Fruit Salads

Jun 012016
 

SS: June - Berries

 

June is the start of summer and the month to look out for all types of berries. There are probably 1,000 great reasons to eat berries by the handful while they are in season, but the best reason is that they will be at their sweetest and juiciest at this time of year.

 

Look for shiny firm berries with a strong colour and avoid ones which are soft, bruised or leaking. Eat them on their own, or add them to yogurt, cereal, desserts or salads for a boost of fiber and the antioxidant Vitamin C.

 

Strawberries  ·  Raspberries  ·  Blueberries  ·  Blackberries

Mulberries ·  Bilberries ·  Black Crowberries ·  Boysenberries

Elderberries ·  Loganberries ·  Gooseberries ·  Blackcurrants ·  Redcurrants

 

 

* The produce above is in season in June in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, June seasonal produce includes pears, kiwifruits and kale.

 

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May 022016
 

Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote

 

Rhubarb and strawberries come into season at almost the same time, with rhubarb making its appearance first and strawberries following soon on its heels. Their flavours work beautifully when lightly stewed together. At its simplest, all you need to add is some brown sugar and a little water. I like to incorporate other flavours into it as well. This recipe for ‘Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote’ uses vanilla essence and rosewater to bring some Eastern flair to the dish. The compote stays fresh in the fridge for upto a week, and is delicious spooned onto yoghurt, smoothies, porridge, custard, chia pudding, pancakes or meringue.

 

RHUBARB AND STRAWBERRY COMPOTE (with a hint of rosewater)

(Makes 3 cups)

 

Ingredients:

250g fresh strawberries

450g fresh rhubarb (discard leaves as they are inedible)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup water

1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla essence

2 tsp rosewater (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Take your strawberries and remove their leaves and stems. Wash your strawberries and then cut them into 1-inch pieces. Place in a medium-sized saucepan (with a lid).
  2. Trim off the top and bottom of your rhubarb stalks. Rhubarb leaves are toxic and inedible so make sure you discard them. Wash your rhubarb stalks and then slice them into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in the saucepan with the strawberries.
  3. Add the sugar, sea salt, and water into the saucepan with the strawberries and rhubarb.
  4. Place the saucepan on the stove over medium heat until the mixture starts to simmer. Stir a few times to keep everything well-mixed.
  5. Simmer for 10 minutes. If necessary, use the lid to partially cover the saucepan to maintain a low simmer until the rhubarb and strawberries have just turned soft.
  6. Stir in the vanilla essence.
  7. Taste and add more brown sugar or vanilla if necessary.
  8. If you like rosewater, stir it into the mixture (optional).
  9. Pour into a dish to cool.
  10. Can be covered and refrigerated for upto a week.
  11. Rhubarb and Strawberry compote can be added to many things including yogurt, smoothies, custard, porridge, chia pudding and pancakes.

 

 

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Dec 222015
 

Ruby Red Plum and Amaretti Crumble

 

Plums, amaretti biscuits and Nigella Lawson. Need I say more?

 

This recipe for ‘Ruby-Red Plum and Amaretti Crumble’ was emailed to me by my mother about a month ago. Just reading the ingredients I knew that I was going to love it. It’s fruity and almondy, sweet and tart, soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside – everything you would expect from a Nigella recipe. Like most crumbles, it is easy to make and perfect for the hesitant baker (ie. moi).

 

For me, the amaretti biscuits make this feel like a dessert one would make close to Christmas time but I am sure it would be equally delicious on a summer’s evening. Whichever time of year you decide to make this Crumble, make sure that you choose plums grown in the correct location for that season. Plums are in season in the Northern hemisphere from May to October and in the Southern hemisphere from November to April.

 

Share your thoughts: Which fruits do you like putting into a Crumble?

