Category: Fruit


The Art of Avocado on Toast

February 22nd, 2014 — 11:23am

I’m being serious, there’s an art to this. Done properly, avo on toast is one of the most sublime breakfasts/brunches/snacks/whatevers going. Done badly, which it is so often, it’s nowt but slimy green bread. I consider myself something of a master when it comes to avo toast and I don’t mind saying so. Here are my 5 steps to a really good Saturday morning.

1. Choose the right bread. You need one slice of excellent white sourdough bread per person. It really does need to be the best bread you can get. My favourite is from Brickhouse.

2. Choose the right avocado. A properly ripe avocado is essential, either the Hass (small, bobbly) or Fuerte (smooth skinned) variety, although it’s harder to get a good example of the latter. If you live near a grocer that sells those mahoosive African jobbies then give them a go – they can be gorgeous if caught at the right stage of ripeness.

3. Get the toast temperature spot on. One of the joys of avo on toast is the contrast between the warm bread and cool topping but don’t be tempted to whack it on there straight away, it will be too hot and the fruit will go unpleasantly gooey underneath. The key is to let the toast cool for 30 seconds or so, out of the toaster, but propped up against something (like the side of a chopping board); if you let it lay flat on a surface it will sweat and go soggy.

4. Apply the avocado correctly. Use a spoon to scoop out portions of avocado, then smoosh each onto the toast with a fork, leaving attractive tine marks. Don’t go overboard, it just needs to be pressed on unceremoniously. Chunks are desirable.

5. Get the toppings right. The ultimate combo for me is as follows:

  • 1 very finely shredded spring onion per slice
  • A sprinkle of red chilli flakes (the flavour works better than fresh chilli, I think)
  • Plenty of good salt, like Maldon
  • Black pepper (not too much)
  • A conservative tinkle of lemon juice (really do be careful as too much will ruin it but a tiny bit is wonderful)
  • A little zig zag of your absolute best extra virgin olive oil (a grassy flavour is perfect).

That, for me, is the ultimate avocado on toast. The most satisfying meatless breakfast/brunch going, surely?

40 comments » | Breakfast, Brunch, Fruit, Vegan

Pickled Nectarine Salsa

August 20th, 2013 — 9:46am

 

I really, really didn’t want to call this a salsa because…well I don’t really know. There’s just something a bit tossy about it. Anyway relish wouldn’t work and neither would salad so here we are with salsa. I should’ve just called it THE BEST GRILLED MEAT ACCOMPANIMENT IN THE WORLD, because it really is. Last night, we ate it with some BBQ chicken which I’d marinated in yoghurt and a load of spices that would compliment the fruit, like cardamom, cloves and chilli. Stuffed into a pitta with a bit of leafage and a yoghurt sauce thing = really bloody good.

The nectarines and onions are quick pickled, then mixed with mint and olive oil. Simple. It would also be wicked with pork and BBQ fish.

Pickled Nectarine Salsa

4 nectarines, stoned and diced (leave the skins on)
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
Small handful mint leaves, finely shredded
120ml white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pep

Put the chopped nectarine and onion in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix the vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Pour this mixture over the nectarine and onions, add salt and pepper and press down so all it submerged. Allow to pickle for 10 minutes then drain. You could reserve the liquid for pickling something else if you fancy. It tasty. Stir through the chopped mint and olive oil. At this point it will still taste rather astringent and not quite right, which is why you must allow it to sit for an hour or two before serving. It will transform.

20 comments » | Fruit, Salsa

Peckham Goat Tagine

January 2nd, 2013 — 2:54pm

Tagines have always been something I’ve viewed as having great potential to be really tasty, but I’ve never eaten a good one. What I imagined in my head to be a thick, rich, aromatic stew with complex flavours always arrived as a thin, watery bowlful bearing way too much dried fruit.

Because I am a spoiled and lucky girl, I received a magnificent tagine for chrimbo; a chance to turn things around and make the tadge I’ve always wanted, Pecknam stylee.

The tagine is heated on a little metal thing that looks like a ping pong bat with dimples in it, which helps to distribute the heat evenly across the base. It’s important that the tagine is heated slowly, otherwise it will crack and spoil all your fun before you’ve started.

The base was thickly covered with a bed of onions, the idea being that they would cook down, becoming silken and lush and absorbent of everything above. This being Peckham (bruv), the meat had to be goat, which is very easy to come by here. Its ballsy mutton like flavor is perfect (you could obviously substitute mutton if you can find goat) and it loves long cooking to become properly tender. For veg, some of those little white baby aubergines, which also need a good simmering into submission (they remain stubbornly bitter otherwise) and some small turnips, diced.

For the fruit, which for me is potentially the making but most commonly the breaking of a good tagine, I bought dried fruits from Persepolis, ending up with a kind of Moroccan/Persian hybrid recipe. There are many similarities between the cuisines. In went a dried lime, which the Iranians add mostly to stews where they bob about, gradually releasing a flavor which is like a lime essential oil, emerging at the end shriveled and spent. Apricots went in too, but not those horrible overly sweet and sulphurous supermarket ones but fragrant perfumed Persian fruits. A few scarlet barberries flecked the top, adding sourness, like tart cranberries.

