Thursday, June 9, 2011

Weak At The Knees

Last night I cooked dinner for a very good friend. I started out with my ultimate comfort food - Sticky Thai Chicken - and finished up with Apple, Berry & Port Crumble (with far too much vanilla ice cream). I often wonder if I wasn't Asian in a past life - Asian food is my go-to for comfort (hello, pho!), I am always drawn to Asian people and Asia is a place of comfort when travelling (whereas for others, they feel totally out of their comfort zone - I do NOT understand it!). I also find Asian people to be some of the nicest in the world, and I love their ancient teachings and methods of healing. Hmmm... I digress!

Dessert. It's getting cold outside babies, so we Aussies can be forgiven for reaching for the stodgy foods to fill us up and warm us inside and out. This little gem of a recipe is amazing for its warmth, sophistication yet homeliness, and its lovely fruitiness without being too heavy. Try this one at home.

Apple, Berry & Port Crumble
50g unsalted butter
1kg Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1cm slices
500g frozen mixed berries
185g caster sugar
300ml port
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
300g good-quality shortbread biscuits

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.

2. Melt 20g of the butter in a pan over medium-low heat. Cook apple, stirring, for 5-6 minutes until soft. Add berries, sugar, port and cinnamon. Cover and cook for 8 minutes until fruit gives off a lot of juice. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fruit to a 2L pie dish or six 300ml ramekins. Reduce juice in pan over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes until syrupy. Pour over fruit.

3. Pulse shortbread in a processor to form coarse crumbs. Add remaining butter and process to combine. Top fruit with crumbs. Bake for 35 minutes until golden.


This recipe is from my favourite cooking magazine, delicious.

I cannot emphasise enough the need for good quality shortbread. I used two kinds, because I wanted to see the difference: the expensive stuff and the cheap stuff. Pay a bit extra and you will reap the rewards in terms of texture and ability to cook expertly with your biscuit crumbs: the cheap stuff just does not blend well, whereas the quality stuff is so melty and pliable. It is a dream to cook with!

I didn't have enough ramekins so just used a normal old pie dish, and it cooked really well. Because I was doing a few different dishes, I prepared the crumble the day ahead - and it was fine! Even with the crumbs having sweated a bit because I put the Cling Wrap on a little too soon.

Paired with my Sticky Thai was some organic broccoli from my parent's vegetable garden... Would you believe it looked like broccolini? I wonder if broccoli is genetically modified for the mass market? I also wonder if I'm spelling it correctly...

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