With fresh, seasonal ingredients being at the core of all good cooking, I am hoping this and any future jottings and recipes will encourage you to enjoy with me, the pleasure to be had from local food. To be at ease with a mix of common readily available and seasonal ingredients, is all we need.
As the first regular recipe column (I believe) in the Donhead Digest, it’s going to be many years before we can build up a good variety and choice of recipes. Nonetheless I will try to keep a good balance of ideas, budget and skill levels. Primarily, ingredients will be sourced from our local Ludwell Stores, Buttlings butchers and the Greenacre Farm Shop or possibly have you scurrying to the vegetable bed, fruit cage or hedgerow.
Food has been a magnificent obsession of mine since my early twenties, and no doubt contributed to my ballooning waist line (the foodie’s occupations hazard.) This passion was not borne out of childhood memories of watching grandma bake bread or my mother’s jugged hare, although she did serve a spectacular ‘scrag-end’ stew, but rather from hunger and need for work. This all changed and the passion grew.
I’ve had twenty odd years working in the Hospitality industry and despite some grim early experiences (stories of which would make your hair curl…another issue maybe)… it’s been fantastic if hard on the feet. More than anything, I now appreciate entertaining at home, experimenting on friends who so far, seem happy to humour me when I have the odd disaster. It’s probably the doggie bags of successes they come for, as I still make enough for a restaurant full! It’s these ideas and recipes, together with some stories of the catering business, I hope to engage you with in future issues of the Donhead Digest.
My first recipe, of what I hope will be many, according to Nigella, is a pudding eaten in Britain since the late 1700’s, and when you’ve tried it, you’ll see why. Simple puddings are compelling, and this one offers a velvety apple puree with a hint of cinnamon. The sugary, crunchy but light casing just melts in the mouth. The soaked sultana’s and complimentary fruit, are both optional.
This wonderful pudding can be made in advance (on the day) and warmed through before serving, or even eaten cold. Perfect for Sunday Lunch as not too heavy and makes a great elevensees treat – especially when finishing up ‘leftovers’ alone with a cup of coffee the following day! Aif
Apple Charlotte (serves 6 - 8) Around 38p per portion when all ingredients purchased in the Donhead's. (Using windfalls; hedgerow fruits; store cupboard ingredients = about 15p pp)
1.35kg Apples (mix of eaters or cookers, not too tart)*
1 Brioche loaf or rolls (you will only use half)
200g Unsalted butter
3 Egg yolks (keep a little of the white)
75g Caster sugar
2-3 tbls Demerara sugar
1 Cinnamon stick (you can use ½ tsp grnd cinnamon if necessary)
Optional….but worth it.
75g Golden sultana’s soaked in 3 tbls of hot Calvados and left until plump
* Replace one third of the apple with any mix of hedgerow berries or currants. Blackberries work brilliantly at this time of year.
Oven 180°C / Gas Mark 4 / AGA – grid shelf on floor with cold shelf above
1. Peel, core and chop apples and add to pan with 30g butter, 600ml water, cinnamon stick and caster sugar.
2. Cook over medium high heat with lid on for about 10 minutes until soft, then beat until smooth and transfer to bowl to cool, removing the cinnamon stick.
3. Melt remaining butter and paint the bottom and sides of a 21/23 cm loose-based cake tin.
4. Line the bottom and sides with thin slices of the brioche, painting with butter as you go. Build up a jigsaw with no gaps whatsoever, and then paint the joins with a little egg white to seal.
5. Beat the egg yolks and soaked sultana’s if using, into the cooled apple mix and then fill the bread-lined cake tin.
6. Layer the top with buttered brioche slices, again forming a neat jigsaw. Paint generously with the remaining butter.
7. Sprinkle over the demerara sugar.
8. Cook on (preferably) a pre-heated baking sheet for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. (The baking sheet helps contain any dribbles).
9. Remove from the tin when cooled a little, to avoid subsidence!
10. Slice and serve with cream or ice-cream - see below.
Wonderful served with a scoop of Amaretto iced cream. Literally Iced cream. Whip whipping cream to soft peaks, fold in a little sieved icing sugar to taste, crushed Amaretti biscuits and a slug of Amaretto (or any liqueur – not essential) and freeze. Remove from the freezer 10 minutes before scooping out to serve.
These musings and recipes are gleaned from The Donhead Digest with the permission of AIF, their author.