 

 

Ruby Red Plum and Amaretti Crumble

 

 

Ruby-Red Plum and Amaretti Crumble (Nigella Lawson)

 

 

Ingredients

30g/1oz unsalted butter

1kg/2lb 4oz red plums, quartered if large/halved if small (stones removed)

2 Tbsp sugar

1⁄2 lemon, zest and juice (zest is optional – I prefer the recipe without it)

 

For the crumble topping

100g/31⁄2oz amaretti biscuits (crunchy, not morbidi/soft)

150g/51⁄2oz plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

100g/31⁄2oz cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

3 Tbsp sugar

 

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5 and place a baking sheet in it to heat up.
  2. To make the crumble, put the amaretti biscuits into a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin or similar, until they resemble coarse crumbs and then set aside. You can either make the crumble using a freestanding mixer or your hands. If you are using a mixer, put the flour and baking powder into the bowl of the mixer and shake to combine, then add the small cold butter cubes and beat slowly with the flat paddle until you have a mixture that resembles large-flaked oatmeal. If you are making the crumble by hand, rub the butter into the flour and baking powder with your fingers.
  3. Finish making the crumble by adding the sugar and mixing it in with a fork. Set aside 2 tablespoons of amaretti crumbs to use later and then pour in the remaining amaretti crumbs into the crumble mixture, using a fork to mix again. Set aside in the fridge.
  4. To make the plum filling, melt two tablespoons of butter in a large pan (that has a lid), add the prepared plums, sprinkle in two tablespoons of sugar, the lemon zest (optional) and juice, and shake the pan over the heat. Cook for two minutes without a lid and two further minutes with the lid on. Taste. If the plums are not soft and ripe, you may want to cook them for longer and add some more sugar or lemon if necessary.
  5. Pour the plums carefully (they’re hot) into a 23x6cm/9x3in deep ovenproof pie dish and set to one side. The red skins will have made a gorgeous garnet gravy. Sprinkle in the two tablespoons of amaretti crumble you had reserved.
  6. Pour the crumble mixture over the waiting fruit in its pie dish, making sure you cover right to the edges to stop too much leakage, although a little leaking over the edges is fine.
  7. Place on the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Check after about 15 minutes to make sure that the crumble isn’t beginning to burn. If it does seem quite brown you may want to cover it with foil for the remainder of the baking time, uncovering it for the last 2-3 minutes.
  8. Let the crumble stand for 10-15 minutes before eating, with ice cream, whipped cream or mascarpone.

 

Share your thoughts: Which fruits do you like putting into a Crumble?

 

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Dec 012015
 

Seasonal Snacks: December - Citrus Fruits

 

In December, make sure you fill up your basket with the a wide variety of citrus fruits for a quick and healthy snack:

  • Clementines – Clementines are sweet and juicy and usually seedless. Because they are easy to peel and break into segments, this small citrus fruit is the perfect snack to grab when you’re on the go.
  • Navel Oranges – Navel oranges are seedless and tend to be larger than the average orange. On the blossom end of the fruit, you will find a navel-like circle which gives it it’s name. Because they do not have seeds, they are one of my favourite fruits to cut up and put into fruit salads.
  • Blood Oranges – Blood oranges are sweet with a hint of raspberry flavour. Their skin is either orange-coloured or has a slight reddish blush. It is only when you cut into a blood orange that you see the beautiful hue of its flesh which can be anywhere from pink to red to dark maroon. The colour is due to an antioxidant called anthocyanin which develops as the fruit ripens. Their thick skin can be tricky to peel, so they are best eaten cut into wedges.
  • Grapefruits – Grapefruits come in a variety of colours including white, yellow, pink and red. Try to opt for pink and red grapefruits which get their colour from an antioxidant called lycopene (not present in white or yellow varieties). Grapefruits have a very unique flavour which takes some getting used to. They are bitter and acidic with a hint of sweetness right at the end. If you like grapefruit, the best way to eat it is to simply cut it in half and eat the segments with a spoon. However, if you are not upto eating a grapefruit on its own, try tossing it into a fruit salad with other sweeter citrus fruits.
  • Pomelos – Pomelos are the largest citrus fruit variety and have a very thick yellow or green skin. They are similar to grapefruits but taste milder and sweeter. For this reason, many people find pomelos more palatable than grapefruits.
  • Lemons – Lemons are bitter and sharp and there is only a small percentage of the population who can happily suck on a slice without their faces puckering up. I always keep a lot of lemons on hand to squeeze on top of food and into drinking water.
  • Limes – Limes are sweeter than lemons and have their own unique flavour. Again, there are not many people who would happily eat a whole lime on its own, but it’s delicious squeezed on top of food and into drinking water.

