Thursday, 8 August 2013

Veggie Cooking with Cider

Recently I wrote about Birmingham's newest food event #FutureFoodies which showcased a number of the city's independent food and drink traders including Aston Manor Cider.
Aston Manor Cider is the UK’s largest independent cider maker and is 100% family owned.  The business is the only cider maker covering every occasion and every consumer with an extensive range of products.   With over 300 acres of orchard in Malvern (Worcestershire) and plans for an extra 1000 acres to be planted, they harvest apples and pears which make their award-winning ciders including their organic cider produced for Duchy Originals.
Even though Aston Manor Cider are celebrating their 30th birthday this year, they may not be instantly recognisable as a name, but their brands are more well-known which include Kingstone Press (Apple & Pear varieties) as well as Malvern Oak & Malvern Gold.
Having chatted with the Aston Manor Cider team at #FutureFoodies and experiencing the passion they have for their product and endeavours to keep their cider- making regional, talk turned to cider uses.  As well as the obvious drinking of cider, we spoke of its rise in popularity for culinary use in the same vain as wine or beer are used in recipes.
Confirming that all Aston Manor Cider products are 100% vegetarian, I was invited to try some samples to create my own veggie recipes at home.

The first cider to hit my stove was Malvern Oak.  A very dry cider in taste, I paired it with sweeter ingredients namely sweet potatoes and butternut squash.

Malvern Oak Cider

Making wedges from both vegetables, I coated them in oil and placed them in a pan ready for roasting.  Creating the cider dimension, I boiled a little of the Malvern Oak in a saucepan with cardamom seeds and halved kumquats.  I gently boiled the cider for a good 10 minutes with the seeds and pressed the kumquats down a little to ensure that their juice infused with the cider.

Steaming Cider boiling with Cardamom seeds and Kumquats

Once cooked, I discarded the kumquats and poured the cider and seeds (a little at a time to ensure they're only just coated) over the vegetables.  Then I roasted them for 40 minutes. Extremely delicious, a little spicy with a hint of apple, a perfect change from traditional roast veg.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Malvern Oak,
Cardomom Seeds & Kumquats 

Malvern Oak is available at selected Tesco’s stores and independent retailers.


Next I tried the apple and pear varieties of Kingstone Press.

Kingstone Press Apple Cider

A sweeter taste than the dry Malvern Oak, I decided to use apple Kingstone Press for preparing mushrooms to accompany my gnocchi dish.

Made from cider apple varieties grown in Malvern Worcestershire and neighbouring Herefordshire, its a dry, clean, crisp cider which is dark amber in colour.

Normally, I fry my mushrooms in oil and lemon juice but this time, I began frying them with a touch of oil, then I added a grinding of course sea salt and then a good splash of cider.  Being porous, the mushrooms absorbed the cider really well and the apple flavour was quite evident but not overpowering.

Mushrooms cooked in cider

Tasting as I cooked, when I was happy that the mushrooms were prepared to my preference,  I drained away the cider liquid and scattered the mushrooms over my cooked gnocchi and added grated cheese on top.  It was a made a lovely fruity change to the lemon mushrooms I normally make and definitely a recipe I will use again in the future.

Kingstone Press Pear Cider

I decided to adapt a Rose household favourite side dish to accommodate the pear version of Kingstone Press cider.  The dish being my hot grated Beetroot.  Heat a little oil in a saucepan, then grate vacuum packed beetroot (but not in vinegar) directly into the pan.  At this point, I normally continue with the remainder of the recipe but on this occasion I detoured and poured in a little of the pear Kingstone Press.  Not too much, just enough to coat it and to allow for evaporation.

Beetroot cooking with Kingstone Press Pear Cider

As beetroot and apple are renown culinary buddies, I wanted to use its fruity cousin the pear to alter the recipe but not change it completely.  As the beetroot was simmering with the pear cider, once it had almost evaporated, I then continued back with my original recipe and grated a peeled apple into the pan and mixed thoroughly.  Adding salt, pepper and mixed spice powder, I also added some soft brown sugar to taste.  Although some would say it turns the dish a little more calorific, on this occasion I have to say "run with it" as it helps to balance out the dynamics of the ingredients list.  With this dish, the key is to keep tasting periodically until you get your desired taste as what works for one person, may not suit another.

Beetroot Cooked in Kingstone Press Pear Cider

When served with other vegetables and perhaps a meat-free fillet as I do, it works so well, especially on a cold day when you yearn for something hearty.  The beetroot really did lap up the pear cider and gave a new spin on an old family favourite.

Kingstone Press Pear is pale golden straw in colour and is a medium bodied cider made from a blend of different varieties of pears and is cool fermented to retain its flavour.

Both the apple and pear versions are available from Morrisons and off licenses across the UK.

The recipes provide proof that cider really does lend itself well to cooking just as much as its other alcoholic counterparts and the options for using it are endless.  It's worth checking out recipe websites for their suggestions and of course the classic Sausage Casserole is a golden partnership with cider, perfect for the coming months as autumn hovers on the horizon.  In addition, it's a dish that can use vegetarian sausages as one portion and meat sausages as another - ideal for mixed dietary dining!

Using Aston Manor Cider 's words of:  "From Orchard to Glass" my add-on to that would be also:  "To Dinner Table" and pour a glass for yourself and one for the pot.


Disclosure:  This post was written following kind receipt of samples from Aston Manor Cider to use for cooking/recipe making.  It has been confirmed that their products are 100% vegetarian (including their brewing processes). This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review. For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website.  As with all alcoholic products, please drink responsibly.  To view Aston Manor Cider's CSR policy see:  

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