Autumnal, Cidery Crumble 

Here’s me waving a cautious hello to autumn. It’s still a little frustrating getting dressed in the morning, I’ve discovered a love for dresses with long arms and high collars, these paired with my signature thick tights and red DMs mean I’m quite often sweating by 11am.

Anyway, I try not to allow this sort of weather issue to affect my joy of cold weather eating. The office is full of chats about stews, dumplings, crumbles and the much maligned steamed pudding and I am here for it.

I was sent some bottles of Old Rascal from Thatchers after a balloon flight, didn’t happen and as someone who isn’t a huge cider lover it’s been used mostly for roast pork. However, my office neighbour and I wondered a few weeks ago if cider and crumble could be bedfellows and honestly I couldn’t see why not. Also it’s been ages since I’ve done a recipe and that’s what this blog was supposed to be for. So, please do give this a go and let me know if you try it. We loved it.

To feed 4 greedy bastards you will need;

Filling

  • Around 300ml of sweet to med sweet cider
  • 2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • 2 small sweet cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • A generous knob of butter
  • A pinch of salt

Topping

  • 150g plain flour
  • 100g oats
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 100g butter
  • Pinch of salt

Method

  • Gently melt the  butter and add the cooking apples. When they start to soften add the cider, turn up heat a little and stir occasionally. You’re looking for the apple to get very soft and thicker, almost like a sauce.
  • Once that’s happened add your chunks of sweet apple, sugar and spices plus salt and heat throughout. You want the sweet apples to hold more of their shape so it’s not akin to baby foods.
  • Decant into your crumble receptacle
  • For the topping, either pulse everything into a food processor until crumbly or rub together with your hands until you’re happy. I like a few big, stodgy clumps in mine.
  • Pop into a preheated oven, around 200c for about half an hour or until the top is nice and brown.
  • Serve with custard

Chicken Kiev Burgers – it’s happening!!

UPDATE – 18/07/2017

Apparently, I have a knack for whining long and hard enough for people to eventually give in (see pizza dips) so here is my plea to the burger barons of Bristol to give me and Bristol what we want.

We have seen the rare meat options in burger restaurants grow,  you can get anything from crocodile to zebra if you want it. You can get beef and chicken too if you prefer. The toppings on offer in some places are things you’d never think of but taste great, green sauce, beef marrow mayo, all the cheeses. These are all great, all modern, all very tasty.

However.

We are are a city ignoring two major things, the stuffed patty and the power of NOSTALGIA. Why we don’t have more things stuffed in burgers is beyond me, for sure pile my burger higher than the Sunday Roast presentation at The Bank Tavern but shove some gooey cheese my burger patty and I’m happy. The benchmark of stuff in things though is the humble and much-maligned chicken Kiev.

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Crunchy breadcrumbs, moist and juicy chicken breast, a hot pocket for molten butter, garlic and herbs used to be a staple tea time treat when I was a kid. We’ve all dabbled with a chicken cordon bleu but it’s never as good as a kiev that’s burst and fried the oven chips in fragrant garlic butter.

So why on earth is no one serving a chicken kiev burger (or chicken kiev, RIP Europa*) is beyond me. I have asked and asked. Others have asked and asked. I have tagged, created debate, posted on both mine and the work account (sometimes having all the passwords means you can do nefarious things) and even MADE MY OWN and still nothing. No one has even replied to tell me to stop bothering them.

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Every bite tasted like angels singing

So Bristol Burger Mafia. As I have been so good all year, please please please can you do a chicken kiev burger? I promise I can bring a lot of people that will at least try it once.

*Lest we forget #ToastGate

Bristol Pudding Society  @ Bristol Spirit

I’ve been a wee bit quiet on here of late. Mostly due to starting my new job in March which is taking up all of my time during the day. I’m not complaining about that AT ALL, my old job had me sitting around doing nothing for a lot of my time. Despite people assuming that would be a dream come true, it was dull.

Apart from starting a new job and basically being a boss at it, I also started a Pudding Society . I’d seen them mentioned in the past, there’s a hotel that runs one that myself and a friend wanted to go to, but without a car and a bag full of cash, it quickly became one of those “one-day” things. I lamented the lack of pudding dedicated evening in Bristol on Twitter and was told to do it myself. So I did.

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Luckily a good friend owns a lovely bar called Bristol Spirit with a brand new kitchen and gorgeous seating area. I floated the idea past her and she was game for a challenge. Location sorted I just needed a menu and some customers.

