This Week in Borrowing: Simple Apple Galette

My parents are visiting from the States (yay!) which means lots of delicious food, both at home and in restaurants, but I’ve been focusing on soaking up these two weeks rather than getting stuck behind a camera. So you’ll just have to imagine the venison stroganoff and the turkey sweet potato chili we slow-cooked at home and the tea-and-biscuits ice cream (WHAT?) from Mary’s Milk Bar in Edinburgh. Both slow cooker meals were delicious enough that they’ll make appearances here on the blog at some point, but I have to replace my slow cooker first because the lid spontaneously exploded the other day just after I washed it. Seriously. Terrifying.

Rye Humour -- Simple Apple Galette

I did, however, pause to snap a few shots of my welcome-to-Scotland dessert: a simple, rustic-yet-elegant apple galette borrowed from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, who borrowed it from Alice Waters. You can find the recipe and excellent walk-through here: Smitten Kitchen’s Simplest Apple Tart. Simple enough to assemble in the confusion of welcome-to-our-house, very lightly sweet, wrapped in crunchy, buttery perfection. I think we’ll be seeing a galette for just about every seasonal fruit between now and next year’s apples.

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Mango Oat Bars

In my first post on this blog, I referred to a day a while back when I found myself with four overripe mangos and a hungry crowd needing dessert. These mango oat bars emerged out of that scenario and have become a favourite around here! I used this date bar recipe from Taste of Home as a base, replacing the dates in the middle with a bright, tropical-tasting mango filling. I could see it working with most fruits you might have around– I may try raspberry sometime soon?

Rye Humour -- Mango Oat Bars

You take two mangos just on the edge of acceptability…

Rye Humour -- Mango Oat Bars

Peel and dice them into small chunks…

Rye Humour -- Mango Oat Bars

Toss them into a pan with lime juice and sugar…

Rye Humour -- Mango Oat Bars

And simmer them gently until reduced and beginning to thicken. You’ll then mash or blend the mixture (depending on how smooth you want your filling), add a little cornflour and a dash of cool water, heat it to a simmer again for a few more minutes until you’ve got a good jammy texture, and place in the fridge to cool completely.

Did you know that cornflour clumps terribly in hot liquids, but dissolves smoothly into cool ones? I always mix my cornflour with a little cool water before adding to sauces.

While the mango filling cools, you’ll make the oat layers:

Rye Humour -- Mango Oat Bars

Tossing some oats, brown sugar, flour, salt, and baking soda together…

Rye Humour -- Mango Oat Bars

Cutting in a bit of unsalted butter to achieve a coarse crumb…

Rye Humour -- Mango Oat Bars

And adding just enough cool water to bring the mixture together.

Rye Humour -- Mango Oat Bars

Then all that’s left is assembly (and baking, of course)! Using a spatula or a bit of baking parchment, you’ll press half the oat mixture into the bottom of a greased 8×8-inch pan and smooth the mango filling over it…

Rye Humour -- Mango Oat BarsCrumble the remaining oat mixture evenly over the top…Rye Humour -- Mango Oat Bars

And bake until it’s set in the middle and golden-brown on top!

Rye Humour -- Mango Oat Bars

Mango Oat Bars
Based on Taste of Home’s Best Date Bars
Makes 16 bars

For the mango filling:
2 ripe mangos, peeled and diced
1 generous squeeze lime juice (about 3 tablespoons)
1/4 cup (55g) sugar
1 tsp cornflour + 1 tsp cool water

For the oat layers:
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (80g) plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup (70g) rolled oats
1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar
1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter (use a dairy-free butter to keep this vegan!)
1/2 to 1 tbsp cool water, as needed

