Sometimes it is hard to find time to use up all the wonderful produce that is on our doorsteps at this time of year so here is a really quick and easy recipe for using up apples - and the good thing is you don't need to peel or core them first! Likewise, the Welsh Cakes are quick to make and a lovely tea time treat as the nights draw in. E.L.
APPLE AND HERB JELLY (Makes approx. 8 small jars)
Delicious with roast lamb, pork, chicken and turkey. You can flavour this tangy, clear, apple jelly with mint, rosemary or tarragon. I haven't tried this recipe using sage, but I would think that it would work very well and be especially good with pork.
1.25kg / 3lbs cooking or tart eating apples
600ml / 1 pt water
1 bunch mint or tarragon, or 6 sprigs of rosemary
600ml / 1 pt white wine vinegar
granulated or jam sugar (see method below)
Wipe the apples and cut up roughly, without peeling or coreing. Place them in a large preserving pan then add the water and half the mint, tarragon or rosemary. Bring to the boil over a gentle heat and cook until the apples are soft and mushy. Stir in the vinegar, bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Ladle the fruit into a clean jelly bag or large sieve lined with a clean tea towel, and allow the fruit juice to drip out into a large bowl or jug. It will take several hours for all the juice to be extracted so it is quite a good idea to leave it all to drip overnight.
Get the jam jars ready and leave in a warm place until needed. Measure the extracted apple juice back into the rinsed out pan and for every 600ml / 1 pint of apple juice add 450g / 1lb granulated or jam sugar. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved then bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for 15 minutes or until the jelly is ready to set. Test: Remove the pan from the heat then pour a spoonful of the jelly onto a cold saucer - after a few minutes the jelly should begin to set and will wrinkle when pushed with a finger. If the jelly does not set, return to the heat and boil for a futher 5 minutes then test again.
Skim off any scum then chop the remaining mint, tarragon or rosemary leaves and stir into the jelly. Pour into jars, cover with waxed discs and seal.
WELSH CAKES (Makes 22 cakes)
I was reminded how good Welsh Cakes are at a recent South Leigh croquet game when they were served between games with a cup of tea! This recipe comes from the Cogges Farm Museum kitchen where they are cooked in the Victorian kitchen on a traditional range - however a frying pan, griddle or the simmering plate on an Aga* will do very well.
225g / 8oz self-raising flour
100g / 4oz butter, cubed
35g / 1½ oz soft brown sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
75g / 3oz currants
1 large egg, beaten
Measure the flour into a mixing bowl and add the butter. With the tips of the fingers rub in the butter so that the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, spice and currants then add the egg to bind it all together into a dough.
Leave the dough to rest for a few minutes then, on a floured surface, roll out the dough no thicker than 5mm / ¼ in. Cut into rounds with a 6cm / 2½ in cutter.
Heat the frying pan or griddle for a few minutes on a low heat and grease lightly with oil or white vegetable fat. Cook the cakes, a few at a time, over a low heat for about 1½ - 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and cooked through.
Sprinkle with a little more sugar and leave to cool on a rack - or eat immediately! For added indulgence you can butter the cooled cakes before serving.
* If using the simmering plate of an Aga (or similar range cooker) to cook the Welsh Cakes, leave the lid of the hot plate open for 5-10 minutes before greasing the plate and cooking the cakes. If the hotplate, pan or griddle is too hot the cakes will brown before the centres are fully cooked.