fruit

Jul 012016
 

SS: July - Cherries and Peaches

 

 

Summertime is prime stone-fruit time and my two favourites are cherries and peaches.

 

Cherries: When I was a little girl, I remember eating cherries straight out of a colander, freshly rinsed. I was taught that the darker cherries were sweeter and I would spend time examining the pile looking for the darkest cherries, with extra joy when I found twin-cherries joined by the stem. However, there are many varieties of sweet cherries which  come in a variety of colours from deep burgundy to bright red to yellow. When buying cherries, look for glossy firm skin and green stems. Cherries stay freshest in cold storage so make sure you keep them in your refrigerator rather than on your countertop (unless you plan on eating them straight away, in which case your countertop is perfectly fine). Cherries freeze well if you remove their stone, place them in a single layer on a tray in the freezer until frozen through, and then seal them in a freezer-bag. You can then throw these cherries into smoothies and desserts directly from your freezer.

 

Peaches: Peaches took me a little longer to appreciate because my mini-self objected to their lightly fuzzy skin, but I soon overcame that hurdle and enjoyed many moments of simple pleasure in the company of a perfectly ripe peach, it’s juice running down my wrist. Even now, I sometimes try to eat my peaches quietly away from the rest of the household to fully absorb myself in that moment of simple joy. When buying peaches, look for unblemished skin and a slight give when pressed with your thumb. Peaches come in a variety of shades from pale yellow to blush red to maroon, and can be large round orbs or small flat discs (my preference is for flat peaches). The scent of a peach is a good indicator of its taste. Peaches are delicate so make sure you carry them on top of the rest of your shopping rather than at the bottom (as I have learned the hard way). Peaches are at their peak in July and August.

 

* The produce above is in season in July in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, July seasonal produce includes papayas, mandarins and golden delicious apples.

 

 

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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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Feb 012016
 

Seasonal Snacks:February 2016

 

February is the month to top up on the last of the season’s clementines and persimmons. These bright orange fruits bring sunshine into my kitchen through the winter months and this is probably the last month that you can get a good supply of them before they disappear for the next nine months (in the northern hemisphere).

 

These bright orange coloured fruits get their sunny pigment from an antioxidant called beta-carotene. Beta-carotene has many benefits, but it is especially helpful in maintaining beautiful skin and healthy eyes and vision.

 

Seasonal Snacks:February 2016

 

 

The above fruits are in season in February in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, February seasonal fruits include kiwifruit, mangoes and strawberries (lovely dipped in dark chocolate for a Valentine’s treat!)

 

 

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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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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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May 282015
 

Watermelon with Crushed Pistachios and Dark Chocolate

 

It’s May and the temperature in Dubai is regularly going over 40°C (that’s 104°F for US readers)! At times like this, watermelon makes a delicious hydrating snack or dessert.

 

Slicing your watermelon into wedges is probably the easiest way to eat it, but if you want to make something a bit more special, why not try cutting it into cute little bite-sized shapes. Cookie cutters tend to be too large, but I have found that fondant cutters are exactly the right size.

 

You can dress your watermelon cut-outs by scattering anything on top, but I like pistachios because their green colour is a nice contrast to the dark pink watermelon. And dark chocolate in moderation has many health benefits, including having antioxidant properties.

 

Share your thoughts in the comment section below: What do you like to eat or drink to cool yourself down when the temperature soars?

 

Watermelon with Crushed Pistachios and Dark Chocolate

 

WATERMELON with CRUSHED PISTACHIOS and DARK CHOCOLATE

 

Ingredients: (the quantities in this recipe are only guidelines and you should adjust the amounts according to what seems right to you)

Watermelon (whole or half; seedless watermelon makes for easier cutting) – try to use only as much as will be eaten in one day

4-6 Tbsp pistachios (out of their shells)

20-40g / 0.7-1/4 oz chilled dark chocolate bar (eating chocolate) – refrigerate it for 30 minutes so that it is chilled and easier to chop

 

Directions:

  1. Place your pistachios on a cutting board and roughly chop through them with a sharp knife. The amount of pistachios you use depends on how much watermelon you plan to serve, and should be adjusted according to your taste. Set aside.
  2. Place your chilled dark chocolate on your cutting board and roughly chop it with a sharp knife. The amount of chocolate you use depends on how much watermelon you plan to serve, and should be adjusted according to your taste. Set aside.
  3. Wash and dry the skin of your watermelon.
  4. Cut your watermelon into 2.5cm / 1-inch thick pieces.
  5. Choose a few small fondant/cookie cutters and cut shapes out of the watermelon.
  6. To avoid wastage, any watermelon left over after the cut-outs should be saved and used in a smoothie, juice or salad. Discard the green watermelon rind.
  7. Refrigerate the watermelon and chocolate (separately) until ready to serve. The cut watermelon will start to release liquid after a while, so refrigerate it for a maximum of 24 hours.
  8. To serve, arrange the watermelon cut-outs on a platter and scatter your chopped pistachios and dark chocolate on top.
  9. Eat within 24 hours.

 

Share your thoughts in the comment section below: What do you like to eat or drink to cool yourself down when the temperature soars?

 

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