Blackberry and Apple Crumble Pie

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I love when Autumn finally comes around, as it means I can indulge in one of my favourite dishes, blackberry and apple. I used to have it every morning in Autumn, blackberry and apple compote on top of Greek yoghurt, or my mums blackberry and apple crumble in the evening. However since been diagnosed with numerous food intolerances, these dishes have become a thing of the past. This week I decided to challenge myself to make an equally yummy dessert with blackberry and apple, which as well as being gluten and dairy free, is refined sugar free as well, and I have to say I’m over the moon with the result. So here it is, my healthy and intolerance friendly blackberry and apple crumble pie.

 

Ingredients:

Filling:

2 cooking apples (peeled and cored)
450g blackberries
1 tablespoon maple syrup
150g dates (pitted and chopped)
1 teaspoon mixed spice

Pastry:

200g gluten free oat flour
50g ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
20g dates
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
50g coconut oil (plus extra for greasing)
pinch of xanthum gum
pinch of salt

Pie dish: approx 2cm x 24cm

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C

2. Blitz the oat flour, ground almonds, cinnamon, dates, and xanthum gum together in a food processor.

3. Add the vanilla extract, coconut oil and salt and blitz. If the pastry is still too dry, add more coconut oil until it is less crumbly.

4. Grease the pie dish with a little coconut oil.

5. Take 2/3rds of the pastry and roll out into a circular shape, about 2mm in thickness. Line the pie dish. (Don’t worry if it is a little crumbly, you can press bits in to fill the holes)

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6. With the leftover pastry, crumble it into a bowl, and then place this and the lined pie dish into the fridge.

7. Whilst the pastry is chilling, chop the apple into chunky slices.

8. Place the chopped apple plus all the other filling ingredients into a saucepan, and leave to stew with the lid on over a low heat for about 15 minutes.

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9. Once the apple has softened, take the lined pie out of the fridge and pour the filling in until it is just below the rim of the dish. Take the crumble mixture and sprinkle it over the top of the pie.

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10. Place the pie into the oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until the pastry starts to brown. Enjoy!

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Barbados

Barbados is a small island located in the Eastern Caribbean. At only 21 miles long it is fairly small in size and has under 300,000 inhabitants. What favours Barbados over the other Caribbean islands, is that it is only a short 8 hour flight from the UK, as opposed to the more lengthy island hopping and transfers that are needed to visit many of the other islands. As well as this, Barbados can boast of some of the best food in the Caribbean which is a huge plus point if you have visited the other smaller islands and know the food variety is somewhat limited.

Although Barbados is small, there is certainly plenty to do and visit. Bridgetown is the capital of Barbados and offers a small number of shops. However Bridgetown is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, so hopefully with this, it will see a revival of more individual shops, cafes, and restaurants.

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If you want to see more of the local culture, head to the fruit and vegetable market in Bridgetown on a Saturday morning where you can see the huge array of fresh  produce and spices being traded.

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In the North Eastern part of Barbados is the ‘Scotland district’, is St Nicholas Abbey. This 350 year old sugar plantation house is certainly worth a visit. It still produces its own rum and sugar, and if you are visiting in the right months, you can still see the sugar cane being processed.

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st nic sugar press

Another way to learn more about the history of the island of Barbados, is to visit Harrison’s caves. Recently updated with a tram network this is a fantastic way of seeing how the island is made up of over 85% coral limestone. If you take the tram tour, you can explore the beautiful crystallised limestone caverns under the ground.

Another attraction to visit is the Flower Forest. Here you can explore Barbados’ rich flora and fauna and can easily while away a couple of hours winding your way through the different pathways and admiring the brightly coloured flowers on display.

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For a similar, but far more eccentric experience, head to Hunte’s Gardens. Created by well known horticulturist Anthony Hunte, this is truly an extraordinary work of art. Anthony has created a beautiful garden in a sinkhole with royal palms peeping out the top and classical music tinkling in the background as you explore. Afterwards you are likely to be invited into his house that overlooks the garden and have a drink, read poetry, or perhaps be asked to play the piano! All in all, a weird but wonderful experience.

