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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

That time of mellow fruitfulness

"Autumn," I say with a sigh, leaning back against my bed, knees scrunched up.
"It's here. That time of mellow fruitfulness, ala Keats..."

"Keats said that?" Sid asks looking up from his computer and peering into mine, "Or did you just make it up?"

"I'm good," I say. "But not that good."
"And stop eavesdropping on my blog."

"Don't you mean, 'leavesdropping" he says cheekily.

I give him an exasperated look and take myself and my computer downstairs.
My kitchen is warm and comforting, blanketed in the silent slumber of dawn.
I snuggle up on the couch and take in the aroma of cinnamon and freshly brewed coffee.

There's a squirrel in my garden, scurrying rapidly into a dishevelled pile of fallen leaves, then running away, then scurrying back again.
My silver birch shimmers in the early October sun.

Yes. Autumn is here.

Red leaves and golden mornings
Cool, crisp air
Misty breaths
Wistfulness

There is a peacefulness to autumn, a newness
I fell in love in the Autumn many years ago.
Mad, crazy, can't-live-wthout-you love.
Even the memory of it fills me with a warm, copper glow.
And yet it is tinged - ever so slightly - with melancholy. 
Another year almost gone.
My thoughts drift, thinking of all the years passed
And all that lies beyond.

I am restless suddenly
Like that squirrel in my garden 

I get up
And do what I do best.

Here's what you need:

For the fruit:
450g mixed fruit - I used apples, pears, plums, redcurrants and blackberries
Handful cranberries
2 sticks cinnamon
2 tbsp butter
100g sugar
Peeled, toasted almonds

For the custard:
550ml milk
55ml cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
30g caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour

Here's how you do it:

For the fruit: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle sugar over the butter, then place the apple, plum and pear slices in single layer on top. Then sprinkle blackberries and redcurrants. Throw in the cinnamon sticks. Increase heat to medium-high and press down on the fruit until it is all golden on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn fruit over and cook until the other side is caramelised, another 5 minutes. Add cranberries and cook until juices are reduced by about half, about 2 minutes.

For the custard: Whisk the yolks, sugar and cornflour together in a bowl until well blended.
Bring the milk and cream to simmering point slowly, over a low heat. Pour the hot milk and cream on to the egg and sugar mixture, whisking to keep the mixture soft and creamy.
Return to the pan, add vanilla extract, and gently stir over a low heat until the custard is thickened to your desired consistency.

Spoon the caramelised fruit into a deep glass bowl, pour the custard on top, sprinkle with almonds.
And dig in.

This is probably the most exciting thing I have done in a long time.
Bar gambling away my life savings in a wild, drunken night of shamshu and poker.
(Just kidding)

No really, there is a particular delight in eating hot fruit and custard.
Especially at 8 in the morning when no one in their right mind is eating pudding. 

I feel arms around me and a whisper in my ear.
My spoon gets stolen mid bite.
And I am in love, all over again.
In this time of mellow fruitfulness...


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Blueberry Brownies for Ranbir

Me: Ranbir, today is your last day of 3. Tomorrow you are going to be 4!"

Ranbir: I know that

Me: So how many kissies do I get for your birthday?

Ranbir: 4, because I'm going to be 4

Me: Clever boy!

Ranbir: Yes, and when I'm 12, I'll give you 12 kissies. And when I'm 100, I'll give you 100.

Me: Haha, I don't think I'm going to be here when you're a 100!

Ranbir: Where will you be? Will you be in office?

Me: No my darling, I don't think so!

Ranbir: Then where will you be?

Me: I'll be somewhere in the sky and I'll be smiling down at you.

Ranbir: Will I still be able to see you?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is the point when I choked up so hard, I almost crashed the car.
So much for making it till my son is a 100.

Anyway.
To the most beautiful thing I have ever made in my life, this is for you.

Here's what you need:

5 ounces milk or dark (whatever you like or both mixed up) chocolate, finely chopped 
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (separately)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
- 1 cup fresh blueberries


Here's how you do it:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  

In a large saucepan, melt the butter and the chopped chocolate over low heat, whisking occasionally until the mixture is melted and smooth. Sprinkle in the cocoa powder and stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. 


Add in the vanilla essence, then stir in the sugar and the eggs and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Once the batter is even, sprinkle 3/4 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt over the surface of the batter. Gently fold the flour into the chocolate batter being careful not to over mix.

In a separate medium bowl, toss together the blueberries with the remaining 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Add the blueberry mixture into the brownie batter, being careful to fold the fruit evenly into the batter.

Transfer the batter into a greased baking pan. Spread to even out the top and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the brownies are slightly puffed but still moist and gooey and yummy in the middle. 

Allow to cool completely, then cut into small squares.

You can sprinkle some blueberries on top of the brownies. Mainly for prettiness.
Which I normally care about.
Just not this time.
In fact, this time, I'm making every attempt to hide the blueberries
Because Ranbir HATES Blueberries And all else that's good on this earth.
Which includes the entire spectrum of fresh fruit and vegetables.
But he's going to eat this.

Just because he made me cry like the baby he once was, doesn't mean I will let him get away with it.
Oh no.
Never.
Not even when he's a 100.