August 25, 2013

Sweet NZ: Gluten-Free Rustic Apple Pie

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Apple in the orchard-2
Autumn could be quite pleasant when our orchard was fruitful with great crops of apples and pears, especially when it would give me a chance to be making apple or pear pies a wonderful experience. 

There was always a satisfaction of picking apples fresh from the trees and cook them in my own kitchen and to be enjoyed by the whole family. It was an endless joy that hopefully would give my children not only beautiful memories they can keep in their lives, but also provide sources of culinary experiences made-from-scratch that will be enriched their natural and valued modest upbringing. 

We grow different varieties of apples in our home orchard, ranged from dessert apples to cooking apples; Captain Kidds, Kids Spray, Braeburn, Fuji, to name the least. 

We don't use spray other than the mixture of milk, liquid copper, baking soda, and soap to fight fungus, or pyrethrum liquid when we see any bronze beetles or other bugs started to do damage on either trees or fruits. Otherwise, we just could ponder when the treatment we choose to use does not give a great impact than we have expected, other than a promise to make a better future the next season.

For this rustic apple pie, I used green apples which I don't know what its name is, but it is not the famous Granny Smiths, I'm sure. It is as green as Granny Smith but not as small. This green apple variety grows its fruits really huge, as huge as a saucer. My beloved husband planted it for my cooking purpose and did have much more fun to grow it out in the orchard than jotted down its variety on a piece of paper, which then could gets misplaced somewhere, he reasoned. Not that good at being organised, are we?

Gluten-Free Rustic Apple Pie

I'm sending this gluten-free apple pie to join Sweet New Zealand, hosted by Marnelli of Sweets and Brains.

Gluten-Free Rustic Apple Pie

I treat gluten-free pastry as delicately as I do to gluten one. Almost frustrated by how short the pastry is, I decided to just let it be looking as rustic as it tends to be. I could not be bothered to either crimp it, nor making fancy lining. I just love the way Nigel Slater does on his cooking: honest and generous. At least, I try.

This pastry makes a not-too-sweet crust which I prefer. You can add more icing sugar if you like it sweeter or much sweeter.

Gluten-Free Rustic Apple Pie

Gluten-Free Shortcrust Pastry

500g gluten-free flour, sifted
50g icing sugar, sifted
200g margarine, chilled
a pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten with 4 Tbs of cold water (I add another two or more if I think my pastry is still too dry--gluten-free flour tends to need more liquid, I notice)

1 small egg yolk for egg wash (I tend to just mix it with water to make my pie dairy-free, but feel free to use milk if you wish)

Combine sifted flour, icing sugar and salt together. Add in margarine. Rub it in the flour mixture until resembles breadcrumbs. Add in lemon zest. Add in beaten egg and water, combined well. Work on it until it can be shaped into a ball, but I tend not to overwork it. Shape into roughly a rectangle and wrap in plastic bag. Leave to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. Divide the dough for bottom and top of pie. 

Roll out if possible, but I often just roll out necessarily and line the bottom pie as much as I can. When there are holes, I try my best to smudge the pastry to 'merge' it or pinch a pastry from the leftover linings to cover them and smooth it as I go. But I always make sure there are no holes for the filling to escape, because I want that filling and its juices are kept inside for the goodness to enjoy alongside crusty pastry. 

Fill the pastry with the filling. Cover with the remaining pastry. Again, I won't make it too much fussy about this, should there be any little holes on the top pie, so being it as the steam release. Brush with the egg wash as generously as you can. 

Bake in the preheated oven of 200C for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 170 C, until the pastry looks deliciously golden brown and some of the apple filling juice oozes out, to tell you that it's ready to eat.

Serve warm with cream or ice cream. Whatever you choose, it is a divine autumn treat.

Gluten-Free Rustic Apple Pie

Apple Filling

6 green apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
zest and juice of 1 large lemon
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbs cup caster sugar (I add this when the apples are very tart)
2 tsps ground cinnamon
2 Tbs cornflour
1 tsp ground nutmeg
4 Tbs margarine

Mix the sugars, spices, cornflour and lemon zest in a bowl large enough to fit in the apple slices. Throw in the thinly sliced apples. Drizzle in the lemon juice. Mix well. Arrange it on the base of the pastry, or just mound it as you like. Dots the margarine around and in the centre of the filling.

