Recipe: Blackberry & Apple Crumble

Confession time: I’ve never been a fan of cooked fruit. Actually, I’m not really a huge fan of fruit in general, much preferring to get my five-a-day from vegetables. Despite my mum regularly making crumbles throughout my childhood, it’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve accepted anything other than a bowl of custard (yep, on it’s own). This year I was actively looking forward to Autumn and the hedges brimming with blackberries just waiting to be picked.

Now, this recipe is perhaps a bit more faff than a standard crumble recipe. I used to just chop the fruit, throw it into a dish with a spot of sugar (and perhaps a dash of slow gin). Rub together butter, sugar and flour, heap on top of the fruit mixture and bake. Simple, took about five minutes and the results were good. This, however, takes it one step further. The fruit is stewed beforehand, lightly so it doesn’t turn to mush, but enough so that all the flavours come together that little bit more. The topping is pre-baked, so there’s whilst there’s a bit of comforting stodge, it’s not leaning towards the glue-y raw flour end that I was always coasting before. It’s still super-easy, it still is pretty quick to put together. It’s our go-to Sunday evening treat right now. Served with a generous helping of fridge-cold cream, eaten wrapped in a blanket in front of a film. You can’t get more hygge than that!

Recipe – serves 2

  • 120g plain flour
  • 60g golden caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 90g unsalted butter at fridge temperature, cut into pieces
  • 300g cooking apple (usually one large Braeburn), peeled and cored
  • 30g brown sugar
  • a large handful of blackberries
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • cream, to serve

Tip the flour, caster sugar and ginger into a large bowl. Add 60g of the butter, then rub into the flour until the mix resembles. Sprinkle the mixture in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes at roughly 200C, or until lightly golden and smelling gorgeous.

Meanwhile prep the fruit. Pop the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan and melt together over a medium heat. Cook for 3 mins until the mixture turns to a light caramel. Chop the apples into roughly 2cm dice, then add to the caramel and cook for 3 minutes. Add the blackberries and cinnamon, and cook for a couple more minutes. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and leave to stand.

When ready to serve, spoon the fruit into an ovenproof dish, top with the crumble mix, then bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes, or until hot and bubbling. Serve with cream (or vanilla ice cream!).

And now here’s a disclaimer – I actually put W on crumble-duty the vast majority of the time. It’s just so much yummier when someone has cooked it for you – and he makes far less of a mess (hence why I finally managed to photograph these!).

Are you a fan of fruit crumbles? What’s your favourite fruit combo?

Recipe: Simple Fennel Pasta

Like many households, I’m sure, pasta is our go-to meal. When we don’t know what to cook, you can bet it will end up involving pasta. Whether it’s my tomato-free bolognese, a decadent carbonara or gut-lining mac’n’cheese, we love the carby-comfort food hit.

 photo Fennel Pasta_zps5mdlg1mw.jpgRecently, though, we’ve been trying to experiment a bit more. When we say “oh, we’ll have pasta” we try to pick out a new recipe, try a new combination. Even, as in this recipe, to try something new with an ingredient we rarely use.

Fennel is something I’m a bit scared of, to tell the truth. I have never liked aniseed, going as far as retching when the Liquorice Alsorts were bought out on family car journeys. It was a Dynamo Pizza (now sadly removed from the menu) that first got me eating fennel – the combination of just al-dente fennel with ham, mozzarella and pomegranate seeds was a delight. And so I agreed to try out this pasta dish. And a few additions later, we have a firm favourite…

 photo Fennel Pasta 2_zpsep5blspt.jpg photo Fennel Pasta 4_zpsbcftekk8.jpgRecipe (to serve 2)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra virgin olive oil to drizzle before serving
  • 1&1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves,crushed
  • 1 lemon, both the zest and the juice – if we have half a lemon hanging around in the fridge we’ll sometimes add extra too
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely sliced, fronds (the green flowery bits) reserved
  • 175g linguine
  • 1/3 pack parsley, chopped (I’m not a fan of parsley but it does work here)
  • Parmesan, or other similar hard cheese

Heat the oil in a frying pan cook the fennel seeds until they pop (about 90 seconds over a not-too-high heat). Add in the garlic and allow to cook for a minute or so, but don’t let it colour. Throw in the lemon zest and half the fennel, lower the heat and cook for 10-12 mins or until the fennel has softened – cook the pasta whilst you’re waiting.

Add the cooked pasta to the frying pan, along with a few tablespoons of pasta water (reserve a bit more, just in case). Toss together, along with the remaining raw fennel, parsley and lemon juice. Season well, then pile into bowls, topping with the fennel fronds, a drizzle of oil and a generous serving of parmesan. Perfect with a glass of chilled white wine!

 photo Fennel Pasta 1_zpskq3zsmbc.jpg photo Fennel Pasta 3_zpsdqxh2yaw.jpgWe found this was a gorgeously light pasta dish, yet still full of flavour. The contrasting textures of the pasta alongside the cooked and raw fennel added extra interest. All in all a rather yummy dish!

What’s your favourite pasta dish?