 

The above fruits are in season in December in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, December seasonal fruits include blueberries, raspberries, papayas, peaches, grapes and watermelons.             

 

 

Seasonal Snacks: December - Citrus Fruits

 

 

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Oct 232015
 

October Snack Platter - Figs and Persimmon

 

Dear friends,

I have decided to start writing a monthly post called ‘Seasonal Snacks’ about seasonal fruits and vegetables which we can all snack on easily throughout the month. I hope you’ll find it useful and it will help you know what to look out for when you’re shopping for food. My aim is to mostly keep it raw, easy to prepare (usually just wash and cut), and always seasonal. This is my first Seasonal Snacks post, ‘October – Figs and Persimmons’.

Making healthy eating easier!

Love,

Erum (Total Salads)

 

 

In the Northern Hemisphere, figs are in season from June to October while persimmons are in season from October to February. Because fig season comes to an end just as persimmon season begins, there is only a short period of time every year (roughly around October) when you can eat them together on the same platter. So grab the chance to feast on them together this month while you still can!

 

 

Share your thoughts: Do you prefer figs or persimmons? Or, like me, do you love them both equally?

 

 

SEASONAL SNACKS: OCTOBER – FIGS AND PERSIMMONS

 

Ingredients:

Ripe persimmons (as many as you can eat in one sitting)

Ripe figs (as many as you can eat in one sitting)

 

Directions:

  1. Wash and dry your figs and persimmons.
  2. Using a serrated bread knife (or other sharp knife), cut the fruit evenly in half or quarters.
  3. Place on a platter and serve immediately. Best served at room temperature.
  4. Any leftover cut fruit can be kept in the fridge and should be eaten within a day.

 

Share your thoughts: Do you prefer figs or persimmons? Or, like me, do you love them both equally?

 

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Sep 052015
 

Fig, Lentil and Goat's Cheese Salad

 

Eating fresh figs in Dubai is a rather decadent experience. Hard to find and usually expensive, I only buy a few at a time when they are in season from July to October. As much as I love washing the fruit and eating it straight, I know that sharing is important and a great way to stretch a small amount of figs between many people is to cut them into wedges and serve them in a salad.

 

I recently made a salad using fresh figs, Puy lentils, goat’s cheese, pine nuts and dark green leaves tossed in maple vinaigrette dressing. It was a delicious accompaniment to a roast lamb dinner served on the border just between summer and autumn.

 

Fig, Lentil and Goat's Cheese Salad

 

FIG, LENTIL AND GOAT’S CHEESE SALAD WITH MAPLE VINAIGRETTE

(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)

 

Dressing Ingredients:

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp coarse sea salt (or to taste)

Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

 

Salad Ingredients:

3 fresh figs

85g / 3 oz / 4 cups (loosely packed) dark green leaves (ie. rocket/arugula, chard, spinach or a mix)

100g / 3.5 oz dried Puy lentils (or 200g cooked Puy lentils)

60g / 2 oz crumbly goat’s cheese

3 Tbsp toasted pine nuts

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare the salad dressing by combining all the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shaking well. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Set aside.
  2. Wash and dry your green leaves. A salad spinner or a tea towel work well to remove excess water. Set aside.
  3. Cook your Puy lentils by simmering them in a pot of salted water (I also add a dried bay leaf to the water if I have it) for 15-20 minutes. See my step-by-step guide (with pictures) on How To Cook Puy Lentils. When done, the lentils should still have some bite to them. Drain the lentils (discard the water) and allow to cool. Set aside.
  4. Toast your pine nuts in a dry pan on low-medium heat for about 8-10 minutes. I use a small cast iron pan. Toss the pine nuts once in a while with a wooden spoon to make sure they toast evenly. Allow to cool on a plate and set aside.
  5. Wash and dry the figs. Remove the stalks on top and cut the figs into quarters or sixths, depending on their size. Set aside.
  6. To assemble the salad, loosely toss the cooled lentils and the green leaves in a large bowl.
  7. Place the tossed lentils and green leaves on a flat serving platter.
  8. Scatter your figs, toasted pine nuts and crumbled cheese on top.
  9. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  10. When you are ready to serve, drizzle the maple vinaigrette dressing on top of the salad. You may not need to use all of the dressing.

