Blueberry, Apple and Almond Crumble: Probably the yummiest crumble in the World.

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I am feeling very pleased with myself over my latest food marriage revelation. I haven’t particularly noticed any chatter about just how good blueberries and almonds are together, but I am starting to match them up all over my cooking.

It all started when I was sent an enormous bag of dried blueberries as a Christmas present from Canada. In fairly typical North American style, provisions are usually supplied in generous quantities so having opened said present I have been attempting to add dried blueberries to anything and everything. They are fantastic in salads, both green and couscous, as some here might recall. They can obviously be added to anything one might put dried fruit in, can’t say I’ve tried them as a substitute for fresh in pancakes but they have been featuring in my granola recipes of late.

Regular readers of this blog may be aware that I am a huge fan of granola and have been tweaking the basic recipe (here) from time to time. If you are interested in the blueberry almond version then proceed with the quantities of rolled oats, desiccated coconut, butter and honey as previously given and use 80g pumpkin seeds, 80g blanched almonds, roughly chopped, and 80g dried blueberries. Make up the granola in the usual way, that is to say, melt the butter and honey together and combine in a large bowl with all the dry ingredients except the blueberries so that the dry is coated with the wet. Spread over a baking sheet and bake at around 160°C/Fan 140°C for 30 minutes stirring from time to time until all appears toasted. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Then add the blueberries and store in an airtight tin/tub.

However, the triumph, I think, is my crumble. As a household we have been happily munching on this with unparalleled enthusiasm. If you can get hold of the larger dried blueberries then that is definitely worth the expense but the smaller winberry like ones which are more prevalent here will work fine too.

This serves 4, so double up for a Sunday lunch pudding with left overs, but this is so quick a smaller mid-week one might be just the thing.

You will need for the filling: 2 medium Cooking Apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped, around 60g fresh Blueberries, a handful of dried Blueberries, ½ tsp Cinnamon, 25g brown Sugar, 2 tbsp Water.

Pop the apple, water, sugar, cinnamon and dried blueberries in a saucepan and cook covered over a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until the apple pieces are soft. Shake and stir from time to time. In the meantime prepare the topping…..

You will need: 125g Plain flour or a mixture of plain and wholemeal, 40g Butter, softened, 50g light Brown Sugar, ½ tsp Baking Powder, 30g Toasted Flaked Almonds (try to buy the pre-toasted ones as toasting them yourself is a bit of a palaver).

Again it’s all very simple: in a Kitchen Aid type thing or alternatively by hand rub the butter into the flour and baking powder, stir in the sugar and the almonds. (if using a Kitchen Aid it is very quick, use the beater attachment and combine on a low speed until you have the breadcrumb consistency).

IMG_0714Once the apple is cooked, dollop into your crumble dish or a Pyrex bowl even, top with the fresh blueberries and then sprinkle over the crumble topping, bake at 190°C/Fan 170°C for 20-30 minutes until browned on top. Serve for preference with ice-cream, that Cotswold Winstone’s Vanilla they sell in Tesco and Asda is only very lightly vanilla flavoured so is more like Latte di Fiore, the milk ice-cream the Italians make. Yummy, Yummy, Yummy……

Tarty Seville Orange Tart

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My Brother’s birthday is at the end of January and mine is at the beginning. As a rule two things happen in between: if we are going to have snow, that’s when it will arrive and it duly has and my parents (yes that’s right both of them) make their annual supply of marmalade.

Currently I am not involved in this operation although at some point fairly soon I am going to have to acquire the Knowledge in that traditional hand me down sense. My better half has managed to end up on the distribution list and so will be looking to me to pick up the mantle eventually as he gets through his stock, more or less single-handed, long before the annual boiling comes round again. I have to say I haven’t even attempted to make the stuff at all, despite being a dab hand at jam, but the presence of Seville oranges in farm shops and occasionally in supermarkets does leave me feeling a little left out.

I need a distraction; Nigella makes the most delicious Seville Orange ice-cream, see :Nigella.com/No Churn bitter Orange Ice-cream, for some reason I cannot link this today, I think it’s absolutely wonderful being a bit of a tarty fan.

