Friulian apple, nut and poppy-seed pie

I made this based on a recipe I got some time from one of my sources. The ingredients just sounded too good to ignore. I searched for it online and found it in the Telegraph’s recipe section.

Ingredients:
Serves 8

250g (9oz) plain flour
125g (4½oz) butter
100g (3½oz) caster sugar (I used 90g as it’s my policy to use 10% less sugar than any recipe calls for – it tends to bring out the other flavours)
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cold whole milk
grated zest of 1 lemon
3 tart eating apples (didn’t use tart ones, which wasn’t a problem but will use at least one more to make the filling a bit more moist)
1½ tbsp grappa (of course, I used 2 tbsp, otherwise what’s the point of even opening the bottle!)
60g (2oz) raisins (didn’t have enough raisins so added cranberries and chopped figs)
175g (6oz) walnuts or hazelnuts, chopped
3 tbsp poppy seeds, plus extra to serve
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
ground seeds from 4 cardamom pods
icing sugar, for dusting (didn’t use but recommend as the cake it not sweet at all)

Instructions:
To make the pastry, put the flour and butter into a food processor and whizz until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and baking powder and whizz again. Add the milk and half of the lemon zest and process again. The pastry should come together in a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5 and put in a metal baking-sheet to warm.

On a floured surface, roll out two thirds of the pastry and use it to line a 23cm (9in) spring-form cake tin so that the pastry comes about 4cm (1½in) up the sides. Roll the other piece of pastry into a circle slightly larger than the tin and put on a floured metal sheet. Refrigerate the cake tin and the circle for an hour.

Peel and core the apples and grate the flesh. Mix with the grappa, raisins, nuts, seeds, spices and remaining lemon zest. Pile into cake tin and put the circle on top. Pinch the edges together, then indent the rim with the tines of a fork. Cut a star in the centre to let out the steam.

Cook on the baking-sheet in the oven for 30 minutes. Let it cool in the tin then carefully remove. Sift icing sugar over the top and scatter on poppy seeds. Offer cream whipped with grappa.

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Red cabbage

This has very Chrismassy flavours and so I usually make this cabbage for Christmas dinner. Following this year, I decided to add it as a regular side dish to roast duck whenever I make it.

Ingredients:
1 large cabbage, halved and cut into 2cm strips
3 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced
3 tbs molasses sugar
the juice from 3 oranges
cider winegar (or 2/3 white vinegar + 1/3 apples juice)
10 juniper berries crushed
the peel of two oranges stripped with a potato peeler
1/2 tsp mixed spice (my addition to the original recipe)

Add the olive oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pan (I used 28cm Le Creuset casserole pot), then layer the ingredients, starting with a third of the cabbage, then a spoonful of sugar, the juice of an organge, a splosh of vinegar and a few juniper berries, sprinkle bit of mixed spice. Season. Repeat the layers twice more, bring up to a simmer very gently, then cover with a tight-fitting lid. Stir after about an hour, then again after another hour. Add more orange juice if the liquid level looks too low. Blanch the strips of peel, then cut into 1cm pieces. Stir through the cooked cabage and serve.