Thursday, 18 September 2014

Current Obsession: Avocado

My obsession with avocados began a fair few months ago and I still can't get enough of them.

I just love them. They have a subtle flavour and a creamy texture and make lunch time so much more interesting.

My favourite way to eat avocado at the moment is by mashing it up, adding a bit of black pepper and lemon juice to it, and then spreading on toast and topping with bacon or prosciutto and poached eggs.

I think bacon and avocado is a combination made in heaven and this dish makes the perfect weekend brunch.

I also love cutting it up and adding it to salads, such as my Chorizo and Avocado Salad.

Its great mashed up and spread in pitta breads or wraps as an extra filling to sandwiches. It's filled with good fats, fibre and vitamins so you can enjoy it, smugly knowing that it's doing your body some good.

If you've never bought an avocado before it can seem a bit alien so here are some tips I think are useful to know for buying/preparing avocados.

1) Don't waste money on cheap avocados that aren't yet ripe. When faced with a choice between cheap, unripe avocados or more expensive ripe ones, especially as a student, you probably think you're saving money going for the cheap option. In my experience, all of the cheap avocados have ended up going straight from unripe to over-ripe and have been sometimes mouldy when I've cut into them. Personally I don't find it's worth buying cheap ones that I may have to throw out without eating, when I can spend a few more pence on one that's already ripe and ready to eat.

2) To cut, use a sharp knife and slice down the middle of the fruit, making sure you cut through the flesh to the stone all around the outside. Twist the two halves and pull apart, and to remove the stone, use a sharp knife to slip it out. 

3) If you put a bit of lemon juice on one half if you want to save it for the next day, it will prevent it from discolouring. Also I've heard that by keeping the half with the stone in for the next day, the stone will stop the flesh from discolouring, but I haven't found that works for me.

I love them and I'm pretty sure they will be top of my weekly shopping list for many more months. If you haven't tried them, give them a go! You may be missing out on something you really like.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Ultimate Autumnal Crumble

You may think I'm crazy but I am so glad summer is coming to an end and Autumn is around the corner. Apart from Christmas, the months of September and October are probably my favourite time of year. Its filled with sunny yet chilly days and dark, cosy nights. Its acceptable to dig out knitwear and boots to walk through crunchy, orange leaves. Its a time of new stationery and hot chocolate. Its also time to start cooking warming and comforting food - soup, roast dinner, pies and fruit crumbles.

As soon as it turned September I was desperate to make this Apple and Blackberry Crumble because finally it felt acceptable to get excited about the return of Autumn. Plus, I've just finished re-watching all the episodes of Friday Night Dinner on 4OD and the constant reference to "Crimble Crumble" was making me crave some.

The topping is crunchy, the fruit is juicy and its easy to whip up to enjoy after a Sunday roast or on a miserable evening.

This recipe is slightly adapted from here.

You will need:

For the crumble

225g of plain flour
175g of butter
55g of demerara sugar
125g of a mixture of oats, seeds and chopped nuts

For the fruity filling

4/5 cooking apples
180g - 250g of blackberries
175g of demerara sugar


1 large pie dish


A little note on the ingredients, I only had about 40g of demerara sugar in my cupboards so I used a mixture of demerara, soft light brown, granulated and muscovado sugars and it turned out fine. I would say that brown sugar works better in this recipe but I wouldn't solely use muscovado sugar. Also, the original recipe says to use more fruit than I have, simply because I don't have a dish big enough to fit it all in. I reduced the amount of fruit but kept the amount of crumble the same because I often find there isn't enough crumble compared to fruit in some recipes.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.

Begin by making the crumble. Cut the butter into small cubes and rub into the flour to create a breadcrumb texture. The crumbs don't have to be too fine, the chunkier the crumb, the crunchier the topping will be. Mix in the sugar and the extra bits. I added about 60g of oats, 40g of mixed chopped nuts (you can buy bags of chopped nuts in the baking section in supermarkets) and 25g of pumpkin seeds.

Peel and cut the apples into medium sized slices. Cover the bottom of the dish with apple, throw in a handful of blackberries and sprinkle some of the sugar over the top.

Keep layering the fruit and sugar until, either you've used it all or it fills at least half of the dish. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top until the dish is full. Make sure you don't pat the mixture down otherwise it will get rid of its crumble texture.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, until the fruit juices are bubbling around the edges and the crumble is golden.

Serve with cream, custard or ice cream and enjoy!