Wednesday, 18 April 2012
On a beautifully bright day a few weeks ago, we went for lunch at one of my favourite restaurants in Verbier.
It's tucked away in the trees, up on the side of the bowl cradling our town. My friend B was staying with us, so the three of us walked up the snowy path with the dogs. I had my film camera with me and kept clicking away. When we arrived, the dogs curled up at our feet and we settled down to eat.
They make particularly delicious salads at La Marlenaz. I had one filled with hot chicken, toasted almonds and lots of other goodies, all topped with their wonderful dressing. B's had a generous helping of incredibly fresh goats cheese and slices of apple. Mum always (and I mean always) has soup for lunch - so she had a big bowl of asparagus soup.
Though I felt a bit out of depth taking shots of food on film (and outside of my kitchen!) I'm pleased with how they turned out.
For pudding, B had a lemon tart and mum and I shared the 'Apple Crumble'. In my opinion, it's actually Crumbled Apples, so that's what I've called my version. They essentially take chunky slices of apple, coat them in a crumble mixture and then bake them like that. It's served with a melting scoop of rich vanilla ice cream and a little biscuit (which I think has something like caraway seeds in it).
We returned for dinner on mum's birthday and had the same pudding. It was just as enjoyable the second time.
I decided to make my own version of their dish (just like I did with the Wild Strawberry Creams, adapted from a raspberry dessert we had there). I added ground almonds for texture, cinnamon for flavour and brown butter because I love it. I thought using liquid butter would also help get the right consistency so the mixture would stick, at least partially, to the apples. The result is the best tasting wet sand you'll ever find.
When baked, the apples soften and caramelize around the edges. The crumble is slightly chunkier in my version - it asserts its presence.
Though I'm generally against deconstructing perfectly good desserts, especially when they take something simple and make it incredibly complicated, I like this take on crumble. It's a nice change, especially for summer.
As long as you're not expecting Apple Crumble, Crumbled Apples are really very delicious.
(inspired by a dessert at La Marlenaz, Verbier)
45g unsalted butter
40g plain flour
25g whole almonds (or ground)
30g soft brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of fine sea salt
2 apples (I used braeburn)
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. In a small frying pan or saucepan, melt the butter. Keep over the heat until the butter has bubbled, foamed and then died down - it should smell fantastic and there should be lots of dark brown flecks. Take off the heat and leave to cool. Place the flour and whole almonds in a food processor and blend until the almonds have been reduced to fine crumbs. Add the sugar, cinnamon and salt and pulse to combine. Leave in the processor.
Peel the apples. Slice into quarters, remove the pips and stalks, then slice lengthways into 3 or 4 slices. Add the brown butter to the food processor and blend until it looks like wet sand. Tip onto a baking sheet, add the apple slices and toss together.
Place into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a knife slips easily into the bigger apple slices and the crumble pieces are golden brown and crisp. Serve either alone or with a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream or chilled double cream. Best eaten while still warm.