Thursday, 31 October 2013

Apple and Mincemeat Turnovers

When I was a kid my Mom used to bake apple turnovers.  I loved them because they had a high crust to apple filling ratio.   When it comes to pie, the pastry is my favourite part. 

Andy loves mincemeat pies.  He likes all the dried fruit and nuts, me - not so much.  So when he asked me to bake mincemeat pies I thought a compromise was in order.  I needed to devise a recipe that gave me the parts of the pie that I liked, the pastry bit, and gave Andy the mincemeat filling he likes.  Apple and mincemeat Turnovers are the perfect solution.

Now,you can make the pastry and mincemeat from scratch but I cheated.  All you need is some store bought pastry, a couple of apples, a jar of good store bought mincemeat, and a couple of store cupboard items .  I think you will agree you can't tell by looking that these turnovers weren't made from scratch.

Here's how to make these rustic turnovers:

Peel, core, and dice one cooking apple and one dessert apple*. 

Place the diced apples into a sauce pan with 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Cook over a low heat until the apples begin to soften.  This could take 5-10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the apple mixture cool. 

Stir a big spoonful of mincemeat into the apple mixture and set to the side while you prepare the pastry. 

I used ready rolled pastry so all I needed to do was cut out discs with a large pastry cutter.  You could also use a small plate and cut around them with a knife.  

Place a spoonful of filling onto the centre of each pastry disc.  Moisten one half of the outer edge of the pastry with a tiny bit of water, fold the pastry over the filling, and crimp the edges together with a fork.  

Brush the turnovers with a bit of milk or egg wash if you like. Make a tiny slit in each one to let the steam out as they bake. 

Place the turnovers on a baking sheet lined with paper.  Bake for 20-30 minutes at 200C/400F.  The pastry should be a light golden brown.

Patient people would let the Apple-Mincemeat Turnovers cool, then dust them with icing sugar... but we ate six of the tiny treats warm out of the oven. 

And from the pastry scraps I made this little mincemeat tart, a bonus treat!

*Thank you, Pink Lady Apples UK, for providing the delicious dessert apple used in this recipe.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Dartington Hall Gardens - Part III

When we last met, Andy and I were standing in the  elegant presence of FLORA at Dartington Hall Gardens .  A great storm had been forecast and we were desperate to see all the colourful autumn leaves before they were scattered from the trees.

We could feel the weather closing in so we hurried down the path, through the woods where we saw a clump of bright shrubs.

Now this what I had been hoping to see.... brilliant foliage!

 All of Autumn's rich colours were here in this little collection of plants.

And there were some prickly pods, too. 

Even Henry Moore's reclining lady seemed transfixed by the display.

By now, what had felt like mist began to turn into droplets.  There was one last statue we had to find.  We couldn't leave until we'd seen him.  We had to find the little donkey!

 We hurried down the path, the wind growing stronger, and there waiting patiently was the most lovely little donkey!

We stroked his ears, took his photograph and promised we'd visit him again.  Then we hurried up the path, past the serene Buddha....

Past the thatched summer house...

And out into a torrential downpour!  I decided then and there, I'd be coming back to the garden...perhaps next weekend.  I am sure there will be even more colourful scenes to photograph.  

Click on this link to plan a visit to DARTINGTON HALL.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Dartington Hall Gardens - Part II

In the last post we began our tour of DARTINGTON HALL GARDENS .   We'd just walked past the Great Hall and the White Hart Pub to catch the first glimpse of the garden...

This amazing garden is called the Tiltyard.  You can image people sitting on the step like terraces as knights joust below.

It was difficult to choose which path to take but we decided to keep to the right and go in search of more colourful leaves.

We came upon the beautiful Swan Fountain.  Look closely, at first I thought there was only one swan.

There are two swans entwined.  Swans are a symbol of fidelity, they mate for life.

I could have stayed here for hours but there was no time to waste.  We could see the storm moving in and there was more to see.

We were looking for Flora.  The map pointed us down a path lined with trees full of golden foliage.