 

 

 

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Mar 082015
 

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

 

I don’t know about you, but I keep seeing recipes for Chocolate Avocado Mousse and I wonder to myself, “Does it actually taste good?” I mean, I love avocado and I love chocolate but I’m not sure how I feel about attending their marriage.

 

I have mostly seen recipes for Chocolate Avocado Mousse on vegan blogs, but I have noticed that lately it’s been gaining acceptance amongst some non-vegan blogs and a few celebrity chefs.

 

I am not a vegan, so I can eat traditional (read “real“) chocolate mousse – that airy, chocolatey, velvety, creamy goodness that melts in your mouth. Still, I was interested to see how close this healthier version could get to a real chocolate mousse. Plus, I have a dairy-free child so I am always on the lookout for dairy-free desserts (and if they’re easy and healthy, that’s even better!)

 

There are several variations on the recipe for Chocolate Avocado Mousse out there. They all include avocado and good quality cocoa powder. Some recipes use ripe bananas while others use dates – I opted for the bananas because I felt that the dates might make the mousse somewhat heavy. Typical sweeteners were either honey or agave syrup – I opted for honey because it’s my favorite sweetener and I just love it.

 

The first time I made Chocolate Avocado Mousse, I was stunned that it actually worked. The fact that something which looked like a fruit salad a few moments before could be whipped into something which looked just like chocolate mousse blew my mind. I dipped my spoon into it and was amazed at how light and fluffy the texture was. I tasted it and it was good. It was good… but I felt it could be better.

 

The banana flavor in it was just ever so slightly overpowering. I wanted to find a way to neutralize the banana’s taste, so I increased the honey and vanilla essence and added some coconut oil (coconut cream works as well) and a tiny pinch of sea salt. I also discovered that if I put the mousse in the refrigerator for a while (anywhere from 1-24 hours), it tasted even better. A scattering of berries and chopped nuts is optional, but I highly recommend it both for the texture contrast it brings and to the nutritional boost.

 

Is Chocolate Avocado Mousse exactly like a real chocolate mousse served in a Parisian restaurant? No, it’s not. Is it a good alternative? Yes, most definitely. It looks and feels like chocolate mousse, it tastes very close to chocolate mousse, and it’s much healthier and easier to make.

 

 

Share your thoughts: If you have tried making Chocolate Avocado Mousse, share your tips and experience in the comment section below.

 

 

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

 

 

CHOCOLATE AVOCADO MOUSSE

(makes approximately 1 and 1/2 cups)

 

Ingredients:

1 ripe medium-sized avocado (in terms of weight, about 250g/9 oz whole uncut avocado OR 200g/7 oz avocado with the skin and seed removed)

2 very ripe medium-sized bananas (in terms of weight, about 300g/10 oz whole unpeeled bananas OR 200g/7 oz bananas with their peels removed)

4 Tbsp good quality cocoa powder (better to use a cocoa powder with at least 62% cocoa solids or more)

2 Tbsp coconut oil OR 6 Tbsp tinned coconut cream (stir the contents of the can to mix it well)

2 Tbsp honey

1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

A pinch of sea salt

Some chopped nuts (to garnish, optional)

Some berries (to garnish, optional)

 

NB: You need to use a food processor for this recipe

 

Directions:

  1. All the ingredients will be blended in the food processor, so remove the lid and drop the ingredients in one at a time.
  2. Get 2 very ripe medium-sized bananas and remove their peels – the peeled bananas should have a combined weight of about 200g/7 oz (if the weight is less than that, add more bananas). Break each banana into about 6 pieces by hand, and drop them into the food processor. Discard the banana peels.
  3. Cut a ripe avocado in half and remove the seed. Cut the avocado inside the skin into pieces (but without cutting through the skin) and then scoop out the avocado directly into the food processor. Discard the avocado skin and seed.
  4. Get your spoon measure, and put the cocoa powder, coconut oil (or coconut cream), vanilla extract and honey into the food processor. Add a pinch of sea salt.
  5. Put the lid on your food processor and blend for about 30 seconds. Remove the lid to taste it, and add more honey or vanilla if necessary.
  6. Put the lid back on and process until smooth, which should be another 15-30 seconds.
  7. Remove the mousse from the food processor into a bowl.
  8. The mousse can be eaten straightaway, but I find that giving it a bit of time in the refrigerator for 1-24 hours helps its flavors develop even further.
  9. Serve with a sprinkle of nuts and berries (optional)

 

Share your thoughts: If you have tried making Chocolate Avocado Mousse, share your tips and experience in the comment section below.