For heat, I couldn’t help whacking a scotch bonnet in. I’m sorry. If I didn’t I’d be betraying Peckham. It was left whole though and just pierced, to contain heat but leach flavour. Having impulse bought a bag of African hot peppers, a couple of those went into a spice paste with loads of garlic, two types of paprika and a shed load of ras el hanout. It could have blown our heads off but didn’t; a bit on the hot side for a tagine, but with an enjoyable slow build.

After three hours of simmering and steaming what emerged was the tadge I’d always wanted; deep and complex, sweet then spicy then sour, lips were sticky from slow cooked onions and goat fat. A scattering of mint and spring onion freshened things up at the end.

This is, as you would imagine, even better the next day and again the day after that. I served it with flat bread and Sally Butcher’s Borani-ye Esfanaj (spinach with yoghurt – from Persia in Peckham), which is one of my favourite yoghurty arrangements of all time.

Peckham Goat Tagine (serves 6)

500g diced goat meat (or mutton)
4 small turnips, peeled and cut to the same size as the aubergines
6 small white aubergines, halved
3 onions, sliced
1 scotch bonnet chilli, left whole but pierced
250ml water
1 dried lime
5 dried apricots
1 scant tablespoon barberries
Mint leaves, finely sliced
1 spring onion, finely sliced

For the paste

5 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2 African hot pepper dried chillies (optional)
2 tablespoons ras el hanout
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (smoky paps)
1 tablespoon water

Ideally I would have marinated the goat overnight in the paste then added it straight to the tagine without browning. I didn’t because I wasn’t organised enough so I’ve set out the method below as I cooked it.

Start by heating the tagine slowly. Add some olive oil, the onions and scotch bonnet chilli. Let the onions cook down gently while you brown the meat.

Cover a plate with flour and season it with salt and pepper. Dust each cube of the goat meat in it. Heat a frying pan and add some oil. Brown the meat on all sides. This will need to be done in several batches. Add this to the tagine, followed by all the other ingredients, including the paste. Season with salt and pepper and cook on a lowish heat for three hours, stirring every now and then after the first hour or so. After two hours, I’d advise you pick out the scotch bonnet chilli, because it’s only a matter of time before it bursts and you get a lot more heat than you bargained for.

Scatter over the mint and spring onion and serve with plenty of flat bread for dipping.

30 comments » | Food From The Rye, Fruit, Main Dishes, Meat, Peckham, Stews, Tagines

Figs, Feta and Hazelnuts with Pomegranate Molasses

September 22nd, 2011 — 8:07am

I saw this recipe by Stevie Parle in The Telegraph back in July and fell in love with the idea of combining figs, hazelnuts and pomegranate molasses. It’s just beautiful, in case you haven’t tried it. I’ve ramped up the sweet/sharp thing already going on with the pom syrup and figs by adding a little feta and some pomegranate seeds, for fleshy pops of juice. I also did away with the edible flowers because, unsurprisingly, they’re not that easy to find at 7pm on a Wednesday evening.

This took a few minutes to assemble and although it’s not filling enough on its own as a main meal, it is one of the most perfectly delicious ways to begin; a total triumph in the contrasts department.

Figs, Feta and Hazelnuts with Pomegranate Molasses (serves 1) (adapted from Stevie Parle’s recipe for The Telegraph)

3 ripe figs
1/2 a pomegranate
A little feta
Small handful blanched hazelnuts
A few leaves of lambs lettuce
1 scant teaspoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon light olive oil

Mix the pom molasses and oil together in a small bowl. Arrange the lambs lettuce on a plate. Halve the figs and add them also. Break the hazelnuts slightly in a pestle and mortar and scatter over the figs, along with the feta. Hold the pomegranate half over a bowl and bash the skin with a wooden spoon until all the seeds fall out (remove any white bits that fall in). Sprinkle a few seeds over the salad and eat the rest. Spoon over the dressing. Serve.

16 comments » | Cheese, Fruit, Gluten-free, Healthy, Salads

3 Mango Sorbet

May 25th, 2011 — 7:42pm

That’s 3 different types of mango, not 3 individual fruits. I’m into combining different varieties of the same ingredient to maximise flavour, such as 2-garlic soup and this cheese and onion tart which uses 3 types of onion. While browsing around in Peckham the other day I noticed the variety of different mangoes available. I usually stick to Alphonsos when making sorbet but these other types were so cheap I couldn’t resist; basically because they were so ripe they were on the edge of going off. Perfect for making sorbet.

I wondered if the 3 varieties (help in identifying them please; there are thousands out there, I got confused) would combine to make one super-intense mango flavoured sorbet. The answer to this question is a whopping great yes. My boyfriend and I ate half the tub the first time we opened it which only leaves the other half for tonight. I am uncomfortable with the thought of being without the sorbet.

