apple pie

Recipe Redux: Apple Pie with Spiced Wholemeal Pastry

apple pie with spiced wholemeal pastry

This month the theme for Recipe Redux is Pie Love i.e. to give a healthy twist to a sweet or savoury pie.   Well, to me pies are real comfort food and remind me of growing up as my mum used to make lots of pies both sweet and savoury.  We would have meat pies and chicken pies followed by apple, rhubarb or plum pies.   My mum makes very good pies and luckily for her, my dad loves his pies.  Or should I say her pies.

Unfortunately my husband is not a big fan of pastry so I rarely actually make a pie myself. I’m more likely to get my pie fix when I’m out and about, and of course bought pies are never as good as homemade ones.    And rarely even remotely healthy.

So, starved of homemade pies for a long long time, I was pleased to have a real reason to actually make one for this challenge.   Because I so rarely make pies, what could be more appropriate than  having a go at recreating my mum’s apple pie?   You see, although pies have a reputation for being unhealthy, as far as pies go, my mum’s is on the healthier side. She always makes pastry out of wholemeal flour and I love the crumbliness that that gives the pie.   It may not look so attractive and is difficult to work with but it just melts in your mouth, as well as giving the pastry a slight nutty flavour, which is helped here by the mixed spice as well.   The mixed spice is optional and is very subtle.  You could just add it to the apple instead for a more spiced pie.

I can’t claim a pie is healthy, but this pie is slightly healthier than some pies in that the fruit isn’t encased in pastry. There’s a layer of fruit and then a layer of pastry.   So much easier and also no need to worry about a soggy bottom!

Finally the fruit.  I used eating apples so didn’t need to add any sugar to sweeten them, although I did add a squeeze of agave nectar for just a little extra sweetness and taste.

As you can see, I ate this pie with ice cream.   I could have had it with natural yoghurt but that would have defeated the purpose a little.   Why recreate your mum’s pie and then not serve it the way she would have done?   It had to be served warm with vanilla ice cream.   Nothing else would have done.  I’m hope you understand.

apple pie with spiced wholemeal pastry

Ingredients – Serves 4

4 eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped

1 tbsp agave nectar

200g wholemeal flour

100g butter

1/2 tsp ground mixed spice

A little icy water

How to Make Apple Pie with Spiced Wholemeal Pastry

  1. Put the apples in a saucepan with a little water and simmer until the apples are soft but still hold their shape.   Don’t let them boil dry.   Add a splash of water if it looks like the pan might get too dry.

  2. Put the apples in the bottom of a greased pie dish.

  3. Make the pastry by putting the flour and butter in a food processor and blending until it looks like breadcrumbs.

  4. Turn the mixture out onto a work surface and add a couple of tablespoons of cold water from the fridge.    Bring the mixture together with your hands to form a ball of pastry.

  5. Wrap the pastry in cling film and put in the fridge to rest for about 20 minutes.

  6. Put a little flour on the work surface and roll the pastry out until it’s the right size and shape to cover the pie.   The pastry will be very crumbly and difficult to work with without it breaking up but this is also what gives it its light crumbly texture after it’s cooked.

  7. Make a couple of cuts on top of the pie so the steam can escape and then bake the pie in the oven at 180C for about 20-25 minutes.

  8. Let the pie cool for about 15 minutes before serving with ice cream.  Or yoghurt.

To see what other #RecipeRedux participants have made, click on the link below:

This is also my #BakeoftheWeek at Casa Costello.

Bake of the Week


sheep, polar bear and cat cupcakes

Black and White Animal Cupcakes

Polar bear, sheep and cat cupcakes

I’m so proud of these little cupcakes.  There’s room for improvement certainly.  Next time I would use a slightly larger cutter to cut the piece of fondant that covers the top of the cupcake.  I would also knead the black fondant a little more before modeling the cat too, just to get a  smoother body.  I have to admit to having had the packet of black fondant in my cupboard for slightly too long so it had gone a little hard around the edges, even though it was sealed in the packet.

