Monday 28 November 2011

A free bag of apples! A gluten-free dessert

One side of the stunning Barley Wood
walled vegetable gardens 
in Somerset.

Two weeks ago Dean, Nina and I went to visit my sister-in-law, Trudi, who lives in beautiful Somerset. The drive from London, through the countryside is a real joy.

Saturday lunch, we went to visit Barley Wood Walled Gardens, a breathtaking restored Victorian kitchen garden where there’s The Ethicurean, the recently awarded Best Ethical Restaurant/Cafe in England. The chefs get their produce just steps away from their kitchen. The food is simple British, very tasty, seasonal and mileage free! I had the best toffee-apple cake ever – toffee-apple cake with cinnamon cream, apples and apple juice. It was a mixture of apple toffee and sticky toffee pudding but nowhere near as sweet as the latter. I tried to squeeze the recipe out of the waiters but they kept it secret.

Next time you go to Somerset, I recommend you visit their gorgeous Victorian gardens… and make sure you taste their apple cake!

On our way back to my sister-in-law’s, we saw a box full of apples by a front gate of a gorgeous house. Next to it, some empty bags and a message saying to help ourselvers. I loved it and I felt “obliged” to take some back home! That was my chance to try and make that apple cake. Unfortunately, try as I may, I didn’t get even near the delicious Ethicurean dessert… Never mind, I won’t give up. When I succeed in cracking the code, I will post it here. In the meantime, enjoy this delicious apple crumble instead.

Seasonal apples by the side of the road being given away
So, I felt obliged.
Mix rice flour, rapadura, ground almonds and
chilled butter to make the crumble
When mixed, leave it in the fridge until apples
are cooked
Add lemon juice, cinnamon powder and apple juice
to the chopped apples and bake for 20 mins
My apple crumble! It can be simply eaten like this,
or you can have it with a dollop of natural yoghurt, cream
or ice-cream. 
Apple & ground almond crumble

Serves 4

A lovely gluten-free dessert, nutritious, balanced and full of flavour.

4 big organic apples or 6 small ones, peeled, cored and diced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
50 ml apple juice
1 tsp cinnamon or as you like it

For the Filling
50g organic blanched almonds or ground almond
50g organic rice flour
70g chilled organic butter
60g organic rapadura (raw cane sugar)
50g organic hazelnuts or any other nut of your choice (pistachios are quite nice), chopped

Combine almonds, rice flour, butter and rapadura and mix them until they form a crumbly sand – you can use a food processor if you like. Chill until ready to use.

Preheat the oven at 170°C. Place the apples in an oven-proof dish, squeeze the lemon, add the apple juice and cinnamon powder, and mix. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the apples are golden.

When apples are done, sprinkle the crumble over them and bake again for 20 min. Serve with a dollop of yogurt, cream or ice-cream.

Some of the ingredients and their healthy benefits

Apple (Malus domestica): it’s a rich source of antioxidants and nutrients. It  contains both types of fibre - soluble and insoluble -, which are very important to maintain a healthy gut function. Pectin found in the skin of apples is the most common beneficial fibre that helps lower cholesterol levels in the blood. Studies have shown that the pectin found in apples can inhibit the growth of liver and colon cancer. Apples contain potassium and quercetin, a nature’s anti-histamine. Apple has also antibacterial properties and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s an incredible fruit: it’s highly digestible and capable of satisfying both hunger and thirst.

Julie Bruton-Seal’s recipe for an upset stomach or for when you are recovering from illness, especially after a bout of vomiting and diarrhoea:
Grate 2 apples, then finely grate about a teaspoonful of fresh root ginger. Mix together in a bowl and eat straight way.

The old saying is never out of fashion: “An apple a day…”.

Almonds (Prunus dulcis): like any other nuts, when eaten raw, almonds are much easier to digest when they are soaked overnight. They are a great source of complete protein and good fats. They contain insoluble fibre, which is beneficial for regular bowel movements. Almonds are rich in magnesium, vitamin B6 and vitamin E. Besides tasting great, almond milk can be taken for constipation and inflammation of the gut (e.g. colitis, IBS and Crohn’s disease).

Hazelnuts (Corylus avellana): they contain a substance called beta-sitisterol, a plant sterol that, according to a study published by the medical journal The Lancet, showed significant improvement in patients with urinary difficulties. Hazelnuts contain potassium, magnesium and vitamin E.

Rapadura (dehydrated cane sugar or raw sugar) has been used for thousands of years in India. It is a very popular choice of sweetener in the northeast of Brazil. It is rich in silica and minerals such as calcium, Iron and potassium. In her book Nourishing Traditions, the American journalist, chef and nutrition researcher Sally Fallon gives a useful tip: “The best way to eat sweets is to have some fat to accompany them (ice cream with fruit, butter/eggs in cakes and pies) as they slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream while providing fat-soluble nutrients that nourish those glands involved in the blood sugar regulation mechanism.”
Caution: do not overdo the use of rapadura sugar. Although it’s a natural sweetener it can also upset your blood sugar balance if consumed a lot.

Nina playing inside the walled gardens
Till next week!

1 comment

  1. Oba! Adorei a nova receita. Vou tentar. Beijos enormes. Saudades.


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