Tuesday 30 November 2010

Cashew Nut Brittle

Around this time of year my mind turns to the art of making delectable homemade Christmas treats and gifts! Wrapped up in pretty packages and bows, they are a wonderful way to share the joys of the Christmas season.

I start in late November, so that by the time the week before Christmas rolls around I have a beautiful assortment ready to give to my friends. You'll find that most things can be quite easily frozen in airtight containers.

This helps to spread the expense and the work throughout the month, and helps to keep me in a Christmassy mood the whole month through.

I just love this exercise. I think it goes back to the times when I had a large and growing family. I always baked tons and tons for our Christmas holidays . . . with the size of our extended family and all of our friends, doing so just made sense.

I've never had anyone turn down a gift of a delicious homemade treat yet!

This tasty nut brittle makes the perfect gift. Not only is it quick to do, but it's also very easy. I do not recommend doubling the recipe. I always make it in single batches. It's so easy and quick though, that's not a problem really.

Buttery, crunchy and absolutely filled to the hilt with lovely buttery salty cashew nuts. This is everyone's favourite! The only problem you will have with this is to keep from eating it all yourself! Seriously!

*Cashew Nut Brittle*
Makes about 1 pound
Printable Recipe

Sweet, crunchy and buttery . . . and just stogged to the hilt with salty cashew nuts!! Quick and easy in the microwave!

7 ounces of caster sugar (1 cup)
4 fluid ounces of golden syrup (1/2 cup, can use light corn syrup)
8 ounces of whole salted cashews (2 cups)
(crush them a bit with your hands so that some are whole and some
are broken)
1 tsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Butter a large shallow baking tin and set aside.

Place the sugar and golden syrup into a deep 2 litre glass casserole dish. Stir together with a fork. Place in the microwave, uncovered. cook on high for 4 minutes. Remove from the microwave and stir in the cashew nuts. Return to the microwave and cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes. The time depends on the strength of your microwave. The nuts should only be light brown. Remove from the microwave and stir in the butter and vanilla. Return once again to the microwave and cook on high for 1 to 2 minutes longer, again this timing depends on the strength of your microwave. Remove from the microwave and carefully stir in the soda, mixing it in well. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading it out thin with a fork. Allow to cool and harden for about 60 minutes before breaking into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

They are very hot and you can get a really nasty burn!

This recipe can be easily varied by using different nuts, or a mixture of nuts, adding coconut, etc.

Monday 29 November 2010

Open Mince Pies

One of the things I love most about Christmas are Mince Pies! Christmas and Mince Pies go together just like peas and carrots. You just can't have one without the other.

Mince pies are another one of those things that people either love or hate . . . kinda like fruit cake. In this house we both happen to be lovers of both!

Just one bite of a well made mince pie brings to my mind a host of sugared Christmas memories . . . and even though we do go through a fair amount of shop bought mince pies every year (Aldi's are the best) I always like to put some Christmas music on the stereo and spend an afternoon making a batch of my own.

You can buy very good already prepared mincemeat in jars of course. There really are some lovely versions out there. (Marks and Spencer's come to mind!) Or you can be really industrious and make your own! It's not all that hard and is quite, quite delicious! I sometimes add chopped glace cherries and or dried cranberries to mine as well, depending on what kind of mood I am in.

Todd just can't get enough of them. (I confess . . . neither can I!!)

*Open Mince Pies*
Makes 2 to 3 dozen
Printable Recipe

These pies have a lovely flakey pastry that is made entirely in the food processor. You can use your own homemade mincemeat, or purchased. I have given the homemade recipe below. It's the best!

