turning apples into tarts

Following on from my last post, I decided to collect some of those beautiful spotty apples   to make a French apple tart. It is based on a recipe in my kitchen bible-Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck. I am now on my second copy-I still have the original (dated March 20th 1976 in my youthful hand) but it is in two pieces these days.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The flan uses about 3 pounds of apples, peeled and cored weight. One pound is cut into neat slices, sprinkled with a tablespoon of lemon juice and about an ounce of granulated sugar and set aside for the top. The other apples are cut into chunks and then placed in a saucepan with a splash of water to start the juices flowing and cooked for about 20minutes over a low heat until the are purée. Stir in either a teaspoon of vanilla extract or a splash of alcohol-brandy for preference and about an ounce of sugar. As I am using eating apples, they need little sugar.They might not need any but I haven’t tried without yet.

I cheated and used a ready made sweet pastry base. Purists make their own. The puree is spread over the base, the reserved slices arranged around the top and the tart baked for half an hour in a 375/160 oven until the apple slices are tender and a little brown. The top can be glazed with apricot jam. I didn’t have any and used home-made redcurrant jelly, which worked well.

The Golden Delicious not only eat very well off the tree, they also make a nice fluffy purée for cooking. What more can you ask of an apple?

sloe gin and slow worms…

…but not together!

It was a morning for more preserving. The sloes have been in the freezer since Saturday. I’m told it improves the flavour, but I did it because I didn’t have a suitable jar or gin. Having remedied both of those defects, I spent a happy time this morning making the sloe gin ready for Christmas. Well, possibly ready for Christmas. I’m told it improves with keeping. I’m also told it is usually so good there isn’t any left for keeping.

I used the recipe on the Cottage Smallholder website. There are plenty of interesting things to browse there, but not  a red tomato chutney recipe. That is the next project now the tomatoes are finally ripening slightly faster than the slugs can eat them.

And whilst we are on the subject of slugs, we found this little slug muncher on Saturday.

It  is a baby slow worm (Anguis fragilis) found whilst we (no, He) were strimming the allotment as part of autumn clearing.
About 10 cm  long -that’s  4 inches in old money-it was lucky to survive the strimming and it means there must be parents and probably siblings about too. I read that the young take 4-5 months to develop and are born at the end of August and early September. So happy birthday for recently little chap.
Slow worms are a protected species, as are all English reptiles. This little fellow is neither slow nor a worm nor a snake, but a legless lizard. And I have never got this close to one before. I was so excited I was (almost) glad there are oodles of slugs on the allotment.