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I decided to go down the “homely Sunday Lunch” pudding route as I am a home cook, not a chef. Bristol Pudding Society  is not the place to go to if you want a twiddly sugar work encasing a delicate something or other, I want this to be somewhere you eat to excess and don’t mind I have the serving aptitude of a dinner lady.

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I completed my first “service” on Sunday and it went brilliantly. It couldn’t have gone better and everyone left feeling stuffed and a wee bit drunk in some cases after pairing their courses with Bristol Spirit’s fine cocktails.

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Sam and I have agreed to make this a regular thing and I am now a resident pop-up, words I never thought I would say. I am finally starting something that’s my very own that people actually want to come to!

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If you would like tickets, head over to my website and click the link. At the time of writing, we still have space for 9th July and 6th August. Magic!

I also had a lot of people ask me how to make the Beetroot Ketchup, obviously, they need to read my blog more often!

Massive thank you to friends that let me use their pics for my promotion, I forgot to take any.

 

How to make your own, fantastic bath bombs

Bath bomb, bath bomb. Who likes a bath bomb? You can make one too if you follow this along…

I LOVE a bath bomb. I will spend silly amounts of time pouring over the Lush website, trying to decide which bomb I want to try next. Does one go for colour? Smell? Glitter percentage?

I bought a few Hex Bombs from Bella Muerte after seeing them on Instagram and fell in love instantly. They have given the middle finger to the twee, dried rose petal filled bombs of old and made one so black you can’t see your legs.

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Of course the next logical step one must take if you have a bomb addiction is learn to make your own. With all the ingredients available via Amazon you can be making a mess of your kitchen and your bathtub in no time.

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I won’t lie, this isn’t the cheapest hobby out there, oils are expensive. But one batch of mixture will make around 6 medium size bombs, for me that’s easily a months worth.

You will need:

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup citric acid
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup Epsom salts
  • 4 teaspoons oil of choice – coconut is good for your skin.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons essential oil of your choice, lavender is popular
  • Food colouring or soap dye of your choice
  • Bath bomb molds 

Method

First mix all your dry ingredients together and decide how many colours you want incorporated into your bomb (I picked four). Separate your dry ingredients into as many bowls as colours.

Whisk the oil, essential oil and colouring together, if using more than one colour separate your wet ingredients into separate bowls as you did for your dry ingredients.

Carefully add each colour mix to a dry mix and stir until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated.

Layer your mixes into your moulds and leave to dry for at least a few hours.

Empty the molds VERY CAREFULLY and leave to dry overnight. They will expand!

If you enjoy doing the basics there are plenty of option to step up your game, try mixing essential oil, adding glitter, dried flowers etc.

Keep bombs in a cool, dry place

Made my own #bathbomb and it went super

A post shared by Charlie | Bristol Food Blogger (@charlieesq_) on

 

B&Q is where my will to live, died.

I have been described by a friend on the allotment as negative, pessimistic as you will. My reasoning is if you already expect to be disappointed, you will feel better when you aren’t. I try not to allow myself to get excited by anything too much these days unless its physically happening or in my hand. I’m not a miserable person, i just can’t trust anything to right.

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Everything on this shed is a damn lie

I posted a rather self depreciating Facebook update where i had finally arranged a lift to B&Q to buy a shed for the allotment and i called on others to bet on something going wrong. I did everything right, i researched what i wanted, called the day before to check things were in stock, turned up early to ensure the stock they promised hadn’t all been bought by crazed shed fanciers, picked what i wanted in the shed display area and went and asked a member of staff for help. The help was not forth coming, i was told “i’m new” and he half heartily pointed in the general direction of some other staff members. They couldn’t help me either and eventually one of my party wandered off and found someone who couldn’t help me either but told the first guy and a second chap who was just putting trolleys back to fetch the shed i wanted.

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After a good 20 minutes they came back empty handed claiming the sheds were all “damaged” and they weren’t going to sell one to me. The trolley guy did offer to look in the other warehouse and showed us to a display model that had seen better days but it was no good. Disheartened i went and chose a plastic box to put my stuff in, paid and went on my merry way.

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Just as we were heading back to the van, trolley guy caught up with us and said he had found a shed in the size i wanted and would i like to take it? I agreed and he wheeled it out to us. After a bit of a song and dance regarding returns, blocks for a base and paint we finally left 2 hours later, with me frantically rounding up help i had cancelled minutes before. Erick who works in Cribbs,  Bristol B&Q, if you are reading this, you were amazing and prevented a bit of meltdown.

