Thursday, 9 September 2010

The different shades of autunm

Its exciting heading into a new season as a chef, I love this time of year, the different shades of colour on the trees, the autumn fruit, wild mushrooms,game, oily fish, nuts and the gathering of slows to make slow gin.
For years i have foraged with my two daughters, we collect blackberries from the country lanes, sloes from our secret spot near Woodstown and mushrooms from Brownstown head and apples from a old orchard that was abandoned many years ago.
And all of this reminds me of one dish that we all love, stewed apples with custard, I have fond memories eating this as a kid. So get out there and pick up a few cooking apples either in a shop of over a ditch. Peel core and chop them and throw them into a saucepan with a little sugar and cook over a low heat until the apples start to burst. Now for the custard, you have two ways of doing this, make your own or go the Bird's route either way its up to you. If you are making your own here is a simple method, all you have to be is confident when making it and it won't split on you.
To make a rich custard you need:
250ml cream
250ml milk
vanilla pod split in half
4 large egg yolks
100g caster sugar
Put the cream and milk in a pan with the split vanilla pod (it is so worth using a vanilla pod it makes all the difference) and scald but not boiling.Beat the four egg yolks with the sugar and whisk in the hot cream. Return the custard to the pan over a very low heat and stir constantly until thickens a little.Remove from the heat and stir for a further minute.
Q. tip: Do not boil the milk at all and once you put the custard back on the low heat keep stiring, the custard will split on you if it gets too hot.

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