Tag Archives: fruit

Blackberry Blueberry & Apple Pie

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda

I spend most days having to look at a dilipdated Fanny which is the equivalent of looking at a sad old pie. A rather fatty pork pie I may add. However despite her unfortunate looks, (which are considerably worse before she cakes on the makeup), I am not put off by such horrors. This week to compensate for my pain, I have made the most delectable Autumn orientated fruit pie in the world and one thing pleases me in particular; – that I am so modest about it! I’ve said it before and I will say it again (because I have a nasty habit of repeating myself despite the doctor’s prescription), Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year due to the colours and the harvest. This year I have some apples which I located in someone’s garden, and some recently picked blackberries found in someone’s hedge, so I thought I would add some blueberries to the mix as well. And if I may say so, this delicious combination of fruit will keep young and old very happy indeed!

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda

Ingredients

350g blueberries
350g blackberries
350 apples
4 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 beaten egg

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda


Shortcrust pastry

160g plain flour
100g butter
A large pinch of sea salt
1 tsp of caster sugar
Approx 2 tablespoons of water

Method

1) The rich shortcrust pastry

Take a mixing bowl and combine the sugar salt and flour.
Now take the butter in small lumps and add it to the flour mix.
Blend it till you get a crumbly texture.
Add enough water to the dough to get the mixture to combine.
Now: the odd part, which isn’t odd once you get used to it- the fraisage.

Take the bottom of the palm of your hand (the heel) and take a small amount of the pastry and literally smear it down a well floured pastry board. Put that smeared pastry to one side, and then add another and repeat. Wrap it all up into a ball and then repeat the process again. This process is ‘fraisage’.

Now take the ball of pastry, wrap it and refrigerate it for an hour.

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda

2) The pie

Roll out the pastry
Take a pie dish and grease it
Lay the pastry in the dish
Blind bake it for twenty minutes (10 minutes with the beans and 10 minutes without) at 150°C
Take out and leave to cool

Place the blackberries in a bowl. Drain off the juice if they have been frozen.
Add the blueberries
Add two table spoons of sugar and leave to macerate for half an hour
Meanwhile peel and core some apples and stew for quarter of an hour in a pan. Add sugar to taste
Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Add the apples to the fruit mix,and stir in.

Add the fruit mix to the pie
Rollout some pastry for the topping.
Baste with some beaten egg
Add a scattering of caster sugar to the topping
Bake in oven at 200°C for about thirty minutes or till golden brown on top.

Serve with cream or custard

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda

Brenda’s Plum Vodka

From about the end of November through to mid January, Fanny spends herself enjoying the finer aspects of the season. I trail along barely able to keep up with her considerable consumption. However I am taken to parties with her because she has to show she has at least one good looking pretty and intelligent friend. It would be a tragic situation but for the fact that like her I enjoy a good drink. This year we have had a plum glut – our two old trees produce what we believe are Early Rivers plums. They aren’t the greatest ‘eaters’ if I’m honest, and they are better cooked. They make lovely stewed plums for instance. However I now have a freezer full of them so time to move on. This week I bought some Russian standard vodka and decided to merge the plums with vodka to be enjoyed leisurely at Christmas. I am storing this in a 2 litre kilner style storage jar which has been sterilised beforehand.

plum vodka makde using russian vodka and our own home grown plums

Ingredients

1l 40% Russian standard vodka
300g of sugar
Plums to fill the jar once the vodka and the sugar have been poured in.

Method

Pour in vodka
Pour in sugar
Shake
Add plums
Seal lid
Place somewhere cool for three months, occasionally shaking it up to dissolve the sugar.
Test 1 month before using that you like the sweetness. If it needs more sugar, now is the time to add it.

Which blueberries taste the best?

blueberries taste tested for flavour and sweetness

Fanny has had a distant relationship where blueberries are concerned.They disappoint her with their bland flavour and sometimes floury texture. But people go on about them don’t they? Not a week goes by without some blueberry muffin appearing in the food section of a colour magazine somewhere, with some reference to free radicals which have usually been cooked out, but never mind that small fact!

Just for the record, although I eat a lot more fruit than Fanny, I didn’t really take to blueberries that quickly either. I did however have that Damascus moment when I was visiting friends in Boston (USA) a few years ago. On this occasion I was handed a piece of blueberry pie that changed my feelings about blueberries forever. The pie was amazing – and I have yet to beat it.

Fanny mooted a point a couple of weeks back.

“Could they be better frozen, because they would be picked and processed very quickly? Much like peas…”

The question seemed perfectly reasonable, and so I trotted up to the local Tesco which sells a variety of different blueberries. For this test I have sampled their cheapest fresh Atlantic Blue-225g, their fresh “Hand Picked”-200g, and their “freshly frozen”- 350g variants.

The Atantic Blue were the entry level blueberries and accusations about lack of flavour can be levelled here. The hand picked ones were bigger and cost nearly twice as much, though they had 25g less than the entry level Atlantic Blue packet. However there was marginally more pronounced flavour and more evident sweetness but it was hard to be truly impressed with them.

There is a saying that says ‘you get what you pay for’ but it doesn’t apply so smugly here. On this occasion I can tell you that we found the best (by a mile) to be the frozen, for the reasons questioned above. Without a shadow of doubt the frozen bluberries licked their fresh counterparts with much better flavour and sweetness, and I can only assume that the processing so early after picking locks in the flavour and sweetness that the others lose in transit. Blueberry for blueberry they were much better value with 350g for the same price as the Atlantic Blue at 225g. We’ll be buying frozen from now on, knowing it’s a much more satisfying product.

Products purchased May 2015 from Tesco

Atlantic Blue Blueberries 225g £2.00
Hand Picked by Experts Blueberries 200g £3.50
Freshly Frozen Blueberries 350g £2.00

Pears in Syrup with Creme Fraiche

There’s nothing I like more than a nice juicy pear and indeed it’s best eaten when just ripe. A few weeks ago Brenda was away and apart from picking wild blackberries which were amazing, she also scrumped some rather leathery pears from a long neglected hedgerow. God knows what appalling kind of sight beheld the locals that day as she tramped around the country lanes looking like the wild woman from beyond. A spectre too ghastly to imagine quite frankly. Anyway I assume that the pears came from a hedgerow like she told me and that they weren’t stolen from someone’s back garden. Brenda has some nasty habits but stealing fruit would seem a bit desperate.

unpromising leathery wild hedgerow pears

That said, the pears were bloody awful. No; I’m sorry but it has to be said. I sank my teeth into a couple and they were completely inedible even after a couple of weeks in the fruit bowl . Tough old leathery things with rough blotchy skin, which may be why the locals hadn’t picked them. How sensible!

There was only one thing to do; cook them.

Ingredients:

5 grim tough old pears. Alternatively 5 lovely but not quite ripe firm conference pears will do.
2 cups (500ml) of apple juice
25 g of soft dark brown sugar
100g butter cut into cubes
150ml creme fraiche
sprinkling of ground ginger
handful of cardamom seeds crushed and ground

Preheat oven to 180°c

Method

The beauty of this dish is it’s quick to prepare and will appeal to all the family.

Take pears and peel, halve and core them and place them in a serving dish core side down.

Pour the apple juice into a pan, place on hob, and bring to simmer. Pour in the sugar and stir till dissolved.

Add the butter to the juice and melt, and add the ground cardamom.

Once the butter has melted into the sauce then pour over pears.

Sprinkle over the ground ginger

Place in the oven for 20 minutes.

Take out of oven and stir in the creme fraiche and then replace in the oven for five minutes to warm through.

gorgeous delicious baked pears in syrup with creme fraiche

Take out and serve.