We could just see her at the end of the path when something caught my eye.

On the mossy branches of the trees were compete gardens in miniature. The plants look as if they should be underwater corals.

Now the clouds were darkening and we could feel misty drops of rain.  We  hurried up the path to find Flora.

At the end of the path, stood the 17th century statue and this is were I will leave you for this part of our visit to Dartington Hall Gardens.  We still have lots to see.  Hope the weather holds out for us.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Dartington Hall Gardens

Diary entry:  Saturday, October 26, 2013

Weatherman is forecasting a devastating storm for most of Britain, winds up to 100 miles per hour.  Visited Dartington Hall Gardens, took photos, ate tapas, got rained on, went grocery shopping, baked 12 tiny turnovers and a mini tart. V. busy day!

As, you know, I love autumn for it's beautiful foliage.  With severe weather blowing in, we knew we'd have to get somewhere fast if we wanted to photograph the colourful leaves before they were ripped off the trees by hurricane force winds.  Dartington Hall Gardens near Totnes was the perfect solution.


Bright pink leaves of Virginia Creeper covered the outer walls, this was a good start.
Formal beds and stone paths led us through the arch and into the courtyard where we encountered this...
The Great Hall.  The Great Hall was build around 1388 for the half brother of King Richard II.   The hall is decorated with carvings of the White Hart, the emblem of King Richard II.......
Hence the name of the Pub where we had tapas for lunch.

This stunning and historic architecture is worth the visit alone, but we were here to see the gardens.  And this is where they begin...
But this blog post stops here.   I have so much more to show you and I want to save it for another day. 
If you are intrigued, read more about the Dartington Hall Trust and their educational programs for the Arts,  Sustainability, and Social Justice by clicking  HERE  and  HERE . 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Spicy Fall Flapjacks with Pink Lady Apples

Every Friday I bake a treat especially for Andy.  Sometimes he chooses what he would like me to make, but today I've decided to combine two of his favourite things, flapjacks and Pink Lady Apples. 

I started with the flapjack recipe from PINK LADY APPLES and made a few tiny changes.  The original recipe calls for ground ginger but I just had to add a bit of ground cinnamon too.  The result is what can only be described as Spicy Fall Flapjacks!

Here's the recipe:

2 Pink Lady Apples - peeled, cored, and grated (8oz or 240grams prepared)
200 grams porridge oats
150 grams butter
70 ml golden syrup
40 grams soft brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.  Butter an 8 inch round cake pan and line the bottom with a bit of baking paper. 

Place the apples and brown sugar into a large saucepan. Place the pan over a gentle heat and simmer until the apples are soft and some of the juice has evaporated.

Add the butter, golden syrup, salt and spices to the pan and bring the mixture  back to a gentle simmer.

Remove the pan from the heat.  Stir in the oats, making sure they are well coated.  Pour the flapjack mixture into the prepared pan, spreading the mixture evenly to the edges of the tin.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the edges of the flapjack are a light golden brown. 

Now here is the tricky part.  You MUST leave the flapjack in the pan to cool completely before cutting it.  I know how tempting it is to just have a little nibble but flapjacks are delicate when warm and will simply fall apart.  Step away from the flapjack!

When the flapjack is completely cool, turn it out of the pan and cut it into wedges. You decide how big your flapjacks should be.  Now pour a cup of tea and enjoy a taste of Autumn. Be sure to store any leftovers in an airtight container. 

Thank you Pink Lady Apples U.K. for providing the delicious ingredients for this recipe.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A Parcel from Pink Lady Apples

Andy can be a picky eater but one thing he never turns down is a Pink Lady Apple.  He buys bags of them and eats one almost every day.  Imagine how exciting it was when this big parcel arrived from Pink Lady Apples!

I was expecting a parcel but I didn't expect two beautiful pink boxes tied with Pink Lady ribbon.

In addition to the pink boxes, there was a little bubble wrap bundle of goodies containing a Pink Lady key ring and a Pink Lady pen!