I have come up with a tart however as lemon tart is a favourite of mine and this I suspect would be a first cousin after all…

The recipe is basically Mary Berry’s but as the generic tart seem to be essentially the same list of ingredients whose-ever you make and as I have altered the prime ingredient I shall claim this as my own to some degree.

You will need:

For the sweet short crust pastry: 110g cold Butter, diced, 200g Plain Flour, 2 tbsp Icing Sugar, 1 Egg Yolk, cold Water

Just whizz the flour and the butter in a food processor until you have fine breadcrumb consistency, stir in the icing sugar and add the egg yolk and drizzle in enough cold water to form a ball of dough by whizzing again. You can always rub in by hand and then mix in the egg yolk and water by hand with a knife instead. Once you have a ball of dough, lightly roll out and line a greased 8 or 9″ loose bottomed tart tin and trim. Pop the pastry case in the fridge for 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes in the freezer, meanwhile….

For the filling you will need: 2 large Eggs, 90g Caster Sugar, 150g Ground Almonds, 85ml of whipping or double Cream, 2 Seville Oranges, zest and juice.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and beat together well.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C, once the pastry is chilled, remove from the freezer, add greaseproof paper and baking beans and bake blind for 10 minutes followed by 5 minutes without the paper and beans. Pour in the filling and bake again for 30-35 minutes. If you only have an 8″ tart tin there will be left overs, individual tarts (like jam tarts) can be made with a muffin tin.

Optionally you can make a glazed topping, you will need: 1 Seville Orange, 150g Caster Sugar, 135ml water.

In a frying pan, add the water and the sugar and gently heat to dissolve the sugar and then allow to boil for 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile slice the oranges thinly, discarding the pips, and then add them to the syrup and boil gently for another 5 minutes. If you have time transfer the whole lot to a bowl and allow the slices to soak for an hour or two.

Once the tart has cooled a little, arrange the orange slices and pour on the syrup, you may need to heat up the syrup to allow it to pour. Otherwise if you don’t fancy the glazed topping just sprinkle with icing sugar. Yummy.

Pineapple and Clementine Warm Fruit Salad

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This dessert sums up Christmas Eve to me.

When I was a child we often assembled, after the trip to Church on Christmas Day, round at some good friends for drinks. This drinks party dragged on for hours and as a result my parents weren’t particularly in the right frame of mind, by the time we returned home, to start fiddling about with Christmas lunch. Consequently, we would have our turkey and trimmings on Christmas Eve for dinner and then have cold meat, delicious leftovers and salad etc. on Christmas Day followed by traditional Christmas pudding which was truly appreciated as we weren’t too stuffed. Dessert on Christmas Eve, after the turkey, would therefore be this warm fruit salad…..

This is delicious and a fantastic antidote to all the rich food. It tastes great with Christmas pudding if you have room, on its own, with mince pies, leftovers cold for breakfast….. the options go on and on.

You will need: 1 Pineapple, 6/8 Clementines, 3 tbsp light brown sugar, 25g unsalted butter, 1 tsp ground Ginger mixed with the sugar OR 1 tsp grated fresh Ginger OR 2 or 3 pieces of stem Ginger in syrup, finely sliced, a splash of White Rum (optional).

IMG_0572The trickiest part to this is digging out the pineapple chunks. So, with a large sharp knife cut down through the top leaves and the body of the pineapple so that you have two boaty halves. With the knife at a slant, cut a v shape section lengthways out of the middle to remove the woody core. Then cut a grid pattern lengthways and widthways almost through to the skin but not quite and with a spoon dig out the chunks you have created. You should then have a pile of chunks and 2 holders, essentially the skin and leaves of the pineapple. Reserve the holders to load the completed salad back into.

Peel the clementines and try to remove as much pith as possible. Find a large frying pan and over a low to moderate heat, melt the butter until foaming, add the pineapple, clementines, sugar and ginger and gently stir around until it is warmed through (5 minutes or so). Add the rum if using, you can flambé the fruit if you wish and then, having popped the pineapple holders in a suitable serving dish, load in all the fruit and juices.