I actually made 9 cupcakes but only managed to decorate three of them.   Little Miss Spice was decorating the other ones and of course she kept trying to get her hands on the ones I had.  When it came to eating them, as always she chose to eat the ones I’d decorated and I ate the ones she’d ‘decorated’.

The cupcake recipe was the from the Compendium of Cake Decorating Techniques by Carol Deacon.  I used the quantities to make a small pound cake (15cm) but also added some vanilla extract.  The cupcakes turned out to have a delicious quite strong vanilla flavour which I loved.   It’s definitely a recipe I’ll use again for either a plain cake or cupcakes I plan to decorate.   In fact, I’ve already used it again but flavoured with lemon.

For the cat cupcake I took the idea from the Deacon book and just made a sausage shaped piece of fondant and then curled it around.   I pulled some fondant out to make the ears, used a small knife to make the eyes and then made a long worm-like piece as a tail.

I was inspired to make the sheep by this one on Rose Bakes and the polar bear by this one on Polka Dot Bride.  I just cut out pieces of fondant in the shapes I wanted and layered them up.


120g butter, at room temperature

120g caster sugar

175g self-raising flour

2 eggs

1 tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

To decorate

Apricot jam

Black fondant icing

White fondant icing

How to Make Black and White Animal Cupcakes

1. Cream the butter and sugar together and beat until light and creamy.   Beat in the eggs, milk and vanilla and then fold in the flour.   Alternatively beat all the ingredient together using a food mixer.

2. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases and bake in the oven at 150C for 20 minutes. Test with a skewer to see if they are done.  Cool on a wire rack.

3. Heat the jam in a microwave and brush a thin layer on top of each cupcake to help the fondant to stick.

4. Cut out circles of fondant to put on each cupcake.

5. To make the cat, see my description above.

6. To make the polar bear, cut out a large circle and two curved triangles from the white fondant.  From the black fondant cut out a small black circle for the nose and two roll two tiny pieces between your fingers to make the eyes.  Use a little water to stick the fondant onto the cupcakes and then draw the mouth by pressing in with a knife and using a drinking straw to indent the curved bit.

7. To make the sheep, just cut out pieces of fondant in the right shapes and stick them on using water as above.  Use something thin and sharp to make the nostril holes.  If you are making a lot of sheep cupcakes you can make templates out of card for the sheep’s face and ears to make it easier to get all of the pieces the same size.  Just make sure the card is clean and cut around it.

I am linking these to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum and to Family Foodies with the theme Let’s Get Baking, hosted by Eat your Veg and Bangers and Mash. As they contain eggs I am also linking them to Belleau Kitchen’s new challenge, Simply Eggcellent.

Tasty Tuesdays

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Pull apart stuffed pizza bread rolls filled with cheese and chorizo

Pull Apart Pizza Bread Rolls

Pull apart stuffed pizza bread rolls filled with cheese and chorizo

I always enjoy the hunt for a great new recipe and that’s one of the reasons I love to take part in the Secret Recipe Club every month.   Each month we are assigned another blog and our task is to chose a recipe to make from it and then blog about.  If possible I like to find something a little different or something I’ve never made before.   After all, it wouldn’t be a challenge if I just made a slight variation on an already favourite recipe.

This month I was assigned, Hun… What’s for Dinner?  Like me, Cindy is a stay at home mum of 2 and got into cooking when she got married and wanted to be able to eat good food.  Unlike me, Cindy has won a few awards for her cooking so I knew there would be some good recipes for me to find.  Even so, I didn’t spend long looking.   I soon saw these pizza pull aparts and I knew straightaway that I wanted to make them.  The hunt was over.  I just knew and I was right.

I made just a few small changes.   I used chorizo instead of pepperoni and cheddar instead of mozzarella.   I would have added a little basil to the garlic butter but I discovered/remembered too late that I’d run out.   I’m sure it would have been lovely but the garlic butter was fantastic brushed over the top of the rolls and I really didn’t feel anything was missing as I ate them.   They are yummy – all the flavours of a pizza but in a bread roll.   There are so many filling variations that could be made too.   Whatever you like in your pizza I challenge you to put inside some of these rolls!

