Mulled Cranberry Apple Cider

This is very similar to my mulled cider recipe here, but I have given it a Christmas tweak.

Cranberry Mulled Cider1

You can totally make a non-alcoholic version of this to make it family friendly, just substitute the cider for apple juice (and leave out any rum or brandy!)

I love creating recipes that make me think of cozy evenings in front of a crackling log fire, with perhaps snow falling outside, or a storm raging on a winter’s night, while I am warm and snuggly inside!

Cranberry Mulled Cider4

If a snow storm was raging outside and you are indeed sitting by that crackling log fire, then this will definitely warm the soul too.

1.5 litres of hard dry cider (use good quality apple juice if making a non-alcoholic version)
0.5 litres of pure cranberry juice
3-4 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
1 orange, stuck with 10 cloves
1 punnet of fresh cranberries
¼ fresh nutmeg – grated
2 small apples, cored and cut into chunks
2 clementines, cut into segments
½ cup (packed) brown sugar
Maple syrup or honey – adjust to preferred level of sweetness
Brandy or rum to spike – optional

Mulled Cranberry Cider3

Add everything, except the maple syrup or rum if using and heat gently over a low to medium heat and allow all the flavours to mingle. Leave on a low heat for around 20 minutes. Don’t allow the cider to boil. You can also do this in a crockpot or slow cooker if you have one.  Taste and add a little maple syrup or honey to sweeten a little.

Serve hot in heatproof glasses or mason jars with a shot of brandy or rum if desired and decorated with a cinnamon stick.

Cranberry mulled cider

The non-alcohol version would be lovely for Christmas morning, opening presents with the children.

Apple and Blackberry Cobbler

The weather is getting cooler and the nights are starting to draw in, thoughts are turning to recipes baked with seasonal fruit and spices.

Apples and blackberries are a classic combination and I often make apple and blackberry pies and crumbles.  For a change, this is a cobbler and uses buttermilk and melted butter in the ‘cobbles’ which makes the topping very tender and moist.

Apple Blackberry Cobbler2

The sweet fruit and spices all baked together makes the kitchen smell wonderful.  The finished cobbler has sweet, juicy fruit on the bottom and the gently spiced topping is soft on the inside and a little crusty and golden on the top.  It’s the perfect alternative to a crumble or a pie and really easy to make.

Although the temptation is to dive straight in the finished pudding, it’s best to leave it to cool a little before serving as the filling is incredibly hot straight from the oven.

Filling:
3-4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 punnet of sweet blackberries, washed
Juice of half a lemon
150g brown sugar
1tsp cinnamon
A pinch of ground cloves
1tbs cornflour

Topping:
250g self-raising flour
150g butter, melted
240g buttermilk
100g sugar
1/2tsp salt
1/2tsp cinnamon
A little melted butter for brushing

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F and butter a baking dish

Place the sliced apples, spices, cornflour, lemon juice and sugar in a pan and heat gently.  When the sugar has melted and the juices thickened a little, place into a bowl and gently stir in the blackberries.

Apple Blackberry Cobbler

Place into the buttered dish and prepare the topping.

For the topping, place the flour, salt, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and mix together.  Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted butter and buttermilk.  Stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix.

Apple Blackberry Cobbler1

Using a medium-sized ice cream scoop, or two spoons, drop spoonfuls of the batter over the fruit and top with a little extra brown sugar.

Apple Blackberry Cobbler3

Bake for 40-45 minutes until the cobbler is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the cobbles comes out clean.  When the cobbler is removed from the oven and still hot, brush the top with a little melted butter.

Apple Blackberry Cobbler5

This is best served warm and is good with ice cream, custard, whipped cream, or just on its own.  It’s also good cold the next day.

Apple Blackberry Cobbler4

Fall Salad with Pita Chips

It’s definitely starting to look autumnal outside now and I couldn’t be happier.  I know some people are feeling sad that summer is over, but autumn is SO much better.  All the colours, flavours, smells, fashion and even the angle of the sunlight make this my favourite time of year.

Fall salad3

Now all the squashes and pumpkins are starting to come into the shops, I like finding as many ways of using them that I can.  I think roasted butternut squash is really good in a salad with greens, tasty cheese and a nice dressing to bring it all together.

Fall salad2

This is a hearty, autumnal themed salad with roasted squash, red chicory, apples, walnuts and a really punchy blue cheese that I picked up – Buxton Blue.  This is a deep russet coloured cheese with blue veining and has a really good kick to it.  I also topped the salad with some Parma ham and a few pita chips for a bit of crunch – these are very quick to make.

I like to serve the dressing on the side, or if I am taking one to work with me, I love those little screw top pots that hold just the right amount.  This one has grain mustard, maple syrup and yoghurt which really works with the bitter red chicory leaves, salty cheese and sweet apples.

Ingredients:
1 small butternut squash or pumpkin
1tbs olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 head of red chicory or radicchio, end removed and leaves separated
1 bag of mixed salad leaves, or any other greens like baby spinach or kale
1 crisp, red dessert apple
Half a lemon
1 handful of walnut halves
Around 100g blue cheese – I used the Staffordshire Cheese Company’s Buxton Blue
1 pack of Parma ham
1 large pita bread

Dressing:
3tbs plain yoghurt
2tsp grain mustard
2tsp lemon juice
1tsp maple syrup
Pinch of salt and black pepper

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/395°F

Peel and chop the butternut squash into bite-sized chunks.  Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a lined baking sheet.  Roast for around 20-25 minutes, giving them a turn half way through.  The chunks should be tender and the edges just staring to catch.

Squash

Brush the pita bread with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cut into into bite-sized squares, place onto a sheet and roast with the squash for 5-10 minutes – keep an eye on them, they should be crisp and golden.

Pita chips

Set aside while you assemble the rest of the salad.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together and check the seasoning.  Add a little more lemon or maple to adjust to preferred taste.

Core and slice the apple and toss in the juice from half a lemon so it doesnt discolour.  Arrange the leaves and red chicory on a platter and scatter over the squash, apple slices and walnuts. Break the cheese into crumbles and scatter those over too.  Gently turn to mix the salad together.

Fall salad1

Take slices of the Parma ham, gather then together, tear and place little ‘heaps’ in and around the rest of the salad.  Finally, top with the crunchy pita chips.  I prefer to serve the dressing on the side.

Fall salad4

The salad can be scaled up or down, depending on how many people you are feeding and of course, it can be plated individually.  I normally serve 1-2 slices of the Parma ham per person and sometimes use pecans instead of walnuts.

Fall salad

I think this colourful, autumnal salad is a great lunch dish and any left overs make a good packed lunch too.