Fruit

All posts tagged Fruit

Cake to keep and cake to eat

Published December 7, 2014 by Storm

Cake to keep (for two or three weeks)

For at least the last 10 years I’ve been using the same Christmas cake recipe, with the only variation being whether I soak the dried mango and pineapple in spiced rum or spiced mead. It’s a nice cake, but this year I felt like a change. We’d enjoyed the Simnel cake recipe I’d baked from Vegetarian Cooking Through The Year so last week I decided to give the Christmas cake recipe from the same volume a try.

My first challenge was finding dried pears; I couldn’t get them anywhere within walking distance of home! I thought about the rest of the fruit in the cake, currants, sultanas, raisins and apricots, then looked at what we had on the shelf at work and decided that dried sweet cherries would do nicely.

The next challenge was to find a vegetarian sherry. I eventually found an amontillado (how suitably Poe), a nip of which will also make a nice companion to cooking Christmas dinner. At this time of year my drinks cupboard gets a bit scary; sherry for the cake, brandy for the mincemeat, rum for stollen, and possibly some kirsch still to add for a dessert I want to make for Christmas Eve or New Year… I might be making up some jars of boozy fruit in readiness for next Christmas.

Making the cake was nice and simple. It smelt lovely getting home the day I’d left the fruit and chopped almonds infusing in the sherry, ready to bake in the evening. Cheating a bit, as usual, I mixed the flour, spices, ground nuts, fat and eggs, in the food processor then stirred the mix through the fruit by hand. It all looked right going into the tin and tasted right when I cleaned the bowl out before washing it; I’m afraid when it comes to cake mix I do take my chance with raw egg. Two hours into the baking time, when I went to check on the progress of the cake, I realised I’d missed an ingredient or two; there on the side was the still sealed jar of molasses with the honey alongside it, too late to do anything about it I shrugged my shoulders and concluded that since the mix had seemed right, and the cake smelt and looked good, the lack couldn’t be too serious.

Now of course it’s waiting time.  The cake is wrapped in baking parchment, securely in it’s tub, being unwrapped to be fed a tablespoon of sherry about every 4 days; the recipe doesn’t actually mention feeding the cake but it’s a Christmas cake, of course it needs feeding! In two weeks time I’ll add marzipan and icing. I’m looking forward to seeing if it tastes as good as it smells.

4.5 out of 5 for well written instructions and ease of baking 

I can’t really grade the tastiness just yet!

And a cake to eat (now)

Having made a cake which wasn’t for immediate consumption I thought perhaps I should make another cake this week. I’d been given a glut of ripe bananas so a banana cake of some description was the obvious choice.  I picked up the Cook’s Encyclopedia of Bread Machine Baking and thumbed my way to the chapter on teabreads and cakes. Banana and Pecan Teabread looked nicely tempting.

I had most of the ingredients in the cupboards but I did need to buy shelled pecans. Again, using the food processor to mix everything, this was a doddle to make. When I’m mixing a fruity cake in the food processor I mix everything except the fruit, then use the pulse option to mix the dried fruit in so as to keep as much of the fruit whole as possible. The only thing I would disagree completely with the recipe about is the cooking time; the recipe suggested an hour’s baking for the size I was making, with perhaps a few minutes more; I ended up giving my cake an extra half hour, which to me is more than a few minutes. Minor grumble aside, the cake is moist, tasty, and moreish; I’m likely to bake it again.

4 out of 5 for ease of baking and well written instructions

4.5 out of 5 for tastiness

Advertisements

Washing up must be in season!

Published June 27, 2014 by Storm

English berries and an unexpected avocado

This week I was planning to try a Turkish dish I’ve not made before, Imam Bayildi, I was even considering making my own pitta bread to enjoy with it. My plans changed when I got to the fruit aisle in the local shop and saw some lovely, large punnets of English gooseberries. I wasn’t expecting to see gooseberries for another couple of weeks but there they were and, to make them even more tempting, they were marked down to half price. I knew I’d seen a gooseberry ice-cream recipe in The Book of Vegetarian Cooking, so changed my plans and bought what I thought I would need to make ice-cream. I almost guessed what I would need correctly, there was just one ingredient I hadn’t expected… an avocado. I’m sure I could have come up with my own gooseberry ice-cream recipe without an avocado but in the spirit of my challenge I went back to the shop to buy the unexpected before creating the largest pile of washing up I’ve ever known one dish create.