I served the rolls with my favourite simple tomato soup – a recipe that I just keep coming back to.  It was suggested to serve them with pizza sauce but I felt like having more tomato than that and I think a tomato soup is the perfect accompaniment.

Ingredients – Serves 4

250g strong bread flour

7g sachet fast action yeast

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil

150-200ml warm water

Slices of chorizo or pepperoni (I used 8 but it depend on how many rolls you make)

Cubes of cheese (the same amount as the slices of cured meat)

20g butter, melted

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

How to Make Pull Apart Pizza Bread Rolls

1. Put the flour, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl with a dough hook.    Add the oil and start the mixer.   Pour in about 2/3 of the water slowly.   Keep adding a little more until a smooth dough forms.  Then continue to knead it in the mixer with the dough hook for 5 minutes.

2. Put the dough in a lightly oiled basin and cover with cling film or a damp tea towel.   Leave for about 30 minutes.

3. Cut the dough into equal sized pieces about golf ball sized.

4. Flatten each piece of dough.   Put a slice of chorizo in the middle witha  piece of cheese on the top and then fold the dough around it.   Place the rolls in a lightly oiled oven-proof dish with the seam underneath.  Leave a small gap between each ball of dough – they will rise in the oven and join together again.

5. Mix the crushed garlic into the melted butter and then brush the top of the rolls with the melted butter and sprinkle with the grated parmesan.

6. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 180C.

7. Serve with tomato soup.

Pull apart stuffed pizza bread rolls filled with cheese and chorizo

To see what other Secret Recipe Club participants have made, click on the link below:


I am also linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

Tasty Tuesdays



Vanilla Ice Cream and Affogato


I may have mentioned in an earlier post that I love vanilla ice cream.   I would much rather have vanilla than chocolate or caramel or cookie dough or whatever else is popular.  The best ice creams are either fruit flavoured or vanilla.  And that’s a fact.   Even if you don’t agree with me.

I planned to make this to go with the Austrian Chocolate Cake that I made last week, but only actually managed to complete it on day 3 with our last piece of cake.   That’s what children have done to me.   And that’s why I usually avoid recipes with too many stages. This one is easy but it does take time to make.  It’s worth it though and I promise you it’s one of the best vanilla ice creams you will ever taste

Anyway, I got up on Sunday morning and made a coffee.   I looked in the fridge but there was no milk.  I looked across at my husband who was putting his last  mouthful of cereal into his mouth.   I peered into his bowl but there wasn’t even a drop of milk left.

Would I have to have black coffee?   I don’t mind black coffee, but I wasn’t quite in the mood for one that morning.   And then I remembered the little bit of homemade vanillla ice cream that was sitting in the freezer.  It would have to be the day for affogato, which I only thought about as I had been planning to make it earlier this summer for Kavey Eats’ Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream Challenge.   I didn’t have time to make it that particular month but I hadn’t forgotten about it so when I saw that the theme this month was Anything Goes, it seemed like perfect timing.

The recipe is very slightly adapted from BBC Good Food.


250ml double cream

300ml milk (I used semi-skimmed)

115g caster sugar

1 vanilla pod

3 egg yolks

How to Make Vanilla Ice Cream

1. Put the milk, cream and about 60g of the sugar in a saucepan.   Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla pod and add them to the saucepan too.  Chop the vanilla pod into three pieces and add that to the pan too. Bring it slowly to the boil and then take it off the heat and leave it to cool for 30 minutes.

2. Put the rest of the sugar and the egg yolks in another large bowl and beat until light and pale. Pour in about 125ml of the cream mixture and beat in too.

3. Return the pan to the heat and bring it back to the boil.   As soon as it boils, take it off the heat again and pour on top of the egg yolk mixture, stirring.

4.Pour the custard back into the pan and return it to the heat again.   Heat it gently, stirring all the time.   It should soon thicken and when it does, it is ready.   Pour it through a sieve to remove the bits of vanilla pod and into a large measuring jug.  Leave it to cool in the fridge.

