Saturday, 21 September 2013

Up (for) the Apples and Pears

I've spent the last few weeks at home thinking of ways to use up our giant 17lb bucket of plums (not even joking), so when I got to Dad's house in London and discovered their tree was full of pears that hadn't even been touched I just couldn't help myself. Cue climbing the pear tree in a mini skirt then spending the afternoon baking.

It looks super fancy and impressive, but it's the easiest thing ever and it barely costs anything to make. And it tastes SO. GOOD. Also the recipe is adapted from Mary Berry's apple tarte tatin recipe because it's really easy and she's amazing.

- block of puff pastry (you can make your own if you want but it's sooooo much effort)
- 175g granulated sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cardamom pods
- 850g pears
- juice of 1 lemon

1. First, preheat your oven to 220°C. Then put the sugar in a saucepan along with 6tbsp water, the cinnamon stick and the cardamom pods. Stir on a low heat until the sugar's dissolved, then turn up the heat and STOP STIRRING. Seriously, do not touch that spoon. You're allowed to swirl the pan a bit, but no. spoons. Boil until it turns a 'golden straw colour', then take out the spices and pour into an oven-proof dish (a cake tin would work, just make sure it's deep enough).
2. Put the lemon juice into a bowl, then peel and thinly slice the pears and throw in with the lemon juice 'til you've prepared all of them (this'll stop them going brown, and it tastes nice too). Arrange the pear slices on top of the caramel and press down.
3. Roll out the pastry, then cut into a round slightly bigger than the tin. Cover the pears and tuck the pastry down the sides, then make a small slit in the top to allow steam out.
4. Bake for 40 minutes, then turn it out onto a plate and present to your amazed friends/family, before eating with lots of ice cream.

You may not have a fruit tree in your garden, but if you go to your nearest market you'll find that at the moment they have heaps of pears, apples, plums, blackberries, peaches, figs and more - so there's really no excuse. Think of your five a day! And try not to think about the sugar and pastry - just concentrate on the fruit.

Bonus: picture of me mid-mini-skirt-tree-climb:


Saturday, 14 September 2013

Northumberland Coquetdale and National Cheese Week

It’s the British National Cheese Week!

Bryony and I absolutely love cheese. Most of our posts here at This is Uni Food feature cheese. You could tell how dangerous our addiction was when we shared a fridge and there was a 3 for 2 deal on cheese at Tesco. You could not move for cheese. We’d probably buy six blocks each, at least half of which were goats cheeses. I mastered the art of eating a whole block of goats cheese, with Ryvita, in one sitting. I'm pretty sure Bryony can match me on that. Needless to say, we genuinely really quite like cheese.

I don’t really have a favourite cheese (unless you count ALL of the cheeses) but I like to try random varieties when I can. So when I was up in County Durham with my family this week, I naturally wanted to try some (relatively) local cheese.

At the Wolsingham Show
We went to the Wolsingham Agricultural Show (which is apparently the oldest agricultural show in the country, fancy that) and amidst all the sheep, oversized vegetables and the monster trucks (why would there NOT be monster trucks? They were pulling other cars apart in tugs of war, it was awesome.) I found a rather lovely cheese called Northumberland Coquetdale. It has a lovely strong flavour but not too overpowering and it’s now one of my favourites. Although when it comes to cheese, I’m easy to please...

Baked stuffed mushrooms with Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, red wine and onion gravy and some roasted veg
I decided I would incorporate my Coquetdale into my Sunday roast, so I made cheesy baked stuffed mushrooms, which taste much cheesier than they look. You can add breadcrumbs to the stuffing and sprinkle some over the top for a crunchier version, but I couldn’t be bothered to make breadcrumbs, so yknow… 

Here’s what you need for four:

4 large flat mushrooms
3 small mushrooms
2 tsp red pesto
1 (or 2 if you’re feeling antisocial) cloves of garlic, chopped or crushed.
Handful of basil leaves, chopped
Handful of rocket leaves, chopped.
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
A really large handful of grated Coquetdale. Or you could use Parmesan or another similar cheese.