Do you remember how it was when you were a kid at Christmas?  You want to rip open the presents but you know you'll get scolded for being so greedy.  It was sort of like that opening the pink boxes.  I carefully removed the bubble wrap, untied the first ribbon and inside were these...

Nine lovely Pink Lady Apples nestled in bright pink paper.   Good thing I didn't shake the box before opening it.   And in the second box....

Every ingredient I need to make Pink Lady Flapjacks!  Thank you PINK LADY APPLES for this lovely parcel.  Time for me to start baking. 


Monday, 21 October 2013

Gingerbread Jelly

All summer long I had a little project in mind.  Every time I baked something with peaches or peeled an apple, I popped the peach pits and peelings into a big bag and put them in the freezer.  When the apple harvest came in I had so many apple cores and peelings I could hardly close the freezer door.  It was time to put my plan into action: Operation Compost Jelly

I knew that just the peelings and scruffy bits might need a little boost in flavour so I started with this beautiful Apple Jelly recipe written by Debora Robertson.  I always find her recipes and projects so inspiring. With a few substitutions and an addition of some store cupboard spices,  I came up with the idea for Gingerbread Jelly.  Here's what you need to make it:

1 kilogram cooking apples - roughly chopped, core, peel and everything!
1 lemon
250 ml apple cider or perry (pear cider)
50 grams honey
ground ginger (1/2 teaspoon per 600ml juice)
ground cinnamon (1 teaspoon per 600ml juice)
3-4 whole cloves
Jam sugar with pectin (450 grams per 600ml juice)

Place the chopped apples (or the frozen fruit trimmings) into a preserving pot or the biggest saucepan you have. Add the lemon juice and the lemon rind, the cider or perry,  cloves and honey. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. After an hour of cooking over a low heat, you will have a lot of rich apple juice and some very squidgy bits.  Drain the juice through a jelly bag or a muslin lined colander. (See Debora's recipe for special tips and instructions).

Measure the apple juice and pour it into your preserving pan or large sauce pan.  For every 600ml of juice add 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.  Stir in 450 grams of jam sugar for every 600ml of juice.  Place the pan over a low heat and stir until all the sugar is dissolved then bring the mixture to a full rolling boil.  Cook until the jelly reaches set point.  Pour into sterilized jars and seal.  Your kitchen will smell like Christmas and gingerbread!

For more great recipes and crafty projects from Debora Robertson click HERE


An Unfortunate Incident

This weekend my laptop met with an unfortunate accident.  I was doing my usual thing of trying to do three things at once, at maximum speed, and I dropped it.  The screen is shattered as are most of my plans for processing photographs and writing blog posts.  Andy has provided me with temporary methods of doing these things but as you know,  working on strange computers makes everything more complicated. 

I apologise in advance for wonky photos and even wonkier blog posts.  We will get the hardware problems sorted out eventually.  However, fixing my fumbly fingers seems most unlikely to happen. 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Passing Through Glastonbury

Andy and I did something unusual today, we went shopping for shoes.  Shoe shopping usually means a trip to Street and Clarks Village.  And that means you are only minutes away from GLASTONBURY .  Of course we had to make a quick stop there.
GLASTONBURY ABBEY is famous for being the reputed burial place of King Arthur, the chap who had the Knights of the Round Table.  I'd love to believe that story but probably it was made up by the monks to bring a steady income to the Abbey in the form of pilgrims.
Tourism has always been big business in Glastonbury.  This ancient inn is called The George and Pilgrim's Hotel.
The Abbey is the heart of the town but there are lots of strange and wonderful shops full of magical, mystical goods.  The most tempting shop for me was this bakery.
I find Glastonbury enchanting in many ways.  Most of all, I love the delicate details like this stone couple holding up the corner of a shop.
Today was a whistle stop tour of Glastonbury, just a little taste of this lovely town.  I promise one day I'll show you more.  For now let's just peak over the wall at the ancient Abbey.
Who knows, maybe the monks were telling the truth and Arthur really is resting just beyond these walls.