  1. Make the mango filling: stir mangos, lime juice, and sugar together in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until reduced and beginning to thicken; about 30 minutes. Dissolve cornflour in cool water and stir into mango mixture. Simmer an additional 3-4 minutes until thickened; cool completely.
  2. Make the oat layers: toss dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Cut in butter, using two knives or your fingertips, until no butter pieces are bigger than pea-sized. Sprinkle water over this mixture and toss together with a fork until it holds its shape when pressed.
  3. To assemble: grease an 8×8-inch pan. Press half of oat mixture into bottom of pan. (If it sticks to your spatula, you can use a layer of parchment paper to press it down). Spread mango filling over oat mixture. Crumble remaining oat mixture evenly over top.
  4. Bake in a preheated 175°C (350°F) oven for 30-35 minutes, until mango filling is set and oat topping is golden brown. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Slow Cooker Venison Stroganoff

Rye Humour -- Slow Cooker Venison Stroganoff

 

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Perhaps you remember the terrifying debacle in which my slow cooker lid spontaneously exploded last October. There followed several months of increasingly frustrating emails with a variety of customer service representatives (“We remind you of our dedication to excellent customer service! Your replacement lid will be sent to you approximately never!”), and a somewhat surprising dearth of home-cooked meals (who knew I was so slow-cooker dependent?), but at long last the replacement arrived.

Fact about me: I am incredibly productive in the morning and nigh on useless in the late afternoon.

Fact about slow cookers: slow cookers were made for people like me.

So in honour of the return of the beloved slow cooker to my life, I give you: slow cooker venison stroganoff. Chuck almost everything in the slow cooker, walk away for 8-10 hours, chuck a few more things in the slow cooker, and devour.

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Slow Cooker Venison Stroganoff
Serves 2 generously, or 4 with a side

300g venison, cut into small strips
250g chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
325ml beef stock
3 tbsp flour
1/4 cup milk
4 tbsp yoghurt

  1. Place all ingredients except milk and yoghurt in slow cooker and cook on low 8-10 hours, or on high 2 hours and then low 4 hours.
  2. 30 minutes before eating, add milk and yoghurt to slow cooker and stir.
  3. Serve over pasta or mashed potatoes.

Slow Cooker Blackstrap Apple Pork Chops & a sad, sad tale of absent-mindedness

Last Saturday morning I was feeling pretty good about myself. I was heading off for a day trip to visit a friend who recently moved away, but I managed to get some pork chops into the slow cooker with a molasses-and-apple marinade before walking out the door. All day long, I was anticipating the sweet aroma that would hit me upon opening the front door that evening.

Turns out you have to switch the slow cooker on.

Rye Humour -- Slow Cooker Blackstrap Apple Pork Chops

Here’s what they looked like before I left in the morning…

Rye Humour -- Slow Cooker Blackstrap Apple Pork Chops

And here’s what they looked like after I got home that evening. Yep, that’s the same picture. I couldn’t bring myself to take another one when I got home, but I assure you they were virtually unchanged. Heartbreak.

I gave myself five minutes to be upset, a few days to let the pain heal, and then tried again (with new pork chops).

Rye Humour -- Slow Cooker Blackstrap Apple Pork Chops

I salted and peppered them, seared them in a hot pan for a minute on each side, nestled them on a bed of crisp apples, and covered them in a simple marinade made of blackstrap molasses, apple cider vinegar, and chicken broth. I switched the slow cooker on, double- and triple-checked it, and then stuck around the house for most of the day to make sure nothing went awry.

Rye Humour -- Slow Cooker Blackstrap Apple Pork Chops

And nothing did.

Have you read about all the manifold health benefits of both apple cider vinegar and blackstrap molasses? Superfoods!

