Saturday, March 31, 2007

March 31, 2007: Saturday night improv

As is often the case, Saturday yielded some food wanderings: first a trip round the Queen Vic Markets on my own and then a browse through Casa Iberica with Michael, lunch at Ici, and a quick pick-up of a few remaining essentials at Safeway. Even with all this new food to enjoy, a fairly large and full tray of tandoori veges and rice was taking up space in our fridge and on my conscience. So I blended the old with the new in an omlette/frittata-type improvisation, combining the rice and veges with market-fresh eggs and serving them with some organic rosemary olive oil toast. Some fresh greens really would have brightened this very yellow meal (in texture and nutritional value as well as colour) but unfortunately my planning didn't stretch that far.

As always, dessert was far more about novelty and self-indulgence than about obligation. I picked up a cheap kilo-and-a-bit of apples at the markets and vaguely plotted some little apple crumbles - there's typically oats, butter and brown sugar stashed away at home. But Casa Iberica had other plans: one of the first items that jumped off the shelf and into my hands was this can of caramel. Canned caramel isn't big on my list of weaknesses, but Kitchen Wench's recent post on dulce de leche made me think it should be! Within an hour or two my mental apple crumble looked more like candied apple pie.

I made a half-batch of the pie crust I used on my last apple pie and filled it with four sliced apples, soaked in lemon juice. I anticipated pouring over the caramel but this wasn't pouring material! Thick, sweet, gelatinous goop. (Gelatinous in a vegetarian way - agar is the setting agent.) I did my best to evenly distribute spoonfuls of the caramel across the top of the apples, but had to take it out of the oven after a few melting minutes to do a better job. The result was at least as sickeningly sweet as you would imagine! Michael and I both enjoyed it, but it's probably not a dish I'll repeat. I'm a dessert lover than doesn't actually crave the super-sweet, and I think the caramel is probably at its best without this post-can heat treatment.

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