T is for Toffee & Apple Crumble Pie

As a fan of both pastry and crumbles, I hate being in a restaurant and having to choose between desserts, so in today’s blog I’ve used a recipe that will turn anyone’s eyes bigger than their stomach.

The recipe for toffee is conveniently on my previous blog entry, and you’ll be pleased to know this recipe only uses a small amount of it, so there’ll be plenty of toffee left to devour in your own time.

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Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pre-rolled sheet of shortcrust pastry;

For the filling:

  • 100g butter;
  • 100g caster sugar;
  • the zest of 1 orange;
  • 4 Bramley apples (peeled, cored and cubed);
  • 4 Braeburn apples (peeled, cored and cubed);
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • a large handful of small toffee pieces from my previous recipe

For the crumble:

  • 200g plain flour;
  • 100g caster sugar;
  • 35g ground almonds;
  • 10g flaked almonds;
  • 80g butter;

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Recipe:  

  1. Pre-heat the oven at 150°C. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 0.5cm thick so that the pastry is big enough to fit inside a spring-form baking tin and goes up the sides. Gently push into the base of dish. Tear off a large square of baking parchment, crunch up and then unfold and place over the pastry, then pour in ceramic baking beans. Leave to bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  2. For the filling, add the butter, sugar and orange zest to a medium-sized pan over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the chopped Bramley cooking apples and cinnamon and cook until the apples are very soft. Then add the chopped Braeburn apples and cook for another 2-3 minutes only, then turn off the heat, remove the cinnamon stick and set aside. This will ensure there are different textures in the crumble filling.
  3. For the crumble, add butter, sugar, flour and ground almonds to a bowl. Rub the mixture between the pads of your fingers and thumbs until it is like coarse sand. Then add the flaked almonds and tip into a baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Stir the mixture around every 5 minutes so that it cooks evenly.
  4. To assemble the pie-crumble, pour the apple mixture into the pre-cooked pastry and push in a handful of small toffee pieces around the mixture. Then pour the crumble on top.  Add small pieces of toffee on top of the crumble and bake at 180°C for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven, leave to cool for a couple of minutes then gently ease away the sides of the spring-form tin. Cut up and serve with ice cream or cream.

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C is for Caribbean Chicken

This Caribbean Jerk Chicken recipe is a great dish to cook when you’ve got a good few mouths to feed. It takes a bit of preparation, but you can do this in advance. The coconut ‘rice n peas’ that I’ve served with it takes about 5 minutes of preparation, 5 minutes of cooking where you need to pay attention and then just leave to cook by itself whilst you chat to your guests.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken

Caribbean Jerk Chicken

Caribbean Jerk Chicken

Preparation time: 15 minutes + minimum 2 hours to marinate (can be prepared up to 24hours in advance).

Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients: 

  • 6 chicken breasts (without skin or bones)
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 ½ thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, chopped up
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 60ml dark rum (and a dash extra for good measure)
  • 60ml lime juice
  • 60ml soy sauce
  • 120ml cider vinegar
  • 2 fresh red chiles, whole
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
Caribbean Jerk chicken - preparing the marinade

Caribbean Jerk chicken – preparing the marinade

Recipe:

  1. Put 3-4 small slashes into each chicken breast. This will allow the marinade to flavour to permeate the chicken.
  2. If you have a large food processor, get this out, else if you just have a hand blender find a container which wont have marinade flying out of (something tall).
  3. Put all the spices, garlic, fresh ginger, dark brown sugar, rum, lime juice, soy sauce, cider vinegar, chillies and onion in your container and blend until everything is a fine paste.
  4. Put the chicken breasts in a sealable container and pour the marinade over the top. Leave for 2 – 24hours.
  5. When you’re ready to cook, pre-heat the oven to 200°C
  6. In a tin-foil lined dish put the chicken and marinade. Cook for 30 minutes.
  7. After 30 minutes, prepare the ‘rice n peas’ recipe (below). Then take the chicken out the oven and pour out the majority of the watery marinade, then put back in the oven for another 30 minutes.
  8. The chicken should have a marinade crust on it and still be juicy in the middle.
Caribbean Jerk Chicken - marinated and ready for the oven

Caribbean Jerk Chicken – marinated and ready for the oven

Caribbean Jerk Chicken - just out the oven

Caribbean Jerk Chicken – just out the oven

Rice n peas

The peas are actually ‘gungo’ peas (also known as pigeon peas). If you can’t get hold of them, you can use red kidney beans or a mixed beans instead. I’ve also added sweetcorn as I’m a big fan of getting in as many of your 5-a-day as possible.

The stock can be made up using hot water and one vegetable stock cube or you can use pre-made stock, either will work equally well.

'Rice n peas' preparation

‘Rice n peas’ preparation

'Rice n peas' - preparation

‘Rice n peas’ – preparation

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 can gungo peas (pigeon peas) or black-eyed beans if you can’t get hold of them.
  • 200g sweetcorn
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 red chile, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 400g long grain rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Large pinch of salt
  • A few turns of freshly ground pepper

Recipe:

  1. In a large pan, add the oil and fry the onion over a medium-high heat for 5 minutes until translucent and starting to get a bit of colour. The add the chopped chilli and garlic and fry for another couple of minutes.
  2. Pour in the rice and slick with all oil, onions, garlic and chilli.
  3. Pour over the vegetable stock, coconut milk, thyme, salt, pepper and gungo peas and bring to the boil. As soon as the rice is boiling, turn the heat down low, put a lid on and simmer for 15 minutes (by which time all the liquid should be absorbed)
  4. 5 minutes before the rice is ready, add the sweetcorn and put the lid back on, then the rice should be sticky and ready to eat.

Serve both together and it should be a pretty good combination.