Plum, Hazelnut and Sloe Gin Crumble

Autumn is well and truly here and with that comes the time for crumble.      This recipe sees deep jewelled magenta plums spiked with sloe gin,  bubbling through a golden knobbly, textured crumble that is laced with toasted oats and hazelnuts

I know everyone thinks of crumble as an easy, ordinary dish but I think with the few extra tweaks here it becomes something amazing.    Sloe gin and hazelnuts are a marriage made in heaven.   The two types of sugar really add to the depth and texture of the crumble and the toasty flavour you get from the oats and demerara sprinkled on top are worth it for the smell alone   I add, perhaps surprisingly, a few leaves of fresh thyme to the crumble mix which just work in a way you just can’t place  This recipe really is the embodiment of the “mellow fruitfulness” in Keats’ ode To Autumn

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Basil and Courgette Cornbread

This is particularly wonderful as an accompaniment to the Vegan Chilli recipe earlier but also great with a great British fry up, with soups or with chicken.  The Americans are big fans of cornbread and if you make this you can see why.  It can be made really quickly and somehow, maybe because we don’t make it that often over here, it always makes people want to try a bit.   I make it using measuring cups as it is just so easy to do rather than measuring and very American so in the true spirit of cornbread but in case you don’t have them I have given equivalents in grams as well

Its sweet yet intensely savoury. It’s got texture from the polenta/cornmeal and in this version its yeast free AND vegan!!!

It freezes well of course and I microwave it or stick it in the oven from frozen. You wouldn’t know the difference from fresh out the oven!!!

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Vegan Chilli

Yesterday was my Goddaughter’s 29th birthday (Happy Birthday Chloe!!).  She recently became a vegan and is still experimenting with vegan recipes so I thought I’d put on her favourite chilli recipe (followed by the one for Basil and Courgette Cornbread so that she could make it whenever she wants.

I promise you that this is another of those dishes that doesn’t shout out it’s vegan credentials – it is just really tasty.  You can serve it on top of rice or a baked potato loaded up with thick yoghurt and cheese (vegan or otherwise) and the tomatoey, rounded chilli flavours will make you lick your lips with anticipation.  The roasted and spiced sweet potato flavour just balances the whole thing though if you only have butternut squash use that instead.  In fact adapt this chilli to how it suits you. Use a mix of red and yellow peppers instead of just red.   Add more chillis if you like it hotter.  Replace the red wine with water if you don’t have a bottle open (though I think adding it makes a huge difference). Continue reading

Porcini Mushroom and Pancetta Baked Pasta

There is something extremely comforting and homely about the smell of this dish as you take it from the oven.  The deep earthy aroma of the mushrooms and the salty tang of the pancetta and parmesan makes me salivate.   All you you want to do is to curl up on a sofa and dive into a big bowl of this.   It doesn’t matter if all those fallen leaves are dancing around in the wind outside because this dish will make you feel cosy.  The silky, intense mushroom and bechamel coated pasta warms you and all is alright with the world.   True comfort food.

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Cider With Rosie

You may not realise it but you can actually use any type of apples to make cider.   What you use normally depends on what you have growing in your garden.  For us here in Suffolk it is a combination of the dessert and cooking apples which we have growing in our back garden.  The blend of their juices gives us what they call an “Eastern Counties” cider that has a clean, sharp taste (as opposed to the richer “West Country” style which is made from cider apples).   As it takes 20lb or 9kg of apples to produce enough juice to fill a 4.5 litre or a gallon demijohn it is a good way of using up any surplus fruit, particularly as you can use windfalls

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Cumberland Sauce

This is such an old fashioned and largely forgotten sauce made with red currant jelly, oranges and lemons and spiked with mustard and ginger.   No onions, which makes it a great sauce for people who can’t eat alliums who often find savoury sauces difficult.

My Mother loved this sauce. She used to serve it with roast gammon and mashed potatoes for her supper parties and it went down a storm   So she kept making it and making it until my Father felt forced to ask whether she could perhaps make a different meal when they next entertained!  She did but it was still a regular favourite and made many more appearances!

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Dundee Cake

This Dundee cake is filled with raisins, sultanas, glacé cherries and apricots plump from having been soaked in a mix of sloe gin, sherry and whisky. Don’t by the way worry about the alcohol in this cake as once cooked it’s perfectly ok to drive afterwards or give to kids.  This is a light fruit cake but wonderfully moist and slightly crumbly. Continue reading

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