5. Let it cool for at least 2 hours or overnight then pour it into an ice cream maker.   Alternatively follow the instructions here if you don’t have an ice cream maker.

How to Make Affogato

Make some strong black coffee, ideally espresso.  Put a scoop of ice cream in the bottom of a cup and pour the coffee over the top.   Serve immediately.

cake and vanilla ice cream

I am linking this to Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream at Kavey Eats and to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.


schwartz sausage casserole (700x438)

Schwartz Sausage Casserole

schwartz sausage casserole (700x438) I like to make most of my meals from scratch.  I get a real sense of satisfaction from mixing together different herbs and spices and getting the flavours I’m looking for. However, there  are times when I just don’t want to spend long getting dinner ready.  I want something quick to prepare, easy and tasty, without taking the really lazy option of a ready meal (although I am often guilty of that too!).  With a newborn baby in the house as well as a toddler, I am increasingly looking for ways of making mealtimes easier, while still eating fairly healthily.

Sleep deprived, and with the reality of how busy life with two children can be beginning to hit home, it seemed like ideal timing to try out the Schwartz Sausage Casserole Recipe Mix.  Casseroles are perfect for anyone with a busy lifestyle. With this recipe, as long as you can find some time to chop some vegetables, it’s almost no work at all to actually put the casserole together.   Exactly what I needed.

The Schwartz Sausage Casserole Mix is flavoured with tomato, paprika and oregano. It comes as a powder that you mix with water and pour on top of the rest of the casserole.  I followed the recipe on the pack but slightly adapted it by adding a sliced red pepper as I knew that would go well with the flavours in the sauce.  You could add any vegetables you wanted though.   I served it with jacket potatoes as I could then just cook everything in the oven at the same time.   Although mashed potato would be lovely too, why give yourself the extra work?

We really enjoyed the casserole.   The sauce has a lovely paprika flavour that goes well with sausages and for a packet sauce mix it is very tasty.   My  husband even licked the plate clean!

schwartz sausage casserole mix

Ingredients – serves 4

450g pack of sausages

1 onion, sliced

1 red pepper, sliced into strips

175g mushrooms, sliced

1 sachet of Schwartz Sausage Casserole Recipe Mix

300ml water

How to Make Schwartz Sausage Casserole

1. Heat the oven to 180C, 350F, Gas mark 4.

2. Heat a little oil in an ovenproof casserole dish and add the sausages.   Cook for about 4 minutes, turning them so they brown on each side.

3. Add the onions and cook for another 3 minutes.

4. Add the peppers and mushrooms.  Mix the sachet of casserole mix into the water and pour over the top of the dish.

5. Transfer to the oven and cook for 1 hour.

This is a featured post.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are by far the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever made. In fact, I don’t know if I will ever want to use another recipe now I have discovered how good these are.   They are crisp and chewy just around the edges but the inside is soft, rich and doughy, a bit like a brownie.  If you love soft cookies then these are definitely ones you should try.  I love cookies but don’t often make them.   Until now I was more likely to just buy the very occasional bag when I was out somewhere.   Now I’ve found this recipe I think it might just tempt me to make them more often.   I have even frozen about half of the cookie dough in nice walnut sized balls, just ready to bake, and because they bake so quickly, you can easily bake just one or two whenever you fancy them.

I am sending these to Alphabakes which is hosted this month by Caroline Makes, and on alternate months by The More Than Occasional Baker. The letter is D.

double choc chip cookie (500x355)

Ingredients – Makes about 18

125g butter at room temperature

100g soft light brown sugar

125g caster sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

175g self-raising flour

50g cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

200g chocolate, chopped

How to Make Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

1. If the butter is not room temperature, put it in the microwave for 30 seconds.   Then put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and cream together.

2. Beat the egg slightly then add it to the butter and sugar along with the vanilla extract.   Mix together.

3. Sift the flour, cocoa and salt into the bowl.   Mix it together.   You should get quite a stiff cookie dough.   Add the chocolate chips and stir in.

4. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.   Roll the dough into balls and place them on the parchment paper, with plenty of space around each ball of cookie dough.  Some of the balls of cookie dough can be frozen at this point to bake later.

5. Bake the cookies in the oven at 180C for 8-9 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

I am also linking to Sweets for a Saturday and Sugar and Slice Sunday Link Party.

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Tomato and Chorizo Pasta

There is nothing more guaranteed to make a tomatoey meal tastier than a little bit of chorizo.  I love it and almost always have it in the fridge ready to add to a quick meal at a moment’s notice.  This pasta dish is a variation on my everyday pasta with tomato and chilli sauce, which I make every couple of weeks, sometimes even weekly.   I can easily prepare it at the last minute if I haven’t thought about what to make for dinner that day.   I always have pasta, onions and tinned tomatoes in the cupboard and tomatoes, chillies and peppers in the fridge.   I love the chunks of fresh tomato in this but you could miss them out, and even miss out the red pepper and the chilli pepper.  It’s the chorizo that is the key ingredient and gives the sauce its distinctive taste.  The oil leaks out of the chorizo and flavours the whole dish with paprika, but I also like to add a little extra smoked paprika for an even more intense flavour.

I am linking this to Pantry Party at the Law Student’s Cookbook.   The December theme is Anything Goes.

chorizo pasta (500x387)

Ingredients – serves 2

1 small red onion, diced

1/2 red pepper, diced

2 small cooking chorizo sausages, diced

400g tinned tomatoes

2 tomatoes, sliced

1 red chilli pepper, finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Enough pasta for 2 people

Cheese to serve (optional)

How to Make Tomato and Chorizo Pasta

1. Heat a little oil in a wok or saucepan.   Add the diced chorizo and fry until beginning to brown.   Add the onion, red pepper, crushed garlic and chilli pepper and continue to cook until softened.

2. Add the fresh and tinned tomatoes along with the paprika and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Serve the sauce with the pasta.  Sprinkle grated cheese on the top if you like.

Chicken in Red Wine Vinegar Sauce

I’m always looking out for new chicken dishes to make and the easier the better.   This recipe is based on one for Spicy Chicken Thighs, which I bookmarked a long time ago at Thyme for Cooking.   I changed the name as I felt the overwhelming taste was of fruity vinegar rather than spice.  If you’re not a vinegar fan then that might not sound appealing but red wine vinegar is not as strong as some other vinegars and doesn’t give an overly sharp taste.  I would describe the sauce as sweet and fruity tasting.  It is, however, not a mild tasting sauce, so if you think the amount of vinegar might be too much for you, you can always reduce it a little.  I used breasts rather than thighs as that is what I usually cook with, but I also feel this sauce would go well with pork or turkey.  So it could be a way of using up leftover turkey from Christmas dinner.

Chicken in Red wine vinegar sauce (500x408)

Ingredients – Serves 2

2 chicken breasts

1 tbsp plain flour

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp tomato puree

60ml chicken stock

30ml red wine vinegar

1 tsp cornflour

How to Make Chicken in Red Wine Vinegar Sauce

1. Combine the flour, paprika and cumin.  Press the chicken down onto the flour so it has a coating of flour all over.

2. Heat a little oil in a saucepan.   Cook the chicken briefly on all sides to seal the juices in.  Then, remove it from the pan.

3. Add the onions to the pan.  Cook until softened then add the garlic, tomato puree and the remainder of the flour that was used to coat the chicken.  Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring, then stir in the stock and vinegar.

4. Return the chicken to the pan.  Bring the sauce up to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes

5. If you feel the sauce is too runny, remove the chicken, mix the cornflour with a little water and stir it in to thicken.   Serve with rice or potatoes and vegetables.


Onion Bhajis

For a long time I had planned to make onion bhajis.   I love Indian food and often get them whenever I am getting a takeaway, but somehow, I’d never actually made them myself.   Until this month when I was given Samayalarai Cooking is Divine as my assignment for the Secret Recipe Club.  Now, it’s not the first time I’ve made something from this blog.  A year and a half ago we were paired up for a similar cooking event, Taste and Create.   That time I made lime pickle, another takeaway favourite.