For the Pastry:
450g of plain flour (3 1/2 cups)
250g of unsalted butter (1.1 cups)
the finely grated zest of one lemon
150g of icing sugar, sifted (2/3 cup)
2 small free range egg yolks

1 quantity of mincemeat (see recipe below)
Icing sugar for dusting

To make the pastry, place the flour and butter into a food processor. Give it a quick blitz at high speed to reduce it to a crumb like consistency. Add the lemon zest and the icing sugar and give it another quick blitz. Add the egg yolks and enough milk to bring the dough together while the motor is running. Place into a zip lock bag and allow to chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5. Working with 1/2 of the pastry at a time, roll it out on a lightly floured board to 1/4 inch thickness. Using a fluted round pastry cutter, cut into rounds to fit into nonstick bun tins.. (shallow tart tins) Place in the tins and fill with a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat. Roll the trimming out and cut into star shapes or Christmas trees slightly smaller than the diameter of each pie. Place in the centre of each, on top of the mincemeat. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pastry is a pale gold. Leave to cool before slipping out of the tins. Dust with icing sugar. Serve warm or cold. To reheat, place into a 170*C/325*F/ gas mark 3 oven for five minutes. Store in a tightly covered container. These can be quite successfully frozen.

*Homemade Mincemeat*

Makes approximately 1 pound
(enough for approximately 3 dozen mince pies)

A delicious blend of dried fruit, nuts, spices, brown sugar and brandy. (I use apple juice)

150g of currants(1 cup)
125g of raisins (3/4 cup packed)
25g of blanched almonds, finely chopped (1/3 cup)
1 knob of preserved stem ginger, finely chopped
1 eating apple, peeled and grated
50g of shredded beef or vegetable suet (1/2 cup)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
the finely grated zest and juice of one lemon
2 TBs brandy
1 TBS dark muscovado sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside for at least 12 hours to macerate.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Classic Sunday Morning Brunch Cake

It never hurts to have an easy brunch cake recipe in your arsenal of recipes.
One that is quick and versatile, that you can use a variety of fruits with.

Berries or cherries, melded into a buttery batter and topped with a spicy nut topping . . . a combination that makes for one very scrummy yummy and leisurely Sunday Morning breakfast!

So quick to put together you can easily have it in the oven and baking in next to no time at all . . .

By the time you've tidied yourself up and gotten your Sunday-Go-To-Meetin' clothes on, it will be done, and you and your family can be digging in.

Then again . . . mmmm . . . this is so good, you just might want to keep the whole thing for yourself!

Oh, what the heck, go on . . . share! They'll never forgive you if you don't, and it is Sunday after all.

*Classic Sunday Morning Brunch Cake*
Makes one 9 inch cake
Printable Recipe

A delicious moist cake that you can adapt to your own tastes or to whatever fruit you have to hand. Quick and easy to make too!

for the cake batter:
4 TBS unsalted butter, softened
6 TBS caster sugar
1 large free range egg
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
4 1/4 ounces plain flour (1 cup)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
100ml of buttermilk (1/3 cup)
7 ounces of fresh blueberries, mulberries, raspberries,
blackberries, red currants or pitted red cherries (1 1/2 cups)

Streusel Topping:
3 TBS plain flour (about 1/4 cup)
2 TBS unsalted butter
3 TBS caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ounce chopped toasted pecans (1/4 cup)
10 whole pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a 9 inch deep pie tin and flour it well. Set aside.

Cream the butter for the batter together with the sugar in a bowl, until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and orange zest. Stir together the floru, baking powder and baking soda. Add to the creamed mixture along with the buttermilk, mixing just until the batter is smooth and thick. Spread into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the fruit over top, pressing it down into the batter a little.

Make the streusel by combining the butter, flour, sugar and cinnamon, rubbing all together with your fingertips until crumbly. Stir in the chopped nuts. Sprinkle evenly over top of the batter. Stud with the nut halves.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Serve warm, cut into wedges.

I apologize for the use of a disposable tin foil pie pan. The last few times I have been home to Canada (read twice in 5 years) I have looked high and low for some good metal pie pans. I have not been able find any, and so I have had to bring back the only ones I could find, which were disposable tin foil pans . . . not the best, but hey, beggars can't be choosers!!

Friday 26 November 2010

Pork and Mushroom Casserole

These cold wintery days call for rustic and hearty casseroles. Meaty dishes that stick the ribs and make you feel all comfy and warm inside. This is one of our favourites.

The original recipe for this came from an old meat cookery book that my mother was given at a wedding shower back in the early 1950's. I think it was called Martha Logan's Meat Cookbook. I have always loved that book.

