pm, October 16, 2014

My in-laws allotment and orchard is looking fantastically bountiful at the moment. As we get nearer and nearer to full blown winter they are busily storing and preserving all of their fruit and vegetables and I’m looking forward to making some chutney with their apples if I manage to scrump a few :)

In other news, this weekend I’ll be working on something special for the xmas, and first ever issue of caboodle magazine, so watch this space for more updates!

pm, October 8, 2014

So you might be aware that we’ve got a pear tree in our garden. I’ve posted about it often enough, as I love to track it’s progress through the year from flowers to fruit. Every autumn I rack my brains for things to make to use up all of it’s ample supplies but never get anywhere near using everything for sheer lack of time and options, which is something that I’m hopeful of addressing a little bit this year. In the past I’ve stewed pears and made them into soft caramels with lots of butter and cream and also fed them to locally milled flour to make a sourdough culture, but this year I feel like doing something a little bit more instantly gratifying :)

Eddie Izzard said of pears 'they are gorgeous little beasts…but they're either a rock or they are mush'. How right he is, which is why this recipe, my friends, is a total keeper. In the time it takes to cook the crumble topping and biscuit bottom to crunchy golden perfection, the inside pear and blackberry layer is gently stewed to foolproof softness. They the right amount of crunch and stodge, which is a seasonal must at the moment as we all need that little bit more protection against the brisk elements, and they are both delicious either warm or cold. These bars are truly soul nourishing food. 

Eager beavers might notice the new (to me) plate, which is by Marimekko and the patten is Kurjenpolvi.

Blackberry and pear crumble bars - adapted from Smitten Kitchen 

  • 230g butter
  • 300g white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 500g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • A pinch of salt
  • A teaspoon of vanilla essence 
  • 200g blackberries
  • 3 medium un-ripe pears
  • 4 teaspoons of cornflour
  • A tablespoon of vanilla sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 185 degrees centigrade.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, 200g of the sugar and pinch of salt.

Chop the butter into smallish pieces and rub it in as though making a crumble. Add the egg and continue to work the mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. 

Decant half of the mix into a buttered large baking tin (ideally around 23cm x 33cm) and press down firmly to make the biscuit layer. 

Peel the pears and roughly chop them into 1cm square size pieces, or thereabouts. Toss them into a bowl and add the blackberries, along with 100g of sugar, the vanilla sugar (or extract if you don’t have sugar), cornflour, and cinnamon. Stir well to coat all of the fruit and then distribute it on top of the pressed down biscuit. 

Top with the rest of the reserved crumble, and bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. Rotate the pan half way through to make sure that the topping browns evenly. 

Enjoy warm from the oven with a little lick of double cream or wait until cold and chop into square biscuit bars.


pm, October 1, 2014

We love: the bicycle shop

Nestled in the middle of St Benedicts Street is the fantastic local’s favourite, the Bicycle Shop. With an eccentric interior filled to the ceiling with plants, birds and, of course, bicycle references, it’s a magical spot to spend an evening. The food is also very comforting and delicious, as I had the pleasure of testing recently when my friend Morgan invited me to enjoy dinner with her there. She reviewed everything officially for Outline Magazine, and I accompanied to help out with the photography and eat copious amounts of mac and cheese, it’s a hard life :)

I also highly recommend their salty griddled halloumi starter with sweet chilli sauce and why not have a cream soda with rhubarb on the side, which is very refreshing but not too sweet.

pm, September 28, 2014

Autumn is undoubtably my favourite season. If I’m being honest, all through the year I’m keenly anticipating the first days of frostiness so I can break out my best fair-isle mittens and wooly hat, but this year we’re enjoying an extended Indian summer which is why it seems appropriate to be making this summery recipe now. The recent spate of hot weather we’ve seen has been particularly beneficial to lingering soft fruits, such as strawberry and raspberry plants, who turn all the sunshine into earthy red sweetness, juicy and fragrant.

This recipe is adapted from the trädgårdscafé at Ulriksdal, where they have a permanent vegetarian buffet - if you’re in the Stockholm region, totally check that place out as it’s got a fantastic selection of really delicious food. Our good friends Karl and Märta very kindly bought us their cookbook (in Swedish) as a Christmas present which I’ve been working my way through and translating as I go.

I hope this recipe can be used with different seasonal fruits right into the autumn and winter.

Summer strawberry, blueberry and raspberry pie

For the custard:

  • 500ml whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 40g cornflour
  • vanilla essence
  • 100ml whipped double cream

For the pie-crust:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 230g plain flour
  • 3 tablespoons of cold water
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 60g butter

For the fruit topping:

  • 3 handfuls each of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries (around 250-300g each)
  • A spoonful of icing sugar, plus more for dusting

Start by making the custard. Separate the eggs and reserve the whites for another project. Place the yolks in another bowl and mix with the cornflour and sugar, adding a scant amount of milk if needed to loosen up the batter.

Heat the rest of the milk in a pan on the hob until steaming. Temper the eggs with a small splash of the hot milk, whisking continuously and vigorously so that the eggs don’t scramble. Pour the eggs back into the rest of the milk and return to the heat and cook until thick and glossy.

Finally take the pan off the stove, stir in the vanilla essence and transfer the custard to a storage container, pressing clingfilm into the top so that it prevents a skin from forming. Wait until cold and then store in the fridge. This stage can be done up to 3 days in advance.

To make the pie crust, add all the ingredients (save the water) into a bowl and mix. When it gets to a breadcrumb consistency, add the water, little-by-little and work it into a solid lump.

Press the dough into a tart tin, prick with holes and bake in the middle of an oven at 200 degrees centigrade for approximately 15-20 minutes. Use a piece of grease-proof paper with baking beads (or old mung beans in my case!) to weigh the pastry down as it cooks, removing part way through to allow the bottom of the crust to crisp up. You’re aiming for the colour of a hobnob or digestive biscuit when it’s done.

Allow the pie crust to cool on a wire rack, until completely cold.

To assemble the pie, take the custard out of the fridge and combine it with 100ml of whipped double cream. Slather the crust with custard. Cut any stalks off the strawberries, half them, and toss them in a bowl with a little of the icing sugar, blueberries and raspberries. To finish, take handfuls of the fruit and strew it over the custard before dusting with more icing sugar.

Keep in the fridge until you’re ready, and then serve while still cool.

pm, September 20, 2014

My cinnamon buns are, as my friend Amy would say, all about dem folds.

I took some photos of the last batch I made for a zine that I’m planning to make, combining my love of food, photography, and cookbooks all into one thing. Looking forward to showing more as the project gets underway! 

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