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Apple blossom

It all started months ago with a bud. Spring was late in coming this year.  But when it finally did arrive, the fruit trees were covered with buds.  In the spring sunshine, our pink bud unfurled to form a pale flower.

Blossom

The weather stayed mild, there was no frost damage and the blossom did its job of attracting pollinators.  All those flowers were much appreciated by the bees.  Bumblebees were buzzing among the apple blossom until late in the evening, and the solitary bees found plenty of nectar and pollen to provision their nests.

IMG_3845

After the bees had visited the flower, the petals fell away to leave a tiny baby apple.  All through the long, warm and not too dry summer, the apple grew slowly and steadily.  And as summer’s end approached it became speckled with red on the side that faced the sun for most of the day.

Apple

The tree that this apple grew produces late fruit.  There are still apples on the tree now, although there are plenty littering the grass below it too.

Windfalls

Today our apple was carefully picked from the tree and brought up to the kitchen to form the basis of a filling for homemade pasties.  Mixed with onion, sage and smoked cheese and wrapped in crisp, golden pastry the apple has completed its journey from spring blossom to an autumn tea.

Apple & smoked cheese pasty

I’m adding this recipe to November’s Cheese, Please! challenge over at Fromage Homage.  This month has a smoked cheese theme – I don’t often use smoked cheese, so it’s good to have a reason to buy some and ponder over flavour combinations.  I used an oak smoked cheese from the Northumberland Cheese Company.  Hand made and suitable for vegetarians, it isn’t too strongly smoked but is very tasty.  Having rediscovered the flavour of smoked cheese, I’m looking forward to seeing what other bloggers come up with, so that I can expand my recipe book…

Fromage Homage

The pasties would also make perfect additions to a lunchbox – although if I was making them for my daughter the smoked cheese would have to go… Wensleydale would be an acceptable alternative.  Whichever cheese goes into the mix, I’m linking this post to this month’s Family Foodies challenge.  It’s Vanesther’s turn to host in November, taking over from Louisa who kicked the new challenge off last month.  If you’re looking for ideas to add variety to those school lunchboxes, this would be a good place to start.

family-foodies

Apple & smoked cheese pasties

1 quantity of pastry made using the recipe here

For the filling –

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 stick of celery, washed and fairly finely chopped

a good grating of nutmeg

10-12 fresh sage leaves, chopped

1 medium eating apple

100g smoked cheese, grated

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 egg, beaten

Make the pastry, wrap it and leave it to chill in the fridge while you make the filling.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan and cook the onion over a medium heat for about 5 minutes.  The onion should be softened and starting to become translucent, but not browned.  Add the celery and cook for a few minutes more.  Stir in the freshly grated nutmeg and the sage leaves, and leave the mixture to cook while you core the apple and chop it into smallish chunks.  Once the apple is ready, add it to the pan, stir and leave to cook for another 5 minutes.

When the apple is starting to warm and soften, take the pan off the heat and add the grated cheese.  Stir to combine, then check the mixture for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 190oC, 375oF, gas 5.  Grease a large baking sheet.

Roll the chilled pastry out on a lightly floured board until it’s a little over ½ cm (¼”) thick.  Cut out six circles of pastry about 15 cm (6”) in diameter (I cut around a saucer to get a neat circle).  Put three or four spoonfuls of the filling mixture onto one half of each circle.  Brush the edge of the pastry with beaten egg, fold the side without filling over the top and seal the edges by pressing gently.  Use a fork to prick small holes in the top of each pasty and brush more beaten egg over the top.  Put each pasty on the prepared baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes – the pasties will be a lovely light golden brown when they are ready.  Eat warm from the oven, or leave to cool for lunchboxes and picnics.