I have copied a whole lot of the recipes into my notebook through the years and in all honesty there is not a dud in the bunch. Many became my tried and trues.

Of course I have updated and adapted most of them to modern tastes and ingredients. The original recipe for this delicious casserole called for tinned mushrooms, along with their liquid.

I switched it to fresh mushrooms, which I saute along with the bacon and onions, and I added some apple juice instead of the mushroom liquid. All in all, quite, quite delicious. Tasty meaty and tender pieces of pork in a rich gravy filled with lovely bits of bacon, onions and mushrooms. Fabulous!

*Pork and Mushroom Casserole*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

An old family recipe that's delicious!

1 pound of pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 slices of streaky bacon diced
cooking oil as needed
1 medium onion chopped
1 small punnet of mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)
1 tsp salt
freshy ground black pepper to taste
1 large free range egg, beaten
250ml of apple juice ( 1 cup)
4 ounces fine dry cracker crumbs ( I like to use the Italian crackers, which are like
Saltines) (1 cup)

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Place the bacon into a large skillet. Panfry until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Saute the onion and mushrooms in the bacon fat until tender, adding a bit of oil as needed. Remove with a slotted spoon and combine with the bacon. Set aside.

Season the pieces of tenderloin with some salt and pepper. Place the egg in a shallow bowl. Place the cracker crumbs in another shallow bowl. Dip the pieces of meat into the egg and then roll in the cracker crumbs. Brown the cubes of meat on all sides in the pan drippings, adding oil as needed. Layer the browned pork cubes and the onion/bacon/mushroom mixture in a 1 litre casserole. Pour the apple juice over all. Cover tightly and then bake in the heated oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

Delicious served with mashed potatoes or rice.

Thursday 25 November 2010

The AnySharp Pro Knife Sharpener

One of my most vivid childhood memories is of the time my mother almost cut her thumb off. She was slicing cold ham for our dinner and because the knife was dull, she was having to put undue pressure on it . . . the knife slipped and you guessed it . . . instead of slicing through the ham, it sliced through her thumb, almost severing it. I remember having to run across to one of our neighbour's homes to get help. I couldn't have been more than 5 or 6 years old at the time. It is a memory that has stuck with me to this very day.

The most dangerous tool in any kitchen is a dull knife.

I was quite excited a week or so ago when Miriam contacted me and asked me would I like to test run the Any Sharp Pro knife sharpener. Having just recently been given a set of lovely knives I really jumped at the chance to try something out that might help to keep them beautifully sharp.

Oh, yes, I do have a knife steel, but to be honest I am always a bit leery when I use it . . . using one always requires a lot of skill in keeping your knife at just the right angle so that you sharpen them instead of ruining them. So far I've always been lucky . . . but . . .

I was invited to go and watch a brilliant video here on Youtube. It makes it's point (no pun intended) in quite a humorous and entertaining way! (depending on how mush sense of haha you have.)

In the intitial e-mail I was told that the Any Sharp Pro was simple to use, easy to store and extremely efficient. I was dying to try it out. Once it arrived I realized first hand just how brilliant it was. There are some really big features in this very small package!

Using the very latest in Octupus Technology, that is to say a Power Grip suction cup, leaving both hands free. I found it to be incredibly stable once I had affixed it to the counter top. I didn't need to dampen it down like most suction cups and once I had it clamped down there was no moving it . . . until I was finished and released the lever.

Another thing that really made it stand out was it's relatively small size. Easy to store in the kitchen where you will actually use it, it's just under 2 1/2 inches in diameter, roughly the size of a yoghurt cup. It easily fits into a drawer and is quite inconspicuous sitting on the countertop next to your knife block.

It's brilliant design allows you to maneuver just about any knife, scissor or blade into it easily without being restricted by the size or shape of the blade. The open design also makes it incredibly easy to use and versatile enough to be able to sharpen your whole collection of knives in just minutes.

Stylishly packaged in a stainless steel tin, it comes complete with a 10 year product lifetime guarantee, a beautiful chef's presentation ring and a tasty recipe card. It's not very often in this modern throwaway age that you get a product guarantee like that!

