Myself and a delegation of students were invited to our sister college – St. John’s College Cambridge. This is the feast we were fed (excuse the port stain!).
I’m tired and have a cold, what’s the easiest warming comfort food dessert that you can whip up? Crumble. There’s always some fruit floating around the house going brown, so grab all the fruit you have and let’s start from there.
We usually have lots of crumble, my daddy is the King of the Crumbles, both at making and eating them – so a big batch usually wins.
For the fruit compote, grab several apples and several pears and chop them up into small-ish cubes. Pop them in a pan with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg and a handful or two of sultanas or currants. I chop up a couple teaspoons of crystallized ginger here and add that to the fruit OR I add a couple handfuls of blackberries. (The ginger version is lovely and warming and remind me that christmas is on it’s way, the blackberry version is a more decadent velvety nom – it usually comes down to what you have in the house) I have ginger and I’ve also found a couple plums floating around. Get the fruit softening with a little water over heat. I don’t add sugar at this point, because there is usually enough sugar in the fruit, but that’s just me.
The crumble topping works like this:
12 ounzes of flour/seeds/dry goods
6 ounces of unsalted butter
5 ounces of brown sugar
The flour mix, can be just flour if you so wish, then you’ll end up with a very shortbread style crumble on top. I prefer a seedier munch to the crumble so my 12 ounces of mix goes as follows:
6 ounces Plain flour
2 ounces Porridge Oats
2 ounces Oat bran
1 ounce of Linseeds
1 ounce of dessicated coconut
[Feel free of course to use pumpkin seeds, or ground almond or whatever tickles your fancy.]
Add just the flour to a bowl and using your fingertips rub the butter in to the mixture until light and crumbly. Add the other dry goods, including the sugar. If you feel its not sticking together well enough, feel free to add some more butter (i’d melt it first at this point though.
Grab a dish, spread the now nice and soft fruit in to the bottom of the dish. Pour the crumble topping on top of it and spread around with the back of a table spoon. Bang it in the oven at 180 from anything from 20 minutes to 35 minutes, until its browning or caramelised fruit juices is pushing through the crumble.
Oh man, I have not been present here and for that I apologise. I was living it up in Stockholm for a good chunk of the summer. But on my return one of my neighbours came to the door and flung a huge bag of plums at us. What better than to make a delicious jam!
This jam is so simple and easy to make and is one of my favourites to use, because it uses a little bit less sugar than others that I have tried.
Get all the fruit, and de-seed it and chop into small pieces. If they are really really mushy, pull of the fruit and remove both the skin and the seed. Plum skin can be very tough somtimes, so better safe than sorry.
Take 900g of chopped plum and pop it in to a large pot, simmer with 100-150ml of water (I gauge this based on the amount of fruit juice I have salvaged after the chopping!) until the fruit is mushy, usually 20-30mins.
Pour 700g of sugar (jam sugar if you want, but I find plums often have enough pectin to make a good sticky jam) into a pyrex dish and shove it in a preheated oven for 15mins (180 degrees celcius). Preheating the sugar is something Delia Smith does and I have always found it to be a super way of ensuring the sugar doesn’t crystallise.
[At this point I get all my dishwasher-washed bottles and pop them in the oven, which is conveniently already heated because we needed it for the sugar. You want the bottles to be in 180 degrees for at least 20mins to have them sterilised]
When the fruit is a nice fresh red-pink plum coloured mush add the heated sugar and simmer for 15 mins. Then crank up the heat and bring the jam to the boil for 10mins. There should be no sugar crystals in the jam, when you coat it AND if you were to take a small amount on a tea spoon and pop it on a plate, after a minute you should be able to run your nail through it and it crinkles (that means its set).
Bottle and label. Enjoy with a hot slice of toast, scones or on a PBnJ.
Coming into the summer months deserts should definitely be fruitier and maybe, only maybe, a little lighter. This is one I had recently when friends were over and for some reason we just thought chocolate was a no-go that night. It’s delicious, different and über-nom!
Skin, peel, rip off, attack the pinapple until it’s clean. I used an apple core thingy or any other small scoopy-like utensil that could be found to take out all the funny little niggley craters that are found after you skin a pineapple. Once the pineapples were ready I popped them into a roasting tin.
Grabbing a pot on heat, add 200g of butter, 400g of brown caster sugar and a cup of water. Then add a teaspoon of vanilla essence, the real stuff. Or if you wanna be fancy some vanilla bean paste. Or scrape all the seeds out of one vanilla pod. Keep all the seeds in there. Basically keep stirring the sauce, which will become like a thick toffee fudge syrup, add a little more water if needed but it should be fine.
Pour the syrup over the pineapples, and pop them in the oven. Cook for just over an hour, or until you can pop a skewer through them without too much resistance (remember the core will always be a little tough!) During the cooking time baste the pineapples with the caramelised vanilla sauce, turning them each time you baste!
Slice and serve with shortbread, vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche. Nom nom nom.
I don’t quite know why we took on this challenging and time-consuming endeavour, but the yumminess – or should I say nominess – at the end was totally worth it!
Given the healthy diet we were on, Mom and I started eating a lot of grapefruit, this gave mom the idea of using the peel rather than chucking it out. Although to be fair we are very good and compost everything in the back garden, which in turn feeds dad’s veggie patches.
So we took 6 oranges and 6 grapefruit and took off the peel and sliced it, removing any extra pith. We boiled all the sliced peel in water, for at least 2 hours, I left it longer and changed the water several times. The aim here was to remove the bitter taste that the rind and pith have through the water (the way you remove salt from a ham through soaking it). It also softened the peel and you definitely had to leave it boiling until the pith went clear on the peel, sort of translucent. I noticed that this happened in the grapefruit more so than in the orange.
Once that was done strain them and make up a 1 to 1 sugar syrup, ie. 1 litre of water to 1 kilo of sugar. Use this measurement until you have all the peel in a pot and completely covered in sugar syrup. Bring to the boil and add 3 tablespoons of sugar once it is cooling down mixing it in until dissolved. Leave to cool overnight in syrup.
The next day, and the following seven days repeat this procedure, boil, cool and add 3 tablespoons of sugar. What you are doing is saturating the peel with sugar so as to perfectly preserve the pretty little creatures! Nom nom nom.
7 days later, drain them, and I chose to save the delicious orange syrup that was left and it has proven a hit on a bit of toast (it’s like marmalade without the rind) or drizzled over ice-cream! Once drained pop them out in single layers and leave them to dry this could take a couple days. You’re looking for them to be really dry and small sugar crystals forming on the outside!
To cover them in chocolate, temper the chocolate you’d like, we used dark chocolate but milk is nice too! Tempering chocolate prevents the over drying and splitting of chocolate and that awful crumbling after several melting attempts. Melt two thirds of all the chocolate you are using, melt in a microwave or in a bowl over hot water.
Remove from the heat and stir. Add the last one third of chocolate and stir in while the already melted chocolate cools.
Dip the orange candy into the chocolate, touch off the side of the bowl and place to dry.
Serve with coffee as an after dinner petit fours or just as a scrumptious treat. Nom nom.