Sunday, 15 September 2013

apples in dressing gowns, the recipe

When I saw this recipe - and it's cute illustration - in my vintage Austrian cookbook, I was very curious to try it. It's a simple recipe, and it gives a satisfying result - please enjoy Äpfel im Schlafrock, which is apples in dressing gowns for you and me.

Apples in Dressing Gowns
the perfect recipe to use small heirloom apples in!

Preparation (5-10 minutes):
Whatever kind of small apples you use, buy an extra one and cook it before starting on the recipe to see if your type of apple withstands simmering in hot water or not. My apples disintegrated after 2 minutes of gentle stewing so I decided to bake them from raw, and that worked out perfectly. I'd say if your cored and peeled apples let you to stew them for 5 minutes (or more) and still hold together well then use pre-cooked apples for the recipe, if not then use the apples raw. Both methods are instructed below.

12 small apples + 1 one more
a small bowl of water
a little lemon juice

85grams (3oz) sugar
50ml (1.5 fl oz) maple syrup
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 pod of real vanilla, scraped
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
200ml (7 fl oz) apple juice
water as needed

120grams (4oz) raspberry jam (or similar)
a packet of puff pastry
1 egg

1.) Core and peel your apples, and dip them into a little water laced with some lemon juice to prevent them from browning.
2.) If you can pre-cook your apples: In a saucepan, mix together the sugar, maple syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, the apple juice, and some water to have enough liquid to just cover the apples. Bring to a gentle simmer and stew the peeled and cored apples in the liquid for 5 minutes. Set the apples aside on kitchen towel to drain and to cool.

If you are using raw apples: Use the extra apple from the stewing trial. In a saucepan, mix together the mushed apple, the sugar, maple syrup, juice of 1/2 a lemon, vanilla, cinnamon, the apple juice and some water. Bring to the boil, and stirring frequently, reduce the liquid to a syrup. Once it reached a sticky but still runny consistency (~10minutes) set aside to cool.

3.) Preheat the oven to 225 C (adjust for fan ovens).

4.) If you are using pre-cooked apples, skip this step. If you are using raw apples: dip your raw apples into the cooled syrup and line them up on a tray. 
5.) Roll out your puff pastry about 1/2 cm thick. Cut into 12 squares. My puff pastry came pre-cut into rectangles, so don't let the picture fool you. I do mean squares when I say cut into squares.
6.) Place an apple in the middle of each pastry square. Fill the hole in the middle  of the apple with a spoonful or two of jam.
7.) Pull the four ends of the pastry together on top and pinch to secure. 
8.) Place the pastry parcels onto a baking sheet lined with grease-proof paper, and brush with a beaten egg.
8.) Bake them in a pre-heated hot oven for 20 minutes until they are golden.
9.) When ready, let them cool down properly before eating.
Enjoy! They are very nice for elevenses - and even for breakfast or as an afternoon snack while doing some gardening or taking a walk in the autumn sunshine.

Have a lovely Sunday, friends!

Sharing on Life After Laundry.

Friday, 13 September 2013

flea friday: cheap & cheerful (and some even for free)

About a couple of weeks ago my boyfriend spotted this little oil lamp on a quick visit to a junkshop. We bought it without much hesitation - with its tarnished copper base and mint-coloured milk glass shade it is a very pretty thing. It cost only a couple of euros.

The books were an accidental find. I was in a library printing something and realized that I didn't have anything to protect the printouts from the rain on the way home. I thought I'll quickly borrow a book to put the printed pages into, but instead I ended up owning three old books. I came upon a shelf that said "Customers' exchange shelf" where people bring their unwanted books and the books are free to take. The old bindings in beautiful blue are just so attractive.

How about those handsome creatures? They are made by Britains in the 70s - I got lucky and bought a whole big jar of them for a single euro. These three are my favourites at the moment. They are all joining my ever growing plastic animal zoo.

By the way, we tried the oil lamp, it works but alas, it flickers so strongly it's impossible to use. I have a feeling the oil container needs cleaning or the wicker needs replacing, but I have not decided about how I could really fix it. If anyone has any tips for curing flickering oil lamps, please let me know! In any case, it's a beautiful  old thing and it is nice to have as decoration.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

book love: Austrian Cooking for You

There hasn't been a 'book love' post for a long time. To remedy that I have dug up a favourite book find from my collections.

It's not a recent find: I got it in a London second-hand bookshop some years ago. Upon discovering the big red fairground gingerbread heart on the cover it was destined to come home with me.... 

