Sunday, September 23, 2012

Autumn arrives right on cue - let the show begin!

I'm wondering what this Autumn/Fall will be like in terms of colour as the seasons thus far have been about 2-3 weeks ahead of normal but look, it's already off to a great start.
Some trees have small patches of colour but most are still all green and today the skies are as blue as blue can be - just gorgeous.

 And the asters/Michaelmas daisies continue their glowing show

 The Pee gee hydrangea flowers are turning ever more pink...
...and their resident spiders are spinning their webs ready for Hallowe'en
I don't know who this little guy is among the grape leaves but for the longest time I thought it was a bird scraucking out there - he has such a big voice for such a little frog but I love him.
There's lots of this on Blueberry Hill but I don't know what it is - the acid yellow against the maroon bark is impressive.

 Rowan berries on the Mountain Ash - this year they are not as plentiful - usually they produce very full, umbrella wands of berries.

...and my pink Clara Curtis chrysanthemum - usually these don't even get a chance to be photographed as the slugs and snails eagerly await their arrival - this year there have been loads upon loads of said slugs and snails - they must be full from eating all the strawberries, tomatoes and the like I have heard so many people mention.

 I'll continue to photograph as the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness progresses :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Apple and Mincemeat Frangipane Gallette - it's a goodie :))

Oh my this is a good one - it has a lovely crisp sour cream pastry shell and I did the filling two ways - as above with mincemeat - fresh, vegetarian mincemeat - frangipane and apples and also the next day, because I liked it so much I tried it with just the mincemeat and apples and added a sticky toffee sauce - I can't possible decide which I preferred so you might consider making both too - you could split the pastry amount given here in half and make two decent sized gallettes - that's how I did it.

A day or two ahead of actually making the gallette(s) you want to make the fresh mincemeat so it has time to meld and marry those lovely flavours - here's a wonderful one from David Lebovitz:

I am calling this ‘fresh’ mincemeat, meaning you don’t have to wait months for it to be ready as with your ordinary or garden variety mincemeat. This recipe is ready after one day and better after three - also this is a vegetarian variety so no shredding of suet which can be a little off putting to say the very least!!

1 cup (135g) coarsely chopped raisins, dark or golden
½ cup candied peel…orange or lemon or both
¼ cup brandy but I have used used whiskey or red wine and I think you could safely use apple juice or orange juice if you don't want the alcohol.
2 teaspoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons sugar…again dark or light
1 teaspoon of cardomom
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
½ teaspoon of mace
(I differed my spices from David’s recipe which called for ½ teaspoon each ground cinnamon and nutmeg and ¼ teaspoon of cloves…I am not a fan of cloves as a flavouring and I think cardamom works really well with the lemon flavour)

1 grated crunchy apple…I use Pink Lady which is a big fave of mine.

This is really hard…mix everything together and put it in a jar. Allow to stand for one to three days, don‘t put in the fridge, the flavours marry better at room temp. This mincemeat is meant to be used quickly.

Now your mincemeat is ready on with move with the gallette!! Wee heeeee.....

Sour Cream Pastry - this is GOOD!!!! 
6oz/175g plain white flour
3oz/ 80g cold butter
7 tablespoons/1/3 cup sour cream 
2 tablespoon sugar

1. Mix the flour and sugar together.
2. Grate the cold butter into the flour and blend until you get nice even 'breadcrumbs' - if you are using a food processor pulse to get your nice breadcrumbs.
3. Put sour cream into the mix and blend until nice and smooth and pulled together - but don't overwork and allow the pastry to warm up - keep it nice and cold.
4. Bob the pastry into the fridge for at least an hour during which time make the filling(s).

Now the gallette fillings:
Frangipane Deliciousness:
2oz/50g butter softened
2oz/50g sugar
4oz/110g almonds toasted and cooled, then ground til fine in - I find best - a coffee grinder
2 medium eggs whisked
1/2 teaspoon almond essence/extract - if you can get Simply Organic - it's fantastic!!

1. Cream butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy .
2. Blend eggs into creamed butter and sugar until relatively smooth - it won't be that smooth by hand but maybe more so by food processor.
3. Blend in the ground almonds and almond essence/extract
Apples: 2 good sized apples - preferably dessert apples - sweet and crisp - slice evenly as you can and put into a bowl of cold water with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar to keep the apples from going brown. 
1.Take the pastry from the fridge and roll out to a circle about 11" diameter - lift onto a baking sheet. Pick the pastry all over with a fork.

