The Apple Book, by Jane Simpson and Gill MacLennan

A neglected cookbook for a neglected blog. This is an old book, published in 1984. At the time we lived in the Vale of Evesham, where fruit and vegetables were plentiful. It’s really intended for people with their own trees, who are desperate for ways of using their gluts. But even if you aren’t surrounded by orchards, apples are available all over the place and all the year round, so it’s well worth having a cookbook dedicated to them.

I used to use it a lot, but it’s gradually migrated to the dusty lower reaches of the bookcase. Flicking through it, there are quite a few food-spattered pages. Some even have notes, including the word “wonderful” scrawled next to the apple and cider sorbet recipe. But there’s one recipe that has become the household standard virtually every time we can get hold of chicken livers: the catchily named Chicken livers with mushrooms, bacon and apples in a peppered cider sauce. You hardly need a recipe after that. It only takes about 20 minutes to prepare, and it’s excellent with pasta.

Chicken livers with mushrooms, bacon, and apples in a peppered cider sauce

For 4 (generously):
400 g chicken livers
225 g bacon, diced
225 g mushrooms
2 eating apples
knob of butter
1 tsp dried green peppercorns or 2 tsp drained green peppercorns in brine
150 ml dry cider
150 ml cream
salt and pepper

In a large frying pan, cook the diced bacon with no extra fat for about 5-7 minutes, until it is crispy. Meanwhile clean and trim the chicken livers, cutting them in half if large, and slice the mushrooms. Add to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, while you peel, core, and dice the apples. Add apples and peppercorns with a knob of butter and cook for a further few minutes to soften the apples slightly. Add the cider, bring to the boil, and then stir in the cream and heat through to thicken. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve with pasta or rice.

3 thoughts to “The Apple Book, by Jane Simpson and Gill MacLennan”

  1. Hi Veronica,
    Sounds like a great cookbook, just prefect for the start of apple season here! What are your favourite locally grown apples? Mine are Chantecleer.

  2. Hi Andreas

    I tend to find French apples disappointing compared to British ones. Usually I buy Royal Gala as the most acceptable easily found ones, but I recently started seeing a variety called Rubinette. They are excellent, similar to British Cox’s, with a really appley taste.

  3. Hi Veronica,
    I’ll have a look for Rubinette apples – I’ve not seen those before! There was one type I found a few years ago, which was really good, but the apples came from a man in market and I’ve not been able to find him since…

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