Apples for Jam (making my cookbooks earn a place on the shelf)

It’s been a while since I last wrote about a cookbook I’ve been road testing, making it thoroughly earn it’s place on my groaning cookbook shelves, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking (well actually there’s been a bit of not cooking, I haven’t been particularly inspired), it’s just that I’ve been working my way through a particularly large volume; Tessa Kiros’ Apples for Jam. Apples for Jam is an old favourite of mine but one I no longer cook from that frequently, flicking through the recipes I could see that a lot of what I make ‘off the top of my head’ had their original roots in recipes from this book and as I cooked them again ‘properly’ I found, probably not that surprisingly, that I preferred my versions better. However I rediscovered one old favourite, which I had stopped cooking altogether, probably because I don’t make a habit of keeping vermicelli in the house (a habit I need to rectify), the vermicelli soup with tomato and basil, this was just as delicious as my shady recall remembered and very filling, which is good.

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I also made the Berry and Buttermilk cake, which I didn’t remember making at all before, but the blog told me otherwise, here’s the 2013 attempt.

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The tomato risotto, which was one of those recipes I now make up off the top of my head, turned out to be very bland, I even bothered to go as far as making my own stock, as recommended, it wasn’t worth it.

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The macaroni cheese however was, yum and not that much cheese either, it almost felt virtuous (and the ham was perfect in it).

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The pear and berry crumble was ok, but you can’t go that much wrong with a crumble.

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The brownies on the other hand, wow, I think I may have just found my default go to brownie recipe, they’re very chocolate-y (way too chocolate-y for Mr. Lacer, not enough chocolate-y for the kids), the recipe, which makes a lot of brownies (we ended up freezing some and Kiros was right, they do freeze well), called for three large bars of dark chocolate, I had misread the recipe when menu planning (possibly out of disbelief) and only had two on me, which is what I used, the kids are very gung-ho for upping to the full three bars next time, whereas I’m thinking possibly the addition of chocolate chips in the brownie batter would be good.

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The next was an attempt to be a bit more virtuous after all those brownies.

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Raw veg and soldiers of thick brown bread with a mustard-y sesame seed-y dip, the kids turned their noses up at the dip straight away, I liked it though although the mustard pretty much drowned out all the other flavours.

Next up was another new ‘go to’ recipe for me, the banana bread, like brownies it was just good, simple food, nothing fancified about it and therefore it worked, well.

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And then there was another new ‘go to’ recipe, the chocolate and vanilla biscuits, a really simple biscuit dough which had a pleasing resemblance to play dough, you can shape the two doughs together (although I wouldn’t attempt to use a cookie cutter), I made some twisted shapes but in the end, for most of the biscuits, took a bit of the chocolate dough and a bit of the vanilla dough and just rolled them together in a ball and then squidged them down on the baking sheet. The result was very very close to the chocolate and vanilla marbled biscuits we buy at our favourite bakery (which has the unfortunate characteristic for a favourite bakery, of not being in our home town, so we only get to go there once in a while), in fact the kids said that they were nicer than the favourite bakery biscuits and as Girl Lacer, ever the practical, said, probably cheaper to.

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And finally; gingerbread biscuits. These had the allure of promising to be cut out biscuits, I fancied playing with some biscuit cutters, but one look at the dough, even after the prescribed 3 hours in the fridge, I knew it wasn’t worth trying. So more cookie dough rolled into balls. The spice mix on these is ‘interesting’, possibly the sort of interesting my kids, despite loving gingerbread, may not like, I’ll see when they get home (they like them, even Mr. Lacer, who hates gingerbread, likes them).

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So in summary; of course this book is staying on my shelf, it’s an old favourite and I’m sentimental but actually if I was going to be hideously practical, I’d say that the main reason why I was keeping it was for the baking recipes, recipes which, although having the book for years, I hadn’t really touched before. It’s made me think about how many other baking recipes I have in my non-exclusively baking cookbooks, that I don’t really use, as I tend to use specifically baking books when baking, so those recipes are an untouched resource.

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