2. Dollop that lovely mincemeat into the centre of the pastry circle and smooth out to within a couple of inches of the edge as below:
 3. Now dollop the frangipane on top of the mincemeat and smooth out as below:
4. Arrange the apple slices as you wish - I tried to do a pretty circlet but got a bit messed up when trying to finish the circle - still it looked pretty good before it was cooked - just FYI I have made a few of these free form open rustic tarts and no matter how neat and tidy they go into the oven or how cold I get them before baking they never look the same when they come out - they become lobsided, uneven and sometimes runny because a little hole opens up in the pastry where you folded it - do not despair it will still be a thing of beauty to behold and after all it does for sure make it look homemade :)).
5. Fold the pastry up and over the filling as below and pinch together every couple of inches or so for it to hold together when baking.
5. Pop the whole thing back into the fridge for 1/2 hour during which time heat up the oven to 425F.
6. After half an hour bob the gallette into the oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes until nice and evenly golden delicious delightful brown.
7. In the last 10 minutes of cooking warm a few tablespoons of apricot jam in a saucepan and keep warm until you take the gallette out of the oven.
7. As soon as you take it out of the oven spread the apricot jam all over the surface for a nice tang and bright shiny tart :)

ALTERNATE and just as GOOD GALLETTE with just mincemeat, shredded apples and toffee sauce.

The only changes you need to make:
1. Don't make the frangipane.
2. Shred the apples instead of slicing them.
3. Put apples on top of the mincemeat in the gallette.
4. Everything else is the same EXCEPT in the last 10 minutes of baking make this fantastic toffee sauce - which you can use on anything and everything you ever want - it is from a sticky toffee pudding recipe:

Sticky Toffee Topping:
2 1/2oz brown sugar...oops didn't figure that one out, I suppose a bit more than 1/4 cup
1 1/2 oz butter
2 tablespoons cream or half and half

Heat sugar, cream and butter together in a small pan until sugar has dissolved - let bubble gently for a couple of mintes - pour over gallette.
These are both SOOOOOO good - as I said before you can do one big one of EITHER recipe with the amount listed or two small different ones. Either way:

HAPPY BAKING - let me know how it goes and do post pics on my Facebook page:
Eat the gallettes hot, warm or cold with cream or custard or ice cream - whichever way you choose you will be delighted :))

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A quick gallivant to Bar Harbor, Maine and an unusual Ice Cream!!

 My lovely friends Liz and Gerry from South Australia (click on South Australia for a link to the song that's been bobbling around in my head since my friends arrived!) have come to Maine for a quick visit and yesterday we drove up to Bar Harbor for a wander around Mount Desert (pronounced dessert by the locals - who knows why, but I prefer that pronunciation - and we all know why...) and Acadia National Park on a beautiful, if a tad gusty, Maine soon-to-be-Autumn day. Here's an 'aerial' view of the town of Bar Harbor, Maine from the top of Cadillac Mountain - the first place on the continental United States to receive the rays of the sun each day, although some would disagree and say that honour goes to Mount Washington - but I digress.....

 Bar Harbor - or as the Maine-ahs would say Bahh-Hah-Bah - is a fun bustling, touristy but still pretty seaside town full of souvenir shops, outdoor bars, cafes, restaurants and ice cream - and guess what unique flavour you can try whilst you're there..... 
.....a very unsubtle clue above....
Yes that really is Lobster Ice Cream - I didn't partake of it this time but I have had it before and to be quite honest it's really pretty good - to me it tasted kinda coconutty, nutty, sweet and then when you hit a chunk of real lobster it is a little iodine-y sea salty - you probably wouldn't want a huge amount but I think it's worth a small cone just so you can say you've had it, why you can even mail order it - from Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium

 Also to be seen in the harbor - the old and the new - an elegant four masted schooner (my choice) and a giant, but I'm pretty sure not the biggest, modern cruise liner.

After a quick swish around town we drove off on the Park Loop, a very pleasant road in and around Acadia National Park with vistas every so often, pull offs for various and sundry landmarks including Thunder Hole which sadly was not Thunder Holing as the tide was out :(( and the ability on the two lane one way parts to stop in the right lane and wander around and take pics of the breathtaking vistas. We drove up Cadillac Mountain and the views were just glorious but my camera, or indeed I, didn't get great photos to do the scenes justice - do trust me they were gorgeous and if you get the chance you should go up there yourself one day for stunning panoramic views for miles around.

Next we stopped off at Jordan Pond to take a gander at the Bubbles seen below through a waft of early asters. At Jordan Pond you can avail yourself of Popovers and Tea on the lawn of Jordan Pond Restaurant if you so desire - a very traditional thing to do and a nice afternoon break.
Maine on a beautiful day - sublime!!

Now tell me true - would YOU try the Lobster Ice Cream??