Homemade Apple Sauce

I love apples, and this apple sauce recipe is the first time I tried it. Mainly because I made a roast pork and found we didn’t have any apple sauce in the fridge. I changed the recipe to be a smaller quantity and to use what I already had in the house. It may not look like the best apple sauce ever made and is a bit lumpy because I didn’t use cooking apples, but it tastes amazing.

Ingredients

2  Apples Peeled and Cored (the recipe said to use Bradley apples, but I used pink ladies)

25g Caster Sugar

25g Butter (I used unsalted butter)

2 tablespoons water

Melt the butter and sugar in a pan, over a medium/high heat stirring constantly to make sure the butter doesn’t burn. Once the sugar and butter are melted, add the apples. Turn the heat down to a medium/low heat, cover with a loose lid and stir occasionally. (I used this time to peel the potatoes for the roast potatoes).

After about 15-20 minutes or the apples are soft, mash with a potato masher, add the water and place back on the heat to cook for another 10-15 minutes.

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The secret to a great Roast Pork

I am far from a domestic goddess, and I don’t cook often and why I do venture into the kitchen, it usually turn out to be a complete nightmare. It’s not that the food isn’t good, it’s just that it is sometimes, well, a little odd. You see, recipes to me are a guideline, not an actual formula. So I tweak, and sometimes it’s a mess, and sometimes, it turns out well. This is one that turned out well, so I am documenting the recipe for two reasons: 1. so I have it when I need it again and 2. so anyone else who wants to know how can find it.

Start with a great piece of pork (a loin or belly that’s been tied up with string is great for this) and then some olive oil, salt and some black pepper.

Take note of the pork’s weight (you will need this a little later to work out the cooking time)

Put the oven rack in the centre of the oven

Pre-heat the over to 240 Degrees C for a normal oven or 220 Degrees C for fan assisted ovens

Line the roasting pan with heavy foil (shiny side up), add some olive oil and place in the oven to heat up (the foil makes it easier to clean out the roast pan later)

Score the skin of the roast with a sharp knife, making sure to not cut through the string

Rub the roast with a handful of olive oil, and then rub the salt and black pepper all over the saddle of the roast (the fatty bit).

Wait until the oven is hot, and carefully take the pan with the hot oil from the oven, and place the pork roast in the pan (fatty crackling side up) and put in the oven for 20 minutes

Once the twenty minutes is up, lover the heat to 190 Degrees C (normal) or 170 Degrees C (fan assisted) for the required cooking time. To work out how long you need to cook the pork for, you need to leave the pork in the oven for half an hour per 450 – 500 grams. So if your roast is 1.5 kilograms (as mine was), round to 1 1/2 hours.

Once this is done, turn the heat back up to 240 Degrees C (normal oven) or 220 Degrees C (fan assisted) for a final 10 minutes and voila’! You have a roast pork with crackling.

Little Biscuit Gems

I discovered these little biscuits Christmas of 2011 at epicurious. I’ve made a few tweaks and updated the recipes here because I need to have a central home for all of my kitchen wonders. These cookies are really yummy and the dough keeps for a few days in the fridge, so you don’t have to spend hours making cookies, you have spread it out over a few days. I also try to be a bit creative with the cookies and made them into various shapes, and various shapes of jam dots with varying success.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups (320g) plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) salt
  • 230g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • About 2 tablespoons raspberry jam
  • About 2 tablespoons apricot jam
  • About 2 tablespoons strawberry jam

Equipment

  • a 1/2-inch-thick wooden spoon handle or dowel

Make dough:

Whisk together flour and salt. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until very pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes, then beat in egg and vanilla. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches just until a dough forms. Divide dough in 3 and form each piece into a 6-inch disk, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 1 hour.

Assemble and bake cookies:

Preheat oven to 180°C with rack in middle. Line 1 large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll 3 separate level teaspoons of dough each into a ball. I found that with the dough being as cold and difficult to manage, it also works to cut the dough into cubes and then roll into little balls. Then flatten each ball slightly (to 1 inch wide and less than 1/2 inch thick). Arrange the three balls in a triangle on baking sheet with edges touching in center, then make a deep indentation in center of each round with wooden spoon handle. Make more cookies, arranging them 1 inch apart on baking sheets.

