Toffee Apples

 

 

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It’s Autumn and in the shops are the sickly-sweet red toffee apples. A sticky, cellophane-wrapped Bonfire Night treat for many, but retailing often north of £1.00 a piece, are they worth it?

This simple, fast, recipe makes the perfect toffee apples, for about £0.25p a piece using mainly store cupboard ingredients.

Sadly, I cannot offer an answer as to how the ones from the shop or carnivals are red, one assumes food colouring but to be honest that doesn’t add much.

Although not healthy by any stretch of the imagination, these are vegetarian, vegan, gluten and nut free. They would make nice presents wrapped in cellophane and ribbon and last up to four days.

Ingredients:

  • 400g golden caster sugar
  • 100ml cold water
  • 4 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 6-8 Granny Smith or Russett apples
  • tiny bit of apple cider vinegar (less than a teaspoon)
  • Lollipop sticks

 

Method:

  1.  Place a heavy-bottomed pan on a medium heat, add the sugar and water and stir occasionally- this will take about 7/8 minutes.
  2. Whilst the sugar and water is cooking, blanch the apples in water from the kettle. When the waxy coating on the apple appears to have gone remove them from the water, twist out the stalk and put a lollipop stick in the stalk end of each apple
  3. Stir in the vinegar and golden syrup to the sugar mixture in the pan.
  4. Leave to thicken, stirring occasionally.
  5. Carefully pour the toffee over the apples and place them on greaseproof paper that is also slightly oiled to set.

If lollipop sticks are an issue, the caramel mixture can be added to chopped apples to make a nice base for an apple pie.  Another tasty trick is coating peeled bananas in toffee and allowing them to set as the base for a retro but non-traditional banana split.

 

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Making blackcurrant cordial/ Picking your own fruit

It’s typically British to see an overcast, slightly rainy day and yearn to go outside. I am lucky in that where I live I am nestled between the Home Counties’ finest coastline and countryside, each no more than ten minutes from my house.

I had seen a recipe for making your own version of Ribena, a rich blackcurrant cordial and decided that I fancied giving it a bash.  I went and picked my own fruit at Roundstone Pick Your Own (https://www.roundstonefarm.co.uk/) as this is where I used to enjoy going so much as a child, it’s nostalgic, cheap, and beautiful with acre upon acre of crops. If you are not able to walk far there is a tractor that drops you off in each field should you require it- meaning that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy picking their own food.

It must be said there is something enormously cathartic about picking your own fruit- it is gratifyingly hard and enormously satisfying, and I suspect, fresher than the supermarkets’ offerings, although perhaps ever so slightly more pricey.

Recipe:

  • 500g Blackcurrants
  • 200g White sugar
  • The juice of half a lemon

Instructions:

Whack all of the ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat and leave until there is ample juice and the fruit squishes. This should take approximately ten minutes. After this sieve, and put the fluid aside to cool in a sterilised bottle. For a bonus, you can make a crumble with the leftover fruity mush- I just added apple to make it sweeter.

Video because I don’t take myself seriously.

Chicken and Chorizo Paella

I can’t claim this dish is authentic and if you are Spanish I sincerely apologise, but it is very quick, easy, and tasty. Summery and light without having to totally give up stodge- hurrah!

Ingredients to generously serve 4:

  • Chicken thighs (or breast but the meat can get drier)
  • Chorizo (150g)
  • Paella rice (350g)
  • Chicken stock (as much as will absorb)
  • A pinch of saffron strands
  • A juicy garlic clove (crushed)
  • White onion or onion granules
  • A tablespoon of smoked paprika
  • Frozen peas (200g) *Peppers also work well*
  • A lemon
  • A handful of fresh parsley and a teeny bit of completely inauthentic thyme

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan over a high heat. I used a casserole dish so I could save on washing up and make it a one-pot recipe. Add the chicken and brown all over – do not cook completely. Once browned, remove. Reduce the heat, add the onions and cook slowly until  translucent and softened. If using onion granules, add these later as they would burn now.
  2. Add in the garlic, stir for about a minute then put in the chorizo and fry until it releases its oils. Stir in the spices and the tiny bit of inauthentic thyme and then tip in the rice. Stir to coat the rice in the oils and spices for about two minutes and then pour in the hot stock. Bring the whole dish to the boil and return the chicken to the pan before turning the head down to a simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally, but be aware that the rice can catch and stick at the bottom rather easily.
  3. Add the peas ( and/or peppers) into the dish and simmer  until the rice and chicken are cooked. The rice should be soft.
  4. Serve with a fresh parsley garnish and a lemon wedge.