Category Archives: apples

Shropshire Fidget Pie

Shropshire Fidget Pie is, I have to admit, something I became aware of only a few years ago.  It seems it went out of fashion for some time.  The interest in eating local food has revived its fortunes and I finally got to taste a fidget pie a couple of months ago at our local National Trust property.  The National Trust cafes tend to serve superb local food and this one serves food that is harvested on site from the walled garden and the farm.  Fortunately for me one of the cooks at this property is also a family friend so when I saw her just before Christmas I grilled her for the recipe.  She told me what made up the filling.

Anyway,  as a true Salopian I thought it was about time I made a Fidget Pie.  (For those unaware, a Salopian is someone born in Shropshire.  The county was previously known as Salop, goodness knows why they felt the need to change the name).  Some of you might be aware that I am very proud to be a Salopian and a Midlander so to cook something that hails from the county makes me very pleased.

Our friend’s advice and a search around the internet has led to this version.  It is a combination of several recipes.  At the National Trust they make it in a pasty shape but it is also made like a pork pie in some recipes or as a topped pie as I have in this version.

It was a total success.  Mr OC was a bit dubious when he heard what was in a Fidget Pie, but he was certainly won over tonight. The combination of cider and apples really deliver a tasty punch.  This is a pie that comes highly recommended by me and Mr OC.

Serves 4

For the pastry:

8 oz plain white flour
4 oz cold butter
4 tbsp cold water

For the filling:

1 bramley apple, cored, peeled and sliced
2-3 potatoes, peeled and finely sliced
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
250g (10oz) ham or gammon
1 tsp brown sugar
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried sage or 4-5 fresh leaves finely chopped
2 tsp cornflour
150 ml (¼ pint) double cream
450ml (¾ pint) cider

Beaten egg for brushing over the top of the pie.

Method

Start by making the pastry.  Put the flour and cold butter into a food processor and whizz until it is the consistency of breadcrumbs.  Add the water (you may need more or less) and whizz until it forms a ball.  Put the pastry into a plastic food bag or wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

For the filling, boil the potatoes for 3 minutes and then add the onions to the water and boil for another 2- 3 minutes.  Drain well.

Using a dish that measures 23cm x 30cm layer the apples, potato, onion and ham into the dish, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the brown sugar and the sage.

In a  jug stir together the cornflour and the cream until combined and then mix in the cider.  Pour this over the filling.

Roll out the pastry to the size of the dish and then cover the dish, pressing down well around the sides. Make a hole in the top of the pie. I used my blackbird as a steam vent. Brush with the beaten egg.

Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the baking oven of the Aga for about 1 hour until the pie is golden brown.

The fidget before pastry

My eldest helping with the pastry and egg wash

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Toffee Apples

They might not look perfect but they got the thumbs up from my two girls and the girl next door.

Toffee apples always remind me of Bonfire Night and as that night is nearly upon us I felt the need to make toffee apples.  Also, we recently took the girls to the annual Apple Day at The GreenWood Centre and there were toffee apples on sale, however by the time we had fought our way through the crowds there weren’t enough toffee apples left.  So I promised to make them some and last week I managed to find the time.

Actually, it takes surprisingly little time to make these, especially if you don’t mind how haphazard they look when they are finished.

PLEASE BE VERY CAREFUL , BOILING SUGAR IS EXTREMELY HOT.  It is best to do this in a quiet kitchen unaided by small children.

3 eating apples
3 lolly sticks
100g (4oz) granulated sugar
50ml (2 fl oz) water
15g (½ oz) butter
1 tbsp golden syrup

Silicone sheet or non-stick baking parchment, a pan of boiling water

Pour the sugar and water into a heavy-based pan and heat over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the butter and syrup and bring to a fast boil.  Use a sugar thermometer and bring the mixture to the hard crack stage (290°c).  If you don’t have a sugar thermometer then boil for about ten minutes until a deep golden colour and drop a small amount into a cold glass of water.  It should form a hard ball straight away.  If it clouds the water at all it isn’t ready. Boil for a few more minutes and test again.

Whilst the toffee  is boiling, bring a pan of water to the boil and drop the apples in for a few seconds.  This will remove any waxy coating and  help the toffee stick to the apples.  Remove from the water and dry well.  Stick the lolly sticks into the apples.

When the toffee is ready, take it off the heat and working quickly dip each apple into the mixture until well coated and place on the silicone sheet to harden and cool. If the mixture starts to harden before you are finished then place back on the heat for a minute or so.

To clean the pan, fill it with water and place back on the heat until it cleans itself.

DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO LICK THE SPOON.

Apple pie in the Aga

A lady called Una contacted me to ask how to cook an apple pie in the Aga as she could not find a recipe online. Well I do love apple pie, it definitely ranks up there as yet one more of my favourites ( well I like my food, so there are a lot of favourites).  So as soon as I was given some apples by a friend I made this and have now finally got around to blogging about it so hopefully rectifying Una’s dilemma.

Apple pies, in my opinion, need a shortcrust pastry and a good cooking apple – preferably a Bramley.  Now I like my apple pie to be on the tart side of things so I am more sparing with the sugar, if you prefer yours a little sweeter then add another 25g (1 oz) of sugar.  You can make shortcrust with all butter, but I do like it with half butter/ half shortening or lard.  Make sure both are straight from the fridge and that your hands are cool, as warm pastry is not a good thing.