 

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Nov 142014
 

 

Citrus Salad with Shrikhand

 

 

My recipe ‘Citrus Salad with Shrikhand’ was featured in The Guardian (UK) and was winner of the Beat Diabetes Healthy 3-Course Meal Challenge. 

 

 

Wintertime is prime citrus season and you can find a great variety of citrus fruits in the market these days. I usually stick to clementines, my all-time favorite, but I wanted to incorporate other citrus fruits into my diet as well. This salad forced me out of my comfort-zone to try pomelo (for the first time), grapefruit (after a long time), and navel oranges (I forgot how good they could be!).

 

My recipe for Citrus Salad with Shrikhand is a wonderful way to make a fruit salad which is more then simply tossed fruit. By slicing up the citrus fruit and laying it out flat, you get to see the beautiful array of colors which each fruit brings. My method for slicing citrus fruit is very quick and easy. Simply slice off the top and bottom. Leaving the rest of the peel on, slice the fruit across horizontally into 1/2 inch (1 cm) slices. To remove the peel and pith from each slice, lie the fruit slices flat on a chopping board and use a sharp knife to cut around the fruit in straight lines (see photo above), so that the slices are hexagons or octagons.

 

Serving the citrus fruit with Shrikhand, an Indian sweetened yogurt, gives this fruit salad an exotic twist. Serve for breakfast, brunch or dessert.

 

This looks like sunshine on a plate!

 

 

 

CITRUS SALAD WITH SHRIKHAND

(Serves 4)

 

 

Ingredients:

Any variety of citrus fruits (ie. 1 grapefruit, 1 pomelo, 2 navel oranges, 2 clementines, 4 slices of pineapple)

500ml Greek yogurt

4 Tbsp icing sugar

6 cardamom pods, seeds crushed with a mortar and pestle

2 tsp warm milk

1/2 tsp saffron strands

15-20 pistachios, crushed with a mortar and pestle

 

 

Directions:

 

Prepare the Shrikhand (can be made upto 24 hours before serving):

  1. Warm 2 tsp of milk (I poured the milk into a ceramic egg-cup and microwaved it for 15 seconds) and add 1/2 tsp of saffron strands. Mix and let it sit and infuse for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Crush the pistachios with a mortar and pestle and set them aside.
  3. Crush the cardamom pod seeds with a mortar and pestle until very fine.
  4. In a bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, icing sugar, crushed cardamom seeds, and saffron milk. Stir until just evenly mixed. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

 

Prepare the Citrus Salad:

  1. If using clementines, peel and separate the segments.
  2. For most other citrus fruits, slice off the top and bottom. Leaving the rest of the peel on, slice the fruit across horizontally into 1/2 inch (1 cm) slices. To remove the peel and pith from each slice, lie the fruit slices flat on a chopping board and use a sharp knife to cut around the fruit in straight lines (see photo above), so that the slices are hexagons or octagons.
  3. Arrange the fruit on individual plates.
  4. Add a generous dollop of Shrikhand on top of the fruit and sprinkle with the crushed pistachios.

 

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Oct 142014
 

Beetroot and Nectarine Salad with Hazelnut-Rosewater Dressing

 

This recipe was a Winner of the Better Life UAE Summer Recipe Challenge 2015.

 

If you’re the sort of person who likes to control everything, here’s something you should try.

 

I recently ordered a box of organic fruit and vegetables to be delivered to my house by the local UAE company Greenheart Organic Farms. I know people have been ordering boxes from them since 2012, but I keep hesitating to place my order for one reason and one reason alone: I am a control freak and I like to know exactly what I’m getting.

 

I try to buy seasonal organic produce as much as possible, but I have always preferred to go to a shop myself to choose what I buy (and how much) rather than order a box packed by someone else. You see, I’ve got recipes in my head when I’m grocery shopping and I need to make sure that I get the right amount of ingredients to make those specific recipes.