Fill indentations in each cookie with about 1/8 teaspoon jam (each cookie should have 3 different fillings).  Found that if you keep the jam as cold as possible, it’s quite easy to fill the indentations using a 1/4 teaspoon measure, but filling it halfway and then wrangling the jam out into the indentation.

Bake until cookies are baked through and golden-brown on edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely. If you move them too soon they just fall apart).

Bake more batches on cooled baking sheets lined with fresh parchment.

Photo from the original epicurious recipe.

Pancakes

When I was growing up in South Africa, it was tradition to have pancakes on wet, rainy days. I never really understood where the tradition came from, but I suppose it was a great way to keep the children occupied while they were stuck inside (needless to say this was before the new media age).

When we moved to the UK, we found that there was a different tradition involving pancakes. The Tuesday before the start of Lent is pancake Tuesday and most of the country eats pancakes. I’m up for pancakes anytime, the more pancakes the better!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (110g) Plain Flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Baking Powder
  • 2 tablespoons (15ml) Sugar
  • 1 egg
  • +-1 1/2 cups (450ml) milk
  • 2 tablespoons (15ml) Oil for frying

Mix the flour and sugar together. Make a well in the middle of the flour and using a wooden spoon stir in approximately 400ml of the milk. Then add the egg and beat with a mixer.  If the mixture is too thick, add more milk until you have the right consistency.

Pour the oil into a frying pan and allow to heat up. Once hot, pour the oil out of the pan into a cup/jug (I use a mug).

Pour some mixture into the pan, enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan. Wait until the pancake is cooked through (it will have set on top) and turn over.

This mixtures serves about 10 pancakes (allowing for the broken and burnt ones), just enough for the two of us.

Serve with Cinnamon sugar (1/8 teaspoon cinnamon mixed with around 3 tablespoons Sugar), banana slices, nutella, chocolate sauce, ice cream or anything else you can think of.

Lamb and vegetable stew/soup

This is our own figured out from scratch recipe for vegetable and lamb stew. we don’t like watery stew so this comes out as a thick soupy stew (or a thick hearty soup). This is a thick hearty soup which is perfect for those cold winter evenings.

Ingredients

5 medium size carrots (chopped into rounds)

1 medium/large turnip (chopped into rounds)

¼ medium onion (chopped)

¼ chopped medium sized leek

Small swede (or ½ a large one) (chopped)

400g stewing lamb (cut into squares)

6 small peel new potatoes

1 vegetable stock cube

1 beef stock cube

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons butter (we used flora squidgy butter)

water

Fry the carrots, turnip and swede in ½ the butter for about 15 minutes on a medium heat. Then add the onions and leek, stir and then add the remaining butter (you may want to add a little extra butter if you need to). Fry until the onions are soft, but not brown.

Add enough water to cover the vegetables and simmer. Crush the vegetable stock cube and add directly to the pot. Keep adding water to make sure that the vegetables are covered. About half an hour in, crush the beef stock cube and simmer for about another half hour or until the carrots and turnips are soft, making sure the vegetables stay covered in water. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a separate pan, brown the lamb cubes and season with salt and pepper. Then add to the vegetable stew and simmer for another hour on a medium/low heat, constantly adding water and stirring.

20 -30 minutes before serving (depending on how soft you want your potatoes), add the potatoes to the pot and continue simmering on a low/medium heat, constantly stirring and making sure the mixture is covered in water. When the broth has reached the right consistency, serve with warm bread and butter.

Banana Bread

I find banana bread so much more satisfying than muffins. it has a warm rustic, homely feel to it. This is a family recipe from when I was a child. I can remember we always used to double up the quantities and make 2 loaves because invariable we’ll have eaten one while it was still warm straight out the over.

The best way to have it while it’s still warm with loads of butter.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (115g) butter/margarine
  • 3/4 cup (170g) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 bananas
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) milk
  • 2 cups (220g) plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat Oven to 180C/375F

In a large bowl, cream butter and slowly add sugar, continue beating while adding the eggs one by one. Set mixture aside.

In a separate bowl, mash the bananas with a fork (they should be mashed roughly), then mix in the milk.

Sieve the flour and other dry ingredients together and then add alternately with the banana mixture to the butter mixture. I mix this with a wooden spoon to make sure it isn’t over mixed.

Pour the batter into a loaf tin and bake for 55 minutes at 180 C.

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