Sunday, 9 September 2007

Spiced Apple Sorbet with Calvados (egg free, dairy free, gluten free)

I have been known to make less than complimentary remarks about the French. However, when it comes to flaunting Anglophone notions of Health and Safety, I will stand up and applaud them. Where else but in France would I be able to waltz into a riding stables and ask to rent a couple of steeds for an hour or two?

A few weeks ago, without having to provide evidence of equestrian skill, leave a phone number or even look vaguely horsey, I was able to set up a Sunday morning hack for me and a friend. I suppose the logic being, that if I were stupid enough to take a horse out when it’s been twenty years since I rode, well….

When we arrived bright and early at the stables, our horses were all tacked up and ready to go. I chose the brown one - ‘Rosa’ - the white one didn’t look as pretty. Oh how my shallow selection would come back to haunt me.

We clopped off but had to stop further down the drive as my saddle had slipped. I dismounted, sorted it, and prepared to re-mount. Rosa eyed me interestedly. As my foot found its position in the stirrup I heaved myself up. Rosa quickly turned in a tight circle, and I bounced back down. I tried again. Rosa turned on a sixpence again. It’s important that a horse knows who’s in charge so I scolded Rosa and she bowed her head.

On my third attempt I launched upwards, and as my centre of gravity shifted to the point of no return, so did the clever Rosa. I did a sort of slow motion lunge across the saddle, slipped neatly over it and landed head first on the ground with a thud. Bearing in mind we had not yet left the stables, it was all very humiliating. I ended up having to tie her up before I could get back on.

Now slightly giggly, Fran and I clopped down the drive again. We were flying solo in the Norman countryside with just a map and two feisty horses to show us the way. Our map led us alongside rolling fields, over country lanes and on into another forest. Recalcitrant Rosa was not keen to enter the second forest. She dragged her heels and attempted to turn back. I dug deep into my repertoire of equestrian savoir faire, ‘Ya! Giddy up!’ and forced her on.

We broke into a trot, but then pulled up as a tree had fallen across the path. It had landed on another tree and was making a barrier that was about a metre and a half off the floor. We dithered for a minute, then Fran turned her horse left, off the path, scrambled up into the trees, skirted the barrier and rejoined the path. I kicked my steed on to do the same.

Rosa was not liking this off piste action. As she scrambled down the bank to rejoin the path, I bent my head low to avoid some overhanging branches, taking my eye off the hoof for a nanno second. Quick-witted Rosa saw her chance. As she rejoined the path, instead of following Fran left, she turned smartly right – back towards the fallen tree – and broke into a fast trot. She reached the tree in a flash, ducked her head, scraped under and carried on.

Reflex is a wonderful thing. I saw Rosa’s withers disappearing beneath the tree, I saw the tree coming up to meet my solar plexus, felt my thighs being compressed between the saddle and the tree, and I did the only reasonable thing; I let go of Rosa and embraced the tree. As Rosa headed for home, I was left dangling from the branch, legs flailing and backside throbbing.

Whereas Fran had contained her giggles with my first mishap, she was helpless with my second. She couldn’t speak for cackling. Humiliation, however, was the last thing on my mind; I was losing sight of Rosa. Fran was clearly of no use to me and I was forced to limp after my mount.
Rosa was not finished with me yet. She appeared to be ambling, but kept glancing back over her withers to see where I was. When she saw me break into a run, she began to trot. When I stopped running, she stopped trotting. With Fran’s howls echoing behind me, I had to resort to creeping up on Rosa in a sort of tiptoeing run, like Tom to his Jerry, until I could get close enough to grab her. As I struggled to re-mount her, she eyed me balefully, ‘Bloody English Novice’ she was thinking.

The rest of the ride passed off without mishap. This was because we allowed Rosa to lead us back to the stables; she flatly refused to go anywhere else.

That evening I served up my spiced apple sorbet. We showered it with fine Normandy Calvados and giggled helplessly as we re-lived our morning. In terms of value for money, it was the best 20 euros I’ve spent in a long time. This one is for you Rosa; for cunning, for determination and for giving me an unforgettable ride.