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Finally, if you want to join in with what the locals do on a Friday night, head to Oistins Fish Fry. Here you enjoy dancing to music of two kinds, modern or older music whilst taking in the buzzing atmosphere. This is an informal place so dress down in t-shirts and shorts.

In terms of cuisine, Barbados has a lot to offer. Most of the good restaurants are situated on the West Coast of the island, so these are the ones I will be focusing on.

Lone Star used to be a petrol station but has since been turned into a restaurant. It has some quirky features that have been kept from its former days, such as the waiting staff being dressed in mechanic overalls. Lone Star has a great following and is always full, however the food is basic and nothing to rave about. It seems to be trying to do too many different things, and Chinese duck pancakes and macaroni cheese are not the sort of things you want to be seeing on menus in Barbados.

Fish Pot is quite far out as it is up towards the North of the island. The food is also fairly basic but good with, as the name suggests, an emphasis on fish on the menu, however there are plenty of other options too. What makes the Fish Pot a worthwhile visit is its cosy setting on the water, and the food and atmosphere seem to make this a firm favourite for family dining.

Tides is also a restaurant that seems to always be full. Again it has a waterfront setting and the food is good. Although I would return here, I feel the menu needs updating, so some may feel the menu is a little old fashioned.

Cin Cin is a very modern restaurant and has a delightful setting. The menu is great and the food was of quality, however for me, the menu was a little too long and needed cutting down.

The Cliff restaurant has the finest setting out of all the restaurants in my opinion. It is set literally on a cliff, and when you arrive, you look down onto the water crashing onto the rocks below. The food is pleasurable, however the bill less so. This restaurant is more of a special treat than a frequent haunt as it has probably the highest menu price on the island.

For exceptionally good food, head to restaurant 13°/59° in the Port Ferdinand marina. This newly opened restaurant offers exquisite food with local produce being used in the dishes. For me the setting was not the best, as you are dining in a marina which is a  fairly boring outlook, but if you are interested in fantastic cuisine, this is without a doubt the place to head.

The Sandy Lane has to be my favourite place to eat, due to the whole package. Their main restaurant L’Acajou is formal with an excellent menu, however for a food indulgence, book one of their buffets. Although they are all delightful, the best in my opinion has to be the Asian Buffet on a Saturday night. I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you what is served, but I can say you will not be disappointed. After dinner there is live entertainment,usually a singer, which you can enjoy listening to with one of their many scrumptious cocktails. What really puts the Sandy Lane experience ahead of the others, is the staff training. Their informal approach to the customers is perfect and makes you feel relaxed as soon as you arrive. A special mention has to go to Stacey who was just the most perfect host.

Overall Barbados, is a place you must make a visit to if you haven’t already. There are so many things to do. Even if you venture no further than the beach, you may be lucky enough to see turtles laying or hatching, and if you venture a tad further, you can swim with them in the sea. The temperature pretty much stays between 28 and 30 degrees all year round, with December to February being the cooler months. So for a relaxing but cultural trip, head to the island of Barbados!