Product features include:
  • Use on kitchen cutlery, gardening shears, lawnmower blades, serrated knives and more
  • Diamond precision hones the blade to its proper angle; patented design produces results that are superior to those from traditional steel or stone
  • Removes only microscopic amounts of metal
  • Unique round design and PowerGrip suction bottom makes it safe and easy to use; exterior has zinc alloy finish

The Any Sharp Pro would make a fabulous gift for that cook in your life, or even for yourself. I am very impressed with it and highly recommend! Compact, efficient, and extremely effective, I’ve now got a whole set of newly sharpened, high quality knives that can cut through anything with ease. It is available to buy direct from HERE at a very reasonably priced £29.99

It's also available on Amazon at the same price.

PSSST!!!! They also have their very own Recipe Club!

Perfect Mashed Potatoes, Perfect Mashed Butternut Squash

Mastering the Basics

I thought it would be fun to start a new series on here which I will call "Mastering the Basics." Cooking doesn't have to be complicated or mysterious. Once you have been able to master simple techniques and skills, you too can have people applauding your mashed potatoes, gravy, salad dressings etc.

There is nothing nicer on a plate then a perfect pile of soft, creamy and fluffy mashed potatoes. They go so well with many dishes and are the perfect holder to cradle lashings of delicious gravy.

They are not as hard to make as some people would suppose. Simple and straightforward, as long as you follow a few simple rules.

  • use the proper potato. You want a floury type of potato, that is to say one that breaks down well once cooked. You do not want a waxy type of potato, or one that holds it's shape well when cooked. Some great examples of floury potatoes are Maris Piper, Estima, King Edward or Desiree (In North America use a Russet, Idaho or baking potato)
  • Do not make the mistake of not cooking the potatoes long enough. Better to err on the side of overcooking than undercooking. You cannot mash a hard lump no matter how hard you try!
  • Never add cold butter or milk to cooked potatoes. Always use room temperature or melted butter and gently warmed milk or cream
  • Add any liquid to the cooked potatoes slowly. Some days you may need more, some days you may need less. How much can only be determined by adding it slowly.

*Perfect Mashed Potatoes*
Serves 4 to 6
Printable Recipe

Simple and perfect!

2 pounds of large floury potatoes (In the UK a Maris Piper is ideal, in North America
I would use a russet or idaho)
4 ounces unsalted butter (1/2 cup, or one stick)
4 fluid ounces of single cream or full fat milk (1/2 cup) gently warmed
fine seasalt, freshly ground pepper and freshly grated nutmeg

Peel and quarter the potatoes then place the potatoes into a pot of lightly salted water to cover. Bring to the boil and cook for 20 to 25 minutes until fork tender. Drain well in a colander and then return them to the hot pot. Cover with the lid and give them a good shake, which will help to break them up. Add the butter and warmed cream or milk, adding the latter a little at a time, whilst mashing the potatoes, only adding as much as is needed to give you the correct consistency. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. The potatoes should be light, fluffy, creamy and ready to eat.

Note - I often use my electric handwhisk to mash the potatoes. This helps to insure a smooth mixture without lumps. I also have a potato ricer, which does a fabulous lump free job.

How many times have you sat down to a pile of mashed squash only to find it watery and well, to be frank, YUCKKY!! When I was a girl, I hated mashed squash. I always found it a bit slimey and well, YUCKKY!! I have come to love it as an adult though, but only after trial and error and having developed this fool proof way of preparing fluffy, sweet mashed squash, perfect every time, never watery at all. Trust me on this!

*Perfect Mashed Butternut Squash*
Serves 4 to 6
Printable Recipe

This is more of a method than a recipe, but the squash turns out perfectly cooked every time, and not at all mushy or watery.

1 (2 lb) butternut squash
a knob of butter
1 TBS soft light brown sugar
fine seasalt, freshly ground black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste

You will want to cut your butternut squash right down the middle lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Place both halves, cut side down in a large skillet with a lid. Add boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the squash. Place the lid on and cook over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the squash is very tender. Remove carefully from the boiling water and set aside to cool slightly.