Let me explain briefly about the gingerbread heart. If you are from Eastern Europe or Austria, you probably already know what it is. This kind of gingerbread is not usually made edible, it is rather a souvenir or love token that can be bought at summer fairs. It usually has a mirror piece in the middle, which fascinated me as a child. For me, seeing a gingerbread heart brings back memories of the excitement of the village fair, with carousels, dodgems, hooking ducks from a swirly pond for prizes, and candyfloss eaten before the wind gets it...

But away from the nostalgia, and back to the book.

It's written by a Viennese lady - she dedicates it "To my unchosen daughter-in-law...", to his son's future wife, and I figure, to all the daughter-in-laws and future wives in the world so they won't forget about traditional cuisine. She also illustrated the recipes with her own lino cuttings. I just love the work that's gone into her endeavours to give a personal touch with hand-cut illustrations, infused with folk motifs from the area. If I ever wrote a book, that's how I would like to present it too. 

Hungarian and Austrian cuisine has a lot in common, so most of the book reads like my grandma's cookbook. However, I won't cook many recipes from it without having to change ingredients like dairy or lard. Some I won't cook because it's a bit too offal-y and that we don't eat a lot. To have the original recipes though, is very close to my heart.

Would you like to see my favourite illustration from the book?  I actually decided to try the recipe it illustrates and I baked it the other weekend before the flu set in. I will share the recipe with you on Sunday and then you'll be able to see what it looks like in real life. Until then, here is how it looks in the book:

Intrigued? I'll see you on Sunday with the recipe then - and of course tomorrow, with some flea-licious finds...!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

misty morning

A beautiful misty morning from yesterday, seen from the balcony. Everything around suggests autumn, autumn, autumn. My favourite season! I love its colours, the harvest scents and that slightly melancholic anticipation of winter that hangs in the air.

It's apple season and I have a nice recipe that I will share soon! Our flu has faded, only the occasional round of coughs persists still, which if both of us gets going in the same time can sound like a coughing duet or a debate in a primitive prehistoric language. It's not that bothersome luckily so we both can get on with a normal daily routine now. Yesterday we even went out in the evening for a drink, and I tried apple cider - partly because it's apple season and partly inspired by Ana's post. My boyfriend chose a dry hard cider for me, I really enjoyed its flavour and its perfumed sweet-sour apply scent. The perfect finish for an unusually warm indian summer's eve and a lovely start to the week!

Wishing all of you a very nice week ahead!

Friday, 6 September 2013

flea friday: long forgotten finds

Lately I've been amusing myself by going through some boxes of existing nicknacks at home. It compensated for not being able to get out much, and besides it's nice to rediscover forgotten finds. (By the way, I'm feeling better, thank you friends for all your caring comments and get well wishes! The flu is on its way out!)

I unearthed this ladder pendant that I had bought years ago in a carboot sale somewhere north from London. I have put in on my silver chain after testing it - seems to be silver. What a quirky necklace, wearing it makes me smile.

Then I came across my childhood hanky which has a whole story attached to it. Ready?

My mum bought it for me when I was nursery school age so I could blow my nose if I needed to, like a big girl. She'd fold it small and tuck it into my pocket every morning. She couldn't help but notice that I'd still sniff and wipe my nose into my sleeve as before, as if I'd forgotten about the hanky in my pocket. After much hassle I admitted that I didn't want to use my hanky at all because I loved the giraffes too much...

I'd like to believe that these screen printed giraffes are by Reich Károly, a much loved Hungarian illustrator - if you want to see some of his lovely illustrations, click here.

The crocodile finger puppet keeping the giraffes company was found in a London charity shop. I adopted him because I liked how mean he looks while being so lovingly handcrafted, probably by a doting, nimble-fingered grandmother.

It's been fun rediscovering some old purchases, but to be honest I cannot wait to go browsing the fleas again!

Sharing with A Living Space and Sir Thrift A Lot.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

lazy grey september

What a start to September, lazy indeed.

Not out of choice but because of the flu bug that might last 3-4 weeks, according to the nurse. I reckon I will be alright after this weekend. Being ill for more than a couple of days makes me cross and impatient so in my mind, 10 days of illness just has to be it. I refuse to feel weak for a whole month.

But while feeling weak and cross, I do remember to relax and to look at the bright side. It's not all that bad. Boyfriend has been equally poorly, so we've been taking turns doing the daily chores, cooking etc according to who feels less sick at the given moment. During my turns to walk to the grocery store, I can breath deep and enjoy the beautiful late summer - early autumn weather. The sunshine and the good weather makes us feel a bit happier, even if we have to look at it from indoors most of the time.

I attach this photo of grey rain clouds brightened by a rainbow smile to this month Colour Me Happy link-up.

PS. Thank you for your nice comments to my previous post and for wishing me better! xx

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