Crumble

This week I decided to write about Rhubarb. After much thought, research and contemplating possibly pairing it with fish, constructing an elaborate sarnie or shaking a cocktail I opted for a good, old fashioned rhubarb crumble recipe to banish a few winter blues.
But hey there, hang on, where’s all the rhubarb?! I thought it was forced rhubarb-o’clock…am I wrong? Or, did you eat it all while I’ve been sleeping?
Anyway, after traipsing round 3 supermarkets and at least 6 grocers this week I am still rhubarb-less.
On my way home yesterday (past the final green grocers before our street) my flatmate Damian spotted a big pile of quince. I haven’t cooked with quince before so I was quite excited to give it a go. Also quince gets a nice mention in the poem The Owl and the Pussycat which we had been discussing earlier that afternoon after spotting someone sporting a rather fetching Christmas jumper with an owl design on it on the Piccadilly line.

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,”

-Edward Lear

Talking of owls there’s a lovely photograph by Deana Kolencikova at the Taylor Wessing portrait photography prize exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery at the moment. The photo is called ‘Man with Owl and Lucy’. Lucy is a white west highland terrier who I remember seeing with her owner and his owl walking along Bridlesmith Gate in Nottingham one morning. Her owner was politely talking to passers by who wanted to know more about his owl but he wanted to make sure people knew how frustrating Lucy found being upstaged by the bird. Anyway, back to the quince…

Quince and Apple Crumble

…there’s no mince in this crumble (you might be pleased to know) and I don’t have a runcible spoon…although I do have a plastic spork or two somewhere which I think is nearly the same thing. In this recipe, I’ve added fragrant cardamom and a splash of rosewater (which in my head gives it a bit of an Old Elizabethan vibe). It’s very tasty, give it a go…and if you’re in London pop into the National Portrait Gallery…or look out for Lucy next time you’re in Nottingham. Whatever you’re doing this weekend just don’t tell me how delicious all your rhubarb recipes are because that’d be mean  x

Quince & Apple Crumble (aka not Rhubarb Crumble)

Ingredients
1 quince
1 Bramley apple
100ml water
1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
50g Demerara sugar
1 teaspoon of rosewater

For the crumble topping:
200g plain flour
100g unsalted butter
100g Demerara sugar
50g rolled oats
Pinch of salt

Method

1) Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Crumble base prep
2) Peel, core and slice the apple and the quince. Lay the slices in a large ovenproof dish and pour over 100ml of water, the ground cardamom and 50g of sugar.
3) Bake in the oven for 45 minutes (stirring occasionally to ensure that the top layer of fruit doesn’t get scorched).
4) Meanwhile, make the crumble topping by rubbing the flour and butter together between your fingers until it resembles fresh breadcrumbs.
5) Now stir the remaining sugar, oats and salt into the flour and butter mixture and set aside.
6) When the fruit is soft sprinkle over the rosewater and then cover the fruit with the crumble topping.

Cooked apple and quince

rosewater and crumble topping
7) Return the dish to the oven for 25-30, minutes or until the topping is crisp and starting to turn golden at the top and edges.

Cooked Crumble
8) Serve with custard, cream, yoghurt or ice cream.Crumble dishes Crumble with cream

Crumble Dish

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Twelfth Night

twelfth-night-poster

In case you don’t know my fella is actor Richard Kiess…although this month he’s been out so much I’m finding it difficult to remember what he looks like. By day he’s rehearsing for a show that’s going to Edinburgh this summer and by night he’s performing in Twelfth Night at the Lion & Unicorn. When we do see each other I get to help him with his lines (which is tremendous fun, especially when I get to do silly voices) and he has become an intrepid and knowledgable tester of my recipes…even if it means sitting outside in the freezing cold to eat a plastic plateful of artichokes (sneak peek to next week’s post!).

I know I’m biased but this Made in Chelsea inspired performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is well worth a look (plug plug!) plus it’s great because each time he’s in something I get to meet the cast and go to the after show parties! It’s a very cool job but it’s full-on…this leads me seamlessly into a recipe for cereal bars! Richard assures me cereal is great at any time of day and I was interested to discover that actors consume lots of energy bars and sports drinks – not surprising having seen how physically demanding some roles can be.

