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. 

IMG_9611HAM 2

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.

IMG_9713HAM 2

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

IMG_9676HAM 2

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.

IMG_9552

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. 

IMG_9695HAM 2

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. 

IMG_9402

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.

 

Jam of Greengages

IMG_9520

I came across these beautiful greengages in a local fruit and veg shop the other day and had to buy them.  When I was a kid, we had a hammock hanging between the plum trees in our garden in Sweden.  Endless summer hours were whittled away, snoozing, reading and swinging underneath their leafy shade.  Looking up, I would sometimes spy a tiny unripe green plum – a promise of later treats.  As with all fruits and veg, plums come into season much later in Scandinavia.  The plum harvest was notoriously and particularly unpredictable – if we were lucky we would be able to taste one or two when they’d just started to turn a patchy yellow-purple, but more often than not we’d be long gone by the time they were ripe.

These honeyed green plums reminded me of all the recipes I missed out on, so I couldn’t resist taking some home for the jams and tarts I’d always dreamt of making.  But I should warn you that this is small-batch cooking, I’m afraid, as I only bought a kilo of the fruits home.  The jam recipe makes two small jars, just and the tart recipe is for a mini dessert, enough for a 18cm pie dish.  This turned out to be ample for the two of us for dessert over a few days, including a trip to the proms (the queue is an excellent excuse for a fancy picnic style dinner).  To serve more, you could of course double the recipe and use a larger pie dish.

 

IMG_9553

Greengage and vanilla jam
Makes 2 jars

You will need:
500g greengages
1 small vanilla pod
400g caster sugar
knob of butter

Method:

1.  Wash the greengages well and place in a large pan with 100ml of water and the vanilla pod. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for about 20 mins until the fruit is completely soft.

2. Add the sugar off the heat and stir to dissolve completely.  Bring back to a rolling boil for about 15 minutes, until setting point is reached.  You can test for this by placing a small plate or saucer in the freezer.  Drizzle a little hot jam over the plate and allow to cool.  If the jam is ready, it should crease and create a ripple-like wrinkle effect when pushed across the saucer with a finger.

3.  Fish out any stones which should by now how floated to the surface.  Add the butter and stir until melted and any scummy froth has disperesed.  Pour the jam into hot steralised jars and allow to cool a little before sealing. 

IMG_9536

Greengage and Calvados Tart
Serves 4

You will need:
1/2 pack ready-made shortcrust pastry or make your own
150ml calvados
125g brown sugar
400g greengages, pitted and patted dry
30g cornflour
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Method:

1.  Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.  Roll out your pastry to line a small pie dish, circa 18 cm in diameter.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up. 

2.  Meanwhile, place the calvados and 50g of the sugar in a small pan.  Simmer slowly until thick and reduced by about half – this should take about 15 minutes.  Allow to cool a little, then combine all but a few tablespoons with the fruit, sifted ornflour, cinnamon and remaining sugar. 

3. Tip the greengages into the pie shell and bake for 45 minutes, until the fruit filling is soft and jammy but not liquidy.  Cover with tinfoil if the pastry is getting too brown. 

4.  While the pie is in the oven, return the remaining calvados to the pan and reduce to a syrupy consistency.  Drizzle over the warm tart and serve with a dollop of greek yoghurt or ice cream.

Summer Rhubarb

IMG_9153

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. 

IMG_9186

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.  

IMG_9265

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.

IMG_9239

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.

Swedish Meatballs

IMG_0132

Over the past few months I’ve been working with Scan Meatballs on a number of different projects including hosting a food blogger’s event and taking over their twitter and facebook feeds in the run up to Sweden’s National Day and Midsummer’s Eve next week.  They’ve been a fantastic company to work with as they are keen to promote Swedish food and culture over here in the UK and to get away from some of the more traditional views of Scandi food.  As such they’ve given me free reign to create some recipes for them. 

Meatballs are perhaps a bit of a stereotype of Swedish cuisine and with good reason: a classic Meatball sarnie is a staple in every Swedish café.  I always have one on one of the boats that take you out to the Stockholm archipelago, with a cup of coffee or a cold beer.  However, meatballs aren’t just limited to the stereotypes.  Families regularly have meatballs for dinner in all manner of guises and Swedish food mags contain countless variations with inspiration from all over the world.  And so with this in mind, I’ve created a Meatball Mushroom Stroganoff and a sticky sweet Teriyaki meatball served with rice in crunchy salad cups.

Classic Swedish Meatball Sandwich with Quick Pickled Cucumber  
Serves 2

You will need:
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp caster sugar
pinch white pepper
small handful dill, roughly chopped
1 x 230g pack Scan Meatballs
2 cooked beetroots (not in brine)
2 tbsp creme fraiche
1 tbsp mayo
2 wholegrain or rye bread rolls
To serve: salted butter, salad leaves, radishes, dill

Method:

1. Begin by making the quick pickle.  In a small bowl, combine the sliced cucumber with the white wine vinegar, sugar, white pepper, a little dill and a pinch of sea salt.  Set aside while you make the rest of the sandwich.

2. Cook the meatballs according to packet instructions, either in the oven or on the hob.

3. Dice the cooked beetroot and mix with the creme fraiche, mayonnaise and salt and white pepper.  Slice the bread rolls and spread with butter.  Top with lettuce, cucumber, beetroot salad and finally the meatballs.  Scatter a little extra dill on top, if you like, and serve immediately.  

IMG_0113

Meatball Mushroom Stroganoff  
Serves 4

You will need:
2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
2 onions, sliced
200g mushrooms, such as chestnut or shitake
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 x 395g pack Scan Meatballs
200ml chicken stock
100g creme fraiche (about 4 generous tbsp)
1 tsp dijon mustard
small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
To serve:
Rice or pasta
Gherkins or capers, Pickled Red onions, optional

Method:

1. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan and gently cook the onions over a low heat for about 10 minutes, until golden and soft.  Meanwhile, in a separate frying pan, heat the remaining oil and fry the mushrooms in batches.  Set aside.

2. Tip in the meatballs into the onion pan and fry for about 5-7 minutes, until golden.  Add the garlic, thyme and paprika cook for another couple of minutes. 

3. Add the stock and creme fraiche and simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickened. Sitr through the dijon mustard and add the mushrooms.  Season to taste before sprinkling with chopped parsley.  Serve with rice or pasta as well as some pickled red onions, gherkins or capers. 

IMG_9200

Teriyaki Meatball Salad Cups
Serves 4

You will need:
300g Jasmin or Basmati rice
2 tbsp honey
3 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
small thumb fresh root ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp olive or rapeseed oil
1 pack Scan meatballs
4 Little gem lettuces, leaves picked
3 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp toastec sesame seeds
Small handful corriander, roughly chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges

Method:

1. Cook the rice according to packet instructions.  In a small bowl, whisk together honey, soy sauce, mirin, rice wine vinegar, grated ginger and garlic.  In a separate and even smaller bowl, mix the cornflour with 1 tbsp of water, stirring until milky and all lumps have disappeared.  Add to the teriyaki sauce and set aside. 

2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the meatballs.  Fry for about 5-7 minutes, until just starting to go golden.  Add the sauce and heat through over a low heat until thick and really sticky – a couple of minutes.

3.  To serve, lay out the remaining ingredients on your table.  Let everyone help themselves to make the lettuce cups by topping each leaf with a spoonfull of rice, a couple of meatballs, spring onions, sesame seeds and coriander.  Squeeze over a little lime and dig right in.