A Culinary Essay

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Yesterday Lionel and Lavinia gave me a big bag of bramley apples.   Very kind and very welcome.

There is something I must do today, or at least make a good start, it has to be finished by the middle of next week.  As a masteress of procrastination, I have decided that before I begin this important task I must first bake something with the gifted fruit.

OH nearly fell off his perch when I told him that I would be cooking a pudding.  Such hysteria should not be encouraged. Surely I have cooked a pudding before?  Although I can’t quite put my finger on when or what it was.

I dusted off the cook books and decided on a recipe from the spendid Lorraine Pascale.  We have so much in common, me and Lor, and not just in the looks department.  The delicacy I chose was called Chausson aux Pomme*.

This culinary opportunity is too good to miss, don’t fight, there is not escape, I am going to share my baking adventure with you**:

Peel, core and cut 1.3kg of apples into bite sized pieces.

Weigh apples.  Wonder if it is important that there are not quite enough? Of course not. What is a couple of hundred grams between friends?  Start to peel and cut into bite sized piece.  Decide I need music, go upstairs and fetch my iPod, put Chas and Dave sing Leonard Cohan on shuffle. Continue peeling and chopping.  Then realise that I should have washed them first. Mind you if they are going to be peeled does it really matter?  Give them cursory rinse anyway.  Continue to peel and cut.  I should have tied my hair up first.  Go upstairs to find hair tie. Realise I should have washed hands first.  Enjoying apple scented hair.  Taking so long the first apples are turning an unattractive brown.  Rearrange so I can’t see the beige ones.

Sprinkle with 1tsp each of cinnamon and ginger.  No problem, although I forgot to take into account the short fall of apples.  It won’t matter.  We like tasty food in our house.

Add 3tbsp of water.  Easy peasy.  We’ve got plenty of that, it is North Devon after all!

Then add 75g of soft brown sugar.  Look for soft brown sugar.  Find demerara, dark brown and muscovado.  Frown.  Look in sugar pot, convince myself it looks soft and brown and it is definitely sugar.  As no one in this house take sugar it has probably been there for a while.  Never mind, sell by dates are for wimps.  Weigh out sugar, remembering to put a little less in.  I may be learning. Unlikely as it may be.

Find stray apple in the sink, peel, core and add to others.

Stir whilst singing loudly to celebrate my triumph.

Cook on low to medium heat for 8 minutes.   Ponder “low to medium heat” and decide on “low” as it is a new pan and I don’t want any accidents.

Set doggie to 8 minutes.

Have a little dance.

Check after 4 minutes, nothing much happening so turn up heat to medium.  Reset doggie to another 8 minutes although this timing thing has gone a bit pear shaped now.

Cook until soft but not mushy.  What do you do if some pieces are mushy and some are hard? This is why I don’t bake.  Stir and hope for the best.

Retire to read “Calculus for Dummies”.  Wake with a start as the darned doggie goes off again.

Grate in the rind of one lemon.  Lemon? Oh dear.  I do have some limes but they are strictly for my medicinal G&Ts.  Maybe I can maybe spare one.  They aren’t as big as lemons so perhaps I will need two.  Two is a bit much to ask.  I know let’s compromise.  Rind and juice of one lime. Admittedly Lor doesn’t mention juice but she may have forgotten.  Too late now.

Add a big knob of butter.  Big knob of butter, sorted.  Stir again and then lick spoon.  Delicious.

Leave to cool completely. 

I spend this time making full butter puff pastry, rolling, folding and turning, chilling in between each careful working.

If you believe that you will believe anything.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. I am surprised as anyone that I own parchment paper. It must have been a mistake.  Perhaps I thought it was tracing paper.  Happily accepting one of the enigmas of life, I duly lined a baking tray with parchment paper.  Who would have thought it?

Roll out pastry.  Open packet of puff pastry.  Roll. Pastry.  Half hardheartedly measure with Mr Jewson’s metal tape.  Lose the will to live.  Cut random oblongy shapes and fill with gunk.  Seal with egg wash.  Sort of.

Bake for 25 minutes at Gas mark 6 and whatever the other folk use.  They come out of the oven and are rather rustic in appearance.  I fear that I may have taken pack full of apple filling  past the point that my pastry could handle.  OH examines them “I love spillage” he says.  This is why I love him.

I am rather concerned about how I am going to remove them from the famous baking parchment. It seems to be welded onto the bottom.  Also a little concerned that the bottoms are soggy. Put back into oven with the cauliflower curry.  It may impart an interesting aroma.

Sprinkle with icing sugar.  Call neighbour to see if she has any icing sugar.  She is out.  How selfish.

Icing sugar is so last year.  Decide to forgo this frivolity.

Several days later, or does it just seem that way, the Apple Turnover is ready.  Was it worth the trouble? Definitely not.

Now wasn’t there something I was supposed to be doing ….

* Apple turnovers

**Lorraine’s instructions are in italics.  My interpretation in normal font.

*** Try to imagine it with a sprinkling of icing sugar, it would have covered a multitude of sins.

**** They were delicious.

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24 thoughts on “A Culinary Essay

  1. We are, fortunately, some miles apart. Prescription drugs I’m on are, it seems, totally incompatible (under threat of death) with Milk of Magnesia, Gaviscon, Andrews ….. And now I can’t get “Chanson d’Amour” (Manhattan Transfer if you remember them) out of my head. Thanks.

    (Only joking. Looks delicious. Let me know when you start next time. If I break a few speed limits I should make it before they’re cold.) I’ll bring a roll of greaseproof with me!

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  2. Scrumptious, that definitely looks worth the effort. Have you tried Apple Pandowdy, that’s a good one to make but does not require baking parchment.

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  3. A really wonderful story on Sunday morning it made me LOL( see how modern I am)thank you…..and I am very ,very envious of dog who looks after your cooking times,I really,really need one.

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  4. A wonderful description, I enjoyed reading it. But you do sound as if you have heard apple turnovers described and never seen them before. Whatever next? Apple pie? You can use frozen puff pastry again now that you have got the hang of it. Apple crumble? The world of apple related puds is your oyster.

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  5. Definite antidote to Bake Off (Google if that means nothing to you).
    I’m just about to order maidens for cordons – so the key question is what variety ( of apple, not maiden…)

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  6. Calculus For Dummies? Really? Just in case you’re not kidding and if you happen to find out what calculus is actually good for, please let me know. I’ve been wondering for many years. Altogether a very entertaining post!

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  7. And the curry was that good too? I’m just a bit suprised you didn’t dash off a painting or run up a little black number while waiting for the ping (or is it a bark) to go off. Is there no end to your skills!

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    • The curry was lovely, veggie special – cauliflower in coconut, yellow split pea dhal, raita with pistachio and coriander sprinkle and basmati rice! I draw/paint with the aptitude of a 3 year old, my sewing skills are very limited and usually involve sellotape. And I can’t whistle. 🙂

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