1.Preheat your oven to 200C.

2.  Carefully cut the stems out of the large mushrooms, and place the cap of the mushroom gill side up in a small roasting tin. Do you like my fancy mushroom terms? I googled them. 

3. Take the mushroom stems and chop them up into very small cubes. Cut your (whole) small mushrooms into similarly sized pieces and combine in a bowl with the pesto, basil, rocket, garlic, some of your Coquetdale/Parmesan and a small splash of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Divide your mushroom-pesto mixture equally and spoon into the caps of your flat mushrooms. If you’re feeling fancy, you can place a slice of mushroom on the top for decoration. Sprinkle the rest of your cheese on top, and drizzle them all with olive oil.

5. Bake your mushrooms in the oven for around half an hour, take them out and serve - I ate mine as part of a roast dinner, but you could easily serve with toast for a simple lunch or supper.

A gratuitous photo of the beautiful valley we were staying in. From our cottage door looking towards Wolsingham.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Kaiserschmarrn: Guest Post by Liesl Rowe

Hello! I'm Liesl Rowe, a uni friend of Fraser's, hence how I know Bryony. As you've possibly guessed from my name, I'm a quarter-Austrian (although my parents are 'Sound of Music' fans too, before you ask). As a result, I've grown up making various traditional Austrian dishes from our family recipe book with the best definitely being Kaiserschmarrn. 

Photography by Zosia Edwards
  Literally translated as 'The Emperor's pieces', Kaiserschmarrn apparently came into being after the German Kaiser's chef dropped the pancakes which he was preparing for the Kaiser on the floor and had to quickly make them into something presentable. Makes me feel a whole lot better about my baking disasters...

Technically it's meant to be an Austrian dessert but a few years ago I realised that it would make an awesome breakfast dish as it's basically chopped up pancakes with sultanas. It's one of my favourite things to cook for friends as it sounds really impressive but involves minimal effort.

Ingredients (serves 4):
- 75g/3oz plain flour
- 40g/1½oz caster sugar
- 25g/1oz butter, melted
- 200ml milk
- 3 eggs, separated

1. Put the flour and sugar in a basin. Form a 'well' in the middle of the bowl and slowly add the melted butter, milk and eggs yolks.
2. Beat the egg whites until they resemble stiff peaks, then add along with the sultanas.
3. Pour into a well-buttered frying pan and allow to partially set. Flip the mixture and brown both sides, then tear into pieces. Allow these to continue cooking very gently. When the pieces have finished cooking, both sides should look golden.
4. Serve with oodles of raspberry jam and enjoy!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A Souperior Use for Tomatoes

Life is a bit mad, which is why posting has been a bit sporadic recently. I've been stalking the legend that is Nigel Slater during his visit to my tiny Cumbrian town, and interviewing the lovely Ruby Tandoh from The Great British Bake Off for The London Student. Also, I felt I should blog something savoury, which meant actually cooking something savoury and not just spending my days baking and eating cake.

Last week, Mum came home with LOADS of tomatoes from her friend at work, and they needed to be used. And so, my sister and I made tomato soup. And it was really good.

Ingredients (serves 4):
- 1.5kg tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 large red onion (or two small), roughly chopped
- half a red pepper, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- large bunch basil leaves, torn

1. Put the tomatoes, onion, pepper and garlic into a large roasting dish. Drizzle with olive oil and add some salt and pepper and about a third of the basil leaves, then cook for 40-50 mins at 220°C, stirring every 15 minutes.

2. Tip the vegetables into a large saucepan, then pour in the vegetable stock and bring everything to a gentle boil. Add the rest of the basil leaves and simmer for 5 minutes, then take off the heat and blitz until smooth.
3. Season to taste, then serve with lots of bread. Easiest meal ever.