Christmas in a pineapple cup… I hope you have a good one. x

Sorry about the picture, once we actually make this, I will update!

Waffly Good Breakfast where the Old Countries Meet the New

Hello again, we are back from our holiday, the school term has started and cake orders are coming in again after the summer break.

We have been lucky enough to have seen this:

Had a go on this :

Eaten massive sandwiches looking like this:

and seen plenty of these:

Fantastic!!

And of course. maple leaves are on the flag for a reason and vats of syrup have been consumed and transported back to blighty. I feel a few maple syrup recipes coming on!

For starters how about this:

Waffles with mascarpone cheese, fruit, toasted nuts and maple syrup.

Child two has been eating toasted waffles like they have been going out of fashion. Here in the UK we don’t seem to sell the frozen boxfuls like they do in North America, however we do sell them fresh in packets or if you are feeling really virtuous you can buy a waffle maker and do it yourself. We ate breakfast at a diner called Tutti Frutti and as the name would suggest anything you ordered came with a huge pile of fruit, so inspired by Child two and Tutti Frutti, I made the following, (serves one):

2 or 3 waffles (warmed), 2 or 3 tbsp of mascarpone cheese (light or regular) or a mixture of mascarpone cheese and 0%fat Greek yoghurt, fruit of your choice, I used a banana, sliced, a nectarine, sliced and a handful of blueberries, a sprinkling of toasted nuts (almond, pecan, whatever you want) and a drizzling of maple syrup.  Pile it all up on the plate and off you go.

(Europe is referred to as the old countries by Canadians and the recipe fuses Italian and Spanish ingredients with Canadian; oh and these waffles were Belgian!).

Lavender Laced Apricot Tarte Tatin

Yummy, Yummy, Yummy

I never thought I would see the day but my better half and I are arguing over Tarte Tatin. He sneaks slithers whilst I’m out exercising; again. This upping of my exercise regime allows me an additional piece beyond the obligatory test slice. Despite spending an hour out at a Zumba class this evening I am planning a sprint (x3) up one of the hilliest streets in town tomorrow morning so I can have some more for breakfast. We are utterly in love with my latest creation.

I am fairly sure this food marriage of apricots and lavender is not unique, but a quick surf about only revealed lavender soaked in milk and then converted into shortbread or cupcakes, certainly not used to flavour sugar syrup. I didn’t even strain the lavender flower heads and this does not seem to matter. The aromatic scent cuts through the sweetness of the fruit in such a heavenly way you are barely conscious of them in the finished dish and I believe they add some charm to the appearance.

Apricots.

I have always had a bit of a thing about them, I pop the ready-to-eat variety moorishly and adore dishes such as tagines with all that heat and spicy sweet. Despite not having a particularly sweet tooth, I get my inevitably need for some sort of sugar fix from them on a regular basis; bitter dark chocolate covered apricots is almost my most favourite flavour combination behind liver with a tomato and mushroom sauce, but more of the latter soon…

22 years ago this week I set out on my Italian culinary adventure, described on the ‘About Sarah’ page, and one of the first food related delights I came across greeted me as we drew up to the house for the first time. In the garden, almost next to the garage, was an apricot tree. I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me before that some countries have such luxuries but I still remember the double take I took as I realised that for this family their windfalls weren’t apples, pears or plums. Unbelievable. I could pop out whenever and eat as many of the ripest, juiciest fruit as I could manage. The parents of my charge for 2 months were more or less nonchalant about the situation. No big deal. But I suppose if you always virtually live in the garden of Eden, you would be.

Anyway as transportingly delightful as these memories are, on with the recipe.

You will need a 9″ sandwich tin or deep sided pie dish, non stick for preference. Don’t use anything loose bottomed as you will be hopelessly scraping baked on sugar syrup residue from the bottom of the oven otherwise.

