Poor old crab apples. Autumn’s ugly sisters in need of just a little love and care to become all meltingly sweet and spicy and delicious.
These days crab apples are too often left to rot on the ground and all-too-seldom brought into the kitchen. But t’wasn’t ever thus. Crab apples used to prized for their tart flavour and acidity which is no good at all for eating the apples raw but can be put to great use as an ingredient.
They’re even better than eating apples for this ‘butter’. Which is really a sweetened, spiced, thick apple spread that’s very lovely on toast, crumpets, fruit buns or as a stand-by sauce for roast pork.
This Kent tradition is a great way to use up any summer fruits still knocking about in the garden, fridge or freezer. With some of autumn’s finest fruits added too and layered up with brandy and sugar you’ll have a treat in store come Christmas.
The Hodgkin’s fruits can then be served with cream, ice-cream or meringues – and the muskily fruited brandy as a liqueur on the side.
As September advances into Autumn-proper this warming lunch or supper of tender lamb’s kidneys and mushrooms on chunks of warm bread becomes particularly appealing. It’s pretty filling so the quantities below should serve four.
We got some terrific black pudding last weekend from one of my favourite butchers – Clive Downs. His delightful shop is in a pretty village called Porlock that is well worth seeking out for anyone on their hols down Exmoor way. Clive and his team make their mince and sausages etc, and source the best local meats.
The car home was loaded up with some belly of pork, lamb loin, sausages and then this black pudding which became a very lovely late supper with apples cooked in the black pudding fat, flamed with calvados and then finished with a grating of nutmeg.
Summer Pudding tastes rather better than it sounds. The uninitiated could be forgiven for not knocking people over in their rush to try a mixture of currants and berries in a pudding basin that’s lined with bread and then refrigerated. But what they’d be failing to understand is that the fruits are heated with just enough sugar to burst into life, release their flavours and create an incredible sweet-yet-not-sweet juiciness that seeps into the bread casing. The engorged bread is so transformed with lightness and flavour that by the time you’re pouring over the cream it’s barely recognisable as the white loaf that began the day.