Rosa's Spiced Apple Sorbet
This is so easy to make, and with the apple season coming up, what a fine way to get rid of your surplus. The sorbet is quite sweet, but when teamed with the fiery Calvados, it has balance and poise. A bit like me in the saddle.
250g sugar
600ml water
0.25tsp xanthan gum (not strictly necessary, but gives it a bit more of a 'wow! where did you buy this?' feel)
5 medium eating apples
3 tbsps calvados
about 3tbsps water
2-4 mace blades (depending on taste)
2 star anise
3 cinammon sticks
1 vanilla pod
1-2 tbsps lemon juice
0.5 tsp mixed spice
0.5 tsp ground nutmeg (or a good grating of whole nutmeg)
Calvados to serve
  • Put the sugar and xanthan gum into a large saucepan and add the water. Bring to the boil, giving it the odd stir to dissolve the sugar and xanthan gum. Set aside and leave to cool
  • Peel, core and slice the apples and place in a medium saucepan. Add the 3tbsps of Calvados, the lemon juice and water and set over a gentle heat, uncovered. Add a splash more water as it cooks if you think it's going dry or sticking
  • As the apples warm up, stir, and add the mace blades, star anise and cinammon sticks. Slice the vanilla pod down its length and add to the saucepan
  • Leave the apples and spices to simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, stirring every now and then. Remove from the heat
  • Lift the vanilla pod out and scrape out all the seeds onto a plate, put the seeds back in the apple mix
  • Remove the mace blades, star anise and cinammon sticks. Add the mixed spice and ground nutmeg
  • Use a hand blender to whizz it all up to a pulp, or if you want a more textured sorbet, you could use a potato masher (I must try that next time)
  • Pour the cooled sugar, water and xanthan gum mixture into the apple mix and stir
  • Pour into an ice cream container and freeze for at least 24 hours
  • About 45-60 mins before you wish to serve this, remove the tub from the freezer. Let it defrost for about 15-20 mins and then use a hand blender to make it smooth. Return it to the freezer for about 30 mins and then it should be ready to serve
  • Place it in some pretty ice cream glasses and slosh over the Calvados
  • Raise your sloshed sorbet to Rosa, and to failed equestrians everywhere
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007

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Alisa said...

Wow, I thought my last horse experience was a doozy... here's to the French! ~ and that delicious looking sorbet of course.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Alisa - Doozy, what a fabulous word! And yes, Vive les francais (but not in the rugby, we want them to crash and burn)

georgie said...

yummy! I adore sorbet - the best finish to a filling meal. i will definitley be trying this...! :)

rilly super said...

sounds fab PITK though once ordered a calvados after a meal in a restaurant that cost more than the meal itself so not sure I would have sloshed it over the ice cream darling!

beta mum said...

Very funny! When we took our children and their cousins on a pony-ride around a field in Dinard, it was up to us to lead the old nags.
One of them stopped to munch on some tasty grass and would not budge again.
I pulled, pushed, poked, coaxed, but in the end had to fetch a young lad frmo the stables, who tapped the pony lightly on its backside with a rope.
It moved.
They can sense it when they meet a horse-novice.

Mya said...

Have you ever thought of becoming a stunt pig?! What a naughty horse, they can be buggers can't they?

That sorbet sounds yummy.

If the French rugby team get knocked out too early in the tournament, they'll pull all the (French) TV coverage, and that wouldn't do at all. The French team look very nice too (see pics over at mine for proof!)

Mya x

George's Mom said...

Your blog looks like a lifesaver to me. My son is allergic to all of the above plus bananas and fish. The kitchen has become quite a challenge! Thank you, thank you!

Akelamalu said...

Oh my good lord Pig, I'm snorting like a horse here! That was soooo funny. :0

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Georgie, you are right that sorbet is the best finish, and by dousing it in Calvados you have your dessert and liqueur all in one! A bargain.

Rilly, I clearly don't frequent the fancy restaurants that you do...surely not oop North? It's much more cost effective to buy the Calva and drink it at home!

Beta Mum, the horses they palm off on the English have serious attitude problems, i'm very sorry you had to lead your nags. Did you call them nags in their hearing? Perhaps that was part of the problem...

Mya, Given the bruise on my thigh and the general aching i suffered the next day, i think being a stunt pig will probably not be my next career move.
I really hope you're joking about the French pulling the coverage, although that kind of 's'en foutisme' rings worryingly true. Never mind, given the size of Chabal's biceps and thighs and the need to dominate in the next game, i think we're safe for a while yet.