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Yauatcha, London

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In the heart of bustling Soho is this gem of a restaurant. What makes this so special is that it manages to combine two very different cuisines seamlessly. How they have managed to connect Chinese dim sum with European patisserie I do not know, but they have done it, with a michelin star for proof. The interior is slick and modern, dim lit low black tables, shelves of tea containers, and a cool blue fish tank wall. Then menu has plenty of choice and everything looks delectable, but for me there were a couple of stars. The first was the ‘char siu bun’. The steamed bun was fluffy and light and the filling of Cantonese barbecued pork complemented it beautifully. (Make sure you don’t agree to share when ordering these because believe me, when they come, you will want to eat them all yourself!) The sticky rice in a lotus leaf with chicken and dried shrimp was equally as scrumptious. In fact the food was so good, I didn’t even get a chance to take photos. The way they had steamed this dish meant that the gorgeous, tea like taste of the lotus leaf absorbed into the rice, giving it another dimension of flavour. menu For mains we shared the aromatic duck and the crispy sweet and sour sea bass. The duck was perfectly cooked, crunchy on the outside and sweet and succulent on the inside, and the pancakes that went with this were very much enjoyed, a classic winner. Perhaps, the only disappointment of the evening was the crispy sweet and sour sea bass. This was because it seems that they had deep fat fried the fish. This was such a shame because the sea bass inside was delicious but was ruined on the outside. I feel steaming would have done it far greater justice and would have kept it moist and flavoursome. So my tip for you if you are going, would be to have the steamed halibut or dover sole instead. Finally I move onto the desserts. Everything looked delicious, but unfortunately my stomach capacity was somewhat limited by this time, so I could only try the pomegranate yoghurt (pomegranate compote, yoghurt, wild flower honey, granola) and the chocolate pebble (65% Amazonian Peruvian chocolate, brownie, mousse, liquid chocolate). The pomegranate yoghurt was a hit with me as it cleansed my palette with its fresh and crisp taste and was not too sweet as I expected it to be. The chocolate pebble was of course the complete opposite, a sure favourite with any chocaholics, this will certainly give you your fix! Also on offer are handmade macaroons and chocolates, an accompaniment to your after dinner drinks perhaps? macaroons Overall this was a superb meal, food wise and service wise, and I cannot wait to come again. However next time I think I’ll leave a little more room to experiment their desserts, of which I’ll leave you with a couple of photos to tantalise your tastebuds… chocolate pebble Yauatcha, 15 Broadwick Street, London, W1F ODL Tel: 020 7494 8888 exotic pandan 2

The Feathered Nest Inn, The Cotswolds

Nestled in the rolling hills of the Cotswolds is a sleepy village named Nether Westcote, home to the award winning pub, ‘The Feathered Nest Inn’. However do not be tricked by the name, this stands far apart from your average village haunt, and the food is a world away from your typical ‘pub grub’. Upon entering the car park, you will be greeted with breathtaking views across the Evenlode valley, the sunny garden being a perfect place to admire this with a cold drink in hand. The interior of the inn does also, not disappoint. It has been tastefully decorated with antiques dotted around, in corners, shelves and on windowsills, giving it a welcoming feel. Upstairs they have four rooms, each one beautifully decorated and different from the other. Next, I move onto the most important part, the food. Although they serve a simple bar menu, the à la carte menu is really what gets your tastebuds tingling. Whilst perusing the menu you are served delicious homemade canapés to give you a taste of what’s to come. There are not many restaurants that I have been to where I want to eat everything on the menu, but this is one of the special few. I have included a few photos of the dishes we had. I’m sorry I haven’t included any mains, but they were so good, they were gobbled up before I could even take a photo.

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Sea Bream, tigers milk, pisco, papaya,chilli, coriander

This starter was fresh and zingy with flavour. The subtle heat of the chilli added a lovely extra hit at the end.

Asparagus, hen egg,  parmesan, savoury custard, chives
Asparagus, hen egg, parmesan, savoury custard, chives

This dish is perfect for this time of year as it is asparagus season, and these were sourced from nearby Evesham. The ‘egg’ is a flavoursome surprise, as it is not actually an egg at all! (I’ll let you go and find out why for yourself!)

Beetroot, ewes curd, yoghurt, pumpernickel, dill
Beetroot, ewes curd, yoghurt, pumpernickel, dill

For the vegetarians amongst you, this will no doubt set your stomachs rumbling. Don’t expect your average bland vegetarian dish here! In fact if all vegetarian dishes were like this the butchers would be out of business.

Burnt cream, gariguette strawberry, red vein sorrel
Burnt cream, gariguette strawberry, red vein sorrel

I had been looking forward to dessert all evening and this did not disappoint. The ‘burnt cream’ was like a beautiful crème brûlée, and the strawberries worked harmoniously with the sweetness to leave a refreshed palette. Overall, I cannot rate this gem of a restaurant highly enough. If you live near The Feathered Nest Inn, or are simply visiting the area, make sure this is a place you will visit, you will not regret it. Make sure you book a table in advance though, especially on the weekend, as apparently they often are fully booked, which is of course, no surprise.

The Feathered Nest Inn,
Nether Westcote,
Oxfordshire,
OX7 6SD
United Kingdom
Tel: 01993 833 030