Holeymoley, we're actually doing it. After speculating idly for months about whether we should redo the kitchen - what, when, how, and what again - it's happening, right now. Getting a handyman round for a quote turned into "actually, I'm free next week", which turned into a Sunday evening spent emptying and breaking apart our cupboards and a Monday morning waiting in with biscuits and teabags. On Monday evening we came home and, as if by magic, our kitchen renovation had started. Without us really noticing, and definitely without any form of sensible planning.
And it's happening so fast! All of a sudden, those depressing greige tiles have vamoosed. Those cabinets I whinged about, full of holes and far too small? Gone! The extra sockets we needed? Installed in the blink of an eye! Our dripping tap has been replaced with a shiny new one, our dismal halogen lights swapped for a pendant light (albeit one we had to order in a fiendish hurry, and which almost didn't turn up in time). Now the handyman has gone and we're left with newly replastered walls, piles and piles of dust, and food (in jars, boxes, tins and packets) covering every surface in the house. Turns out those cabinets I complained about really did hold quite a lot, if you take it all out at once.
But that kitchen is now history and last night after work, fuelled by meatballs, we spent two hours in Ikea buying the future. Incidentally, did you know that Ikea is just as busy at 10pm on a weeknight as it is on a Saturday afternoon? Me neither! Anyway, with that shopping experience safely under the belt and in our nightmares, we now have a huge pile of new cupboards, doors, hinges, deco panels, plinths, drawers, moulding and drawer dampeners waiting for us to build and erect them, not to mention a tin of blackboard paint ready to be slapped onto the backsplash. All in what has been, for both of us, the busiest and most stressful work week in the whole year, topped off with going out this evening, entertaining (!) tomorrow evening and going away for the weekend. Maybe we should have thought this one through a bit more carefully?
While the new kitchen waits impatiently in the wings, let's remember what was (as it turns out) the last dinner for friends to emerge from the old one. Namely a cosy evening on Saturday with pot roast beef in red wine, crispy parmentier potatoes and, most importantly of all, proper pudding. After mentioning toffee apples in the last post, nothing could quite get them out of my head - and in the middle of a tedious work meeting, a blinding ray of inspiration struck. Toffee apple crumble. I don't really need to say any more, do I?
Ok, ok, fine - I googled it, found a recipe, fiddled slightly (no figs, no pears, no spelt, just pure toffee and apple), and created what is possibly my favourite ever crumble. In other words, my favourite ever pudding. My only slight quibble was over the inclusion of orange juice, which I found a bit overpowering (although clearly not so overpowering that I didn't manage seconds). Plus, you know I'm a sucker for crumble, so I could have handled a higher crumble: fruit ratio. But the others didn't seem to object - although they may just have been being polite - and our huge quantites were not only finished, but licked clean. I'll be trying it again as soon as our kitchen is back up to speed (maybe omitting the orange altogether, or replacing with apple juice) but in the meantime, I have the warm glow of memory to keep me going, and the dazzling light of inspiration ahead. Cross your fingers that we'll get at least one cupboard built and installed before long! I don't want to have to wait too long for my next dose of crumble.
Adapted from this Sophie Dahl recipe - I left out the dried fruit, used just apples instead of apples and pears, and swapped spelt flour for normal (just as I did before)
Serves 6 greedy people
- 4 big cooking apples, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 6 eating apples, ditto
- 110g unsalted butter
- 125g dark brown soft sugar
- 1 orange, zest and juice (optional - I tried it again without any orange juice, or apple juice for that matter, and thought it was much better. Do try it with the orange if you fancy though, it'll still be delicious)
NB: all these quantities half as big again because I thought there wasn't enough crumble - use 100g of each if you want to follow the original recipe. I've tried it this way though and I much preferred it
- 150g of cold, unsalted butter
- 150g plain flour
- 150g oats
- 150g demerara
If you want to make this in advance, prepare the fruit and the crumble separately and keep them in the fridge, pouring the crumble over the fruit just before cooking. If you want to eat this as soon as humanly possible, preheat the oven to 180C now.
Put the butter, sugar and orange juice (if using) in a large saucepan and heat gently for 5 minutes, until the mixture is melted and bubbling. Add the fruit, stir it all around and cook for 10 minutes or so, until the fruit is starting to soften and the toffee sauce is looking delicious. Transfer to the dish you want to cook it in, making sure you get all the sauce, and set aside.
In a big bowl, rub the butter into the flour with fingertips (or you could nuke it in the food processor), then stir in the oats and demerara. Taste it just to make sure it's good. Yum.
Pour the crumble over the fruit, bake for 30 minutes and serve with ice cream, cream or custard. We went for cinnamon swirl ice cream, which will be making its way to this blog in the next few days.