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It wasn’t until the base was down and three walls were up i realised it was a double door shed with no windows but i was past caring. I had spent more money on a shed i didn’t want that was also of poorer quality but, now,  i had one. My allotment mate would have my stuff out of his space finally and i could go online and pick up some paint and make the damn thing very much mine.

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I couldn’t have done it without my friends, i know some good eggs for sure.

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Beth’s Beetroot Ketchup

I’ve been raving about this stuff all day but when it came to making it i ended up making a few tweaks that i loved. It is still, in essence, my dear friends recipe but changed enough i felt i could share my version without feeling guilty!

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My version is very rich, sweet and spicy. I am very much enjoying the smooth texture with a lot of rich, sweet earthy tones and a hell of a kick at the end. You can tweak to your hearts content with this, try smoking your beets, adding cinnamon or allspice etc.

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Luckily for me one of the things that haven’t dramatically died on the allotment are my candied beetroots, they are also the most beautiful colours and cannot stop taking photos and showing people “what i made”. I have about 10-12 of them sitting in the ground getting big and fat, i can’t wait to pickle some.

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If you want to give Beth’s a bash, hop on over here 

You will need

  • 300g beetroot – i went for half candy half “normal” for the colour, chopped
  • 200ml balsamic vinegar
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • salt and pepper to season

This is the best recipie because you just bung it all in a pan and simmer until the liquid reduces and the beetroot is soft enough you can break it down with the edge of a wooden spoon.

Blitz with a hand blender or heave the food processor out from under the sink until smooth and pop into a sterlised jar. When cool you can store in the fridge for a good 3 weeks.

Beth suggests you serve with fishfinger sammiches and sweet potato fries and the girl is correct

Rhubarb and strawberry jam

Allotmenting has paid off in parts, i have a near inexhaustible supply of rhubarb which is a God send if you a) like it as much as i do and b) are disgusted by what people are charging for it.

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Triffids

Seriously, i shlepped home with an easy 2.5Kg the other week (after prep) and saw in my local greengrocer its going for £3.99 a kilo.  That’s eye-wateringly expensive if you ask me. Don’t get me started on the cost of strawberries either. I chose to not try and grow strawberries this year but the same greengrocers had boxes of very sad and occasionally “fluffy” (mouldy) strawbs at the till, 2 boxes for £1. I highly recommend you look out for deals like this, anything that looks a bit gross can be chopped away, then chuck them in a bag and freeze for when you want them. Even better, if you have the time or inclination freeze in 200g bags so you don’t have to faff with weighing when you want to get on with jam.

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Rhubarb has naff all pectin in it and i don’t bother with jam sugar because i don’t mind a soft set but you are welcome to use it if you prefer. I am more of a lemon seeds in an old pair of tights, kinda girl but i always was a terrible slattern. Remember to save your apple and lemon seeds and freeze them for easy access pectin in the future.

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This jam is really tangy, a lot like summer is punching you in the face with flavour, and goes very well on toast, posh vanilla cream, cakes and strong cheddar.

For my jam you will need

  • 1.4KG rhubarb – make friends with your greengrocer to get some battered stuff at the end of the day or speak to your allotment friends to get some cheap, offer a swap!
  • 300g strawberries
  • 1 large lemon – juiced and seeds saved
  • Good pinch of salt
  • 1.2KG sugar – i use white granulated
  • A square of  muslin/pair of tights, leg cut off/pop sock
  • Small plate in the freezer or a food temp monitor
  • 6 jars, sterilised 

Method

Pop the chopped rhubarb into a pan on a moderate heat and cook down, add your strawberries and pips tied in your preferred fabric and give everything a stir.

After around 15 to 20 minutes add the sugar, lemon juice and salt and stir thoroughly. Turn the heat up high and watch out for flying jam. The method of checking if the jam is at the setting temp is to take the plate out of your freezer, dollop a little on it, wait a second and gently push the jam to see if it “wrinkles“. This method has never, ever worked for me so i use a food thermometer and cook until the temp reaches between 104c – 106c. Do what works for you.

Once at the setting temp, fill your jars (i tend to use a jug and pour the jam in, less messy than using a spoon) and leave to cool, lids screwed on tightly.