Autumnal Eve’s Pudding with Spiced Toffee Sauce 

I can hardly believe almost six months have passed since my last post. Summer came and went in a whirl and here we are enjoying some of the best autumn weather we’ve had for a few years. Crisp mornings, crunchy leaves underfoot and that rich, low sunshine we only get this time off year. Perfect for hearty warming comfort food and this twist on Eve’s pudding certainly fits the bill. A total mash up between three of my favourite flavours, apples, pumpkin spice and toffee, you’ll have to have some pretty impressive willpower to resist seconds of this indulgent treat. 
Ingredients for the pudding:

3 large bramley apples, peeled cored and finely diced 

350g butternut squash, peeled and chopped

150ml vegetable oil

2 large eggs

250g soft light brown sugar

180g self raising flour

1 tsp bi-carb soda

Pumpkin spice mix made by mixing 3 tbsp ground cinnamon, 1 tbsp ground ginger, 1 whole grated nutmeg and half a tsp ground cloves. 

For the toffee sauce:

250g butter

250g light brown sugar

400ml double cream 

2tsp pumpkin spice mix

Method:

Put the squash in a bowl with a splash or two of water. Cover with cling film and microwave on high for 5 minutes. 

While it’s cooking grease a large oven safe dish and put the apples in the bottom. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of the spice mix. 

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until they are the same consistency of a thick milkshake. By now the butternut squash should be tender. Put it in a blender with the oil and whizz until you have a smooth puree. I used my nutribullet which works a treat. 

Fold the flour and bi-carb along with 1 rounded tablespoon of the spice mix into the eggy milkshake before gently folding through the butternut puree. 

Pour the mixture on top of the apples and bake at 160oC (fan) for approximately 50 minutes until a skewer comes out of the cake clean.

To make the sauce, melt the butter, sugar and spice mix together until totally combined then pour in the cream stiring constantly. 

Serve with custard and the toffee sauce! Divine! 

Lobster and apple salad with dill mayonnaise

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It’s a very special day at church tomorrow as a couple of our younger congregation members have decided to declare their faith to the world and be baptised! After the service the celebrations will continue with a Jacob’s Join (or potluck to my American friends) lunch. To me nothing screams celebration food more than lobster, and thanks to my lovely Daddy who brings me a steady supply of his home caught Pembrokeshire lobsters, I was able to  dig a few out if the freezer ready to adorn with some simple, but scrumptious ingredients.

Firstly, I made a simple mayo using three egg yolks, half a teaspoon of mustard, some cold pressed rapeseed oil, and some good old vegetable oil (which also happens to be rapeseed, it’s just more heavily processed than the cold pressed stuff), white wine vinegar and lemon juice. I’m afraid I can’t really give you quantities as I made it by sight, taste and texture, but there are plenty of recipes on the Internet should you prefer. The basic method is whisking the yolks and mustard together, then adding in oil (very very slowly initially to avoid splitting) until a very thick consistency is reached, before adding the vinegar and lemon juice.

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Once you’re happy with your basic mayo you can start adding flavourings of your choice. I used garlic, salt, pepper and a large handful of freshly chopped dill.

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Delicious! This will keep in the fridge for about a week, although it’s so good I doubt it’d last that long!

Now that the dressing is made, it’s time to remove the meat from the lobsters and start to assemble.

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This is a rather messy job, but well worth it. Break the claws off the body and remove the head from the tail. Cut down the underside of the tail with sharp scissors and remove the meat in one piece by gently pulling it out. Score down the top of the meat and open to reveal the vein. Remove the vein and any rowe which may be in there and chop into small chunks. Set aside.

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Now to the claws. One at a time cover the claw with a clean tea towel to prevent splattering, and gently tap with a hammer to crack. If you’re careful it possible to remove the claw meat in one piece like this:

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Don’t worry if it breaks up though, it’ll just mean you might need to use a skewer to pick the meat out of the ends of the claw. Inside the claw meat is a flat oval bone, remove this whilst breaking the meat up into smaller chunks.

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Now, if you can be bothered you can squeeze meat out of the legs, however this is a tedious task and not one that I had time for today unfortunately. You’ll be left with all the shell and the heads which would make an incredible stock for a bisque or soup, but again, time didn’t permit it today, so the chickens feasted on lobster heads instead and I’m sure they’ll be eternally grateful!

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A little treat to cheer up our very soggy hens on this miserable British day!

Now wash a crisp Granny Smith apple and cut into short matchsticks. Put in a bowl with the chopped up lobster and dollop on a couple of spoonfuls of the dill mayo.

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Combine well and taste. Mine was lacking acidity so I spiked it with more lemon juice.

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I piled the salad into little gem lettuce cups to make them easy to pick up and eat in a couple of mouthfuls, sprinkled over some more chopped dill and served. Delicious!

Humble (crumble) Pie

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Pie or crumble? One of life’s great conundrums! Now you can have your pie and eat it along with the crumble, all as part of the same pudding. Happy days!

Grease two 8 inch shallow cake tins/or pie dishes, before lining with a thin layer of shortcrust pastry. Homemade or shop bought, both work. I actually used shop bought as I had a block in the freezer I needed to use up. Prick with a fork, then put a piece of greaseproof paper on top of each and fill with lentils, rice or baking beans. Bake in a preheated oven at 180oC for twenty minutes or until golden and crispy.

While they are baking, prepare the crumble topping by blitzing 125g of each butter, light brown sugar, and self raising flour in a food processor. It will start to clump together and at this point add in a couple if handfuls of oats and mix with your hands to ensure the oats stay whole rather than being pulverised by the processor.

Leave the pie crusts to cool slightly before filling with cooking apples, blackberries, blackcurrants or whatever fruit you fancy.

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Sprinkle over about 50g of caster sugar then top with the crumble. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the fruit is tender and serve with custard.

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You can freeze one of the pies for use at a later date of you want or give it to a neighbour like we did. Enjoy!

Caramel Apple Cake

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Today, some friends and I went to a food festival at the beautiful Stonyhurst College. We decided (largely due to the lure of free entry) to each enter a cake into the ‘Great British Cake Off’ competition. I found the recipe for my entry, Apple Caramel Layer Cake in ‘Delicious’ magazine, and delicious it was (although, evidently not as delicious as some of the other entries as sadly I didn’t win!).

I’ve made the recipe a couple of times, but changed it slightly for this competition in that I only included two layers to make it easier to transport and slice. I also put apple puree and extra caramel between the layers as well as the Greek yoghurt and caramelised apple slices to give it a bit of extra bite. Caramelised apple slices and spun sugar finished it off nicely.

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I’d encourage you to give this one a try. It really is beautiful and a lovely way to use up all those seasonal cooking apples! Enjoy.