Using a spoon, scrape out all of the flesh, discarding the peel, and placing the flesh into a serving bowl. Mash lightly with a fork along with a knob of butter, the brown sugar and salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm until ready to eat.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Maple Pumpkin Pie

It seems kind of funny this year that I will not be cooking a Thanksgiving Feast for a bazillion other people to eat. For the past 7 years I worked as a private Chef for an American family here in the UK, and as you can imagine, Thanksgiving Dinner was one of the highlights of the year!

I spent days and days every year just getting ready for it . . . there would be the turkey to order from the butcher's and sometimes two . . . the purchasing of all the vegetables and fixings . . . the baking of pies and cakes.

It was a very festive time and quite exciting . . . even if it was a lot of work. It was quite satisfying to see the dinner guests enjoying the fruits of my labours . . . the many hours on my feet executing and delivering the perfect bountiful feast . . .

But this year . . . there is none of that. I get to relax . . . put my feet up . . . watch some telly . . . and think about the many things that I am thankful for . . . like a loving husband and a cute lil pup . . .

Family and friends . . . the blessing of living in a country where I am free and safe to live and worship as I wish to do so . . . and for tasty foods like pumpkin pie. When I was a kid I hated pumpkin pie . . . or at least I thought I did . . .

But then again . . . I never had this one. I think I would have loved it had I done . . .
This is fabulously delicious . . . all autumnal and gently flavoured with spices and sweet maple . . .
in a crisp buttery crust and topped with maple sweetened whipped cream . . .

Now this . . . this is a pie to be thankful for!

*Maple Pumpkin Pie*
Makes one 9 inch pie
Printable Recipe

A delicious pumpkin pie with true Maple Flavour. I like to garnish with some pastry leaves that I cut out with cookie cutters and shape over little balls of foil to look like they are falling. You can use purchases shortcrust pastry if you wish, but the crust for this is quite simple and easy to make.

5 1/2 ounces of plain flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/2 tspsalt
5 TBS cold vegetable shortening (such as Trex, or Crisco) cut into small bits
2 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into bits (1/4 cup)
4 to 5 TBS ice water

For the filling:
1 tin (15 ounces) plain pumpkin puree
(or make your own)
3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
2 ounces soft light brown sugar (1/4 cup, packed)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp fine seasalt
10 fluid ounces single cream (1 1/4 cups half and half)
2 fluid ounces maple syrup (1/4 cup)
2 large free range eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp Maple Extract (if you can't get this use Vanilla)

Maple Cream:
250ml double cream (1 cup)
2 fluid ounces maple syrup (1/4 cup)

First make the pastry. Whisk the flour and salt together in a bowl. Drop in the cold shortening and butter. Rub in with your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly, leaving some pieces of fat pea sized. Chill for half an hour. Drizzle the cold water over the mixture, 1 TBS at a time, mixing in until the flour is moistened and the pastry clears the side of the bowl. Shape into a disk, wrap in clingfilm and chill for an hour.

At the end of the hour, remove from the fridge and allow to soften at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Roll out on a floured board to a circle large enough to line a 9 inch deep pie dish, with some overhang for trimming. Transfer to the pie dish and ease it in. Trim off the edge and flute. Chill while you make the filling. (save scraps to make leaves if desired.)

Whisk the pumpkin puree, white and brown sugars, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt together in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat, cookiing and stirring, until the pumpkin mixture is thick and hot. Remove from the hob and whisk in the cream and the maple syrup. Whisk in the eggs until blended and then add the flavouring.

Preheat oven to 190*C/375*F gas mark 5.

Put the prepared pie shell on a baking tray. Pour in the filling. Bake in the lower third of the oven until the fillingis puffed and a metal knife inserted near the centre comes out clean. (I would check it at 45 minutes) Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool for at least one hour.

TO make the pastry leaves (if using) roll out the pastry and cut into leaves, using a knife to make the lines in the leaves. Use small wads of foil to drap the leaves over to simulate falling leaves. Bake for 15 minutes in the upper third of the oven. Let cool.

To make the Maple cream, whip the double cream until it forms soft folds. Continue to whip a bit longer, drizzling in the maple syrup until the cream is softly to moderately whipped.