Start off by making the pastry, or to be quite honest you could buy sweet short crust from the supermarket. If you are making it you will need: 100g self-raising flour, 50g diced, cold, unsalted butter, 1 tbsp of icing sugar, 1 egg yolk, 2 tsp of cold water. Sift the flour and the icing sugar into a bowl and add the butter, rubbing it into the flour with your fingers. Add the egg yolk and a teaspoon of water and with a table knife, start the combining process. Once you have made some progess dive in with your hands and swiftly bring the dough together. Add the second teaspoon of water if you need it to give a working dough, not too sticky. Once you have a smooth ball of pastry, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for ½ hour.

Meanwhile make the sugar syrup. Place 75g of caster sugar and 75g of unsalted butter in a non-stick saucepan with 3 sprigs of lavender (preferably flowering) and gently heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has started to dissolve, allow it to bubble a little and stir regularly. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse until the pastry is ready.

Cut 10/11 firm but ripe apricots in half,  remove the stones wash and dry. Once the pastry is ready, remove from the fridge. Heat the sugar/butter/lavender mixture again as a sludge is likely to have formed in the saucepan until the mixture is bubbling again, stirring regularly, remove the lavender stems and finally pour into the bottom of the pie dish. Arrange the apricot halves, cut side up so that the smooth hemispheres are uppermost when you turn the dish out once baked, and at this point turn the oven on to 200°C/Fan 180°C.

Roll out the pastry to give roughly a 9″ diameter circle. As you can see I usually go rustic in these situations and don’t worry about rough edges, but you can always use a plate to cut round if you wish. Plonk the pastry over the fruit and tuck in round the edges. Pop low in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. I know the oven isn’t up to temperature at this point but I think it helps cook the apricots thoroughly.

Once the 25 minutes is up you should have a golden brown baked pastry top (or bottom) and much sugary bubbling. Remove from the oven and try carefully to decant the sugar syrup into a waiting saucepan before inverting the tart using the presentation plate. This is a bit of a messy business, but not to worry. If the fruit has slid up to one end in the process just carefully shove it back into position. (I did and look how lovely mine turned out).

Boil the sugar syrup in the saucepan until it thickens some more and then drizzle over the tart. Serve warm. We had it with honey and ginger flavoured fancy yoghurt from Waitrose, but creme fraîche or cream or ice cream would work well.

N.B. I THINK it is OK to eat the flower heads and in my limited research some recipes definitely didn’t remove them, but you can always pick them off as you eat if you wish.

A Fairly Patriotic (Eton) Mess: Meringues for Murray

Update: Murray won. And just for completeness on this sporting day; Italy are currently 2-0 up against Germany. Viva Italia!! Further Update: Victory for Italy – I don’t think anyone was expecting that.

As I was shopping with my BFF recently we wandered past a bakery selling the most amazing looking meringues. This most delicious looking batch of them was piled haphazardly and invitingly in the window. They were vast and in this case pink and so a germ of an idea started to form in my mind….

Wimbledon is in full swing and despite some improved performances from the British women, our main hope is Andy Murray as usual. As he is, in fact, Scottish I have developed the following based partly on Cranachan (an extremely yummy Scottish dessert) and Eton Mess.

For 12 Meringues you will need: 3 medium egg whites, 120g Caster Sugar, Food Colouring Paste or Liquid

Preheat the oven to 140°C/Fan 120°C. Line a baking sheet or two with greaseproof paper.

Into a clean grease free bowl place the egg whites and whisk at a fairly high-speed until the egg whites reach the soft peaked stage (as you drag the whisk out of the foamy whites, peaks form, the tops of which flop over).

Add a tbsp of the caster sugar and whisk that in well, again on a fairly high-speed. Add another tbsp of sugar and whisk well again. Continue until all the sugar is used up. You should have a lovely glossy stiff foam.

Add a small amount of food colouring and fold in until spread evenly throughout the mixture. Obviously colour to your satisfaction.

Spoon heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture onto the baking sheets leaving plenty of space in between each dollop and transfer to the oven. This quantity should provide 12 meringues. Immediately turn the temperature down to 120°C/Fan 100°C. Bake for 1 hour. Then turn the oven off and leave the door ajar until the meringues are cold.