There’s something about mangoes which make them better than other fruit for sorbet-ing; they give a very silky-smooth texture which is more like ice cream than sorbet. Extremely satisfying. It’s relatively healthy too, using only 100g sugar. The rest is pure fruit and lime juice.

I should say that I made this in my shiny new Cuisinart ICE30BCU ice cream maker, which Cuisinart kindly sent me to try out (I’m a total whore when it comes to accepting kitchen kit for review). My old ice cream maker was a Magimix Le Glacier 1.1, which did my head in, not least because it had a tiny yet essential part which I (and loads of other people) lost on a regular basis. The Cuisinart model is large in comparison, but with a welcome sturdyness. It also has only 4 parts, large parts, which are easy to fit together. The bottom bowl still goes in the freezer but when it’s on, the bowl turns, not the paddle. This makes it much less likely to break. It takes no time to churn. In short, I love it. And that’s not just because it was free. If you don’t believe that last bit, you can see what I said about the free breadmaker.

So there.

3 Mango Sorbet

Er, 7 mangoes like the ones above. Sorry I didn’t weigh the flesh. The mangoes in the middle are the ones you would easily find in supermarkets, to give you an idea of size. Quantities won’t matter too much though, just get yourself a variety of mangoes.
3 limes
100g icing sugar

Scoop the flesh from the mangoes into a blender. Add the sugar and lime juice and blend. You could then pass the mixture through a sieve to remove any fibrous bits but I didn’t bother. Tip into an ice cream machine and churn until frozen.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, tip the mixture into a freezer-proof container and freeze. After a couple of hours, remove from the freezer and blend again. Freeze again. If you have time, repeat the process once more.

18 comments » | Fruit, Ice Cream

Top tip for making sloe gin

November 29th, 2010 — 8:40am

The only ‘hard work’ involved in making sloe gin is foraging those sloes. Most recipes also advise you to painstakingly prick each sloe with a pin to allow the juices to leach out in the bottle. Forget this. I recently ran into Sipsmith’s master distiller, Jared Brown who gave me an absolute blinder of a tip – put the sloes in the freezer before bottling. This way, their structure breaks down through the freezing process, eliminating the need to prick.

Now it is really just a case of chucking everything in a bottle.

Sloe gin (makes a 1 litre bottle)

Sloes are the fruit of the blackthorn bush and are best picked after the first frost, when they should be ripe.

500g sloes
Gin (I used Beefeater – not too simple or complex in flavour)
100g-150g caster sugar (I used 100g as I don’t like it too sweet but most recipes use 150g)

Once you’ve foraged your sloes, pick over and wash them thoroughly. You can be diligent and remove all little stalky bits if you like but as you can see I didn’t even bother doing that. Once frozen, sling the sloes into a clean 1 litre bottle. Funnel in the sugar and then cover with gin.

Turn the bottle daily for a week or two, then just turn it (upside down and back again) every week or so. You can drink it after about 2 months but 6 would be better (no-one ever waits that long). When ready to drink, strain the gin through muslin and re-bottle.

10 comments » | Drinks, Food From The Rye, Foraging, Fruit, Peckham

Peaches with walnuts and feta

August 4th, 2010 — 7:52pm

A truly ripe peach is a juice bomb. It requires a special, forward-leaning eating position, or else the juice will collide with either your t-shirt, your laptop, or the one important paper on your desk amongst all the other miscellaneous crap. Despite this trickery, a snatched and frenzied slurp-fest can be a real pleasure; un-fussed and fuzzed.

If you find yourself up against a batch that are a bit under-ripe though, this is the recipe for you; they’ll be capable of holding their own in the pan. Grilling also works.

If there’s anything a heap of honeyed peaches is crying out for, it’s a little salty somethin’ somethin’. Two courses of action that will never let you down: pig route, cheese route. Grilled bacon slots in effortlessly like the cool kid at school. A sharp cheese like a feta or goat’s will seem more restrained but delivers similarly satisfying results. S’ up to you.

Pan fried peaches with walnuts and feta

6 slightly under-ripe peaches
Olive oil, for brushing

For the dressing

1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 generous teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 teaspoon chilli flakes

Garnish

150g feta cheese
1 large handful of walnuts

Preheat a heavy based frying pan or skillet over a medium heat. Meanwhile, cut the peaches in half and remove the stones. Brush each one generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place each peach cut side down in the pan and leave until slightly golden. Turn them over carefully and give them a minute or so on the skin side then remove and allow to cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, cut each half into 4 wedges.

Toast the walnuts by putting them in a dry pan over a fairly low heat and leaving them for a few minutes, moving them around regularly to stop them burning. Remove and set aside.

Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together well and seasoning with pepper and just a little salt as the feta is salty. Combine in a bowl with the peaches – gently, to stop them breaking up. Arrange on a plate and garnish with the feta and walnuts. Serve immediately.

13 comments » | Barbecue, Fruit, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetables

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