Slow Cooker Blackstrap Apple Pork Chops
Plenty of marinade for 2-4 pork chops

2-4 pork chops
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper
2-4 apples, sliced
1 1/4 cups (300ml) chicken stock
1/4 cup (60ml) apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup (60ml) blackstrap molasses

  1. Salt and pepper pork chops liberally on both sides. Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Sear each pork chop for 1 minute on each side.
  2. Arrange apple slices in bottom of slow cooker. Arrange pork chops in a layer on top of apples.
  3. Whisk together chicken stock, vinegar, and molasses and pour over pork chops and apples.
  4. Cook on low, obsessively checking all power sources, for 8 hours.
  5. Serve on a bed of mashed potatoes or rice or any other starchy wonder, but definitely ladle some of that molasses goodness over the top!

Blackberry & Apple Frangipane Tart

Rye Humour -- Blackberry, Apple, & Almond Frangipane Tart

Remember that pie crust from a few days back? Maybe you even got excited and made a batch, and you’ve been wondering what to wrap it around?Rye Humour -- Blackberry, Apple, & Almond Frangipane Tart

Can I suggest a fresh blackberry sauce, some tart, crisp apples, and a bit of frangipane you had the foresight to freeze after you made those fresh fig and frangipane danishes? (Don’t worry too much if you gobbled up all your frangipane– I’ll include the recipe below and you can whip up another batch in a few quick minutes.) For me, this tart was a symbolic act: goodbye, summer (blackberries) and welcome, autumn (apples). I’m ready.

To start with, you’ll want to blind bake your pie crust, or partially bake it before adding any filling to it. The blackberry sauce and frangipane both have enough liquid in them that they’ll turn an unbaked pie crust into mush, which is not the effect we’re looking for.

Rye Humour -- Blackberry, Apple, & Almond Frangipane Tart

So you’ll roll your crust out and drape it over a pie plate or fluted, loose-bottomed tart pan– I used a pie plate simply because we haven’t invested in a tart pan yet. We’ll get to it eventually; it just somehow didn’t make top priority in our first two months in the new apartment.

Rye Humour -- Blackberry, Apple, & Almond Frangipane Tart

You’ll then trim off just a bit of the overhanging edges to keep them from touching the oven rack. You want quite a bit still hanging over to keep the crust from shrinking down in the blind baking process. Then you’ll pierce the bottom of the crust all over with a fork (this keeps it from puffing up too much)…

Rye Humour -- Blackberry, Apple, & Almond Frangipane Tart

Line it with baking parchment (crumpling it up helps it to shape to the circular pie plate better) and weigh it down with baking beans if you’re fancy, or actual dried beans (I used chickpeas) if you’re not…

Rye Humour -- Blackberry, Apple, & Almond Frangipane Tart

And pop it in the oven at 200°C (400°F) for about 15 minutes, or until the edges of the crust are beginning to brown. Remove the baking parchment and beans, and bake for another 5 minutes, until the base is just beginning to turn a nice golden brown and look a little dry.

Rye Humour -- Blackberry, Apple, & Almond Frangipane Tart

Finally, you’ll use a sharp knife to trim the edges off. If you’re using a fluted tart pan, this will give you a gorgeous, clean finish. If you’re using a pie plate, go ahead and get comfortable with the word “rustic”.

By the way, those trimmed-off edges? Crispy, buttery, delectable pie crust snacks. I ate them all, and I’m not ashamed to tell you so.

Rye Humour -- Blackberry, Apple, & Almond Frangipane Tart

Now for the filling. I added a little extra cornflour (corn starch, for the Americans) to a batch of homemade blackberry sauce and whisked until combined. If you’re making the sauce from scratch for this recipe, just follow the recipe below for a slightly thicker-than-normal sauce texture. If you’re using a pre-made sauce, you’ll want to add a thickener to keep the moisture from soaking the crust.

