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.

 

 

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Some you win, some you lose!

Watch me make them here or download the recipe

White bowl of colourful shredded leaves, sliced onions and peppers with golden mango pieces.

Smashing lettuce: a great trick to remove the Iceberg lettuce core.  Hold it firmly with the stem side down.  Smash the stem firmly on to the worktop and you should just be able to remove all the core intact.  It feels and sounds pretty brutal first time but really works.

My regular co-cook, John the taxi-driver, was madly enthusiastic about the healthy mango dressing for a summer chicken salad and the low-carbohydrate bread for club sandwiches. John and Penny close up to the frying pan to catch the smell of mango, chilli and lime.

He was absolutely right about the first: fresh and zingy chicken that is perfect for hot summer days.  So simple that there’s nothing to go wrong and so delicious that you’ll want more!

But he was hugely disappointed with the gluten-free almond and coconut flour bread –chewing reduced it to a paste that went straight in to the bin.  If I try it again, I might add some xanthium gum and yeast, herbs, nuts, seeds or anything to improve the taste and texture.  Not one of our best experiments but worth a try if you are desperate!

Club sandwich cut in half to reveal layers of lettuce, chicken tomato and bacon

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

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penny@bakingblind.com