Friday, 6 July 2007

Crumble and Cabbage (again, not together)

For supper last night we had our good old favourite, Savoury Mince Crumble. I cheated a little by defrosting some savoury mince that I'd cooked in advance and frozen. It's so easy to cook a double quantity of this kind of thing and it freezes beautifully. All I needed to do was tip it into a dish and top it with some crumble, knocked together in the KitchenAid. 40 minutes in the oven at 180°c gave me plenty of time to sort out some vegetables and lay the table.

Today meant the usual slog into Aberystwyth to do the food shopping, not helped by the seemingly never-ending resurfacing of the A487. We were very ready for lunch when we got home, then Hubby was home from work not long after James woke up from his post-lunch nap. He'd been in there since 4 this morning, so he spent the rest of the afternoon dropping off on the sofa.

This afternoon I did a little baking and tried something new. I'm always looking for new 'treats' like this, mainly to put in Karl's lunchboxes, though of course we all enjoy them. We actually had one of these each, with some hot custard poured over, for pudding this evening and it worked very well indeed. I used ready-to eat apricots to make these.

Apricot & Ginger Crumble Slices

250g dried apricots
125g butter
250g self-raising flour
250g light muscovado sugar
40g porridge oats
1 egg
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Soak the apricots in 100ml of boiling water, from the kettle, for 5 minutes. Tip the apricots and water into the blender and whizz to a purée. Set aside. Grease and line a 9in square baking tin. I use my Silverwood™ 'Eyecatcher' brownie tin, which has a slide-out base, so I just line the base.
Rub the butter, flour and sugar together, then take out about 1/3 of the mixture and stir in the porridge oats. To the remainder, add the ground ginger and the egg, then beat until smooth. Spread this portion of the mixture out over the base of the tin. It won't seem like enough, but it is, honest! I find it easier to put blobs of mixture all over and spread them together, rather than trying to spread it all out from the centre.

Spread the apricot purée over this layer, then scatter over the oaty 'crumble' mixture and press it down lightly with the back of a spoon. Bake at 180°c for 20 minutes, until the top is just golden. Let it cool in the tin, then cut into squares or bars as you like.

When I sat down to plan the week's meals and write the shopping list yesterday evening I, as always, asked for any requests from the men of the house. Christopher told me he loved bacon, he wanted bacon for dinner and we needed to buy some at the shops. So, we agreed on gammon steaks, served with mashed potatoes and cabbage. This way of cooking cabbage is a great favourite in our house. I've even had renowned salad-dodgers fighting over the last serving of this, which was nice. Half a medium-sized cabbage serves 4 as a side dish.

Savoy Cabbage Braised in Chicken Stock

half a Savoy cabbage, shredded
large knob of unsalted butter
200ml chicken stock
black pepper

Melt the butter in a wide-based pan with a lid. I use a frying pan, but the lid is the important thing. Just make sure it's big enough to allow you to stir the cabbage without spilling it all over the hob! Tip in the shredded cabbage and turn it in the hot butter to coat. Tip in the chicken stock , stir quickly and cover the pan. Cook over a high heat for a few minutes until the cabbage softens. Grind over some black pepper and serve.

If you want to make it richer, a dollop of double cream or crème fraîche can be stirred through as soon as the cabbage is cooked.

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