A month or so ago, I treated myself to Nigel Slater's Ripe. This is a beautiful encyclopedia of gardening tips for fruit cum cookbook. I am fantasizing about my future garden, all of which can be achieved with only a tiny urban plot--that's all Slater has at his London flat. There won't be any weeds or slugs, and the light will filter romantically through the leaves of my plum trees. My prose will be succinct but redolent, just like Slater's. This man has a serious way with words. Listen to this random collection of phrases that I just opened the book to, "This is a fruit soft and tender as a baby's cheek, with a scent that is part honey, part almond. A fruit whose flesh has notes of peach, brown sugar, and orange blossom and opportunity for pleasure that is too good to miss." Can you guess the fruit? Apricot.
I'm a bit rusty with the writing these days. It's easier to distract myself with TV (I have cable for the first time in six years) and the Internet, and I leave no room for my cooking, reading and writing much less cleaning. But it does feel so good to clack my fingertips on my old keyboard and see my thoughts appears as if magically on a screen. Slowly I am whittling away at writing again and cooking odds and ends when I'm not at work. My first recipe from this tome was "A deeply appley apple crumble," as if I could skip it. Molly Wizenberg plugs it on the back and so I made it my first conquest.
It's simple, of course. Apples, brown sugar, lemon juice and a buttery crumb layer on top. I even dusted off my new ice cream maker. I got it for Christmas last year from my boyfriend and had yet to use it. I had to pack it away all summer in my subletted apartment where it was probably used as an ashtray like some of my other kitchenware. I had some buttermilk in the fridge--true buttermilk from when I had made cultured butter (see what I mean about the odds and ends)--so I made buttermilk vanilla ice cream. It could have been brilliant, but I scalded the sensitive buttermilk and it separated and formed a grainy end product. I should have just threw out the custard base and made an egg-less cold cream.
2 pounds apples
half a lemon
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
For the Crumble:
6 tablespoons butter, sliced into 1-inch chunks
2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
Peel and core the apples and cut into 1/2-inch chunks. Heat skillet on medium high to melt butter. Toss apples, sugar and lemon juice from half lemon into skillet and saute until sugar dissolves and apples just begin to leach out juice. Carefully transfer warm apples to small baking dish.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In separate bowl, combine butter, flour and brown sugar for crumble. Rub butter into flour and sugar with fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle over top of apples. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.