Rye Humour -- Blackberry, Apple, & Almond Frangipane Tart

The blackberry sauce will go into the golden-brown pie crust and get dotted with frangipane…Rye Humour -- Blackberry, Apple, & Almond Frangipane Tart

And then a few gorgeous autumn dessert apples will get peeled and sliced up in even, thin slices…

Rye Humour -- Blackberry, Apple, & Almond Frangipane Tart

And arranged in some sort of artistic manner on top of your blackberry-frangipane combination.Rye Humour -- Blackberry, Apple, & Almond Frangipane Tart

They’ll get brushed with a warm mixture of butter, lemon juice, and sugar, and then you’ll pop the whole thing into the oven until it is bubbling and caramelized.Rye Humour -- Blackberry, Apple, & Almond Frangipane Tart

Gobble fresh from the oven if you can’t wait, but be prepared for it to still be a bit runny. I found that it was even better later on that evening, once it had time to set up and could hold its shape nicely.

Go on, get a scarf and a book and a slice of this, and enjoy the changing seasons.

Blackberry & Apple Frangipane Tart
Makes 1 9-inch tart

1/3 recipe Pie Crust

For the blackberry sauce:
8oz (225g) blackberries, rinsed
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
Splash of water
1/4 cup (50g) caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp cornflour +1 tsp cool water

For the frangipane:
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (75g) ground almonds
1/3 cup +1 tbsp (75g) caster sugar
2 tbsp flour
1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter, cubed
1 large or 2 small eggs (75g)
1/4 tsp almond extract

For the apples:
3 dessert apples, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tbsp (30g) butter
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup (50g) caster sugar

  1. Blind bake the pie crust: roll the pastry out and use it to carefully line a pie plate or tart pan, allowing the edges to hang over slightly. Pierce the base with a fork, line the crust with baking parchment weighed down with baking beans or dried chickpeas, and bake at 200°C (400°F) for 15 minutes, until edges of crust are beginning to brown. Remove baking parchment and beans and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until base of crust is turning golden brown and drying out.
  2. Make the blackberry sauce: in a small saucepan, combine blackberries, lemon juice, water, and sugar and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine sieve to remove all seeds. Return to pan and bring back to a simmer. Whisk cornflour and cool water together to combine, and then whisk into blackberry mixture. Simmer until mixture thickens, then cool.
  3. Make the frangipane: in the bowl of a food processor, pulse almonds, sugar, and flour together to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add eggs and almond extract and process until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Make the sauce for the apples: in a small saucepan, melt butter, lemon juice, and caster sugar over low heat, whisking until butter is melted and sugar is completely dissolved.
  5. Assemble the tart: spread blackberry sauce into pre-baked pie crust. Dot evenly with frangipane. Arrange apple slices attractively on top of this mixture, nestling them into the frangipane slightly. Brush apples thoroughly with melted butter and sugar mixture.
  6. Bake the tart at 200°C (400°F) for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 175°C (350°F) and bake for a further 25-30 minutes, until filling is bubbling and frangipane has set.

Creamy Roasted Butternut & Fennel Soup

We’re officially turning the heat on in our flat today. But in the meantime, we’re heating ourselves from the inside out with this rich, creamy, vegan, autumnal, filling soup and some fresh soda bread.

Rye Humour -- Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup

I love the fennel in this– it offers a little respite from the pumpkin-spice mania bombarding our senses and blogrolls this time of year. Roasting all the veg for this soup does incredible things to the depth of flavour, and the red lentils disappear into the creaminess while leaving you full and happy for hours.

Rye Humour -- Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup

I cannot even begin to describe the aromas filling my kitchen at this stage.

Rye Humour -- Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup

Let’s walk through it, shall we? You chop the veg (just a little!) and brush them down with some olive oil… (Photo credit: the lovely Mary McCorkle. I don’t have an incredibly long left arm or a selfie stick.)

Rye Humour -- Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup

Give them all a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper…

Rye Humour -- Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup

And roast in a hot oven until they’re just blackening around the edges and the butternut is soft enough to be pierced easily with a fork. You’ll roast a handful of garlic cloves, as well, but just for 15 minutes sometime in the process. I pop them on the tray at the beginning, still in their little papery covers, and then pull them out a third of the way through the roasting process.

