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Category Archives: Fruits

Kitchen creativity

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I’ve been doing my best to keep up with the 30 days of creativity, but I was travelling for two of them, and there isn’t much creative you can do on a trans-Atlantic flight anymore, save think of all the things you could be doing with those seven hours.

So, because of the jet-lag, I haven’t been very hands-on with my creativity, but I have been limping along in the kitchen.  So much produce has come into season just now, I’ve been doing my best to keep up with the glut.  I’ve been drying herbs and freezing as much as I can.

A simple way to start is with freezing strawberries.  Simply wash them and hull them.  Lay them on a baking tray top-side down, like little pyramids.  Put the tray in the freezer and come back in about a day and a half.  Place frozen strawberries in a freezer bag and save for a dreary winter day…

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It’s that time of the year

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for blood oranges, at least in Europe.  I love blood oranges, especially when they are both sweet and tart in the same orange.  At any rate, this is a great GF snack, and they are only available for a few weeks starting about now.  So feel free to indulge, and use them anywhere you would use an orange or lemon.

Happy eating!

 

Stewed Apples (or pears)

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Ah, what would GF life be without stewed fruit?  I think it might have a bit of a bad reputation, thanks to some overzealous cooks, but I like the warm, sweet simplicity of cooked fruit in the winter.

For apples, use about 1/4 cup sugar to every two cups of water.  You can eyeball this, because it really depends on how sweet your apples are anyway.  Peel, core, and halve or quarter as many apples as you want, cover with water, and sprinkle in your sugar and squeeze in a bit of lemon juice.  Cook on low heat, gently, until soft.  You don’t want a rolling boil, just a nice simmer, and you don’t want to go too long, because then you’ll end up with mush.  If your apples start to split, take them off the heat immediately.  Once cool enough to taste, check to see if the liquid is sweet enough.  Serve warm with liquid in bowls.

That is the basic recipe.  I usually throw in a piece of cinnamon and a couple of pinches of whole cloves too.  You can also use pears instead of apples, and maybe a piece of vanilla bean or a slug of vanilla extract (or rum) in place of the spices.

In case of leftovers, you can serve them cold or puree them to make apple sauce.

Baked Cream of Buckwheat (Pohankove Krupice)

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Mother-in-Law just cued me in on an old Slovak farm dish on her last visit, and it came out such a treat that I thought I’d share.  It’s the kind of thing that makes use of what is about on a farm or in the countryside, and it can be baked when the oven is already hot for something else.

There are three steps to this, so bear with me.

To make up the cream of buckwheat, either follow the instructions on the package for four servings, or heat two cups of milk with a good dollop of butter, a tablespoon of sugar or syrup, and a dash of salt in a deep pot.  Once it is near boiling, whisk in a scant 1 1/4 cups of the cream of buckwheat (which I still call krupice, and have no idea of the proper English name).  Whisk constantly over heat until it starts to thicken, then switch to a spatula and stir until thoroughly cooked.  Set aside to cool.

In the meantime, bake four or five apples in a medium oven by washing and coring them, then placing in a buttered dish.  You can stuff them with dried fruit and nuts, jam, or compote, or just leave them empty.  You could also peel them, but I’m too lazy to do that, so I just give them a good wash.  Sprinkle in a bit of water, cover with foil, and bake until soft.

While the apples are baking, separate the whites from the yolks of three eggs.  Beat the juice of half a lemon into the yolks, then thoroughly mix into the cooled buckwheat.  Beat the eggs stiff with up to 1/2 cup of sugar, depending on taste, then fold this into the buckwheat mixture.  Pour all around the baked apples in the baking dish, return to the oven uncovered, and bake until set and browned on top.

I serve this warm with chopped nuts and a salad of tinned fruits.  It’s an amazing, stick to your ribs, winter dinner.

Stewed Pears

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At the weekend, I managed to snag a bag of overripe pears from a local greengrocer.  I grabbed them thinking I would figure out what to do with them all later, having a vague idea of doing some kind of pear cake.  Well, the pear cake only needed a few pears, so I stewed the rest for a breakfast treat.

To stew your pears, core them and wash them well.  You can peel them, if you want, but I’m lazy and leave the peels on.  Slice them in quarters and drop them in a saucepan.  Put enough water into the saucepan to cover the bottom well enough to prevent burning, and dump in a few tablespoons of sugar.  The amount of sugar you use will depend on how sweet your pears are.  As a general rule, I eyeball it and add in about a tablespoon per pear.  If you have a vanilla pod, drop that in too, or just slug in some vanilla extract.  Simmer gently on low heat until the pears are soft and the water has turned syrupy, about fifteen minutes.  You may want to add a bit more water, depending again on how juicy your pears are.

Serve warm or cold, with yogurt, cake, or just on its own.

Banana cookies

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Not that bananas would have been available during the War, but I still like these cookies for their oatmeal and lack of sugar and eggs.  I suppose, true Home Front enthusiasts could puree cooked parsnips with a bit of sugar and banana flavouring to make a Home Front version, but I’m not one to go that far if I’ve got overripe bananas anyway.

Puree 3 soft bananas with 1/3 cup oil and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Combine puree with 2 cups of rolled oats*and 1 cup of raisins.  If you have any sunflower seeds or broken nuts, you can add those in too, or you can just add in another small handful of oats.  When thoroughly combined, the mixture should be sticky and able to clump together.

Heap into cookie sized shapes on a baking tray and bake at 350 F/ 180 C/ Gas Mark 4 for about thirty minutes.  These go surprisingly fast for healthy cookies, especially with Daughter.

You could probably also swap about half this for cold porridge/oatmeal and be okay, though I never seem to have cold porridge and overripe bananas at the same time.

Home front lemon curd

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So I finally got into the kitchen to try out the lemon curd recipe from the MoF.  It turned out to be fairly good, though I wouldn’t call it lemon curd (more like thick lemon syrup).  Still, it works in a pinch, especially as a filling, and doesn’t require any eggs.

In a sauce pan, mix together one teaspoon of cornflour and 2-3 tablespoons of sugar (go with three if you want things super sweet).  Add in the zest of one lemon and mix.  Beat in four tablespoons of lemon juice and three tablespoons of water, then turn on low heat.  Whisk over low heat until it starts to thicken, then add in two tablespoons of margarine.  Continue whisking until thickened, about ten minutes all together.  Then turn of the heat and whisk to blood temp or lower, to avoid lumps.  Pour into a jar and cool before storing in the fridge.

I did have to change this recipe a bit, because I wasn’t going to use lemon squash when I actually had lemons.  Despite the color, this does taste quite a lot like lemon curd.