As I believe I’ve mentioned before, I tend to get side-tracked a lot when browsing the internet, and the inspiration for this week’s recipe is the result of just such a wandering.
Apple and cheese is a classic combination, and together with some smoked ham is one of my favourite toasted sandwiches. But that’s another story. In Yorkshire, it is traditional for Wensleydale cheese to be served alongside slices of apple pie, and a saying dating back over 250 years tells us
‘An apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze.’
An alternative to serving cheese alongside, is to bake it into the pastry, where it rounds out the flavour of the apple deliciously, without being obvious.
The recipe today pushes this a little bit further by adding green chillies to the apple mixture, and is an adaptation of one served at Chile Pies and Ice Cream, in San Francisco.
Although I found several versions of the pie online, after baking it as per the original, I decided that it needed tinkering with (sorry Chile Pies and Ice Cream!) and the results are below. I was unable to find the roasted chillies specified in the original recipe (Confession: I didn’t even look), so I went with fresh chillies and de-seeded them, which I found gave a real freshness and just enough of a hint of heat without swamping everything. Adding the zest of the lemon as well as the juice really brings out the apple flavour and I’ve reduced the amount of spices, which I found too strong in the original. Even with almost double the original amount of cheese in the pastry, the flavour is not too much, so if you want to go really cheesy, maybe add some grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, and as always, the dry mustard powder really rounds out the flavour. The walnuts in the crumble tended to burn very easily, so I swapped them for oats which I love for their nutty crunchiness.
Bramley Apples are fabulous for this recipe. For anyone who is unlucky enough not to be familiar with them, they are a specialist cooking apple grown in the UK. When cooked, they hold their shape until touched, whereupon the apple pieces dissolve into a froth of apple snow, literally melting in the mouth (if that is possible with hot food). If you’re unable to find any Bramley Apples, use a sharp dessert apple such as Braeburn, which will hold its shape and not release too much juice – which means you might want to reduce/omit the cornflour in the filling. Also, reduce the oven temperature to 180°C, 160°C Fan and cook a little longer.
Green Chilli Apple Crumble Pie
50g unsalted butter
80g strong, tasty cheddar
200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
ice water to mix
35g brown sugar
100g caster sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
zest & juice of ½ a lemon
2 Bramley Apples
2 green chillis
20g light Muscovado sugar
60g plain flour
Pinch of salt
40g steel rolled oats
- Cheese Pastry
- Put the lard, butter and flour into a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Roughly chop the cheese and add to the mixture.
- Pulse 3 or 4 times to break up the cheese.
- Slowly add the ice water, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together in a ball.
- Tip out the pastry and knead a few times until smooth.
- Wrap in plastic and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove from the fridge and roll out to about 5mm.
- Grease two 20cm loose-bottomed tart tins and line with the pastry. Alternatively, make individual tarts.
- Mix the sugars, cornflour and spices in a bowl and set aside.
- Grate in the lemon zest and stir.
- Peel and de-seed the chillis and chop finely.
- Peel, core and chop the apples into small slices.
- Put the chopped apples into a bowl and toss in the lemon juice.
- Scatter over the chillis.
- Sprinkle the sugar and spice mixture over the apples and chillis and stir gently to combine.
- Divide the filling between the tarts.
- Put the butter, lard, sugar and flour into a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Tip the mixture into a bowl and stir in the oats.
- Sprinkle over the apple fillings.
- To Bake
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180ºC Fan.
- Put the tart tins onto a baking sheet, preferably one with a raised edge, as there might be some overflowing of juices.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the baking sheet around 180 degrees and bake for a further 15-20 minutes. For individual tarts, begin baking the same way, but cook for just 10 minutes after turning the baking sheet.
- Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tins and cool on a wire rack.
- Serve warm with pouring cream
Right off the bat I’m going to admit that this is not an original recipe, but it IS one of my absolute favourite Christmas dishes. In fact, I like it so much, I make it even when it isn’t Christmas – it makes a fab meal all by itself, especially when served alongside some crunchy stuffing! My (English as opposed to Dutch) sister-in-law made it years ago and I managed to pry the recipe out of her clutches long enough to make a copy – The Precious! It’s from an old Prima magazine, and I’m sharing it today as a suggestion to making your Christmas that little bit easier and a whole lot tastier.
To my mind, one of the best things about the traditional Christmas turkey meal isn’t the bird itself, it’s all the trimmings that go with it: bacon rolls, chipolata sausages, stuffing, chestnuts, cranberries, etc. However, on probably the most stressful day of the year foodwise, you don’t really want to be juggling all these itty-bitty bits on top of everything else, so here’s a fabulous and delicious solution: Trimmings Tart. All the traditional Christmas trimmings gathered together in a kind of savoury Tarte Tatin, with a balsamic caramel glaze and topped with crumbly, buttery, walnut pastry.