August 11, 2013

Photos: Afternoon Tea at Lesley's

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afternoon tea at Lesley's
Just an urgent post, before I start the business of homeschooling again tomorrow. 

It was a lovely afternoon although the gray clouds up there were threatening to spill out some rain (and indeed, it was raining when I drove home). I enjoyed the food and the companies (Mairi, Alli, Carmella, and Gilli)--I will definitely work hard in the garden just to burn those calories, otherwise, if it's raining I might make sure I do a whole flow body yoga tomorrow. 

The lovely host was Lesley, over at Eat, etc. Lesley lives in Pukekawa, apparently only 25 minutes drive from my own place. She lives in a rural area as well as I do. Hop on to see her blog to get to know her more, if you like.

Here are some photos I took. Till we meet again, ladies!

Afternoon tea at Lesley's place-Pukekawa-8
Afternoon tea at Lesley's place-Pukekawa-7 Afternoon tea at Lesley's place-Pukekawa-6
Afternoon tea at Lesley's place-Pukekawa-5 Afternoon tea at Lesley's place-Pukekawa-4
Afternoon tea at Lesley's place-Pukekawa-2 Afternoon tea at Lesley's place-Pukekawa

August 01, 2013

Pavlova and Meringue Roulade

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Meringue Pavlova Roulade. That's one thing I have never done before. Looking at it, it seems just that kind of ordinary Swiss Roll, but hell, it's trickier than it looks. I am making this as an entry for KBB's 35th task: Basic White.

I think I have got no trouble at whisking egg whites but I might have done it better. 

Since I was whisking it manually, I worked reasonably hard by making it as fluffy as it's supposed to be.

When the meringue was in the oven and baked, I saw a disaster coming through. The surface of the meringue goes hiking up the hill which I thought it was rather weird. Does it need to stay flat, you think? I don't know. I never make meringue pavlova before, so this is my first.

While Pavlova can be my beloved's favourite sweets that I often bake when there are egg whites leftover from some other baking, it can easily be done straight. You do not need to roll it. Given it eaten as is or lavish it with whipped cream and berries, he would just take it either or. 

With Meringue Roulade, it's more challenging. The compulsory of rolling it like your common Swiss roll is definitely a complete test, whether you roll it good, or you roll it dreadful. Mine is the latest, to be honest.

I don't mean to be hard on myself, but being perfectionist is not that bad for some reason. When it is coming with baking, that is. Although other times, I just can't be bothered. 

Anyway, when I take the baked meringue out and carefully put it on generously sprinkled (actually, not sprinkled, but spooned) caster sugar on a sheet of baking paper, the meringue decided to clinging on the baking paper.

Damn, I thought. My meringue has crippled edges, torn and hopeless. My mind was searching for any how-to the know-hows to overcome this terrible thing. Surely there is a way.

I know I will use whipped cream to use as a filling, but will that be able to glue and mend the broken heart? You know what, only one thing to find out: do it!

I still have a huge jar of homemade lemon curd I made from our Tahitian limes which as usual are in season and abundant in our garden. I whipped the cream, drop a tablespoon of lemon curd in it and a little drop of vanilla essence, spread that on the meringue, carefully. To accentuate further more, I drizzled around half cup of lemon curd on the cream, and began to roll.

This is how it turned out. Not that bad. That crippled edges can be bound nicely. The cream did a good job on it, being a glue.

I think I will do a better job when I make it again next time. I will use more egg whites so that to make the roulade thicker which I think will roll nicely.

The addition of lemon curd is a right choice. My beloved husband enjoyed it very much. He hasn't got a rival on this, since I don't quite fancy pavlova nor meringue roulade.

Saya memutuskan untuk bikin dua-duanya, tapi yang saya highlight kali ini adalah meringue roulade. Ternyata tak segampang yang dikira ketika menggulung meringue itu ya. Ada retak sana sini meskipun nanti bakal dilem sama cream dan ditutup sama gula. Suamiku suka banget, karena perpaduan lemon curd dan cream dalam meringue bikin rasanya jadi seimbang.