George's Mom, I'm so happy you found me, and sorry to hear of your son's allergies. As you say, it is very challenging, I really hope the recipes help :-)

Akelamalu, yes it was very funny. It got funnier as my body stopped aching, and damn that horse!

Potty Mummy said...

Fantastic, you had me laughing out loud - again. It's clearly nowhere near as painful but that rather reminds me of stalking my youngest round the house when it's bathtime, he's racing around completely naked, and I'm trying to get him into the tub before he christens the floor. Ah, what fun we have...

Lunar said...

Just like Fran, helpless with laughter! Saw your post on Lucy's H/E blog, By Other Means and thought I'd check your recipes. First I had to see through the tears! Totally unexpected, and SO welcome! Will be checking here daily, and playing with your recipes. Such a relief to find multi allergy recipes to share.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Potty Mummy, I am happy that my misfortune has made you smile! I empathise with the chasing naked bodies around the house...if only if it were as much fun as it sounds!

Hello Lunar, how lovely to have you visit, and very glad it made you laugh! Feel free to play away with my recipes ;-)

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Hilarious! ...and so very descriptive, I could picture it all and couldn't help but laugh out load at your antics.

@themill said...

You've just reminded me why I don't ride!

mutterings and meanderings said...

Oh Pig, come and have a go on the Grey Mare, she'll restore your faith! ;)

Stay at home dad said...

Halfway through this I forgot that Rosa was a horse and it made for an interesting piece of "romantic" non fiction.

All this and sloshing calvados too: good going...

Suffolkmum said...

Was clutching my sides reading this. Loved the line about you stalking her like Tom to his Jerry. Brilliant. I did a smilar thing a couple of years ago - was convinced my childhood riding skills wouldn't have left me - the horse just bolted with me! Highly embarassing. I love sorbet too.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

A@LF, thank-you! My friend (Fran) said that the rear view of me dangling from the branch was what finished her off!

@theMill, I think you are very wise, and I think horse riding should be re-branded as an extreme sport.

M@M, your offer is tempting, I suspect it is all down to the training, and i'm sure you've trained the Grey Mare well. In fact, it's probably me that needs a bit more time on the lunge...

SAHD, yes I can see how we could interpret this piece as unrequited love.
Believe me, the calvados was essential for it anaesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

SuffolkMum, oops, you posted as I replied to the others! I am so relieved that it's not just me that thinks 'once an equestrian also an equestrian'. I've lost count of the amount of times a friend's horse bolted with me when I was younger. I think they do it for a laugh you know!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

I meant 'once an equestrian, always an equestrian'. Ditz.

Motheratlarge said...

Pig in the Kitchen,

What a delicious-looking pudding! Decent of you to name if after a horse that gave you such a hard time. Though it does sound as if the experience was worth it for laughs afterwards. Trying to imagine you clinging onto the tree.... action movie-style.

Your recipes look yummy. However, I'm not going to make them for my daughter though (bad mummy) because she's at a rather picky stage, and they might go to waste, which would be a shame. But mummy and daddy will appreciate them very much.

elizabethm said...

loved your horse experience - I doubt if I could have coped! also loved your recipe. a report back on the courgette cake - marvellous, thank you.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Motheratlarge, hello. I think Rosa deserved the pudding, you've got to admire a being that has so much determination. The picky stage is a pain isn't it? Sooner or later doesn't every parent get to that, 'well you eat that or you eat nothing' impasse? But not when they're as weeny as your bean!

ElizabethM, there was no option but to cope, or to let Rosa run and walk the Loooong walk home. I didn't fancy that option. Very glad you enjoyed your courgette cake!

Frog in the Field said...

Poor Pig!
You embraced the tree? Ha HA! Brilliantly written as usual, you're very, very funny. I bet it bloody well hurt though?

lady macleod said...

LOL too funny! Thank you for being so brave to share. Puts my bicycle-donkey story right into perspective!

I'm glad you survived. My rule is, if no one is dead, everything else is negotiable.

dulwichmum said...

Wow! What a wonderful way to spend time, and then to have such a perfect treat at the end of the day. Idyllic.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

FITF, I gave the tree a great big hug, it was sheer survival tactics! And yes, it really hurt, a big bruise on my thigh proved it.

Lady M, your bicycle donkey story also sounded pretty hairy, I'm afraid there was no negotiating to be had with Rosa!

DulwichMum, it was indeed a wonderfully funny day!

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