Thursday, 8 July 2010

Going Ga Ga for Gooseberries

To crumble, or not to crumble? That’s todays question. One, perhaps Shakespeare may have pondered? Whether'tis nobler to eat a smooth golden pastry, that softly breaks in the mouth, with an oozing centre of fruitiness, or perchance to taste an imperfect wonder of crumbly textures, that silkily sink into a warm centre of berry beauty? For me its got to be a crumble every time. Yesterday I made a blackberry and gooseberry version. A crumble offers a true taste bud experience, each mouthful a new petal of flavour adventure. Gooseberries and blackberries make for an exceptional crumble, the tang will bring music to your taste buds, like Lady Ga Ga for your ears, at first you might not be sure, then there is no doubt that you're onto a good thing.

Let me explain, consider the seasons as a musical score, summer brings a cacophany of dulcet notes in the form of fruit. Sweet jewels are literally dancing to acarnival style fandango, rhythmic raspberries rumba, glorious gooseberries glide, and beautiful blueberries bop away to Mother natures beat. Her ruby redcurrants tempt us with their deep pink hue, though for me, the Venus of fruits, her sweetest gem will always be the strawberry. While the dear gooseberry, nemesis of sweetness, so bitter, once bitten you'll never forget its sharpness, however cooked in the right way, they are undisputedly delicious. 

"My brother Nicholai, sitting in his office, would dream of eating his own schi, with its savoury smell floating across the farmyard; and of eating out in the open air, and of sleeping in the sun, and of sitting for hours together on a seat by the gate and gazing at the fields and the forest. Books on agriculture and the hints in almanacs were his joy, his favourite spiritual food; and he liked reading newspapers, but only the advertisements of land to be sold, so many acres of arable and grass land, with a farmhouse, river, garden, mill, and mill-pond. And he would dream of garden-walls, flowers, fruits, nests, carp in the pond, don't you know, and all the rest of it. These fantasies of his used to vary according to the advertisements he found, but somehow there was always a gooseberry-bush in every one. Not a house, not a romantic spot could he imagine without its gooseberry-bush.
"'Country life has its advantages,' he used to say. 'You sit on the veranda drinking tea and your ducklings swim on the pond, and everything smells good. . . and there are gooseberries.'

Nicholai would surely appreciate this recipe, I hope you do too. I love to dollop a generous spoon of Greek yogurt on the side. Loving the imperfection of a crumble is easy.



Light brown self-raising flour 180g - 200g
Sweet Freedom 120ml, available from Waitrose, Tescos and Health food shops
Butter 120g
Hazlenuts, chopped 70g


Gooseberries, topped and tailed 400g
Blackberries 300g
Sweet freedom 100ml
Apple juice 50ml

HEAT oven to 180’, gas 4.
HEAT gooseberries, sweet freedom and apple juice.
SIMMER for 10 minutes and then add blackberries.
RUB crumble ingredients between your fingers until you’ve got a bead crumb texture.
POUR gooseberry and blackberry mix in an oven proof dish.
SPREAD crumble mix on top evenly.
BAKE for 30 minutes until lovely and golden.
SERVE with a dollop of Greek yogurt, yum yum.

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