Belated Late Summer Apricots

Originally, I meant for this to be a late summer post with a sort of thrifty, make the most of this beautiful fruit before it’s gone theme.  However, autumn has crept up before I even quite knew what was happening, with its cooler air, yellows, oranges and ambers.  Yesterday I had to wrap up in a wooly scarf and saw the first pumpkins for sale in my greengrocer’s.  Last night’s pub trip tipple choices included mulled wine (although I find that shockingly premature).

It has been a busy time with work and lots of changes afoot.  Time has just slipped away before I’ve had a chance to get my head around it, so I’ve been pretty reluctant to give up summer.  We’re hoping (fingers and toes crossed… or hold your thumbs as we say in Sweden) to be moving across that great London divide, the Thames, before Christmas.  To a new home, new neighbourhood, new neighbours and hopefully, in time, a new kitchen.   It’s a lot of work, even for someone who has moved on average every other year of her life.

So the point is, I’m behind on the blog. So much so that seasons are flying past before I have time to post about them. I thought about saving these recipes for next year, but then realised that they all would work equally well made with plums, medlars or even figs, which are wonderful in the autumn.  Or save them for next August/September. 

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Apricot and Coconut Tart

This recipe is based on one by Donna Hay, but uses a gluten free pastry made out of coconut flour. 

You will need:

For the pastry
125g coconut flour
75g coconut oil
1 whole egg and 1 yolk
1.5 tbsp maple syrup

For the filling
2 egg whites
75g desiccated coconut
55g caster sugar
8-10 apricots, pitted and quartered
whipped cream and flaked coconut, to serve

 Method:

1.  To make the pastry, sift the coconut flour into a large bowl with a pinch of salt.  Slowly melt the coconut oil in a small pan over a low heat, then add to the flour along with the whole egg and yolk, maple syrup and about 3 tbsp of cold water.  Mix to form a crumbly dough and chill for about 1 hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C/160 F/Gas Mark 4.  The dough will be difficult to roll out, but you can press it into a loose-bottomed or fluted tin, about 24cm in diameter, using your fingers to spread out.  Chill until needed. 

3.  To make the filling, whisk the egg whites until frothy.  Add the coconut and sugar and mix well.  Spread over the base of the coconut pastry and scatter over the apricots.  Bake for 16-20 mins until the pastry is golden and the filling is cooked.  Allow to cool and scatter with flaked coconut and serve with lot of whipped cream.

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As I mentioned, this was supposed to be a thrifty post, filled with ways to use up an abundance of late summer stone fruits.  This apricot kernel ice cream is a perfect example.  It may sound strange, but the inner kernels of apricot or peach stones give a lovely, almond-like flavour that works particularly well in ice cream.  The stones also keep well, so you can collect them as you go.  I haven’t tried making this with plum kernels, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that worked too.

Apricot Kernel Ice Cream
Adapted from Food 52.

You will need:
50 apricot stones
500ml whole milk
350ml double cream
300g golden caster sugar
7 egg yolks

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Method:

1. Wrap the apricot stones in a tea towel and use a mallet to crack open their outer shells and bash the kernels a fair bit into shards.  Place all the kernels in a large pan with the milk and cream and bring to a boil.  Pour into a jug or bowl and allow to cool, then place in the fridge overnight.

2.  The next day, bring to the boil again and simmer for a minute or two.  Place the sugar and yolks into a bowl and whisk by hand for a minute or so until frothy and light.  Sieve the milk mixture into the bowl and stir to combine.  Transfer back into the pan and stir over a medium heat until thick and custardy, until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. 

3. Sieve back into the bowl and allow to cool completely then refrigerate for a few hours.  Churn in an ice cream maker, following manufacturer’s instructions.  Freeze until ready to eat.

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Classic Apricot Jam

This jam recipe is THE thing on a gum-cuttingly crusty baguette, slathered in salted butter.  But it has other uses too, swirled through greek yoghurt, topped with flaked almonds.  Or you could use it as a filling for tarts or jammy biscuits.  It would be wonderful topper for a vanilla cheesecake.