I looked at many recipes this time and for a long time I couldn’t decide what to make.  I was considering making a bread recipe as I love naan breads but as soon as I found the recipe for onion pakoras I knew it was the one.

I was really pleased with how they turned out.   They tasted just like I expect onion bhajis to taste.  That may sound a bit weird, but often when you try to recreate something you know well it doesn’t quite match up to how you were expecting – even if it still tastes good. Not these – they were just how I wanted them to be.   I had to adapt the recipe slightly as I didn’t have any rice flour so I used all gram flour.  The recipe was a little different to any onion bhajis I’d ever had before as they also contained whole cashew nuts in the batter.   As there were so few I decided to chop them but I didn’t really feel they added anything so next time I would keep them whole or miss them out altogether.  All in all though, this was a lovely recipe and something I will definitely be making again.  Please also have a look at athe original recipe on Samayalarai Cooking is Divine.

Ingredients – Makes 6

1 large onion, sliced lengthwise

Small handful of cashew nuts – about 8

About 10 dry curry leaves, crushed (or a few fresh ones, sliced)

4 tbsp gram flour (chickpea flour)

1/4 tsp chilli powder

1 green chilli pepper, thinly sliced

Small knob of ginger, finely diced

Pinch salt

Pinch of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

How to Make Onion Bhajis

  1. Put the onions, green chillies, ginger, curry leaves, chilli powder and salt into a bowl and mix together.   Leave to stand for a few minutes.

  2. Add the cashew nuts and sift in the flour and bicarb.  Add a small amount of water at a time, mixing it in until a thick batter is formed.

  3. Heat oil in a saucepan.   Take a spoon and carefully drop spoonfuls of the batter into the oil.  Deep fry until they are golden and crispy on the outside.

  4. Serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over them.

Click on the link below to see what other Secret Recipe Club participants have made:

Garlic and Rosemary Foccacia in the Breadmaker

I have had a breadmaker for a long time, maybe 4 years, and in that time I have used it constantly to make my everyday bread.  It has lots of settings on it and I’m sure I can do lots of fancy things in it if I wanted.  It also came with a recipe book but I only used it a couple of times at the beginning when working out how it worked.  Unfortunately I don’t know where it is now and that has also stopped me experimenting.   I have even made more interesting breads a couple of times by hand, when using the breadmaker would probably have saved me time.   However, the demands of looking after a baby during the day mean that being able to spend time kneading by hand in the kitchen is probably an unrealistic expectation.   I decided therefore to be brave and just press the dough setting to make this foccacia and hope for the best.   I took the basic foccacia dough recipe from Working London Mummy and adapted the flavourings a bit and so the finished bread is quite different.


350g strong white flour

7g sachet of fast action yeast

210ml lukewarm water

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried rosemary (I didn’t have fresh but you could definitely use fresh instead)

1tbsp olive oil for the dough

1tbsp olive oil for the topping

1 clove garlic

How to make Garlic and Rosemary Foccacia

1. Put all the ingredients, except the garlic and olive oil for the topping, in the breadmaker.   Put on the dough setting.   When the programme finishes, remove and put the dough in a lightly oiled dish.   Cover with a damp tea towel or cling film.   Leave to rise for about an hour.

2. Oil a baking tray. Knead the dough for about a minute and use your hands to press it flat onto the baking tray.  Cover with cling film and leave to rise for another hour.

3. Crush the garlic clove and mix it into a tablespoon of olive oil.   Dip the end of a wooden spoon into the oil and use it to make indentations in the dough.   Then drizzle the oil over the bread and use a pastry brush to spread it around a bit.

4. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes at about 200C.


I am linking this to the Bake Fest, hosted this month by The Mad Scientist’s Kitchen. I am also llinking to Bake Your Own Bread, hosted by Girlichef.

BYOB 125 x 125