#107 Chestnut and Apple Soup

I’m a chestnut fan, but I’ve not ever cooked with them, except for roasting. In fact I’ve only ever eaten them roasted or in a pork stuffing. I spotted some in the greengrocers and thought I’d have a go at this soup. The soups in English Food have been great (with the exception of the Mulligatawny Soup); and what I really like about them all so far is the simplicity – absolutely no faffing about. This one is no different. Give it a go if you see some chestnuts.

This makes enough for 6:

This soup requires a pound of chestnuts, and the first job is to pierce either end of each and every one with a sharp knife. Plunge them into boiling water for 10 minutes. Use a tea towel to grasp onto them with one hand and a sharp knife to remove their softened shells with the other and discard any bad ones; don’t worry if they are not whole. Keep them in the hot water as you peel them to keep the shells soft. Simmer the chestnuts along with one stick of celery in 3 ½ pints of light beef stock for 20 minutes. In the mean time, peel, core and slice two Cox’s Pippin apples. Simmer the apples in 2 ounces of butter until they soften, seasoning well with black pepper. Add the apple and juices to the stock and liquidise the whole thing until smooth. Return it to the pan, check for seasoning, and stir through 4 fluid ounces of single cream. Don’t let the soup boil if you are retuning it to the heat. Serve the soup with croutons fried in butter.

FYI: if you are lucky enough to know where there is a sweet chestnut tree, you can make shampoo from cooking up the leaves and peel.

#107 Chestnut and Apple Soup – 6.5/10. A very nice creamy-pale soup. Rich, yet light at the same time. I would certainly recommend this one; it would make a very good first course. Two apples didn’t really make it taste that much of apples, so it loses some marks for that – I would do three.

#96 Apple Pie

Oh I have been a bit slack with adding entries of late. I do apologise; I still have written about the food I made last weekend! The dessert that finished off the hare was a nice apple pie. Charlotte brought round some windfall apples so it was the obvious choice really. This is very simple to make – the apples aren’t stewed beforehand or anything and you could even buy your own pastry if you wanted. It’s an English pie, which means there’s only pastry on the top so you don’t have to faff about with blind-baking a pastry base either. It’s all good.

Start off by peeling, coring and slicing a pound of cooking apples and 8 ounces of Cox Orange Pippins. Arrange these in a pie dish, mounding it up in the centre, sprinkling sugar as you go. Try the apples before you add the sugar; you don’t want it too sweet. Roll out 8 ounces of shortcrust pastry. Cut a strip off pastry and glue it to around the edge of the dish with water. Brush this pastry with more water and press the rest of the rolled-out pastry onto it. Brush the lid with water, sprinkle with sugar and make a couple of slits in theb centre so that the steam can escape. Bake at 220ºC for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 190ºC for another 30 minutes. Check with a knife that the apples are soft before you take it out though. Serve with double cream.

#96 Apple Pie 7/10. I love pie! This one is super-quick and easy. I’ve had better in the past, but they also require a lot more work. This is deffo the best way if you want to make one quickly.

#85 Caramelised Cox’s Orange Pippins

I wanted to do a quick and easy dessert for when Paddy came round and didn’t really have time for baking or anything requiring too much time or effort, being the busy bee that I am. (#85) Caramelised Cox’s Orange Pippins fit the bill perfectly; a hot dessert that can be made in 5 minutes. That’s what we like.

I love Cox’s Orange Pippins; they’re my second favourite apple after the russet. You can’t beat an English apple in autumn. I don’t really buy them the rest of the year when they’re not in season and all you can buy are shipped over from France or whatever. I think they’ve had a resurgence over the last couple of years as I’ve spotted both varieties in supermarkets. If you can’t get hold of Cox’s Orange Pippins, I suppose you could use any eating apple, but these are the best eaters for cooking with.

Peel and core one apple per person top and tail them and cut into three thickish rounds. Fry the apples on a low to medium heat in butter until they start picking up a faint golden colour. Whilst that’s happening make some cinnamon sugar; one tablespoon of sugar to one teaspoon of cinnamon. I found that this was enough for two apples, but you put on whatever amount you like. When the apples are ready, sprinkle over the sugar. Keep the apples turning over every 30 seconds or so and you should magically end up with a nice sweet glaze covering them. It’s important not to have the heat too high, so be careful. Serve them immediately with a dollop of clotted cream. Piece of piss!

#85 Caramelised Cox’s Orange Pippins: 8/10. Sweet, sticky, fattening and delicious. Also, it’s one of your five fresh fruit and veg portions for the day. It’s a no-lose situation. Bravo Griggers; you’ve done it again, lady!