 

Last week, I decided to throw caution to the wind and placed my order. I was so excited when our box arrived! It was full of green beans, basil, spring onions, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, aubergine, courgettes, capsicum, local dates, a really sweet melon, nectarines, and more. At the bottom of the box, I saw 6 beetroots. Yay, I love beetroot! And next to it, 2 potatoes. The control freak part of me started thinking, “Why would they put 6 beetroots and only 2 potatoes? What can my household of 4 people do with 6 beetroots and only 2 potatoes?”

 

Well, it turns out that what we can do is that we can eat a little differently from what we’ve been used to, which is a great thing! Rather than serving a side dish of potatoes with our roast chicken dinner, I made this Beetroot and Nectarine Salad with Hazelnut-Rosewater Dressing.

 

It was so liberating to work out a recipe by looking at my ingredients first, rather than my usual route of finding a recipe first and then tracking down the ingredients. I really enjoyed it! I can already feel some of my control freak tendencies starting to slip away.

 

And in case you’re wondering about those 2 potatoes, they made it into a stew along with loads of other veggies (including beetroot!).

 

 

Tell me, do you order a box of fruit and vegetables to be delivered to your door? Which company do you use? (Go on, give them a shout out!)

 

 

 

BEETROOT and NECTARINE SALAD with HAZELNUT-ROSEWATER DRESSING

(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)

 

Dressing Ingredients:

25g / 1 oz (approx 20 pieces) hazelnuts (without their shell)

3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp rosewater

1 Tbsp water

 

Salad Ingredients:

2-3 medium beetroots (raw or cooked)

2-3 fresh nectarines, sliced

50g / 1.5 oz feta cheese, crumbled or diced

 

Directions:

  1. To make the dressing, you need a hand-blender, blender, or food processor. Put the hazelnuts into the machine and switch it on for about 10 seconds to start breaking up the hazelnuts. Add the rest of the dressing ingredients (extra virgin olive oil, honey, rosewater, and water). Blend until the dressing is mostly smooth (some lumps will remain, which is fine). Set aside on the counter or in the fridge while preparing the rest of the salad.
  2. You can buy cooked beetroot in some grocery stores (not the pickled bottled type), which makes preparing them very easy –  just rinse and slice thinly. However, if you have raw beetroots you can cook them easily yourself. I usually cook more than I need and keep the extras in the fridge for other recipes. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Take your beetroot and trim off any long roots or leaves (make sure you only trim those parts, don’t cut into the main body of the beetroot). Wash the beetroot well to remove any dirt. Wrap each beetroot in some aluminum foil (keep the foil join at the top), and place the wrapped beetroot in an oven-proof dish. Fill the dish with about 1 inch (2 cm) of water and place the dish in the oven. It can take between 1 and 2 hours to cook properly (mine usually take 2 hours). Top up the water if necessary in the middle of cooking. The beetroot is ready when you can cut through it easily with a knife. Once cooked, remove the beetroot from the foil and allow to cool on a plate. When cool, rub or peel off the skin. The beetroot is ready to use. Slice it thinly for this recipe.
  3. Wash and dry your nectarines. With a small paring knife, cut around the circumference of the nectarines all the way to the seed, and twist. It should separate into two, however sometimes the seed can be quite tightly attached. Remove the seed, and slice the nectarine thinly into crescents.
  4. On a platter, place 3/4 of your beetroot slices. Place the nectarine slices on top of the beetroot. Then place the remaining beetroot slices on the platter to cover any gaps. At this point, you can place the salad in the fridge to serve later the same day (if you do this, remember to remove it from the fridge 15 minutes before serving to allow it to come to a comfortable tempreature)
  5. When ready to serve, crumble your feta cheese over the salad and drizzle your Hazelnut-Rosewater Dressing on top (you may not need to use all of the dressing).
  6. Serve immediately.

 

 

Tell me, do you order a box of fruit and vegetables to be delivered to your door? Which company do you use? (Go on, give them a shout out!)