2 saucepans, 1 blender, 1 sieve, 4 bowls, 1 fork, 1 whisk, 1 spoon and an ice-cream maker

Actually I only used one saucepan, because I rinsed it out between cooking the gooseberries and making the syrup, but even so there was a lot to wash up at the end. If I’d read this recipe through before getting excited about gooseberries I might not have chosen to make it.

I expected to need to cook the gooseberries first and then set them aside to cool but the rest of the method was a little different to my expectations. When I’ve made ice-cream containing egg yolks in the past I’ve always beaten the egg yolk and sugar together and then poured heated cream into them before returning it to the heat, as you would to make an egg custard; this recipe had me making a syrup and whisking it into the beaten egg yolks with the, separately whipped, cream being added right at the end. Beating eggs, then beating eggs and syrup, mashing avocado, then whipping cream, I certainly had aching arms by the time I poured the mix into the ice-cream maker; this is the most physically demanding recipe I have tried making this year, if not ever.

Was it worth the effort?

The finished ice-cream was (is, I still have a little left) delicious, I won’t be following this recipe again though. For a start, why the avocado? The note about the recipe claims that the avocado is there for the texture of the ice-cream; the texture was not discernibly different from what I think I would have achieved with my usual egg-custard based ice-cream, so if I want a rich gooseberry ice-cream in future I’ll be going back to familiar methods. If I want a lighter ice-cream, which in summer I might, I’ll try making gooseberry fool and putting it in the ice-cream maker. Either of my preferred techniques would create less washing up and cause less of an ache in my arms than this week’s recipe gave me.

2 out of 5 for technique – this was fiddly for the sake of being fiddly (I don’t need something to have been hard work to view it as a treat).

5 out of 5 for flavour- I can’t fault the finished dish.

Something like Sangria

Published June 23, 2014 by Storm

Last week wasn’t a good week for my recipe challenge. I did bookmark several recipes I’d like to try but I didn’t actually try cooking any of them. I re-visited the Pasta With Spring Vegetables I tried a couple of weeks ago and come up with a slightly less extravagant, but still very tasty, version to enjoy one last bunch of asparagus at the end of the season; that’s not exactly trying a new dish from one of my recipe books though.

There was a reason I didn’t try anything new; I’d organised a barbecue at the weekend. Now, taking pleasure in catering for people seems to run in my family (Mum once asked a friend what she was good at to be told picnics and parties), it’s fair to say I rather over-catered. We probably didn’t need 5 times as many veg’ kebabs as there were people, nor a whole packet of burgers or sausages each; and that’s just the food which needed barbecuing. For most of the week we were eating leftovers, which didn’t leave much opportunity for experimenting with new recipes.

I’d decided that we needed a really summery drink to enjoy with the barbecue, I considered pimms but decided to do something different; we enjoyed a jug of pimms anyway as a friend brought some. Working from the memory of the sangria from my sister’s hen night, I tried to create a sangria style summer punch; it worked, it was enjoyed, and I wasn’t at all disappointed when I realised I had a few glasses left to enjoy over the next couple of days. It was so nice I decided to share the recipe I came up with…

Sangria style summer punch

  • 750ml bottle red wine
  • 150ml brandy
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 oranges
  • 500ml orange juice
  • 750ml lemonade
  • 2 dessertspoons sugar

A few hours ahead of time: mix the wine and brandy, and add the spices. Leave for the flavours to start infusing.

About an hour before you plan to serve: peel the oranges, chop them into chunks and add to the alcohol and spice mix.

Just before serving: add the orange juice, lemonade and sugar, stir well until the sugar is dissolved.

Serve chilled, over ice or frozen chunks of fruit.

If you do have some leftover it’s probably wise to fish the cinnamon and star anise out, if you don’t you’ll have a punch which tastes like pernod, perfectly pleasant but it loses the blend of flavours.

Simnel Cake and an Imprecise Pudding

Published March 21, 2014 by Storm

Simnel Cake

Let’s be completely honest, The Railway Modeller and I both like cake; we probably like cake more than we should really. I thought the next celebration cake was due for an April birthday, then I discovered that Simnel Cakes were traditionally baked for Laetare Sunday (probably better known as Mother’s Day in the UK); obviously I decided to bake one. I found a recipe in one of my books and a bit of research suggested two weeks would be adequate maturing time, so this week I’ve made a cake. I’ll write more about it when we’ve actually tried it. In the absence of more to say about cake I’m writing about a pudding instead!

