(Montag, Fahrenheit 451)
Continuing my experiments in cookery, on Saturday I tried another Delia recipe: apple and almond crumble. I deviated from her instructions a bit, but I think it turned out ok.
To start with, I reversed the order: since I don't have a food processor, I knew that it would take me a while to mix up the flour and butter into crumbs, so I decided to do that before chopping up the apples. Actually, it didn't take as long as usual; I think that's partly because of the smaller quantities, and partly because I'd left the butter out for a while so it was quite soft.
Delia also said that I should use 110g of whole almonds (skin on), then chop them up finely. I went for flaked almonds instead, mainly because that was all I could find in the supermarket. This also saved me the hassle of chopping them up by hand, so it was quite convenient. The bag I bought was only 75g, but it didn't seem to make much difference. Once I'd mixed all of the crumble ingredients together, they looked like this:
As for the apples, Delia said that I should use 700g of Bramley and 225g of Cox's (i.e. 925g altogether). When I weighed them, it turned out that 3 Bramley = 650g and 3 Cox = 275g, so it's the same total mass, and this was easier than just using half an apple. So, my ingredients looked like this:
I then needed to remove the cores from the apples. Delia says that it's best to chop them into quarters first, but since I have a corer I decided to try that instead:
However, it's a bit tricky to line it up, so although it went in at the right place it missed the core on the far side of the apple. After that, I used Delia's method for the remaining apples, i.e. using a knife to remove the core from the middle of each quarter. The only snag there is that if I cut away from me then it's difficult to aim it properly, but if I cut towards me then I risk stabbing myself. Still, what's life without a little risk?
Peeling the apples after they were chopped into quarters seemed a little bit odd, but it doesn't make much difference to me, so I did it Delia's way, and each apple then looked like this:
The next step was to cut the apples into "thickish slices" (sic). I'm not quite sure how big each slice is supposed to be, so this is what I came up with:
When I'd chopped up all the Bramley apples, I put the slices into my baking dish:
I followed these with the slices from the Cox's apples:
After that, I added the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves. The sugar was easy enough, since I could weigh out the appropriate amount on my scales and just tip it in, but I found it quite tricky to measure 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves, since I had to shake out the appropriate amount from a tiny jar. For that matter, the cinnamon was a bit of a guess too.
As a side note, I'm starting to accumulate quite a few of these tiny jars, to the extent that I'm thinking "Hmm, I could do with a spice rack on the wall". This is quite a change from my previous cooking habits!
Anyway, here's the dish after I added the sugar and spice:
I then poured the crumble on top:
Following Delia's instructions, I packed this down as tightly as I could, but it didn't quite cover the whole surface (you can see a few bits of apple poking through). This may be because I'm using the wrong type of baking dish: she specified an oval dish (28cm x 19cm x 4.5cm) whereas I used a rectangular dish (30cm x 20cm x 5.5cm), so the same volume of crumbs had to cover a wider area. I combed the crumbs with a fork as instructed, although it didn't seem to make much difference.
I then stuck the dish into the oven. She said 35-40 minutes at 200°C, so that the topping is "golden brown". I adjusted that to 180°C, since I'm using a fan assisted oven; after 35 minutes it didn't quite look done, so I left it in for 40 minutes altogether, although the extra 5 minutes didn't make any visible difference (to my untrained eye). So, it came out of the oven looking like this:
I then served it with a mug of milk:
So, the important question: how did it taste? Pretty good, actually; I'd say that it was at least as good as a ready meal from the supermarket (that I'd reheat at home). That may not be the best comparison, since home made food should ideally taste better, but it's good enough for my purposes. There were a few bits of it that tasted a bit odd; I'm guessing that was the Cox's apples, so it might be better if I just stick to Bramley apples in future.
This was supposed to serve 6-8; I split it across two days as my full meal (i.e. main course and dessert). I put it in the fridge in between, then reheated each quarter in the microwave (30 seconds on full power). I'd normally check the box to see whether something is microwavable, but I couldn't do that here; it seemed to work out ok. If I'm just cooking for myself, it would make sense to do a smaller version, and I have another pyrex dish which is about 1/3 the size of my big one; since I used 3 apples of each type, it would pretty easy to reduce the quantities of ingredients accordingly.
Adding up the ingredients, this cost about £5 (for 1200g). If I bought one from Sainsbury's ready made, it would cost £1.50 for 600g (frozen) or £2.99 for 580g ("Taste the difference"). Doubling up (to match the mass), that means that I'd pay £3-6 for theirs, so mine is somewhere in the middle, and it takes longer to prepare. So, is it worthwhile? I don't know. This method has the advantage that I know exactly what's gone into it, but I don't know whether "E numbers" are doing me any harm. Ah well, if nothing else it's giving me some practice at cooking, so that I get a bit more confident in the kitchen.