 

 

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Sep 072014
 

Figs and Pomegranate in Spiced Syrup

 

 

It’s early September, and I can’t find any figs in my supermarket. Last week there were lots of lovely tiny ones which you could finish in one bite, but this week nothing. Fig season is from July to October, so I’m hoping I will still manage to bag a few of the season’s last figs before it’s too late.

 

Pomegranates, on the other hand, are plentiful. Pomegranate is a winter fruit, and grows in the Northern hemisphere from September to February and the Southern hemisphere from March to July. The ones in my supermarket are from India, where pomegranates grow the whole year round.

 

My usual recourse with figs is to eat them plain or to prepare them as Figs with Mascarpone and Honey, but last week I decided to use my stash of figs for something different. Here’s my recipe for Figs and Pomegranate in Cardamom and Clove Spiced Syrup. Delicious spooned over yogurt, ice cream or cake.

 

 

 

FIGS AND POMEGRANATE in CARDAMOM AND CLOVE SPICED SYRUP

 

Ingredients:

Seeds from 1 pomegranate

250g / 8oz ripe figs (approximately 10 small figs)

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

6 green cardomom pods (whole)

6 cloves

Pinch of salt

 

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, pour 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of sugar, 6 cardamom pods, 6 cloves, and a pinch of salt.
  2. Place the saucepan on the stove and heat on medium for about 10 minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve and the flavors to infuse. After 10 minutes, switch off the heat, but leave the syrup in the saucepan to continue infusing.
  3. Prepare the figs by washing and drying them gently. With a small sharp knife, cut off the stem at the top of each fig. Cut the fig into quarters or sixths (you want them to be bite-size). Set aside.
  4. My preferred way to de-seed a pomegranate is by what I call ‘The Water Method’. To do this, wash and dry the skin of your pomegranate. Fill a large bowl with fresh water and set it aside. Using a small sharp paring knife, cut off the flower stem at the top of the pomegranate. Take your knife and carefully score the skin from top to bottom into 4-6 segments (make sure you only cut the skin, not the seeds). Holding the pomegranate in your two hands, carefully pry it apart. It should separate easily. Take a segment, and submerge it in the bowl of fresh water. Start pulling apart the seeds under the water while discarding the pith and skin. The seeds will sink to the bottom while most of the pith will float. Do the same for all the segments of the pomegranate. When you are finished, drain the pomegranate seeds. They are now ready to use. Depending on how fresh your pomegranate is, you can store the seeds in the refrigerator for upto 3 days.
  5. Once the syrup has cooled down to room temperature, remove the cardamom pods and cloves (this is important as they will be hard to find after you have added the pomegranate seeds). Add the pomegranate seeds and figs. Gently mix. Put in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours to allow the syrup to infuse its flavor into the fruit. Can be refrigerated for upto 48 hours.
  6. Eat in its own or spoon it over yogurt, ice cream or cake.

 

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Jun 232014
 

Greek Yogurt with Pomegranate and Blueberries

 

 

The summer holidays have started and I have a list of activities which I like to do with my little one now that we have more time on our hands. One of our regular activities is making ‘chapati cookies’. The whole idea came from a cookie-making experience gone wrong.

 

A few years ago, I stocked up on some pretty cool cookie cutters and whipped up a batch of cookie dough. I realised that this was not quite up my alley when the directions told me to:

 

– Divide the dough in half and then roll each half out between two sheets of parchment paper (ugh, is this step really necessary?)

– Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (ok, let me try and make some space in my full fridge!)

– Try and work quickly with the dough once it’s out of the fridge before it starts to warm up to room temperature (Really? Work quickly with a four-year old?)

 

I knew it wouldn’t work the moment I read that last bit, but I persevered because people make cookies with their kids all the time, don’t they? Needless to say, it was rather stressful trying to keep warm little curious sticky hands working fast. We had to refrigerate the dough every few minutes as the dough kept becoming ‘gloopy’ and the whole process just took so long!

 

Since then, we’ve made cakes and drop cookies which are great for making with kids. But I still have these fantastic cookie cutters and I’ve been desperate to use them.

 

Enter ‘chapati cookies’. Chapati is the staple flatbread which Indians and Pakistanis eat. Chapati is actually amazing for kids to work with. It is easy to whip up, is soft and malleable, and can sit at room temperature for the whole day if necessary without melting into a puddle of butter. It’s also very healthy (I use 2 cups finely-milled wholewheat chapati flour + 3/4 to 1 cup water + 2Tbsp olive oil).