50g (2oz) vegetable shortening or lard
50g (2oz) butter
225g (8oz) plain flour
203 tbsp of cold water

2-3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
50-75g (2-3oz) granulated sugar

Method

If you are using a food processor then tip the flour into the bowl of the processor, add the diced butter and shortening/lard and pulse for a few seconds until the fat is incorporated into the flour and the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add 2 tbsp of water and pulse again (you may need a little extra water or not quite that much) until the mixture starts to come together.  Try not to over process, you need to stop as soon as it starts to come together. Remove the blade and form the mixture into two flattened discs. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

If you aren’t using a food processor then make sure your hands are cool by running cold water over them.  Then place the flour and the diced fat into a bowl and using the tips of your fingers rub the fat into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add the water and then mix using a pallet knife at first and then your hands until it is a smooth dough.  Try to handle it as little as possible.  Divide into two flattened discs and cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

You will need a pie dish or plate. Mine is 20cm in diameter and 3cm deep.

Remove the pastry from the clingfilm and lightly flour the worktop and your rolling-pin. Roll the first disc of pastry until it is big enough to cover the bottom and the sides of the dish. Press it carefully into the dish.  Place your chopped apples into the dish and sprinkle with the sugar.  Roll the second disc until it is large enough to cover the dish. Brush a little milk around the edges of the pastry and place the lid of pastry on top and crimp around the edge to form a seal with two fingers.  Cut off any excess pastry. You can brush the top with milk too.

Place the pie on the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga for about 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden. In a conventional cooker, place in a preheated oven at 220°c for about the same amount of time. Allow to cool slightly before enjoying warm with lashings of cold double cream or custard. My mouth is watering at the very thought.

Scones by Mangocheeks

Mangocheeks has a wonderful blog where she talks about what she has cooked, where she has travelled and what she is up to in her garden.  It is a very inspirational read with wonderful photos.  Well, this morning I took a quick look and found her latest post was about Apple and Blackberry scones and they looked absolutely delicious.

At the weekend I saved a couple of wasp eaten apples from the tree and was wondering what I could do with them.  I knew that I had to make these scones the minute I saw them.  I didn’t have any blackberries as there has been a bull in the field where I normally gather my blackberries so I substituted frozen blackcurrants.  The scones were deliciously light and very tasty.  I spread mine with butter and damson jam and invited my parents for a spontaneous lunch time treat.  The weather is having its last kick of the summer and so we had a very enjoyable time eating these in the garden with a cup of tea.  Thank you Mangocheeks.  If you would like the recipe pop over to visit Mangocheeks’ wonderful blog.

Parsnip, apple and chestnut soup

I was inspired to try my hand at this soup by a visit to a local café yesterday.  I was reading the Christmas menu that I had unfortunately missed, but on it was this soup and I knew I had to give it a go.  We have some parsnips left in the garden and my husband has complained that I haven’t been using them enough so I hacked my way through the frosty soil to get at them.

I have no idea whether it tastes like the soup served at the local café but this is delicious and a very comforting dish and you can taste all three of the main elements quite distinctly, although I may use a little less apple next time I make it as my version was a little too apple-y.  I have adjusted the recipe below accordingly so I hope yours won’t be.

1 large parsnip (about 300g), peeled and chopped into chunks
1 small Bramley apple (or half a large apple), peeled, cored and chopped into chunks
1 onion, diced
1 small potato, peeled and cut into chunks
100g roasted chestnuts, plus a few extra for slicing to serve on top of the soup (I use the vacuum packed variety for ease)
20g butter and a drop of olive oil
570 ml (1 pint) chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp cumin seed
salt & pepper to taste

Method
Melt the butter with the drop of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the onion and cook for a few minutes, being careful not to allow the onion to brown.  Add the parsnip, potato and apple and cook for a few minutes more.  Add the cumin seeds and stir to combine and continue to cook for a few minutes. Season with a little salt. Add the chestnuts and the stock and bring to a simmer and cover the pan with a lid or foil.  Cook over a gentle heat for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.  If you are using an Aga, place the pan in the simmering oven for this amount of time. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste with salt and pepper.

Blend the soup either with a hand blender or in a blender or processor until smooth.  Serve in warmed bowls, sprinkled with thinly sliced roasted chestnuts.

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Baked apples

This is one of my favourite puddings.  We used to have it when we were kids on a regular basis as we had some lovely Bramley apple trees in the garden of the house I grew up in.  Fluffy apple, syrupy apple juices, plump raisins and lashings of cream make a very satisfying end to a meal.  I haven’t given quantities as it will depend on how many people you are feeding, you will need one apple for each person and for each apple you will need about a tablespoon of syrup, a tablespoon of dried fruit and a little bit of butter.

Bramley apples, cored and the skin split around the middle to prevent apple explosions
Raisins or sultanas or mixed dried fruit ( I used a mixture of chopped glace cherries to the apples in the photo)
Golden syrup
Butter
Splash of water

Method

Place the apples into a baking dish that is big enough to take all of the apples. Fill the centre of the apples with dried fruit.  Spoon over golden syrup (about a tablespoon for each apple) and place a small lump of butter onto each apple. Add a splash of water to the dish, this will help prevent the syrup burning.

Cook in a preheated oven at 180°c (gas mark 4, 350°c) for 20-25 minutes until the apples are fluffy.

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Ready for the oven