Rye Humour -- Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup

While all that roasting madness is happening, you’ll put a cup of red lentils on to boil in some vegetable stock (or chicken, if you’re not trying to keep it vegan) so that they can simmer for 20-30 minutes and be ready to blend with the vegetables when they come out of the oven.

Let me take a minute to talk about red lentils. These little guys are the unsung heroes of creamy vegan soups. Packed with protein, iron, fibre, and a whole host of other key nutrients, they fall apart when cooked and have a mild flavour that disappears easily into the background. What I’m saying is that they boost the filling-factor, the creamy nuttiness, and the nutritional content of pureed vegetable soups while not interfering with the flavour combos you’re trying to fine-tune. I toss a cup or two of red lentils into most of my blended veg soups these days.

Rye Humour -- Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup

Where were we? Right. So once your vegetables have roasted up nicely, you toss them into the pot (take the garlic cloves out of their little papers at this point!) with the red lentils and stock and let them simmer for about 10 minutes, just to soften them up that little bit more and let your flavours all meld together. Note: you’ll need to remove the squash from its skin once it has cooked. This can be a bit fiddly, but I promise it’s less work than chopping the squash ahead of time with a less-than-ninja-sharp knife. I use a fork and a spoon to scoop/scrape/coax it out. Butternut squash skin is also edible, so don’t freak out if a few little bits end up in your finished soup!

Rye Humour -- Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup

Then all that’s left is to blend everything together…

Rye Humour -- Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup

Stir in the coconut milk and a good squeeze of lime juice, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve!

Rye Humour-- Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup
Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup
Serves 4-6

2 small or 1 large butternut squash, halved, seeds removed
1 small onion, quartered
5 whole cloves garlic, still in their peels
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and quartered
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

1 cup (200g) red lentils
4 cups (950ml) vegetable stock
1 tin (400ml) coconut milk
Lime juice

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Arrange squash, onion, garlic, and fennel on a lined baking sheet, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 40-50 minutes, or until butternut squash can easily be pierced with a fork. Remove garlic cloves after first 15 minutes.
  2. While vegetables are roasting, bring lentils and vegetable stock to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until lentils are soft.
  3. Add roasted vegetables into lentil liquid, carefully removing butternut squash flesh from the skins (skin is edible, but the squash will still be very hot). Simmer together for 10 minutes.
  4. Blend mixture using an immersion blender or standard blender. Stir in coconut milk and a good squeeze of lime juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

This Week in Borrowing: Ossi da Mordere–Crunchy Cocoa & Hazelnut Biscuits

My recent experimentation with curds, custards, and puddings has provided me with a pretty steady supply of egg whites that need to be used up. I love a good meringue as much as the next person, but when a few egg whites translate into about five dozen meringues, a person needs to find some other uses for egg whites in order to keep things interesting. Enter these crunchy little delights.

Rye Humour -- Ossi da mordereOssi da mordere. Bones for biting. Sounds nice, right? Sandra from Please Pass the Recipe posted an adaptation of these simple chocolate, nut, and egg white treats a while back. While they’re traditionally made with almonds (sort of like a French macaron, but Italian), she used hazelnuts instead and the result is pure magic. It’s a good thing the recipe makes about four dozen, because I ate at least four off the first tray before the second tray was even out of the oven. These are essentially the crunchy, dairy-free version of Nutella. I added one extra egg white because I had four that needed using up, but I would stick with three in the future as the extra liquid flattened the cookies out quite a bit. I also added a dash of salt, because I’m a sucker for salty-sweet things.

Did I mention the entire recipe can be whipped up in a food processor in less than 10 minutes?

I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be looking for excuses to use egg yolks just so I can have some more whites available! This may be the beginning of a serious creme brûlée-ossi da mordere spiral… see you in a few years.

You can find the original recipe here. I made these about six days ago and they have yet to lose any of their crunch or flavour. Keep in an airtight container for up to three weeks!