Sunday, 24 October 2010

Apple Fest Chutney

As the days become shorter and the air gets a bit colder, autumn is a wonderful time to shift gears. Yesterday at the Portobello Road Apple festival we did just that. As the sun and temperature began to dip we shifted away from some apple based salads and into sampling of our preservables: pickled fennel made with apple cider vinegar and the crowd favourite camelized fennel and apple chutney. We served the chutney on slices of award winning Braeburn, Gala, Jonagored, and Cox Apples from the National Fruit Show. Serving up a nice chutney was a great way to strike up a conversation with some of the thousands of people who tasted our food at the Festival. A chutney elicits strong reactions from its often strong flavours. Strong memories of grandmotherly made jars of chutneys, pickles, and compotes from years gone by. Try this chutney, can a few jars, and get prepared for enjoyable meals during the cold dark and cozy months ahead...


Serves ALOT ( be prepared to can and/or give to neighbors and friends)


2 T English rapeseed (vegetable) oil

7 Fennel Bulbs (or onion), stalks and core removed, thinly sliced

15 Bramley apples, washed, seeded, and sliced

125g brown sugar

1 t

2 lemon, zested and juiced

2 lime, zested and juiced

1T cumin powder ( or toasted cumin seeds)

50g fresh ginger, grated

1/2 bunch mint leaves, washed and finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat large saucepot over medium heat, then add rapeseed oil.
  2. Add fennel to pot and slowly cook down till wilted and well browned, adding splash of water as necessary to prevent sticking.
  3. Add sugar to sauce pot and melt. Then add sliced apples and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Add all other ingredients except mint into pot.
  5. Put on very low heat and stir carefully/occasionally until apples are cooked.
  6. When ready mix in mint and adjust Seasoning.


· Serve this with your favourite roast pork or turkey dish.

· Can or freeze the chutney to preserve for the months ahead.

· A great accompaniment to your Ploughman’s!!!!

Thursday, 21 October 2010


Day one of the Portobello Road Market Apple Fest is over and what a wonderful day. Needless to say we ate a few apples, served thousands of people samples and cant wait till tomorrow to try out a few more recipe surprises. Hats off to all the volunteer, from cooks from Flavour Gateway in Tower Hamlets ( check out their food at Weavers Field in Bethnal Green) to Masters in Food Policy students at City University who helped make it all happen.

Today was not just about apple and squashes. It was actually about saving local jobs, local fruit and veg, local cultural history, and reconnecting people with the flavours of the season. Not the flavour one finds in the freezer aisle of the supermarket, or the jarred apple sauce we feed our infants. No. I am talking about the flavour of home made food that is made with skill, but more importantly with lots of love.

Below is a very simple recipe for a wonderful dessert that anyone can make for their friends and family. Give it a try; cook with your loved ones both young and old, and enjoy the process and the "fruits" of your labour!!!!

Apple Crumble

Serves 6



4 large Bramley apples (or other apples/stone fruit) washed and seeded

1 lime (or other citrus) zested and juiced

4 T raisins (or other dried fruit)

1t mixed spice (or just plain Cinnamon)


75g whole meal flour

25 g oats

50 g sugar

50 g butter

1 t mixed spice


  1. Heat oven to 190 Celsius/375F/Gas mark 5
  2. Thickly slice apples and toss with zest and juice of lime, raisins, 1t mixed spice, and place in baking tin.
  3. Rub butter into the flour, stir in sugar, oats and mixed spice and rub till crumbly.
  4. Cover apples with crumble mixture and press firmly to create a sealed layer over the fruit.
  5. Bake in oven for 40 minutes until brown and let rest 10 minutes before serving


Try serving this with natural yogurt instead of custard.

Try to make a different fruit based crumble for each season.

Mix up your dried fruits, your spices, and your citrus with each crumble.


One day till the Festival and we began the big preparations. What does that mean? It means dozens of squash to roast, onions and apples to sweat down, seeds to season and roast, vegetable stock to simmer...and generally speaking playing with lots of wonderfully local and seasonal English produce.

If you are in London tomorrow or Saturday, stop on by the Portobello Market and get some free samples of the luscious fruits of our crumble ( tomorrows blog recipe), Harvest Squash soup (recipe below), baked apples (yesterdays blog), and of course lots and lots of award winning apples to sample....


Serves 6


1 butternut squash, halved and seeded

1 acorn squash, halved and seeded

50g honey (maple syrup or brown sugar can substitute)

1 large onion, peeled and finely diced

1 shallot, peeled and finely diced

1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped

2 English eating apples, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped

200ml white wine (or substitute apple juice or apple cider)

1 Litre vegetable stock

1 T English rapeseed oil (or other vegetable oil)

Cinnamon and Salt


  1. Heat Oven to 190 C/375 F.
  2. Place squash in a roasting pan cut side up.
  3. Pour 250ml water in bottom of pan. Pour honey and salt in cut side of squash.
  4. Cover pan with aluminum foil or lid and roast till cooked (roughly 1 hour)
  5. At same time, sweat onion, shallot, garlic and apple in oil till translucent.
  6. Add white wine to onion pan and cook till almost evaporated
  7. Peel cooked squash and put the flesh in with the onion mixture.
  8. Add enough vegetable stock to cover the squash
  9. Simmer for 30 minutes
  10. Puree soup till absolutely smooth
  11. Finish with cinnamon and salt. Add a splash of lemon juice if necessary.


· Try making your own stock by cooking down clean trimmings from vegetables and fruits for an hour in a large pot of water...strain and use the liquid for soups and sauces!!!

· Try using different types of squash and pumpkins for this recipe

· Lemon juice and other acidic ingredients can often help balance the flavour of a soup or sauce!!!

Monday, 18 October 2010

APPLE FEST and early am oat inspired confessional

Easy...tasty...and worthy for breakfast, lunch or dinner!!! What could it be but baked apples...

Cut some big ole bramley apples in half...Toss with a bit of mixed spice, a pat of butter and sprinkle of honey or sugar and bake for 1/2 hour at 375 F in a pan spread with 1/2 inch of water or cider. That's it...have with ice cream for dessert. Have with yogurt and walnuts for breakfast. Mash with chopped pickled onions and have a bit on whole meal bread with mature cheddar cheese for a cheese and quick chutney sandwich!!!!

All week I will be blogging apple based recipes. Why? Well come on down to the Apple Fest at Portobello Road market that I am helping to run this weekend and find out how eating apples and other local produce can help your local economy, save a farmer, better your health and enjoy the wonders of local and seasonal products!!!!

MORE DISHES TO WASH ( AKA early morning confessional)

Alright, I only put my soaked oats, yogourt, and baked apple on that nice plate for the photo...I then foolishly tossed it all in a bowl to have as i normally do with a cup of tea and the nytimes online before I ride my bike to work. The truth is good food is worth a bit of effort. But usually like these tasty apples, it takes hardly any effort at all. The only effort is when we all try to get a bit poncy with our slow down, enjoy the apples, eat em if ya got 'em, and if you dont come on by the Portobella Road Market this weekend to get some!