake blind at 200C/400F/Gas6.
Make the filling: Peel, core & slice the apple, put into a small pot with the lemon juice and stew until it has become pulp. Allow to cool a little.
Beat the eggs with the sugar, add the apple pulp, then stir in the chopped nuts.
Pour the nut mixture into the baked pastry case, scatter or arrange the whole pecan nuts over the top and put into the oven at 200C/400F/Gas6 for 10mins, then reduce the heat to 170C/325F/Gas3 and cook for 25 to 40mins, or until the middle of the pie still wobbles slightly when jiggled. If the top starts to brown too much, put a piece of foil over the top.
Once the pie is cooked, allow it to cool for 30mins before serving.
There’s nothing better on a cold, dark night than crumble for dessert. The variations are endless, swap in desiccated coconut, dried fruit, ground almonds, chopped nuts, ground ginger or mixed spice for different flavours.
Makes enough for 4
450g mixed cooking and eating apples
Rind & juice of 1 lemon
1 dessert spoon granulated sugar
85g wholemeal flour
30g rolled oats
75g soft butter
75g light soft brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas5
Peel, core & slice the apples. Put into a pan with the sugar, lemon rind, juice & a splash of water. Cook gently, stirring from time to time until the cooking apple is just beginning to break down. Remove from the heat and put into a shallow oven proof dish.
Put the flour, oats, butter, cinnamon into a bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Sprinkle the crumble over the warm apples, bake in a for 30 to 45 minutes, or until your dish is hot and bubbling.
Whether you use apples or pears for this Tart Tatin, it’s sure to be a winner with a drizzle of fresh cream or ice cream.
I don’t use butter in this recipe to reduce calories. Don’t be tempted to taste or touch the caramel in the pan, it is red hot and will give a nasty burn.
Pear Tart Tatin
100g granulated sugar
6 or 8 pears, depending on size
Rind & juice of 1 lemon
200g puff pastry
Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6
Peel, half and scoop out the cores of the pears with a teaspoon. Toss in the lemon rind & juice to reduce browning.
Put the sugar into a 20cm oven proof frying pan, with a splash of water and heat very gently, stirring from time to time until the sugar has completely dissolved. If your pan is not oven proof, use a 20cm flan dish or cake tin with a solid bottom instead.
While the sugar is melting, roll the pastry out to about 22cm diameter circle.
Once the sugar has completely dissolved, turn the heat up under the pan and without stirring, bubble the sugar to make a caramel. Swirl the pan from time to time to mix as it begins to colour. It needs to be a good chestnut brown to have enough flavour, but watch you don’t burn it. Once ready, remove from the heat and quickly & carefully stack the pear halves around the side of the pan. Use tongs or two forks to keep your hands away from the hot caramel. If using a flan dish or cake tin, pour the caramel into it.
Once the pears are in the pan, drape the pastry over and tuck in the edge using the handle of a spoon.
Put into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 170C/325F/Gas3 and cook for a further 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow the tart to cool for 15 minutes.
To turn out, place a lipped dish larger than your pan over the top of the tart, use an oven glove to protect your hand & arm, hold everything firmly and confidently turn it over. Do this over your sink to catch any escaping juices!