You will need:
1kg fresh apricots
600g jam sugar
knob of butter

Method:

1.  Wash and drain the apricots well, then halve and remove the stones.  Place in a large jamming pan with the sugar, mix well and cover and set aside for a good few hours. 

2. Tip the fruit into a large pan and slowly bring to a simmer, allowing all the sugar to dissolve.  Bring to a rolling boil and allow to bubble away for 5 mins, then use the saucer method to see if the jam has reached setting point.  Take off the heat and add a knob of butter, stirring to melt and disperse any foam.  Transfer into sterilised jars, seal and store in a cool spot. 

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Now here’s a recipe that will work at any time of year and with any summer jam you’ve got an excess of – a perfect treat for when those wonderful  fruits are no longer available.  The cake is super moist and not too sweet, which is why the syrupy jam works so well here.   It goes a bit sticky and carmelised when dotted on the top of a cake like this, which I love.  I urge you to try it!

Apricot Jam and Ricotta Cake

You will need:
250g ricotta
100ml extra virgin olive oil
200g golden caster sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon
200g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 jar apricot jam, plus a little extra

1.  Preheat the oven to 175C/150 Fan/Gas 4.  Grease a 22cm loose-bottomed cake tin and dust with flour. 

2. Beat together the ricotta, oil, sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl until smooth and runny.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.  Add to the ricotta mixture, a little at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Scrape the cake batter into the cake tin and gently smooth over.  Dot teaspoonfulls of the jam over the top of the batter, swirling in slightly.  Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

4. While the cake is cooking, mix a tablespoonfull of the jam with a little hot water.  Once the cake comes out of the oven, lightly brush with the mixture and then place on a wire rack to cool completely before releasing out of its tin.  Serve straightaway with a dollop of yoghurt or creme fraiche.

Summer Chilli

There’s definitely a chill in the air. I’m not sure where summer went exactly but I’m fairly confident it ain’t coming back.  It was 7C this morning when I woke up (at an ungodly hour for some reason).  Is it just me or has this has been one of the worst summers in recent memory?  I’m normally quite strict about turning on the heating before 1st of October, but that went out the window last night.  When it comes to food, though, I don’t feel quite ready to switch to hearty beef stews, pumpkin soup and large glasses of red wine.  I’m still clinging on to lighter, fresher dishes, at least for the time being.  This recipe is basically a transitional piece, perfect for when the sun still feels quite warm once the day gets going, but it may well rain later.  It’s the food equivalent of a trench coat.  But maybe in a bright colour. 

This lighter take on a classic chilli is made with chicken and lots of fresh green veg, chilli and lime.  A bit of heat and freshness in a bowl!  Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients, this is a super simple and quick supper and a perfect way to use up any leftover chicken. 

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Summer Chicken Chilli
serves 2 with leftovers

You will need:

1 green pepper
1 whole green chill
1 clove garlic
1 banana shallot
1 lime, juice and zest
1 small bunch coriander
1 tbsp olive oil
300g cooked chicken, shredded
1 L good quality chicken stock
1 tin butter beans, drained
150g asparagus tips, cut into bite-size pieces
100g peas, fresh or frozen
100g broad beans, fresh or frozen
spring onion, thinly sliced
1 avocado, diced
lime wedges, to serve
tortilla crisps, crumbled, to serve

Method:

1. Begin by blitzing the pepper, chilli, garlic, shallot, lime zest and juice in a food processor or mini chopper along with the stalks from the coriander.  Whizz to a chunky paste.  Heat the oil in  large saucepan and add the paste, stirring over a medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant.

2.  Add the chicken and stir for a further couple of minutes to combine.  Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Add the butter beans, peas and broad beans and continue to cook for about 10 minutes. 

3.  Divide into bowls and top with the spring onions, avocado, a little coriander, crumbled tortilla crisps and lime wedges.

