Gooseberry Crumble

Returning from his travels in Spain, Italy and Tanzania, DonQui finds his allotment burgeoning with all sorts of delectable fruits and vegetables.


strawberry cropThe beans and kale are coming along nicely while the soft fruits are better than ever. Before he went away the strawberries produced an excellent crop. Now it is the time for the gooseberries and raspberries.


DonQui likes gooseberries – or ‘goosegogs‘ as his Mum used to call them. They bring coltish memories. As they are not often found in the shops these days he is happy to find a good crop waiting for him. A bit that on their own, gooseberries require a bit of cooking and added sugar to bring out their full potential so DonQui decided that a gooseberry crumble is in order.


To balance their tartness, DonQui decides to add some apple to the mix.

In the past whenever DonQui has made crumble the topping has tended to be rather soft and insipid. This time he takes a different approach and it works brilliantly, giving a nice crispy top to the fruit mixture.

Here is DonQui’s recipe. He apologises in advance for his vagueness on measurements but that is how he is. DonQui experiments and judges according to feel which makes it difficult to translate into a fail-safe recipe:

For the topping

a good slab of unsalted butter
a nice dollop of golden syrup (maple syrup would be a more expensive but excellent substitute)
about a table spoon of demerara sugar
a good scoop of jumbo oats
an equal sized scoop of plain flour
a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts


Heat oven to 140C. Melt the syrup and butter together in a small saucepan.


Mix the dry ingredients into the melted butter mixture (away from the heat) and stir through well. You should be looking for a moderately dry crumbly constituency. If too wet add some more oats and flour

crumble mix

Spread the mixture over a baking sheet and cook for 5 mins at 140º until it starts to go golden, then mix about, turning it over, and cook for about 5 mins more until it starts to go crisp but not burning.

crumble baked

The crumble mix can be kept in the fridge for several days. The amount that DonQui made was good for two crumbles, the second one he made the following day using the left over topping mix. By the way this mix makes a rather delicious snack on its own.

For the fruit mixture
1 eating apple (don’t use a cooking apple as the whole point is to reduce the tartness)
lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice
a couple of tablespoons of golden caster sugar according to taste
A nice pile of gooseberries. You can add other soft fruits such as raspberries and currents to go along with the gooseberries. DonQui added a handful of raspberries and a couple of blackcurrants.
a teaspoon of arrowroot mixed with water

applePeel, core and chop the apples – throw them into a saucepan with a squeeze of lemon juice to stop them browning. Stir in the sugar and cook gently, covered, until the apple begins to soften.

Top and tail the gooseberries and add to the apple along with the lemon zest and any other soft fruits. Cook covered for 2-3 mins until they too begin to soften and leach juices but not to the point that they burst. Stir in the arrowroot and remove from the heat as soon as it begins to thicken. The fruit mixture can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days or it can be frozen for much later use.
crumble done

Tip the fruit into a baking dish and scatter the crumble mix on top. Bake for 10 mins until piping hot through. Serve with buckets of custard!

raspberrie crumble

The following day DonQui enhanced the leftovers with some raspberries for a second go at it.



Back in Dar Es Salaam

With less than 24 hours after returning from Italy, DonQui finds himself on his way to Tanzania. It is a county he loves and despite the short turn around, and the long flight via Amsterdam and Nairobi, he is very happy to be here.


On arrival in Dar es Salaam he immediately makes his way to his favourite watering hole – the Waterfront Restaurant on Oyster Bay. He is slightly disappointed to see that they no longer offer the goat curry which had inspired him to create his own version.

dar 3

They do, however, have roast goat on the menu and this is what DonQui goes for. Served with rice, plantain and a very spicy sauce on the side it is rather good, if not quite as good as DonQui’s own goat curry.

dar 2

But the view cannot be beat, nor can the genuine friendliness of the Tanzanians. DonQui hopes that he will have the opportunity to return many more times.



Some fine old stuff

There cannot be many places in Western Europe which had their glory days at the end of the 5th century AD. Ravenna Italy is probably the only city which did. This is where DonQui finds himself — as ever on the trail of ‘old stuff’.   And what a wonderful collection of ‘old stuff’ it is!

San Vitale
The 6th century Basilica of San Vitale

If you are thinking of a few piles of rubble which mark where this or that ancient Roman building used to stand, think again. Not only are many buildings still in tact, thanks to the fact that they were Christian churches, but their interiors are covered with incredibly vibrant mosaics.

Galla Placidia
The 5th century mausoleum of Galla Placidia

Ravenna was the capital of the West Roman empire in her last years as it was more easily defensible than Rome thanks to the surrounding marshes. The Ostrogoths made it their capital in the 6th century and later the East Roman empire took it back.


To get here, DonQui flew to Bologna and then took the train. Compared to the sleek modern intercity which took him from Madrid to Toledo a couple of weeks back, the small regional train was far less swish but it did the job, getting him to Ravenna after a journey of 1 hour 30 minutes through fairly uninteresting countryside.


It is not just old stuff in Ravenna. The beautifully kept, elegant streets are filled with fine restaurants, stylish shops and fashionably dressed people.

food shop

It is just as DonQui expected — this being northern Italy after all!

Martins Caffe
Martins Caffe

At 7pm it is far too early to eat by Italian standards so DonQui goes in search of a watering hole where he can sit down to write. Spotting a young man with a computer in front of Martins Caffe he decides this will do the trick. Half the place is devoted to selling stupidly expensive handbags to fashionistas who inexplicably like such things. The other half houses a tempting bar. DonQui cannot help but admire the business acumen of the owners in providing a shop for ladies and a bar for their men-in-waiting.

bar snacks

DonQui sits himself down and orders a Moratti Bianca — a ‘white’ wheat beer which is perfect for the 27 degree evening temperature.  It comes complete with an astonishing array of tasty comestibles (at no extra charge) which does away with the need for supper given that DonQui had a very good lunch earlier.

Mosaic of the 6th century Emperor Justinian at San Vitale

Tomorrow he will explore some more.