Friday, 21 June 2013

Attempt #50: Best-ever fruit crumble…is in savouring it with family and friends

This attempt was more of an attempt to taste a JO recipe baked by a friend and her hubs. It was their 1st attempt at a JO dessert and while they felt that the crumble topping didn’t seem to be caramelizing as perfect as it should be, it was perfectly delicious to the rest of us. There are many variations of apple crumble but the best-est will be home made with love and served with friends.

A principal fruit of friendship, is the ease and discharge of the fulness and swellings of the heart, which passions of all kinds do cause and induce. We know diseases of stoppings, and suffocations, are the most dangerous in the body; and it is not much otherwise in the mind; you may take sarza to open the liver, steel to open the spleen, flowers of sulphur for the lungs, castoreum for the brain; but no receipt openeth the heart, but a true friend; to whom you may impart griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels, and whatsoever lieth upon the heart to oppress it, in a kind of civil shrift or confession
-          - Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

Serves 6


·         For the crumble

  • 225 g plain flour
  • 90 g caster sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 115 g unsalted butter

·         For the filling

  • 100 g sugar
  • 100 ml water
  • 4 nice ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • 5 pieces stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped
  • juice and zest of plus extra for serving 1


Preheat your oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6.

Sift the flour into a bowl and add the sugar, salt and ginger.

Cut the cold butter into chunks and rub it into the flour mix with your hands until you get a mixture that looks a bit like fine breadcrumbs. This is the crumble topping.

To make the filling, boil the water and sugar together, then carefully drop in the pear chunks and simmer gently for a couple of minutes.

Add the chopped ginger and the lime zest and juice to the pan and stir. Spoon the mixture into one large ovenproof dish or four small ones.

Sprinkle the crumble topping over the top of the fruit, piling it high in the middle of the dish and leaving space at the edge for the caramel to bubble up.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the pears are cooked and bubbling and the crumble is golden on top. Serve with custard or a dollop of crème fraîche with lime zest grated over, if you like.

Tip: This crumble will work well with apples instead, if you prefer.

Attempt #49: Roast Lamb

My first attempt at man handling and cooking a leg of lamb! Although the recipe and method is pretty similar to the earlier roast chicken, the tricky part is in not over or under-cook the lamb.
The result:

The lamb was initially under-cooked when I first took it out from the oven. Hence, I pop the lamb back into the oven but the lamb became a tad over-cooked. It was not as tender as I hoped for.

  • 4.5 pounds leg of lamb
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme, rosemary, bay or sage, or a mixture

Attempt #48: A cracking burger

To quote Jamie, “there's nothing better than a homemade burger. They're easy to make and once you've mastered this tasty basic recipe, you can make it your own with different herbs, spices and toppings. The sky's the limit – that's why cooking is so exciting.”

Here’s my experience…
Yes, there’s nothing better than a homemade burger but only when you’ve ‘mastered the basic recipe’. Emphasis on the word ‘mastered’ J

It can be a little tricky to make a perfect looking burger.

The result:

While it does taste pretty decent, all my burgers were burnt or rather looked burnt and scrawny. I wonder how the burger joints make all their burgers look exactly the same??

Serves 6


  • 12 Jacob's cream crackers
  • 8 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 500 g quality minced pork
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 round lettuce
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 3-4 gherkins (or pickled cucumber)
  • 6 good-quality or fresh burger buns

·         Optional:

  • 6 slices Cheddar cheese, optional
  • 2 heaped tablespoons Dijon mustard, optional


To make your burger:

Wrap the crackers in a tea towel and smash up until fine, breaking up any big bits with your hands, and put them into a large bowl.
Finely chop the parsley, including the stalks. Add the parsley, mustard, if using, and minced beef to the bowl. Crack in the egg and add a good pinch of salt and pepper.
With clean hands, scrunch and mix everything up well. Divide into 6 and pat and mould each piece into a roundish shape about 2cm thick. Drizzle the burgers with oil, put on a plate, cover and place in the fridge until needed (this helps them to firm up).

To cook your burger:

Preheat a large griddle or frying pan for about 4 minutes on a high heat. Turn the heat down to medium.
Place the burgers on the griddle or in the pan and use a spatula to lightly press down on them, making sure the burger is in full contact. Cook them to your liking for 3 or 4 minutes on each side – you may need to cook them in two batches.

To serve your burger:

Wash and dry a few small lettuce leaves, tearing up the larger ones. Slice the tomatoes. Peel and finely slice the red onion. Slice the gherkins lengthways as finely as you can. Place all this on a platter and put in the middle of the table with plates, cutlery, ketchup and drinks.
Remove your burgers to another plate and carefully wipe your pan or griddle clean with kitchen paper. Halve your burger buns and lightly toast them on the griddle or in the pan. Also great with a chopped salad.