My husband and I found ourselves scrumping apples from a pub garden the other day. It is not quite as naughty as it may sound; we did have full permission from both the owner and the chef who had so many apples he did not know what to do with them and these were the ones he could not cope with.
The apples themselves were eaters but very sharp and by caramelising them they softened and sweetened. Added to them I had other fruit needing using up so it became a full on fruit mixture.
Apples – peeled, cored and sliced
Pears – peeled, cored and sliced
Seeds – I used Vanilla flavoured pumpkin and sunflower
Melt the butter and add the fruit depending on what you are using. I cooked the apples first with sugar.
When they had softened and the sugar dissolved into a dark liquid coating the apples I added the remaining fruit which did not require as long.
I cooked this stirring regularly allowing the blueberries to split and the differing tastes harmonise amongst themselves. Then I transferred to the serving dish.
With a crumble top I do like to use measured ingredients, this is what I use for the family of 5 or 6 but double for more people. 175g of plain flour with 75g of butter which you rub together until it resembles the texture of breadcrumbs.
Then I add the same amount of brown sugar (75g). Mix it through thoroughly and then scatter over the fruit. It should cover the fruit liberally. I had ready mixed seeds in the cupboard but any neutral seeds or oats could be sprinkled at this point. It gives an added crunch to the crumble.
Cook in a pre-heated oven until you can see the fruit bubbling round the edges and the top has turned a deep golden brown. Top with ice-cream, clotted cream, regular double cream or warm custard. I can guarantee this will go down a treat.
Crumble is a wonderful winter’s pudding but I try to utilise what fruit is available. Blackberries are another great free fruit that has its abundance in the autumn, with sugar added to these they do not necessarily need the pre-cooking.
I also serve my family a wonderful spicy plum crumble when the plums are falling and in abundance. Cut lots of plums in half and remove the stones, add to a pan of melted butter. Add a star anise, freshly grated nutmeg and a couple of cinnamon sticks. Cover this with red wine, golden syrup and some sugar (not too much by now) and allow the fruit to break down and marry the flavours before transferring to the dish. This particular crumble is great if you have visitors, it tastes exquisite and looks professional.
Fruit puddings are a fabulous way of getting fruit into children and mine love the different combinations which work well with each other.
Have you any different combinations that surprisingly work well, share them with me and my other readers.
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This is not a quick simple dish. You need to think about it at least the day before and as I made it in the slow cooker it needs all day to cook slowly and succulently. A great dish for a Sunday dinner instead of roast or for a warming meal on Saturday evening after a day out in the cold and wet.
After marinading overnight and then all day cooking the meat just melts in the mouth and the vegetable all fell to bits. I served it with roasted skins, caramelised carrots with caraway cabbage.
Braising or Stewing Steak cut to bite sized pieces
A bottle of red wine – I used a cheap one which worked very well (the experts say use the most expensive you can afford but I served that in a wine glass along side – delicious)
Thyme – good handful of sprigs
Bay leaves – one or two
Ginger peeled and cut into small bite sized chunks
Put the meat into a large basin and cover with the whole bottle of wine.
Leave overnight in the fridge.
In the morning
Chop the vegetables and lay them on a small slug of olive oil in a warmed slow cooker pot.
Drain the meat but reserve the juices. Fry the meat in a separate pan to seal it. The meat will already be deep in colour having taking in the flavour of the wine.
When browned add to the pot on top of the vegetables
In the same pan add the remainder of the marinaded wine and and bring to the boil.
Once boiling a scum will form so remove this and use the rest of the liquid to cover the meat mix.
Add the Thyme and Bay leaves. Cover and leave cooking for several hours.
At this point if I was cooking the meat in a conventional stewpot in the oven I would add a quantity of stock, (beef, chicken or vegetable) to stop it drying out at all, it can be cooked off later but better to keep it moist whilst stewing.
I left it cooking on a low heat for 6 hours and it was heavenly, but you know your cooker best and you know your lifestyle and when you will need to eat. You could add a few potatoes (new would work best and not mush up). Leave them to cook in the juices so you could just come in and serve.
This went down so well and had lots of subtle rushes of flavouring. I had planned to have it again for lunch the next day but it all disappeared that night.
Enjoy and let me know if you can come up with a variation.
For the caramelised carrots I used baby whole carrots (it is good to use whole ones anyway rather than sliced, I chose baby ones). Place these in boiling water with a good handful of butter and sugar together with a star anise. Let the carrots boil away till the water has all gone and they just glaze over. Serve them without the star anise.
The cabbage was the last minute preparation sliced then cooked in just a knob of butter with a handful of pre-roasted caraway seeds added just before serving.
The inspiration for this meal came from the lovely Tom Kerridge at The Hand and Flowers
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