Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Pick your own, make your own

There are certain childhood memories that are hold a mythical status in your mind - for me going to pick your own fruit is right up there. Rows upon rows of raspberries glistening in the sun, as much as you can eat straight from the branch... well that might not technically be the point of pick your own, but it was for me. It was like the Willy Wonka Factory but instead of chocolate there were raspberries, everywhere. Until I was quite possibly sick.

So sunny bank holiday weekend and I did my best child like pleading. 'Peeeeeeeeeete, please can we go pick your own pleeeeeeeeeeease. You prooooooomiiiiiiiised.' It worked. And off we piled in the car to Garsons in Esher - the very same pick your own farm as I went to as a kid. Oh it was too good to be true.

Now, many things that were immense as a child shrink under adult eyes. Cinema pick'n'mix tastes a little less sweet. Slides are so much shorter and lower. Swimming pool wave machines no longer house sharks, but are just bars at the end of the pool (is that just me?). But the pick your own farm was still as huge as I remembered.

'We need to get some punnets.' I informed the Boy as we drove past field upon field.

'I think we need to find something to pick first.' Good point, it turns our August isn't prime picking period, oops.

We stop at the corn fields first. I hate to admit but I'd never really knew that corn grew out the bottom of the erm, corn on the cob plants... but we selected two plump looking corns 'for starters'. But I was really here for the fruit. Some sad looking blackberry plants were either overpicked or under-ripe and a good 20 minutes of picking only yielded a handful of berries and some scratched wrists. Onward. Carrots, onions and marrows didn't really have the immediate hit (uhum, eat) appeal...

'Maybe if we got some apples we could make a crumble,' said the Boy. Good plan.

Apples were much more fun to pick, giving a satisfyingly weighty plop into your palm when you twisted them off the tree.

But apple picking wasn't what I was here for really. Back in the car in search of the sweet fruit. And just before we got to the exit: berry nirvana! Raspberries, strawberries, ripe and ready to go. I hadn't imagined how fun this was after all. Pick one, eat one, pick one...

Back home it was crumble time. One of my favourite quick-fire recipes is peach, raspberry and ginger crumble from Gordon Ramsay's Cooking for Friends. It's dead simple and won over the Boy's grandmother so it's a keeper. I'll give it to you whole before today's adaptation, becasue it is yum and the stem ginger is an amazing addition.

Peach, raspberry and ginger crumble

For the filling:
8 fimr but ripe peaches
250g raspberries
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp icing sugar
2 stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped

For the crumble:
50g plain flour
pinch of salt
40g diced butter
35g rolled oats
50g demerara sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
30g slivered almonds or crushed hazelnuts (or both!)

Heat the oven to 190. To make the filling: Cut the peaches into wedges and toss in a large bowl with the raspberries, lemon juice, icing sugar and stem ginger. Spread them evenly in a large butter baking dish.

To make the crumble: put the flour and salt in a bowl and add the diced butter. Rub the butter into the floru with your fingers until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the oats, sugar, cinnamon and nuts and sprinkle over the filling. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until crumble is golden brown and then stand for 10 before serving with ice cream (of course!)

To turn this beauty into late summer fruits crumble: make the filling with one large sliced cooking apple, a handful of blackberries and a handful and a half of raspberries. Toss with the lemon juice, icing sugar but replace the ginger with a covering of ground cinnamon. Crumble and bake the same and voila, from field to bowl in one day.

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