Steamed pear and chocolate sponge

Earlier this week I was given a bag of very ripe, slightly bruised pears. This classes as a treat because pears usually seem to be sold under-ripe and even the smell of good ripe ones is cheering. Obviously the bruising meant there would be some wastage so I needed to use them in something I would be chopping them for; my usual dish for pears like this would be a crumble but I thought my hands would probably object to tickling the crumble topping into being at the moment so decided to come up with a sponge pudding instead. This was a good decision to make, my crumble is probably healthier but this was pure comfort food. It’s a slightly imprecise recipe in places and while my scales mean I weigh ingredients in ounces the chocolate content is given in grams because I used half of a 100g bar, it made sense when I was throwing things together in the kitchen.

015

Ingredients (Serves 6-8)

A large knob of butter

1 dessertspoon golden syrup

50g dark chocolate (I used a 70% cocoa content one)

3 or 4 pears (I used the unbruised bits of six very ripe ones)

3oz self-raising flour

1oz cocoa powder

4oz butter, margarine or spread suitable for baking (I use sunflower spread)

2 eggs

4oz sugar 

About 2 tablespoons milk or single cream (I used 1 tablespoon goats’ double cream and 1 tablespoon water)

Method

Grease a 1¾ or 2 pint pudding bowl.

In a saucepan, melt the knob of butter over a low heat. Break the chocolate into chunks and add the chocolate and golden syrup to the pan with the butter. Stir continually until everything is melted and evenly mixed. Pour this chocolate sauce into the pudding bowl.

Peel and chop the pears into roughly 1cm cubes, discarding the cores, and drop into the pudding bowl on top of the sauce.

Mix the remaining ingredients, except the cream or milk, in a food processor.

Add the milk or cream a little at a time until the mix looks smooth and spongy but not runny. Spoon the sponge mix on top of the pears in the pudding bowl.

Take a sheet of greaseproof paper and lay a sheet of kitchen foil on top of it, pleat the two together down the centre. Cover the pudding bowl with the greaseproof paper and foil (paper side to the pudding) and secure with string. Trim any excess paper and foil.

Place the pudding bowl in a steamer and steam for around 1¾hours.

Turn pudding out onto a plate and serve hot with cream or custard, alternatively serve cold as an indulgent cake.

Pasta and Pears

Published February 21, 2014 by Storm

Miss One, Cook Two

Less than two months into 2014 and last week I failed to keep to my recipe challenge.  There didn’t seem much sense in beating myself up over it though, not when the failure was a result of accidentally beating myself up with a shelf. Instead I decided to make up for the missed week by attempting two new recipes this week.  It seemed only right and proper that one of the recipes should be a dessert, so we enjoyed two new dishes in one night on Tuesday.  I decided to go back to Just One Pot to choose my recipes, inspiration was not hard to find.

Garlic Mushroom Tagliatelle

Mushrooms have always been one of my favourite foods so a simple pasta supper featuring three varieties was safely destined to be a success.  I was slightly uncertain about cooking the pasta ahead of the sauce and then reheating it in the sauce but doing so worked perfectly well, and reduced washing up.  If it weren’t for the extravagance of simmering cream to reduce it for a sauce, goats’ cream is pricier than cows’ (almond or oat based alternatives are more expensive still),  I’d be vowing never to make a roux based white sauce again.  Perhaps not the most imaginative main course ever but we both enjoyed it.

Five out of five for clear instructions and ease of cooking, four out of five for tastiness.

Slow Roast Pears With Orange and Aniseed

Another very simple dish but combining flavours I wouldn’t necessarily have thought to myself.  This was delectable!  The pear and chocolate crumble I have been making for years is no longer my favourite method of cooking pears, roast with orange and aniseed is going to be hard to beat.  I opted to use Conference pears because I like a pear to remain reasonable firm once cooked, Williams can turn out a little on the mushy side, and the oranges I’d got were beautifully sweet and juicy.  I want to have a dinner party so I can feed this to lots of people.

Five out of five for ease of cooking and for flavour.

Katzenworld

Welcome to the world of cats!

sourdough movement

wonders of bread machine: baking bread and beyond

5 Things I've Learned About...

Life. Learning. Condensed.

The Sweaty Knitter, Weaver and Devotee of Other Fiber Arts

Interweaving life with fiber arts! (Photograph by Carly Moskat.)

Project Awesome

Making my life more awesome

the twisted yarn

Knitting, crochet, running, and silliness.

Jack Monroe

The #1 budget recipe website

Chocolate Sheep

a knitting blog with occasional bites of dark chocolate

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.