Wednesday, 4 November 2009

My Favourite Recipes for Autumn

Wow! It took longer than I thought to get back to writing this blog entry. The recipes I promised you last time are below, and I have another update on whats happening in this crazy little world of mine coming soon. Eventually I might be able to get into a regular routine of writing instead of random updates once in a blue moon ;)

OK, here are the recipes. I wanted to get these up in time for Halloween, since its my yearly routine to make all of these on Halloween and share a nice meal with family or friends then sit and watch a few of my fave movies before doing whatever it is that I'm doing that evening, a few issues meant I could get these up in time though.
This year I sat with my wassail and a few movie goodies, and watched Practical Magick and The Craft (which I've watched so many times I need a new copy).
Just to quickly note. All my measurements are in the UK imperial/metric. I'm not sure how it differs to the US equivalents, but this website can be VERY useful for converting them.

This can be made with either Apple Cider or Apple Juice, it depends whether you want the result to be alcoholic or not. I made more this year than I normally do, you can easily half the number of ingredients if you don't need as much.

2 litres Apple Cider/Juice (~3 pints)
3-4 tsp Whole Cloves
5/6 Cinnamon Sticks
1/2 litre Orange Juice (1 pint)
1/2 litre Pineapple Juice (1 pint)
1/2 litre Apple Juice (1 pint)

Pour all the ingredients into a large pan, add the spices, and put on a low heat for 1-2hours. Don't let it boil. After 2 hours, be sure to remove the cloves and cinnamon. It can get very strong if you leave them in for much longer, also you dont want to have to fish cloves out of your glass every time you want a drink. I like to cut fruit up and float it in the wassail if it is for a party. Serve warm.

Lentil and Orange Soup
This is a recipe I got from my Grandma. Originally a microwave recipe, we played with it a bit so I could cook it on the stove. The resulting taste is slightly different from the original, but I still think it is lovely. This soup can easily be frozen for use at a later date, and it is sometimes even better cooked a day in advance and reheated the next day. The flavour changes a bit and gets even more delicious.

8oz Red Split Lentils
1oz Butter
2 large Onions, finely chopped
1 medium Carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
1-2 Bay Leaves
1/2 pint Orange Juice
3 pints Chicken/Vegetable Stock

Its usually best with this recipe to measure out/prepare everything before hand. I still do the first part of this in the microwave. I guess its possible to do the lentils in the pan, but I have a habit of burning them, so they get nuked.
Put the butter and lentils in a microwavable bowl and cook in the microwave on full for about 5 minutes, stirring halfway throught he cooking time. While they are cooking, heat up a pan with a little bit of oil/butter and start to gently fry the onions. Don't let them brown, but just let them slowly start to cook. Once the microwave has finished, throw the lentils in the pan with the onions and add the carrot and the thyme. Gently fry them for about 10-15 minutes, stirring often. Once the onions are softened pour in the orange juice, add the bay leaves, and half of the stock.
Cook on a medium heat, taking care not to let it boil, for about 30 minutes, turn off the heat and let it cool slightly. I use a hand blender then to blend it all till smooth, however it is just as easy to pour into a normal blender, just make sure it has cooled enough first. Last time I tried using the big blender I filled it too full and it was too hot - not a good combination lol.
Either way you do it, blend it till it is fairly smooth, then add the remaining stock. It may need reheating before serving.
Enjoy :)

Apple Pie
This is a fairly basic apple pie recipe. I just wanted to share it because I love apple pie in the autumn, and people always seem a bit shocked when I say that not only do I make the pie, I also make the pastry from scratch. This is a shortcrust pastry which I've always found so easy to make. Feel free to play around with the filling, Pretty much anything goes, but cinnamon is lovely added into the apples. :)

I usually make the filling first so it has time to cool slightly before it is put in the oven. It is so easy to do. Simply peel and roughly cut 3-4 cooking(bramley) apples into chunks about 1cm cubes. It doesn't have to be exact, and they don't have to be Bramley apples. If you have a favourite apple or just have some that need using up, use those. I never really count how many apples go into the filling, I usually just guesstimate. If they are big apples, 3 will do, but with the smaller ones I've put up to 6 in before now and still had room.
Once the have been cored, peeled and cut up, put them in a pan and add a couple of tablespoons of water. You want just enough to stop them burning, the apples release a lot of liquid anyway. Cook the apples slowly, stirring often, until they are soft. Add sugar to taste - it depends on the sweetness of the apple. Some apples might not need any sugar at all. Once softened, put to one side to cool.

To make the pastry:
4oz Butter
8oz Plain Flour
pinch of salt
cold water

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/5.
First, place the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make sure the bowl is big enough to get both hands in with plenty of room for the ingredients. The last thing you need when mixing is for it to go over the sides. Make sure you have cold hands - it is easier to work the pastry. Add the butter to the bowl and rub in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. This is easier if the butter isn't as soft. Once you have done this, take a cup of cold water and add it very slowly into the mix. You wont meed an awful lot, so often it is easier to add the water in by the table spoon. Every few spoons mix the pastry with a knife. It usually takes 5-6 tablespoons of water, just go slow. It is easier to add water and nigh impossible to take water away.
Using a knife mix the ingredients until it starts to bind together. Then get your hands in the bowl. Try to keep them cool, and I've found rubbing a bit of flour on your hands often helps the pasty not to stick to you. As quickly as possible, with as little handling as possible, very gently knead the pastry till it forms a dough. Tip this onto a floured surface and beging to roll out. I usually keep back a little bit more than a third for the pie lid.
I always got told to roll away from you. Turn the pastry, don't turn yourself. So as you begin to roll it out, move the pastry clockwise every few rolls, making sure you don't let it stick to the surface or the rolling pin by using the flour. You shouldn't need a lot.
Once it has gotten to about 1/4 cm (1/8 inch) thick (it depends how thick you like your pastry), grease a ~20cm pie dish and place your pastry over this. Be gentle when lining the pie dish, you don't want holes in the base leaking filling everywhere.
By this time the filling should have cooled enough. Add this into the dish, Depending how deep the dish is, be careful not to overfill it. Leave at least a cm or two from the top free. Roll out the remaining pastry for the lid. Before placing over the pie, wet the edges of the base with water. Place the lid on, and press around the edge to seal the pie. You could pretty this up by using a fork, or pinching it at intervals, but I usually don't bother. Using a knife, cut the rough edges off the pie and make 2 or 3 small slits in the centre of the lid so that steam can escape during cooking.
Brush the top of the pie with milk and sprinkle on some granulated sugar. Bake for about 15-20 mins, keep an eye on it, once the pastry goes a light golden brown on top, it is usually done.
This is lovely served with a bit of cream, but be careful if serving straight from the oven - the filling will be extremely hot.

So, those are three of my favourite autumnal recipes. All are fairly easy to make, especially once you've done it once or twice, and I think they're very tasty. Please do let me know if you like them, by leaving a comment down there ↓. I'd love to hear any comments or suggestions or if anything from above needs clarifying. Feedback is a good thing ;)

I really hope you enjoy the recipes above. As for me, I'm off to make myself a hot drink, get a bit of revision done, then I will probably be back later tonight or tomorrow to update you all on my crazy week.


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