Apple Harvest

Image result for apples
After a lovely long run of Indian Summer sun, Autumn has finally broken through and a rainy day reminds me of times to come with fires and cosy blankets, hot chocolate and warming casseroles.  We are feeling a bit smug at home having picked all the blackberries (28lbs), gooseberries (25 lbs), pears (10lbs) and apples (15lbs).  John has chopped lots of wood and it’s now drying nicely in the garage. This week, too, I have been pruning and transplanting some plants in the garden and planting out some winter pansies and cyclamen (keep thinking of them all now wriggling their roots into the newly rained soil and spreading themselves out!)
As apples were the last thing I picked, I thought to give you a couple of recipes using them.  There are so many different varieties but they all yield the same so don’t worry too much about which ones you cook – and don’t forget you can use them savoury or sweet.  The first is a pork and apple casserole, celebrating a classic pairing and is just right for early Autumn when you need something warming but not too hearty.
Pork and Apple Casserole
  • 1/2 – 1 lb (depending how hungry you are!) cubed
  • 1/2 tablespoon seasoned flour
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  •  50g smoked streaky bacon, chopped
  • 1  large leed, cut into chunks
  • 1 Garlic clove, crushed
  • 250 ml dry cider
  •  125ml  chicken stock
  •  2 tablespoon soured cream (if you don’t have any, add a little lemon juice to plain cream – or even use cream fraiche)
  • 1/2 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
  • squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 apple, cored
  • 25 g butter
  • 1 tsp. Soft Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon sage, roughly chopped

Heat the oven to 170ºC (150ºC fan oven) gas mark 3. Toss the pork in the seasoned flour. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large hob proof casserole dish. Brown the pork in batches over a medium to high heat and set aside. Fry bacon in the casserole to release the fat then turn up the heat and fry until golden. Set aside with the pork.Fry the leek until lightly golden, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in any leftover seasoned flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually blend in the cider and stock and bring to the boil.Return the pork and bacon to the casserole, cover and cook in the oven for 1-1½ hours until the pork is tender.

Remove meat and leeks with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Put the casserole over a medium heat. If the sauce is thin, reduce a little until syrupy. Add the cream and simmer for 2 minutes until thickened. Stir in the mustard. Check the seasoning and add a squeeze of lemon juice if necessary.Meanwhile, halve the apples, then cut into 1cm thick slices. Melt the butter in a pan with the sugar. When it’s stopped foaming, add the apples and fry gently for 3-5 minutes until tender and caramelised. Serve the pork and apple casserole garnished with the apple slices and sage.

And now for something sweet – Apple Crisp

  • 1 medium apple, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons quick-cooking oats
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Cream, optional

Place apple slices in a small greased baking dish. In a small bowl, combine flour and brown sugar; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add oats and cinnamon. Sprinkle over apple slices. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until tender. Serve with cream or ice cream.

Tip: I often make up a crumble mix (120g flour, with 60g butter and 60g sugar rubbed in), bake on a flat dish (180oC for about 15 minutes), take out and break up, cool and store in a jar so I can have a fruit crumble whenever I want.  Just poach your fruit and put on top (with the additional bonus of always having a crisp crumble and not one made soggy with oozing juice!)

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