Garnish the top of the cooled pie with the pastry leaves and serve, cut into wedges, along with the Maple cream to dollop on top. Best eaten on the day. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Shallots

There's no doubt about it, brussels sprouts have to be one of my absolute favourite of all vegetables. Todd loves them too, although he is quick to add that they don't exactly love him!! ('nuff said!)

A member of the Brassica or cabbage family they are loaded with vitamins, fibre and are thought to be a protection against colon cancer!

Aside from all that, I just think they are plain good, good, GOOD!

Unfortunately most people don't really know how to cook them properly and we end up with them being cooked to death and all soggy on our plates.

One doesn't want them as hard as a rock of course, but you just can't beat a properly cooked, crispy tender sprout for taste!

Six to seven minutes, boiled or steamed is enough to give you a very tasty, crispy tender, delicious sprout!

Mind you, this here is my favourite way of doing them. They end up perfectly cooked every time . . . crispy tender and beautifully green, with slightly caramelized edges and all tasty with bits of crispy pancetta and caramelized shallots!

Not just perfect for the holidays either . . . these sprouts are so easy to cook, and so tasty that you'll want to treat yourself to this version often!

I could quite happily sit down to just a plate of these and nothing else . . .and in case you were wondering, those embarassing side effects seem to disappear when you cook em this way . . . if you know what I mean!

*Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Shallots*
makes about 10 servings

You don't have to wait for the holidays to enjoy this delicious side dish. Crispy tender brussels sprouts sauteed with crispy bits of pancetta and shallots. Oh so tasty!

2 1/2 pounds of Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and then shredded
into thin slices with a sharp knife
1/4 pound of thick pancetta, cut into bits
a knob of butter
1 eschalon Shallot, peeled and chopped finely
(That is the banana shaped shallot)
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, divided
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tsp lemon juice (optional)

It may seem a bit fiddly to prepare the sprouts for cooking but it really isn't. I trim off the bases and any bad looking leaves and discard. Then I take a sharp knife and just quickly cut them into 1/4 inch slices.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Throw in the pancetta. Cook, stirring until it begins to brown. Add the butter and the shallots. Cook and stir until the shallots are softened. Add the brussels sprouts, stirring to coat, along with half of the thyme leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally over medium heat, until the sprouts are crispy tender and beginning to brown a bit on the edges. Season to taste with some salt and pepper and the lemon juice if using. Add the remainder of the thyme leaves and serve.

Monday 22 November 2010

Sour Cream Apple Squares

I had some apples that I needed to use up this afternoon and I wanted to give my new cooker a trial run, so I thought I would make some delicious apple squares.

Imagine a buttery, nutty crust topped with a spicy cake batter, filled with chunks of apple and nuts, and then baked in the oven until the crust is nice and crisp and the cake all moreishly moist and fragrant.

Then imagine it cut into squares and served warm (or cold, it's up to you) and topped with some softly whipped cream.

The perfect dessert for these late autumn days and evenings . . . or your Thanksgiving Celebrations . . . of to serve to that good friend of yours that just happens to stop off for a nice cuppa after an afternoon of shopping . . .

Family friendly, friend friendly, delicious and easy, this is a winner on all counts!

*Sour Cream Apple Squares*
Makes 12 to 15
Printable Recipe

Delicious and moist apple squares, warmly spiced and served with whipped cream.

280g of plain flour (2 cups)
340g soft light brown sugar (2 cups packed)
4 ounces butter, softened (1/2 cup)
115g of toasted pecan nuts, chopped (1 cup)
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
250ml of sour cream (1 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large free range egg
2 medium apples, peeled and chopped (I use Granny Smith)

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.

Whisk the flour, and brown sugar together in a bowl. Drop in the butter. Beat with an electric hand whisk until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the chopped nuts. Remove 370g (2 3/4 cups) of the crumbs and press into the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch glass dish. To the remainder of the crumbs add the cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, soda and salt, mixing it all together well. Beat in the egg, vanilla and sour cream. Stir in the apples. Spoon evenly over top of the crumb base.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Serve warm or cold, cut into squares, along with some whipped cream.