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This summer season in Australia has been glorious and sunny around 30C almost every day. I try to stay away from the computer as much as possible and find myself spending a lot of time outdoor exercising or at the beach, trying to keep a healthy balance lifestyle. Not really a new year’s resolution, but as I am getting older, I thought perhaps is time to actually think of the future, make small changes in life as we all have to grow up sometimes. (If you haven’t read about my rant, you really should)

So one of the changes is my diet and no, I am not going to follow any fad diets. I can’t live without sugar, butter and fried chicken, oh no no, no one mess with my fried chicken! Having said that, I will cut down those guilty pleasures whenever possibly can. Actually I don’t eat out as often I used to, so it really isn’t a drastic change. And to balance it out, I will introduce a lot more greens and fruit into my meals.

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This summer, I have rediscovered my love for grapes. This is the best time of year to enjoy these humble plump and juicy fruit, not to mention is also the time of year when it is cheap. I usually have a bag of the seedless green grapes in the fridge, as it is crunchier and less sweet (mean less sugar) and more refreshing. But sometimes I will go for the red ones, especially if I am having a cheese and wine afternoon.

I also find grapes are very versatile in the cooking department, not many people know you can actually cook with grapes. For instance, a salad with grapes is a no brainer, toss together some salad leaves, grapes, prosciutto, some goat cheese, and a good drizzle of olive oil, and voila! You have a perfect summer salad. In my MAN FOOD cookbook, I actually have a recipe of grilled pork chop with grapes. A lot of people think of apple when comes to cooking pork, but try grapes next time as it also works like a charm. And here I have also created a dessert by using grapes – Grape, Rosemary and Apple Pie. If you love apple pie, then you will love this pie even more!

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When making this pie, just be mindful that grapes have high water content so try not to incorporate too much liquid into the filling as it will make the pie crust soggy and worse case scenario, all your filling falls out from the bottom. That’s why I used apple to bulk it up and also added a little bit of tartness to the pie. Another trick is to bake the pie a little longer to let the filling dries out and thickens a little. And of course, you can adapt this recipe and turn it into a grape crumble as well, that will save you the hassle of making a pie crust. All you need is a big dollop of vanilla ice cream and serve immediately when the pie is still warm.

 

Grape, Rosemary and Apple Pie

Sweet pastry
2 1/2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
30g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
250g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/3 cup chilled water

Filling
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin scrips
100g (about 2 cups) seedless flame or crimson grapes
2 teaspoons of finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon tawny port
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 tablespoon tapioca or potato starch

1 yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water, for egg wash
2 tablespoon raw sugar, for the pie top

 

Method

1. First, to make the sweet pastry, put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Then slowly pour chilled water, a little at a time, and keep pulsing until it comes together to form a rough dough. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and gently gather the loose crumbs together to form a soft dough, do not over-knead. Flatten the dough into a disc about 2cm thick, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

2. Prepare the filling. Add all filling ingredients in a mixing bowl, stir to mix well and let the fruit marinate in its own juice until you are ready to roll the pastry.

3. Remove pastry from refrigerator and cut in half, place one half back in the refrigerator. Then roll the other half out until is big enough to line a 23cm pie tin, about 5mm thickness. Transfer the pie tin to the freezer to let it set for 15 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 220C. Take the remaining dough out of refrigerator and roll it out to 5mm thickness. Then cut into long strips. Take the pie tin out of the freezer, fill it with the filling (try not to add too much liquid to the pie, else the pie will end up with soggy bottom and won’t hold the filling). Then weave the long pastry strips into a lattice top. Crimp the sides with a fork. Brush the pie top with egg wash, then sprinkle with raw sugar.

5. Bake the pie for 20 minutes. Then reduce heat to 175C and bake for 50 minutes and the filling starts to bubble. Cover the pie top with foil if it browns too quick. Remove pie from oven and place on rack for 20 minutes or until is cool enough to handle, remove pie from the pie tin (if you have removable base pie tin), then let it cool completely.

 

[Sponsored post for Australian Grapes]

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