 

Summer Rhubarb

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When I was younger we had rhubarb growing in our garden.  It was a seemingly magical plant, with massive leaves and bright stalks and I was always amazed that this almost tropical-looking beast could be eaten.  We put it in crumbles and pies mostly, normally picking the stalks on rainy days when baking seemed like a good activity for two bored and restless little girls.  I was incredibly sad when it was cut down a few years ago by an over-enthusiastic lawn-mowing family member.  Still searching for forgiveness for that one and that particular patch of the garden seems strangely empty now.

We’re right at the end of the rhubarb season – you may still be able to get a few pink stalks in the supermarket.  For me, it’s a summer fruit rather than a spring one, as the season is a bit later on in Sweden than in the UK (as with all fruits and veg due to our northerly location).  Rhubarb is not just for puddings, it goes exceptionally well with oily fish like mackerel and can be made into sharp cocktails and cordials.  Perfect for sipping on a hot summer’s day.  The tart flavour may not be to everyone’s taste – my husband hates the stuff even when it has been doused in sugar- but I urge you to give one or two of the easy recipes below a go and see if you aren’t converted. 

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Rhubarb and Ginger Custard Crumb Cake
Makes16 to 18 slices

You will need:

For the crumble
100g unsalted butter, melted, plus a little extra
125g golden caster sugar
140g plain flour

For the cake:
400g rhubarb, quartered lengthways then cut into 3cm bars
2 tbsp light brown sugar
2 balls stem ginger, finely chopped and 2tbsp stem ginger syrup
200g plain flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
175g  unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g icing sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
250ml good quality custard

Metod:

1. Preheat oven to 175C. Butter a 22cm square cake tin and line with baking parchment.  To make the crumble, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Add flour and mix with a fork until large crumbs form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Toss the rhubarb with the brown sugar, 1 chopped stem ginger ball and 40g of the flour. Combine the remaining flour, baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt in a small bowl.  Beat butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy.  Slowly add the eggs and vanilla, beating well after each addition.  Finally, add the flour mixture a little at a time, alternating with the custard.  Stir in the remaining stem ginger and the ginger syrup. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake tin and then spread with the rhubarb mixture.  Finally top with the crumble.

3. Top with rhubarb mixture, then top with prepared streusel.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until golden and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the cake (beware that the custard will still be a little moist, however).  Allow to cool completely then cut into slices.  

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Rhubarb and Vanilla Cream Soda

You will need:

200g rhubarb, cut into 1 cm chunks
75g golden caster sugar
1 split vanilla pod, seeds scraped
soda water or fizzy water and ice, to serve

Method:

Put the rhubarb chunks, sugar, vanilla pod and seeds into a saucepan along with 100ml of water.  Slowly simmer until the rhubarb is soft and completely collapsed, adding more water if necessary.  Allow to cool a little then strain in batches through a fine mesh sieve to get all the lovely pink syrup out.  It may help to add more cold water to the mixture. Allow to cool completely. Pour the syrup into a bottle and chill until needed.  When ready to serve, pour over ice into tumblers and top with soda water.

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Rhubarb and Cardamom Compote

You will need:

400g rhubarb, cut into 1 cm chunks
juice and zest of 1 orange
2 cardamom pods, crushed and ground in a pestle and mortar
3 tbsp golden caster sugar

Method:

Place all of the ingredients in a medium sized pan and simmer over a low heat for about 20 mins, until the rhubarb starts to collapse and is soft and spreadable.  Add a splash or two of water if starting to look dry.  Serve with yoghurt for breakfast or over ice cream for a simple pudding.   Keeps in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Birthday- Part I of II

I can’t remember the last time I had a big birthday bash.  Dinner and drinks, yes, absolutely.  It’s a great excuse to get a few friends together at a favourite watering hole for a nibble and natter.  But there’s normally just a few of us.  Low key and lovely.

But, but.  This year I’ve got a bigger birthday and that merits a bit more in way of celebrations.  Three sound about right.  So I had a summer lunch with family back in Sweden a few weeks ago, dinner at the delicious Brawn on the day itself and finally a do at Wilton’s Music Hall on the following Friday.  Why not, after all? 

