Apple crumble basics

Each of us carries through life a mental collection of recipes (size of which depends on age, experience or inclination) that can be executed by heart without reference to text or screen. These are the dietary life-lines that we draw upon in times of pantry shortage, time paucity or sheer lack of energy and inspiration. Normally consisting of a handful of basic ingredients, these dishes come together quickly and are reliably enjoyed by all and sundry. When a dessert situation such as this arises in our kitchen, and I need to draw on my cerebral spirax, my only requirements are an apple tree and a passionfruit vine….

Fruit crumbles are the simplest and most cost-effective way of getting a hot caramelised sweet onto the winter table. Throughout the coldest months, the fruit selection pales beside it’s summer sisters, but the offerings are perfect for baked puddings. Apples, pears, rhubarb and frozen berries stew beautifully under the crisp, oaty crumble blankets.

The topping constituents will already be in your pantry and I daresay your fruit bowl or crisper will contain the rest. So toss it all together before dinner and as you sit down to eat, slide it into the oven. By the time you are ready to land for the evening with that well-earned cup of tea, the crumble will have cooled just nicely to scoop and devour.

This apple and passionfruit crumble is a great one to commit to memory, for your next kitchen question mark.

apple and passionfruit crumble

5 – 6 medium apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
4-5 passionfruit
1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
60g chilled butter, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine apples, passionfruit, and white sugar. Spoon this combination into a baking dish.
  3. To make topping, combine topping ingredients in a bowl and rub butter into the mix until it all resembles the consistency of breadcrumbs.
  4. Sprinkle the topping mix over the apple mix and bake for 30-35 minutes or until topping is crisp and browned and the fruit is bubbling.
  5. Serve with cream or vanilla ice-cream.

apple crumble and ice cream

Postscript: passionfruit are at a premium right now, so subtracted, you will enjoy a lovely apple crumble, but added, it will be superb!



Fruit salad

We load our crispers enthusiastically as the week opens with good intention, virtuous feelings of nurturing and nutritional piety – and abundance of fruit. By mid-week, health promises and resolutions lay broken like pie crust and the crispers are still groaning. As you stare down the barrel of the coming week-end, with fruit in quantities far too excessive to clear out into unsuspecting lunchboxes, it’s time for fruit salad.

And this week, we did just that. An assembly of refrigerator pickings gathered on the chopping board. After the halcyon days of summer stone fruit, what now remained was a fairly pedestrian selection. However, once the ‘pedestrians’ were chopped and a few early winter newcomers were included, we had quite a sunny bowl before us. Topped with a delicious orange syrup, helpings disappeared in record time.

As a result, the crispers were cleared, nutritional equilibrium was restored and children retired to their beds on bowls of fruit rather than ice-cream. I’d say some self-righteousness was in order.

But before I topple off the edge of this moral high ground, here is how to produce the lovely, sweet orange syrup that covered it all…..

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla essence
finely grated rind of one orange
juice of one orange

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a medium saucepan, and mix together.
  2. Place over medium heat and stir until sugar has dissolved and the mixture comes to the boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the liquid has become syrupy.
  4. Chill well before pouring over large serving bowl of fruit salad.

fruit salad with orange syrup

Postscript: As we prepare to undergo the next season of Masterchef where no doubt we shall be encrusted, caramelised, deglazed and trussed, at least we know that performing the ‘chop, mix and pour’ trilogy will have us savouring fresh produce at its simplest and best.



iced tea

Tickling ice and sliced fruit bobbing about in a tall pitcher – how cooling and refreshing the thought of an iced tea can be. Unfortunately when succumbing to a commercial variety the reality is often another overly sweetened soft drink. Thankfully, the varietal expanse of tea available allows us to tailor our own blends, minus the hefty sugar hit – and financial outlay.

To pour yourself (and a friend) a chilled glass of iced tea is quite a civilised way to endure a hot summer’s day. No special equipment required, just a large jug, seasonal fruit, ice and of course the tea of your choice. If you have an infuser, fill it, or simply make a large teapot of your favorite brew. Let it steep for a good 10 minutes and then strain into your jug. Whilst your tea is brewing, make a light sugar syrup (1 cup hot water with 2 tbsp sugar dissolved within it). Slice up your fruit – we used apple and pineapple because our tea was lemongrass and ginger – yours can be any combination you desire. How about peaches or nectarines with raspberry leaf tea?

Add the fruit and sugar syrup to taste (take it easy). Once the tea has cooled, fill the jug with ice and stir. Top up a couple of chilled tall glasses with your tea, clink and sip.

apple and pineapple tea