They keep in an airtight tin for a week or two if you can resist them.

The Patriotic Mess: as you can see I decided to make both blue and pink meringues, but as far as the dessert went, I used the blue. Blue food as I have stated before is not very popular, however in this Olympic/Jubilee year there is a lot more blue food around. The blue is there, of course, due to the presence of the Scottish flag in the Union Jack, so this dessert is dedicated to Mr Murray and the match he’s playing this afternoon. I think it goes without saying that you can colour the meringues to your own tastes or not at all.

You will need for 4 servings: 150 ml Double Cream and 150g or ml of 0% Fat Greek Yoghurt, 4 Blue Meringues, 400g Raspberries, washed, 2 tbsp Whisky, 2 tbsp runny Honey, a sprinkling of toasted Porridge Oats or Granola!

In a bowl whip the double cream until stiff (use a balloon whisk). Fold the yoghurt, whisky and honey into the cream. Fold in the raspberries. Dollop single spoonfuls of the raspberry cream mixture into the serving bowls, crumble over the meringue, add another spoonful of the cream mixture and top with the toasted porridge oats or granola.

This really is good!

Meringues Part 2 involves the chocolate cake I promised….

Simple Soft Fruits

So we are deep into the soft fruits season and given the expense and uneven ripening of some (peaches, apricots, nectarines) at the point of purchase it can be very tricky to have enough of any one thing to convert into a delicious dessert. I also feel that for many of the summer fruits, red and blackcurrants aside, the least fuss the better. Washed and used as an accompaniment to other things seems the best way forward.

A couple of ideas: pancake pouches with soft fruits, and the old favourite, a vintage sponge. Of course, the ever-present strawberries and raspberries below can be replaced with sliced peaches, nectarines and whole cherries if you have them.

Pancake pouches

I first saw these on Pinterest just as an image and the pouches looked perfect. I can’t imagine how the author/baker managed to get the batter to form little cauldrons into which the fruits can be spooned, but the version we ended up with went down a storm with the kids and can definitely be served up at breakfast as a low faff option or as a pudding with ice-cream as well as fruit. The origins appear to be mini German or Dutch Pancakes.

1 cup or 250ml milk
6 eggs
1 cup or 130g flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. orange zest (optional)
1/4 cup or 60g butter, melted

Sifted Icing Sugar for dusting

  1. Pouches with ice-cream and fruit

    Preheat oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C. Blend first six ingredients (milk to orange zest) in a blender.  Be careful to see that any flour clumps get well-blended.

  2. Blend in butter a little at a time in order to temper the eggs.
  3. Grease muffin tins very well with butter and distribute batter evenly between 18 holes, slightly less than half-full per hole.  Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until puffy and golden on top.
  4. Remove carefully from the oven and allow to fall back and cool down for a few minutes before carefully teasing away from the hole with a small palette knife or similar, arrange individually or together on a plate and dust liberally with icing sugar.

Borrowed from realmomkitchen.com. Bless them, although the recipe appears to be a traditional one.

These are really gorgeous in taste and this method allows one to make pancakes of a morning without the batch cooking. They basically behaved like Yorkshire puddings, for those Brits reading this, but do not cook long enough to set in the puffed up state have a lovely gooey texture too. Yummy. You might need to trial this a couple of times to get the pouch effect and just less than half full as opposed to just over half full in the bun holes seems to work better.

Vintage Cake with Soft Fruits

Just a reminder really that a simple sponge see Easy Peasy Vintage Sponge Cake with soft fruits and cream can create a wow factor like any beautifully iced cake and is far less fuss. Just one word of caution: don’t be tempted to substitute whipping cream for double, it can’t cope with the weight of the top tier so well.

And just for good measure food marriages with soft fruits include:

  • raspberries folded into whipped cream with a ¼-½ tsp of rose-water,
  • peaches cut in half, sprinkled with a little brown sugar and grilled, top with Greek yoghurt and chopped, toasted pistachios,
  • and strawberries with chocolate.

My Mother’s Easy Peasy chocolate cake recipe coming very soon.

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