Packed full of oats, very dark chocolate, pine nuts and dried cherries I hoped this homemade snack would at least make a change from boost bars & mountain dew.

Twelfth Night Bars

twelfth night bars

Ingredients

100g of oats

75g dried cherries

50g of pine nuts (toasted in a dry pan)

50g walnuts

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

100g fair trade dark chocolate (70-80% cocoa), roughly chopped

100g golden syrup

10og butter

100g light brown sugar

Method

1) Line a loaf tin with grease-proof paper.

2) Put the oats, cherries, toasted pine nuts, walnuts and cinnamon in a large heat-proof bowl and mix together.

3) In a saucepan heat the golden syrup, butter and sugar over a medium heat until the butter has melted, the sugar has dissolved and it’s starting to simmer.

4) Quickly pour the melted syrup mixture over the oats and nuts etc. and stir well. Throw in the chopped chocolate last and briefly mix it in (don’t stir too long otherwise the chocolate will totally melt and you want a few chunks in the finished bars).

4) Tip everything into the prepared tin and press the mixture down using the back of a metal spoon so that it gets into all the corners and is level on the top.

5) Leave to set for 2 hours or overnight and then slice into bars (makes about 12).

6) Wrap them up in foil and tissue paper and hand them out to hungry actors 🙂

foil & tissue paper

All wrapped up

Rich very kindly took a few snaps on his phone of the cast and crew backstage munching on the cereal bars…or posing with them…perhaps a bit of both!
the cast

Twelfth Night is on at the Lion & Unicorn until the 23rd of February but tickets are selling out so if you can’t get a seat there then they’re doing some extra nights at Canada Water Culture Space from the 26th of February – 1st of March 2013

x

Saved by the Scones

This week my workload had a bit of an upward spike, that sort of 17-hours-in-front-of-a-laptop type spike. Tuesday was the worst, I finally finished my shift at 2am on Wednesday morning and crawled under a duvet on the sofa in the office as I didn’t want to wake my housemates. Even though I’m pretty certain there isn’t a cricket bat in our house my sleepy logic made me believe that if I was heard climbing the stairs at that hour someone would be sure to mistake me for a burglar and hit me over the head with one.

The rest of Wednesday was almost a total right-off. I’m sure when I was a student I could have only a handful of hours sleep and still be functional the next day but not now, stringing a sentence together yesterday was a serious chore. What happened?!

In the end the only thing to revive me from my zombie-like state were a couple of scones and a double espresso.

I had a just about enough energy to whip these up and it was well worth it. I had some clotted cream left over from a recipe photoshoot at the weekend (as you do) so it would have been rude not to use it up!

Oaty Scones

(makes about 12)

350g strong white bread flour
50g of rolled oats
pinch of salt
3 teaspoons of baking powder
2 dessertspoons of golden caster sugar
85g of butter
juice of half a lemon
180ml milk
2 eggs

1) Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a large baking sheet with a piece of greaseproof paper

2) Stir the dry ingredients together in a bowl and then rub in the butter until it looks like fine breadcrumbs

3) Add the lemon juice to the milk. Add the eggs to the milk mixture and stir with a fork to combine.

4) Pour the liquid ingredients onto the dry ones and stir together

5) Tip out onto a well floured surface and knead just briefly to make sure all the ingredients are combined. Flatten the dough, just with your hands is fine (I couldn’t be bothered with a rolling pin yesterday) it should be about 4-5cm thick then cut into circles with a cutter. You don’t have to make them round, my mum used to cut them into triangles just with a table knife, there was something very clever and mathematical about her reasons for doing this but I just remember them being yummy.

6) Put them on the prepared baking sheet, evenly spaced (they expand a little bit) and bake for about 10mins

7) Serve warm with jam and clotted cream!

20120802-180526.jpg

Since uploading this photo on facebook & twitter a debate has started as to whether the cream goes first or the jam, I’m all for the jam going first as it keeps the cream nice and cold on the warm scone but other people fiercely disagree with me stating that the cream should be first. What do you think?