While I was in Melbourne over the Christmas and New Year period I managed to squeeze in a little shopping between seeing family and friends. In addition to the usual fabric shopping (including a trip to Spotlight which seems to stock more quilting and patchwork supplies in their Melbourne stores than they do in Sydney – strange!), I also picked up some supplies for the kitchen, including these spice mixes from a company called Spice & Spice: Apple Spice Mix and Moroccan and Spanish spice mixes.
It was the apple spice mix that sucked me in – I love stewed apples. I enjoy them warm with custard and/or ice-cream, and cold on bircher muesli. At first glance I could see star anise, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds and cardamom pods in amongst other unknown ground spices and sugar, but there was something else in there which intrigued me, a whole spice I had never seen before. I later discovered my mystery spice was dried hawthorne. I have never used coriander, cardamom or star anise in my stewed apple, usually just sticking to the tried and true cinnamon and nutmeg combo, but the coriander, star anise and cardamom, combined with the hawthorne fascinated me enough to pick up a pack.
The hawthorne tree is a member of the rose family and from my quick google searching, appears to have been used for years as a medicinal herb to treat ailments such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. On the Spice & Spice website (and on the recipe sheet that came with the spices) they suggest that the hawthorne has a sour apple taste and is nice eaten with the stewed apples. Fantastic I thought, one less spice to pick out after cooking!
Spicy Stewed Apples
4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
½ cup water
½ packet of Spice & Spice Vanilla Apple Spice Mix (being careful to only use half of the whole spices)
Mix together diced apples, water and half a packet of Spice & Spice Vanilla Apple Spice mix in a small saucepan. Cover with a tightly fitting lid and cook on low heat for 30-45 mins or until apples are soft, stirring occasionally and adding more water if needed.
If you like the apple pieces to stay whole, then avoid stirring too often, however if you prefer more of a puree, then stir away! Once cooked, carefully pick all the whole spices from the apples, leaving behind the hawthorne.
The apples took on a wonderful rich colour and had a lovely tang courtesy of the hawthorne, a soft floral note from the cardamom and a wonderful spiciness I don’t usually associate with apples. The spicy stewed apples were wonderful warm with vanilla ice-cream and have been very yummy on my morning muesli, but I think these spicy apples would definitely shine in a crumble. Perhaps that’s what I will do with the other half of the packet!
Spice & Spice spice mixes can be purchased online via their website or on Etsy and I can definitely recommend the apple spice mix! Next, I want to give the Moroccan mix a go!