 

Although chapatis are traditionally rolled out into circles, there’s nothing in the rules which says you can’t cut them into gingerbread men, hearts, or umbrellas (yes, we have an umbrella-shaped cookie cutter!). You don’t bake them, you dry-cook them on a cast-iron pan or tava. Dipped in a little honey, chapatis make a nutritious breakfast, snack or dessert and my daughter doesn’t even miss the cookies.

 

Another summertime dish which I love eating for breakfast, snack or dessert is Greek yogurt with pomegranate, blueberries and pumpkin seeds. You can go on about the health benefits in this heavenly combination of foods, but the fact is that I eat it this high-protein anti-oxidant laden dish for breakfast simply because it tastes sooo good.

 

 

 

GREEK YOGURT WITH POMEGRANATE AND BLUEBERRIES

(serve for breakfast, snack or dessert)

 

Ingredients:

4 heaped Tbsp Greek yogurt per serving

1 Tbsp honey per serving

2 Tbsp pomegranate seeds (see below for directions on the easiest way to remove seeds from a whole pomegranate)

2 Tbsp blueberries

2 Tbsp any seeds or chopped nuts

 

Directions:

  1. If you can’t find pomegranate seeds in the refrigerated section of your supermarket, you can buy a whole pomegranate and remove the seeds in the following way. Wash the pomegranate’s skin and then cut the pomegranate into quarters (wear an apron to avoid red stains on your clothing). Put a large bowl in your kitchen sink and fill it with water. Take a pomegranate quarter and hold it under water in the bowl. With your fingers, start pulling off the seeds. They should come off very easily under water and there won’t be any red squirts of juice. Because of their weight, the pomegranate seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl while the white pithe will float. Discard the skin and repeat this process with the rest of the pomegranate quarters. Remove any floating white pithe, drain the pomegranate seeds, and refrigerate for upto 3 days.
  2. Stir the Greek yogurt in its pot to loosen it. Spoon 4 Tbsp of Greek yogurt into each bowl.
  3. Add 1 Tbsp of honey into each bowl and mix well with the yogurt.
  4. Add 2 Tbsp of pomegranate seeds.
  5. Add 2 Tbsp of blueberries.
  6. Add 2 Tbsp of any type of seeds or chopped nuts.
  7. Serve immediately without mixing the toppings into the yogurt.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sep 162013
 

Figs with Mascarpone and Honey

 

 

I only discovered fresh figs by chance in my early twenties. Having been forced to eat Fig Newtons as a school snack (grainy, sticky sweet yet musty at the same time), I always had quite bad associations with figs. After those school encounters, I would never have dreamt of going to a restaurant and torturing myself by ordering a fig tart or a goat’s cheese and fig salad. But one day, I ordered a cheese board for brunch and was presented with a chunky oak board with five types of cheese and a fig sliced into quarters. I fell in love with the way the fig looked before I even tasted it. Since then, I have loved fresh figs, and one of  my favorite ways to eat them is with a dollop of mascarpone and a drizzle of honey.

 

Fig season is a bit tricky because it actually has two seasons. A quick appearance in early summer (June) and then a longer stint from late summer to autumn (August to October). When you go to buy them remember that figs don’t ripen once they are picked, so make sure you buy ripe figs (they should give just slightly under the pressure of your thumb) and eat them within a day or two. They are very delicate and can spoil easily in transit, so check that your figs don’t have soft spots, excessive bruising, or mold on the bottom.

 

 

FIGS WITH MASCARPONE AND HONEY

(Serves 4)

 

Ingredients:

8 ripe figs, trim off stalk if it is hard

8 tsp mascarpone cheese (one tsp per fig)

Runny honey

 

Directions:

  1. Gently wash and dry your figs. If the stalk is hard, trim it off.
  2. Cut each fig into quarters but only 2/3 of the way down (see image above).
  3. Gently splay the figs and fill them with 1 tsp of mascarpone cheese.
  4. Arrange them on a serving platter or individual plates (allow 2 figs per person).
  5. Drizzle with honey according to taste.
  6. Serve immediately.

 

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