Sunday, 28 April 2013

Home and a Wray - plum and basil crumble in a borrowed kitchen.

I’m currently house-sitting for one of my best friends who has gone to England with her family for about 7 weeks. She has been good enough to trust me with her house (and her pet chicken) until she returns.

The house has three main advantages as far as I am concerned.

1) It is huge.
2) The kitchen is also huge.
3) It is located just off Wray Avenue in Fremantle which means proximity to many good things.

Wray Avenue is just off the main strip heading south out of central Fremantle. Within a two minute stroll from the front door, I can get to 3 cafes, 1 bar, an amazing butcher shop plus a traditional Italian grocer.

Add all this foodie goodness to the fact that the kitchen is about 7 times bigger than the one I currently get to use and amazingly well-provisioned with equipment, and you will understand my euphoria. It’s a borrowed kitchen though so for reasons of privacy, I will only show you a photograph of the oven.


I am just a little bit in love.

First appearances can be daunting. It seems to be a big, shiny, gas-driven maroon brute of an oven. However, its intimidating appearance belies its sensitive soul – the temperatures are precise, the controls user-friendly. If It didn’t weigh several hundred kilos, I would run away with it.
So… a recipe to make the oven perform on all fronts.

Plum, basil and vanilla crumble. 
(Really! The basil fragrance works so well with the tart flavour of the plums and the sweetness of the fresh vanilla.)

For the fruit filling…
1.5 kgs firm plums
20 large basil leaves
seeds scraped out of 1/2 a vanilla bean
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar

For the crumble…
¼ cup caster sugar
¼ cup Demerara sugar
125 gms butter (chopped into small cubes)
1.5 cups plain flour
1 tssp cinnamon powder

To serve…
Cream (double or single) or ice-cream or custard.

I nipped around the corner to Galati’s (the Italian grocer), and snagged a kilo and a half of plums for a couple of dollars, plus some fresh basil and a vanilla bean. Oh, and let’s get some organic butter and double cream while I’m at it.

I chopped up the plums, combined them with half the vanilla bean and 2 spoons of caster sugar, plus about a ¼ cup of water and stewed them lightly over a low heat for about 15 minutes until they were all just soft, lightly glazed in vanilla syrup, and the plum skins had turned the whole mixture a glowing ruby-red.

The plums were poured into an ovenproof dish. I made a chiffonnade of the basil leaves and stirred them through. The basil taste can be quite subtle, so you may want more leaves depending on how intense you would like to scent to be.
(At this point,I discovered a couple of pears and a nashi that needed to be used up, so I sliced them up and added them in. Waste not, want not.)

The crumble is easy – place all ingredients in a bowl and rub in until all the butter has been combined. Scatter over the top of the fruit filling, squeezing gently as you go to get a decent crumble texture.

The oven (yes, you, oven of my dreams!) was set to about 160C and the crumble needs to be in there for about 45 – 50 minutes or until the topping turns golden brown.

Serve with cream. Share with friends! I transported the  crumble over to Katy's house (which is now a very pleasant 10 minutes' walk away) and reheated it in her oven. We sat outside in her garden and had a very civilised autumn lunch.

Expect to hear more about Wray Avenue and my cooking adventures in the near future. I'm currently on holidays and am planning some culinary adventures in this home away from home.

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