Poached Quinces

I have a quince tree in the garden that my mother bought me 20 years ago   It holds a very special place in my heart as it was the last thing she gave me before she died.  If you have never tasted a quince it is a fruit that has to be cooked and tastes like a cross between the best apple and the best pear you can imagine.  Maybe the most popular and famous recipe that quince is used for is membrillo – the Spanish quince paste that is frequently eaten alongside manchego cheese.

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Old Fashioned Treacle Tart

I seem to be obsessing about puddings right now   Unusual for me as I don’t have a very sweet tooth.  I can’t keep blaming the change of weather but there is something about Autumn that begs for warming stews and “proper puddings”  as my husband would call them (he is definitely obsessed with puddings).   Just the thing to come home to after a walk or have with a Sunday lunch   In fact I think proper puddings are made for Sunday lunches…….then again this Treacle Tart is also very good to have sliced with a cup of tea

Treacle Tart is one of those proper puddings.  It’s a wonderfully British and rather old-fashioned pudding which, if homemade, isn’t as cloyingingly sweet as commercial ones. In fact I would go so far as to say that if you make this it will make you think again about what Treacle Tart is really like. The bread gives it a nutty texture – particularly if you use sourdough or wheaten breadcrumbs – and the zest and juice of a lemon balances the sweetness of the golden syrup and honey. I like it to serve it with a little greek yoghurt or cream but icecream, double cream or lashings of custard do very well too. Continue reading

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (Pate Sucre)

I know that some people find the prospect of making pastry really daunting.  You don’t have to make it. There are really good shop bought packets of pastry and I definitely use them when it suits me.  Or if you want to make a tart without pastry but which still slices try my Plum and Walnut Crumble Tart

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Plum and Walnut Crumble Tart

If you do want to give pastry a go and have a food processor then this recipe is an easy one of making a sweet shortcrust or pate sucre as cheffy types call it.

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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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