Okonomiyaki

A Japanese favourite Okonomiyaki is a cabbage ‘pancake’.

A Japanese favourite Okonomiyaki is a cabbage ‘pancake’.  It’s really delicious and easy to make.  This recipe is an Anglo-Japanese version.  Whilst it’s not totally authentic, because it uses easily accessible ingredients, it’s still close to the original, and just as tasty.

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Beetroot Tarte Tatin Recipe

A beetroot recipe which is both different and delicious.

At certain times of year allotments offer an embarrassment of riches for us growers.  Finding new and exciting ways of cooking our favourite vegetables can be as challenging as keeping the couch grass at bay.

Here’s a beetroot recipe which is both different and delicious.  Easy to make, but impressive enough to garner you plaudits from the family, it’s a great way to use up some of your beetroot harvest.

photo credit: Wond'ring Photography <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/133833852@N06/27735700865" srcset=
Beetroot via photopin (license)” width=”840″ height=”560″> Beetroot is a rich source of Vitimins A & C, calcium and iron photo credit: Wond’ring Photography Beetroot via photopin (license)

Thanks to The Guardian’s 10 best beetroot recipes 23rd Feb 2013: Original recipe by The Fabulous Baker Brothers: Glorious British Grub by Tom Herbert and Henry Herbert (Headline)

Serves 4

75g golden caster sugar

40g of butter

A splash of red wine vinegar

1 tsp of honey

7 thyme sprigs

4 fresh beetroot

250g of puff pastry (ready-made life’s too short to make puff pastry!)

4 slices of goats cheese

salt & pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.  Place a smallish, heavy, oven safe frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the sugar to the pan and stir till it dissolves, then add a big pinch of salt, all the butter and a splash of red wine vinegar.  Keep stirring till it has turned mahogany brown.  Take care not to let the sugar burn.

2. Add 1tsb of honey to the pan.  Pick the thyme leaves from the stalks and add them too.

3. Cut the cooked beetroot into nice fat slices and carefully (so you don’t burn your fingers) arrange the slices on top of the caramel to fill the pan.  Season with salt and pepper.

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry so it’s big enough to cover the beetroot, then place it on top, tucking the edges down into the pan. Put the whole lot in the oven for 30mins or until the pastry is golden brown.

5. Wearing oven gloves, place an upturned plate over the frying pan (it should be bigger than the pan) and, holding the two together, flip the lot over.  Leave it for 30 seconds to let the caramel fall from the pan onto the plate, then slowly lift the pan.

6. Serve by the wedge while still warm, with a disk of cheese on top and, if you fancy, a drizzle of honey.

 

 

 

Apple Biscuit

An old French recipe. Don’t be fooled by the name; it’s actually a cake.

Living in England we are so lucky to be able to enjoy a regular harvest of apples in a vast array of different varieties.  The abundant apple trees at the allotment first deliver a delicate beauty in spring, when festooned with fragrant blossom.  Then in the autumn months we can happily enjoy a bountiful harvest of sweet, juicy apples.

Bees love apple blossom
The bees love apple blossom photo credit: Nederland in foto’s On flight via photopin (license)

Although I have tried to select my apple varieties to ensure they store well it’s inevitable that I will have to freeze some to use in the coming months.  At home we have a production line going to core, peel and slice the apples, soak them in lemon water and freeze them, thereby keeping them fresh and delicious.

One of the reasons we do this religiously is because I have discovered an amazing apple cake recipe which, once the freezer is full of apples, we can enjoy until supplies run out.

Hollin lane allotments apple harvest
A glut of apples is a great excuse to bake photo credit: grassrootsgroundswell Apples via photopin (license)

This is an old French recipe for apple biscuit, don’t be fooled by the name, it’s actually a cake.   Biscuit was originally a dough cooked twice, (bis for twice, cuit for cooked).  The biscuit was very hard so it would keep for months, a staple food for sailors.  The original ‘biscuit’ then developed into meaning ‘a light cake’, a staple for baking.  Today it means a soft as well as a dry cake.  This apple biscuit is soft and light and showcases the apples to perfection.

The recipe is from a very old cookbook I have called The Heritage of French Cooking by The Scotto Sisters and Annie Hubert Bare (Limited Editions Booktitles).

4 large apples, I use dessert apples.

A knob of butter

2 tablespoons of brandy (calvados is great but any brandy will do)

6 1/2 oz / 200g plain flour

3 tablespoons of cornflour

6oz/ 185g caster sugar

pinch of salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 tsps baking powder

3fl oz / 90mls orange juice

5fl oz / 155mls groundnut oil

2 eggs

45g of flaked almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 350f / 180C/ gas 4.  Grease a 20cms cake mound.

2. Peel, core and chop the apples into thin slices.  Melt the butter in a large frying pan and add the apples.  (I add mine straight from the freezer if using pre-frozen apples).  Fry for 2 mins on each side or until the liquid has evaporated and the apples are golden but dry looking.  If using brandy pour the brandy over the apples and flambĂ©.  Shake the pan till the flambĂ© dies down.  Put the apples onto a plate to cool down.

2. In a bowl combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, salt, cinnamon, vanilla essence, baking powder, orange juice, oil and eggs.  Mix to a smooth batter.

3. Pour one third of the batter into the cake mould. Arrange half the apples on top to completely cover the batter.  Cover the apples with half of the remaining batter.  Arrange the remaining apples* on top and finally cover with the left over batter.

4. Sprinkle the flaked almonds on top of the cake and bake in the oven for 55mins.  Once cooked let the cake cool for 5mins then unmold and serve warm, or at room temperature, on its own or with fresh cream.

*for an alternative version I substitute the top layer of apples for a layer of blackberries which is equally as delicious.  If using frozen blackberries these should be de-frosted before use and the excess liquid drained off to prevent the cake becoming too wet.