The lunch I made for family and friends back on the island in Stockholm was a cross cultural affair with recipes inspired by my time at Leiths mixed in with a few family favourites.   A sort of pan Moroccan-Swedish smörgåsbord with spiced lamb, tahini and aubergine meeting smoked fish, saffron and Västerbotten cheese.  I’m not saying it necessarily made any kind of logical sense as a menu, but I figured it was my party and I’d cook what I wanted to.  I’ve copied the full menu below. 

 Jasmine from the garden

Prosecco with homemade elderflower cordial
Cheese and Tapenade straws
Pea and mint mousse
 Melon and Parma Ham
Moroccan Lamb meatballs in spiced tomato sauce
Bulgur Salad with feta, pomegranate, red onion and mint
Roasted Green Peppers with Tahini Dressing
Quiche with sesame and
Västerbotten Cheese Quiche
 Chicken with Tarragon, Lemon and Olives
Smoked Fish Terrine with Saffron and Dill
Green Salad
Basil Oil Vinaigrette 
Baba Ganoush
Flat Bread
Bread Rolls
Chocolate Cake
Summery Berry Cake
Strawberries and Cream
Coffee

Admittedly there was a ridiculous amount of food but in my defence, there were 23 of us! And my family are pretty good eaters, it must be said.  Luckily, I had some help from Toby, my trusted sous chef, who was particularly proud of the Moroccan meatballs he made (they have been mentioned several times since) and he insisted I post the recipe.  The quiche calls for delicious Västerbotten cheese (a tongue-tingling tangy Swedish cheese), which is available at Waitrose and Ocado, however, a strong cheddar works just as well.  For the terrine, I used a large rectangular bread tin, no need to go out and buy a special dish.  

Lemon, Tarragon and Olive Chicken

Tahini Green Peppers

Kefta Maticha 
(Lamb meatballs in tomato and cinnamon sauce)
A Recipe from Leiths Cookery Bible

You will need:
250g minced lamb
1/2 onion, peeled and grated
1.5 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp mint, chopped
1.5 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
salt to taste

For the sauce:
250g chopped tinned tomatoes
1 tsp parsley, chopped plus extra
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3-4 cinnamon sticks
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
sugar

Method:

1.  Place the mince in a large mixing bowl and combine with the onion, parsley, garlic, spices and salt and pepper.  Mix well.  

2.  Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large pan and add the tomatoes.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Add parsley and cinnamon and stir.   Allow the sauce to simmer and thicken for about 15-20 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, shape the mince into meatballs.  Add to the sauce and simmer gently until cooked through.  Remove the cinnamon stick and check the seasoning, adjusting with salt, pepper and sugar.

4.  Serve scattered with parsley and accompanied by a bulgur salad and flatbreads.  

Smoked Mackerel, Trout and Saffron Potato Terrine
Adapted from the Chef’s Chef website.

For 1 large terrine mould, you will need:

600g  Smoked mackerel (whole, approx 400g if you are using fillets only)
300g  Floury potatoes
About 4 Smoked trout fillets (or two packets)
75g Butter, softened
two generous pinches of Saffron
1 tbsp Dill, finely chopped plus extra
1 Lemon

Method:

1.    Peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks.  Boil in a large pan of salted water along with a pinch of saffron.  Line a large terrine mould or bread tin with a double layer of cling.  You may find it easier to do this if you lightly wet the sheets of cling first.  There should be plenty of overhang. 

2. De-bone mackerel and remove the skin, separating the flesh into fillets.

3.  Place mackerel fillets on the base and sides of the mould, packing tightly.  You should find that the fillets will easily mould to each other and can use any smaller pieces to patch up any gaps. 

4.  Once the potatoes are cooked through, drain them and return to the hot pan for a minute to get rid of any excess moisture and fluff them up a bit.  Add the butter, dill, a little lemon juice to taste.  Mix together so that the potatoes begin to break up a bit.  Season with salt, pepper and another pinch of saffron if desired. 

