We had the lovely Chloë Stewart, the brains and hands behind Nibs etc. to give us an original Frozen Apple and Caramel Slab recipe. What she calls “Bestovers” are the reincarnation of leftovers. She creates recipes by upcycling leftover food and we thought she was an ideal person to give us a perspective on why it is important to be conscious about food ingredients and aware of our ways of consumption.
If you enjoyed the following recipe, you can find more on her blog, and Nibs etc. often participate in pop-up market stalls around London. Stay updated with her activities through her Instagram while also enjoying the amazing food photography.
Do you think it is important to understand the origins of your ingredients and how food is farmed? If so, why?
Yes, definitely. Understanding where our food comes from, how it’s made, from what it’s made and who makes it, gives the food in our plates, value. When we are able to assign value to something, we can more easily justify our pound spent. We are more likely to appreciate it in its entirety, and less likely to waste it.
Supermarkets, large manufacturers and huge industry players, and in fact large high street brands across all industries, present this image of excess. And brand messaging tells us to consume consume consume. So we do, without thought, because we can. But in understanding the – often convoluted – route ingredients take to get to our plate, we can better understand the time, the effort, the hard labour, and the resources, that went into putting it there. And it is true that often, when we purchase food and ingredients with more ethical and sustainable practices/supply chains, these things cost more and come at a slight premium. However, if we understand the journey, we understand the cost of wasting it. We will consume less, want to make our pound go further, and make it last longer. And as a result, we may be less likely to over consume, for we understand that we are wasting hours and resources, both in production and consumption, in so doing. And ultimately, waste less.
What do you think are the changes that need to be made in the food production industry in England today?
Let me first say that I am no industry expert, and no where near as knowledgeable on the industry as I would like to be. That being said, there is one thing that strikes me as a tragic evolution of the food production industry: food waste.
It can, in part, be justified and or understood: unpredictable weather, order cancellations, spoilage in transportation. But what is incomprehensible, is when a huge percentage of the world’s people are starving, politicians are telling us there will not be enough food for the planet in X years, and we, as a population, are wasting some 30-40% of all, food, produced.
I feel that a major attitudinal shift needs to happen in order to even start making amends; understanding the value of all food produced. This has to come from the industry itself. Each food item, regardless of size, colour or shape, is representative of hours, resources and money spent. Consumers can only demand for the ‘ugly fruit’ so much. But supermarkets and distributors are the ones with buying power, who need to instate demand for it [France has already proven it can sell with their initial ‘Ugly Fruit’ campaign]. The trickle down effect of this simple shift in perception of what is ‘perfect’ and ‘ideal’ for consumption as currently dictated by industry regulators and buyers, could be very powerful; from the farmers who produce, whose resources would not be taken for granted, to a change in how customers view, value, and thus consume food.
This, hopefully, will encourage supply chain transparency, from both sides of the story. A shift that needs to – and is starting to – happen. While consumers are beginning to question ‘standard’ industry practice [where it concerns ‘ugly’ produce, origins, seasonality], supermarket initiatives on highlighting such issues is crucial for a more major shift in said practice. Demand for supply chain transparency, forcing producers and supermarkets alike to be true to their claims, can only be a good thing for all involved in the food supply chain. Our planet, included.
Is there a special English apple recipe you can share with our readers?
Braeburn Apples have become favourite over recent years, and my go to. They are tart with just the right touch of sweetness. They are firm but break down nicely in cooks and bakes. They make the most delicious compote [a favourite Bestover – Best + Leftover – during all seasons]. And coincidentally, go really well with peanut butter [a recent obsession].
While the humble apple typically screams autumn for me, they are often the most accessible fruit. And while baking on a budget during a certain May, London heatwave, this little recipe was a most welcome reprieve. Featuring almost all of my [current] favourite ingredients. And, served chilled.
Frozen Apple + Caramel Slab
nibs etc. original recipe.
For the base:
160g Ground Oats [Oat Flour]
25g Olive Oil
1 tbsp/20g Honey
¼ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Baking Soda
Preheat the oven to 160*C fan/170*C/35*F.
Mix all the ingredients together until fully incorporated, tip into a lightly greased/oiled
19cm x 9 cm / 11″ x 7.5″, then press down until evenly distributed – it may not look like much, but it should just cover the entire tin in 3-5mm. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden. Remove and set aside to cool in the tin.
For the Apple–Caramel filling:
500g Apples [I used Braeburn] – peeled, quartered, quartered again and roughly chopped. NOTE: KEEP PEELS. Pinch Salt
¼ tsp Cinnamon/All Spice
100g Pitted Dates
200g Water Pinch Salt
1 tbsp Peanut Butter [I used Pip and Nut’s for smoothness, but Pic’s is also a favourite, and chunky is totally recommended].
Toss apples, salt and spice into a saucepan. Mix to combine, turn the heat down on low, cover with a lid, and allow to simmer gently for 20-25 minutes. They are ready when tender, and mashable with spoon – proceed by squishing [technical term] 2/3 with the back of said spoon. Set aside to cool.
While the apples cool, into the same saucepan [rinsed] add roughly chopped dates with water and salt. Turn heat on high to bring to a quick boil, then reduce to medium-high, and bubble away for a further 10 minutes until all water has evaporated and the date ‘caramel’ has reduced to a runny-paste-like consistency [more technical terms]. When ready, add to a blender and blits with your chosen peanut butter of choice, until smooth.
To assemble, first spoon the apple compote over the oat base. Then, pour over the date and peanut butter ‘caramel’. Using a spatula, smooth out into one layer. Using the knife- swirling technique, give the apple and date a quick swirl to make sure everything is evenly distributed, then smooth out with a spatula, and place in the freezer to set.
For the Topping:
Peels from 500g Apples
¼ tsp Maldon Flaky Sea Salt
Pinch ground All Spice/Cinnamon
120g Dark Chocolate [I used 70%] Apple Crisps
Preheat the oven to 190*C Fan/200*C/400*F.
Pour melted butter over the peels, before sprinkling with the salt and space, and giving it all a mi with your hands to make everything is evenly distributed. Bake for 9-11 mins – watch CLOSELY, things can change in an instant. When golden, remove from the oven and allow to cool to one side, on the baking tray. Remove the tray from the freezer and set aside.
Melt the chocolate over a bain-marie [bowl over heated, steaming water]. When melted, pour over the apple-date-peanut ‘caramel’ layer and, moving quickly as it will start to cool and harden instantly, spread into a smooth, thin, even layer. Sprinkle the crisps on top of the melted chocolate and allow to set. Serve immediately.
Alternatively, to serve later, leave the baking of the apple crisps and melting of the chocolate until right before serving. The rest can keep in the freezer for a few days.
Substituting peanut butter for an alternative nut butter of your choice. As dessert, or breakfast [there are oats in it after all…].
The cores as well [if organic]: boil in a saucepan with a tablespoon of black tea leaves and pinch of ginger and cinnamon [optional]. Strain, and serve with milk and sugar. Then drink Apple Tea along side a piece of Frozen Apple-Caramel Slab.