Sunday, 6 May 2012

Sweet Pudding or Savoury Cheeseboard? Diamond Jubilee Armed Forces' Tribute Meal (Part Three)

Which do you prefer as the final course of your meal: a sweet, succulent pudding or a tantalisingly taste-rich cheeseboard? Opinions vary significantly and this was the problem that faced me when I was trying to come up with the third and final principal course for this Armed Forces' tribute meal for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. In the first post relating to this meal, I prepared a starter of pheasant and cider casserole to represent the Royal Air Force. In the second, a seafood platter represented the fruits of the sea and the Royal Navy. Part three is devoted to the fruits of the land and the British Army. Sweet or savoury? I went for both! Enjoy...

Toffee Apple Crumble with Cornish Clotted Cream

This crumble recipe is slightly different from the traditional British apple crumble recipe. The principal difference is that the sugar used in the crumble topping is soft brown sugar rather than the more popular granulated or caster sugar. This gives a toffee-like texture to the underside of the crumble and - hopefully you'll agree - an extra little something special to the dish.

Ingredients (Serves Four)

7oz plain/all purpose flour
4oz unsalted butter
4oz soft brown sugar
3 medium to large Bramley apples
1 and 1/2 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
3 tbsp cold water
4 tbsp Cornish clotted cream
4 sprigs of fresh mint to garnish

Put the flour in to a large mixing bowl and cut the butter in to it in fairly small pieces. Use your fingertips to rub the butter in to the flour until you have a mixture which is the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs.

The soft brown sugar should be added to the butter and flour mix and stirred carefully to combine with a wooden spoon.

It is not essential but it is a good idea to slightly cook your apples before assembling the crumble. This simply helps the flavour infusion. Peel and core the apples and chop them to about one inch chunks. Add them to a pot with the water and caster sugar and gently heat for about five minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.

Carefully spread the apple mixture in the base of an ovenproof dish and scatter over the crumble mix. Put it in to a preheated oven (180C/350F) for half an hour.

When you remove the crumble from the oven, you should be able to see the delicious, sticky toffiness (is there such a word? - there is now!) seeping around the crumble mix. For best results, leave it to rest on a chopping board as in the picture below for ten minutes or so before spooning on to plates and serving with the beautiful clotted cream and mint sprig garnishings.

Simple British Cheeseboard with Spring Onions and Black Olives

Firstly, I apologise for using the black olives - I know they are far from British. The reality is, however, that while some people like grapes and apple with their cheeseboard to add a very defined flavour contrast, I prefer savoury all the way. This is why I have instead used spring onions (scallions) and black olives. Fruit can of course be used if preferred.

Secondly, I have to apologise to Northern Ireland for not being represented in this dish. I did try to get a sample of what I know are the many wonderful Ulster cheeses for this cheeseboard but unfortunately couldn't source one locally. This just proves the point that we all have to prepare a cheeseboard with whatever cheeses we have available to us in our local areas.

Ingredients per Person

2oz Stilton cheese
2oz Cornish brie
2oz Welsh cheddar
3 Scottish oatcakes
1 spring onion/scallion
6 to 8 pitted black olives

Oatcakes are a Scottish creation and are available in many different forms from many different suppliers. I have no hesitation here in recommending what are unquestionably the best oatcakes I have ever tasted, those produced by Stockan's in the Orkney Islands. These oatcakes alone are available in several different varieties from British supermarkets and have to be tasted to believed.

Wash the spring onion and cut in to discs. Cut the cheese in to segments and plate with the oatcakes, before scattering the spring onion over the top and laying the black olives alongside.

In the first post of this series of three, I covered three beers which could very successfully be made to represent the three principal branches of the UK Armed Forces. Although beer may not be the preferred choice with either the apple crumble or a cheeseboard, don't forget to enjoy a Bombardier after your meal!

Thank you for reading these posts dedicated to the British Armed Forces in this, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year. I hope there is something that you will try and that you'll come back soon, to read more posts dedicated to the occasion and of course the more established style posts that have kept this blog going for what is now more than three years, wholly dedicated to food pleasure and enjoyment.

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