5. Layer the centre of the mould with the potato mix and smoked trout and close the terrine with the rest of the mackerel.

6.  Close cling film over the top of the mould and weight lightly for 4 hours minimum in the fridge, ideally weighted down and overnight.

7.  Remove from the tin and from the cling.  Cut into generous slices and scatter with dill. 

 
Sesame and Leek Quiche
From Allt Om Mat
You will need:
(1 large quiche)
For the pastry:
250g flour
100g sesame seeds
125g butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 tsp salt
For the filling:
1 large leek
2 onions
4 shallots
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
pepper
1 tbsp thyme, chopped
75g Västerbotten Cheese (or strong cheddar), grated
2 eggs, beaten
200ml double cream
Method:
1.  To make the pastry dough, combine flour, sesame seeds, butter and salt in a large bowl.  Use your fingers to crumb these together to breadcrumb consistency.  Press together into a ball of dough and use to line a 25cm pie dish, ideally loose-bottomed.  If you find that the dough is greasy or it is a particularly hot a day, chill for 15-20 min before using it.  Once you’ve lined the pie dish, refrigerate for 30 min.
2.  Preheat the oven to 200 C. Rinse the leeks and chop finely along with the onions and shallots.  Crush the garlic cloves. 
3.  Heat 2 tbsp of butter in a frying pan and fry the leeks, onions, shallots over a medium heat until soft but not coloured.  Add the garlic, salt, sugar, pepper and thyme.  Set aside. 
4.  Prick the pastry case all over with a fork then bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Alternatively, you could blind bake it by lining it with parchment and filling with baking beads or some dried beans and baking for 15-20 min until the sides are set and it is golden in colour. 
5.  Once the leek mixture has cooled slightly, add the cheese and taste to season.  In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and cream together. 
6.  Remove from the oven and fill with the leek and cheese.  Pour over the eggy cream and return to the oven for a further 25 minutes until the filling has cooked through but still wobbles a little.   Serve warm or cooled with a green salad and mustardy vinaigrette. 

Look who I found hanging out by the cake…

Strawberry Tea

Summer!  A time for BBQs, sunshine into the lazy evenings, drinks on terraces and trips to the beach.  But not necessarily a time for afternoon tea.  In my opinion, tea and cake (pleasant as that combo may be) really belongs to the more blustery days of autumn and winter.  But sometimes on a June afternoon (and in my case rather too often if truth be told) rather than that cooling glass of lemonade or sticky ice lolly, I crave a coffee and slice of something sweet.  And it is also true that friends come round for tea even in the summer.

These occasions call for a cake that’s a bit different to something you may wish for on an autumn day- something lighter and more pillowy but still has a decent crumb.  Above all it needs to be packed with plenty of seasonal fruit.  This berry cake is just the ticket for a summer’s afternoon tea.  I’ve added apricots too, which add a bit of tart sweetness.  You could top this with a dusting of icing sugar or maybe some toasted flaked almonds, but I find that a dollop of creme fraiche is all I need.  Serve with pots and pots of tea or coffee. 

Strawberry and Apricot Cake

You will need:

85g unsalted butter, plus a bit extra, softened
200g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
150g caster sugar, plus extra
1 large egg, beaten
240ml milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
500g strawberries and apricots, hulled and halved

Method:
 

1. Preheat oven to 170 C and grease a 20cm cake tin (ideally with a loose bottom) with the extra butter.  Dust with a little sugar.   In a bowl, toss the fruit in a little extra sugar to coat and set aside.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium sized bowl.  Beat the butter and 150g of sugar until light in colour and fluffy.  Use electric beaters if you prefer!  Gradually add the milk, egg and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture.

3. Pour the cake batter into your prepared cake tin.  Working quickly, lightly press the sugar-coated the fruit into the cake.

4.  Bake until cake is golden brown and coming away from the sides of the tin, approx 1 hour.  Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin and transferring to a wire rack to continue cooling.  Serve warmish or a room temp.