Crumble challenge

Just a few minutes rubbing simple ingredients together https://youtu.be/KLoqXRAN1QA

and you have the basics of a great pudding or savoury dish.

I was cooking with near-neighbour Gary who has very little sight due to his incredibly rare Bardet-Biedl Syndrome.  He’d challenged me to make an apple crumble as good as his own which features sultanas soaked in whisky.

I was determined to offer him a strong alternative in both fruit and topping departments.  Inspired by a French apple tart, I used raisins soaked in rum and the topping has no flour.

I devised this alternative crumble for my late mother who was wheat intolerant.  Although the main ingredient of oats may still not be suitable for those who need a strict gluten-free diet, they may work for many others.

It’s a very simple mix of 2 parts porridge oats to one part each butter, soft brown sugar and crushed hazelnuts.  I used to chop the nuts by hand but there were always too many shooting away on to the floor, Now, it is much easier and faster to use some kitchen equipment.  A mill attachment for a wand blender, a mill for coffee beans or, much noisier, a food processor.     Then the ingredients just need rubbing through your fingers until they are evenly blended together.  It takes about 40 minutes at Gas 4 to cook the fruit and topping.    I always have a bag of this crumble mix in the freezer – a pudding in minutes. And you can be very inventive with fruit combinations. In addition to apple, the rum-raisins are excellent in a tropical fruit crumble with pineapple, mango, bananas and more.  And ripe apricots are perfect on their own.

I’ve done savoury crumbles too: oats, butter, some nuts, herbs, ground dried garlic and other flavours to make a topping for par-cooked vegetables or even fish – there is no end to the inventions you can create.

Next time, I’m making a Sri Lankan beef curry with Steve – now I know how to use the tamarind paste that has been sitting in a cupboard for too long.

 

 

Sight loss is the easy bit

There are blind cooks everywhere like Gary

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz2pEXCS4X4&feature=youtu.be

but few have the additional complications of his rare condition.  I learnt more as he showed me his paella-risotto -combi.

Back in my home kitchen, I was keen to hear from other local people with different levels of visual impairment.  There were tips to share and new recipes to test.  The common theme was  that limitations of sight needn’t limit life.

First up is Gary who has the incredibly rare Bardet-Biedl Syndrome that can result in extra fingers and toes, other physical drawbacks  and, commonly, gradually deteriorating sight.  Gary was typical in having had a busy and successful early career but found it increasingly difficult to work as his condition became more evident and was eventually diagnosed.

His enthusiasm and motivation remain undiminished: he’s active across the local community of blind people, led one organisation and actively supports others.  His frequent gym work-outs help him keep active and counter other consequences of his condition.  And, of course, he is an enthusiastic cook with a great repertoire  of recipes including his “roadkill”.

This is definitely not a name for a dish that is inviting or sets one drooling with anticipation.  But ignore the name and remember it as a one-pot wonder of a warmer as autumn draws in: chicken, herbs and spices made colourful with tomatoes.  With rice included in the pot as it cooks in the oven, it is easy on both the cook and washing-up.

Next time, I’ll show Gary my equally easy crumble recipe  inspired by him.