Friday, 15 October 2010

Apple and blackberry crumble

So it's now very much autumn. I quite like autumn- I get to wear boots, wrap myself in shawls, and eat things like baked potatoes and crumble (though possibly not all at the same time). I was relatively efficient this year in picking some blackberries at the end of summer and stashing them away in the freezer. And so the other week, I thought I'd use some of them in a crumble.
Crumbles are probably one of the simplest puddings to make, and these days I just assemble it by eye rather than weighing out ingredients. But below is a rough guide to what you'll need (or have a look at the Guardian food blog on the subject). I've started to add crushed amaretti biscuits to the crumble topping, as I like the extra crunch and the subtle almond flavour works well with both the apple and blackberries.

Recipe (enough for around 6 people)

2 Bramley apples, peeled and sliced
Around 750g blackberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tblsp sugar (I use demerara)
2 tblsp water

175g plain flour
80g butter
80g sugar
2 handfuls of amaretti biscuits (roughly crushed)

Put the apples, sugar, water, cinnamon in saucepan and cook gently until the slices are softened but still holding their shape. Add in the blackberries and stir until everything turns a deep claret colour. Taste the fruit to make sure you're happy with the flavour, I like it to retain a little sharpness, but add more sugar if you want.
Rub the butter into the sugar and flour to make crumbs, and then mix in the crushed biscuits. Let the fruit cool a bit, and then put it in a deep-ish dish that's big enough to hold it and a layer of the crumble topping. Bake at gas 5 for around 30-40mins, or until the fruit is bubbling up at the edges and the top is golden. Serve in a big bowl with some thick double cream or ice cream (or custard if you're old school).

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Jamie Oliver's spinach and ricotta tortelloni

As I've probably said before fresh pasta parcels are often a default dinner for me. They're quick and easy but do sometimes suffer from a flavour fail. I quite liked these Sainsbury Taste the Difference ones, but they weren't exactly setting the world on fire. Enter Jamie Oliver. He's now put his name (and indeed face) to a range of fresh, handmade pastas which I spotted recently in Tesco. I thought I'd try the traditional sounding spinach and ricotta tortelloni, as it's a classic combination that it's hard to go wrong with but can be quite dull.
The first thing I noticed was that these tortelloni were huge- almost the size of my fist. And there weren't very many of them- this concerned me. However on closer inspection the pack was the same weight as other similar products. I think I prefer having a greater number of smaller things rather than a couple of giant items on my plate. But that's just me.

So anyway, how did my dozen or so tortelloni taste? Well actually pretty good. I just dressed them with some olive oil and black pepper, and the flavour of spinach and nutmeg came through pretty well. The cheese filling tasted much stronger than just ricotta though, and on examination of the ingredients, Edam cheese made an unexpected appearance. I suspect there are some Italian nonnas spinning in their graves, but it was tasty and added a bit of density to the filling that I quite liked. The pasta itself was relatively light and not too claggy, so all in all quite enjoyable and certainly good enough to be a quick post-work dinner.

Jamie Oliver Spinach and Ricotta Tortelloni
I rate it 7.5/10

Cost: Around £3.50 (possibly just about enough for two if not starving)