Make it ahead of time and all it requires on the day is 20-25 minutes to cook the pastry and heat the filling – you could do that while the turkey was resting. Turn onto a plate to serve and cover any crumbly edges with rosemary sprigs – it’s what I did! When I turned the tart out this morning, I forgot to loosen the pastry from the edge of the pan (not that the original recipe tells you to do that!), and so it didn’t all come out smoothly. I’ve got to be honest, I actually toyed with the idea of dashing to the supermarket at 10am and buying more ingredients to make another one. But then I thought: No, hang on – what it this was Christmas Day? No shops open to fall back on, so some improvisation would be in order. And let’s be honest here, it’s going to be on the table for all of five minutes before people are ripping into it like a monkey on a cupcake, so no need to agonise over presentation too much. The original serving suggestion does actually include sprigs of rosemary, admittedly not quite as many as I used, but I think they make it look very Christmas-wreathy.
The glaze is dark due to the balsamic vinegar, but I quite like that as it makes the red of the cranberries really pop. Feel free to use white balsamic if you can get it, or a mild wine vinegar to lighten things up. Use any mushrooms you like, but chestnut mushrooms won’t have lots of black juice oozing out, and will keep their texture. Fresh chestnuts are wonderful and give great texture to the forcemeat, but a little time-consuming to peel and cook. If you know you won’t be using them in anything else, you could buy them ready-prepared. Try and get good quality, lean bacon for the bacon rolls – otherwise there’s more faffing about trimming off the excess fat. Extra cranberries can be made into sauce with just a little sugar and water. Don’t roll your pastry too thin – there’s a hefty number of ingredients to support once the tart is turned out. This quantity makes just about a perfect amount of pastry for a 24cm tart.
225g plain flour
1 large egg yolk
2 cloves of garlic
85g lean smoked bacon
85g chestnut mushrooms
85g smooth liver pate
60g fresh breadcrumbs
1tbs fresh thyme
1tbs snipped fresh chives
85g cooked, peeled chestnuts
16 round shallots
1tbs vegetable oil
3tbs light muscovado sugar
2tbs balsamic vinegar
16 rashers of rindless smoked bacon
16 chipolata sausages
A handful of fresh cranberries
rosemary to garnish
- Put the flour, butter, walnuts and egg yolk into a food processor and blitz. Depending on the moisture in the flour and butter, the yolk might be enough to bind it together. If not, use 1-2 tbs cold water until it comes together in a ball.
- Knead the dough smooth, then cover in plastic and chill in the fridge.
- Peel the onion and garlic and chop them finely in a food processor.
- Melt the butter in a pan and cook the onions and garlic until softened.
- Chop the bacon in the food processor, then add to the pan and cook for a few minutes.
- Chop the mushrooms in the food processor, then add to the pan and cook for a few minutes to release the moisture.
- When the mixture seems dry, tip it into a mixing bowl
- Add the breadcrumbs, pate, chopped chestnuts and herbs and mix thoroughly.
- Make the mixture up into balls using a tablespoon or a small ice-cream scoop to measure.
- Pour boiling water over the shallots and leave for 2 minutes. This makes them easier to peel.
- Peel the shallots and cook in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain. Dry.
- Roll the bacon up and secure with cocktail sticks.
- Grill the sausages and bacon rolls.
- Heat the butter and oil in a pan and gently fry the shallots until golden. NB This should be the pan you will use to bake the tart, so make sure it has an oven-proof handle or one that can be removed. Alternatively, when the shallots are cooked, tip them and the glaze into a cake/tart tin.
- Add the sugar, balsamic and water to make the glaze and cook for a further 5 minutes until the liquid has reduced and thickened. Remove from the heat.
- Arrange the forcemeat balls, bacon rolls and sausages in the pan with the shallots.
- Add the cranberries to fill any gaps. Allow the filling to cool.
NB If you’re making the tart ahead of time, then stop here. Cover the filling with clingfilm and keep in the fridge until required.
To bake and serve:
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
- Roll out the chilled pastry until just large enough to cover the filling.
- Lay the pastry over the filling and tuck round the sides.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.
- Set the cooked tart aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly.
- Run a knife round the edge of the pastry to make sure it isn’t stuck to the pan.
- Place a plate over the pastry and carefully flip the pan over to turn out the tart.
- Gently lift the pan off, checking that none of the filling has stuck. If it has, use a slice to ease it from the pan and place it neatly back into its place on the tart.
Cover up any pastry/filling disastersGarnish the tart with sprigs of rosemary.