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Archive for the ‘fruits’ Category

Candied root vegetables and fruits in the Tudor fashion

In dessert, fruits, vegetables on March 22, 2015 at 12:44 am

candied root vegetables in the Tudor fashion

The Tudor period of England and Wales stretched from the reign of Henry VII in 1485 until the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. I had to Google that because I have no interest in anything Tudor, not even the TV series The Tudors.

I’m not curious about eating a partridge from a pear tree or three blackbirds baked in a pie either. Thankfully, the recipes from A Recipe Book in the Tudor Fashion comes with modern interpretations. It was a gift from a former boss, a souvenir from her visit to the UK.

As there were no refrigerators to store food back then, preserving food with sugar was one of the ways to keep it longer. This recipe was part of a banquet serving.

Making it is fairly simple. Just cut the vegetables and fruits to a thickness of about 3mm. If you are diligent, you could go the extra mile and use pastry cutters to fashion them into fancy shapes. I was more concerned about finishing up fast so I could eat, hence the plain-looking result.

Heat 225g of sugar with 300ml of rose water in a saucepan. When the sugar dissolves, add the fruits and vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes until the sugar syrup caramelizes to a light brown. Then move the slices to a rack to drain and dry.

Shopping list: root vegetables and fruit such as apples, pears, carrots, sweet potatoes and parsnips; rose water

From the pantry: granulated sugar

Can I do it?: Yes, if you have the patience not to leave sugar to burn over a stove

Hardware: saucepan and wire rack

Credit: A Recipe Book in the Tudor Fashion for the Entertainment of Visitors and Pupils to The Queen’s Great Standing in  the Forest of Epping near London (yes, that’s the full title)

Plum and almond tart

In baking, fruits, Jamie Olver on June 22, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Jamie Oliver's Plum and Almond Tart

Sometimes I get too ambitious. Let’s bake a tart from scratch! That means no store-bought tart shell. Boy, was I in for a lot of work.

The dough was difficult to form because I used the wrong type of sugar. The recipe calls for confectioner’s sugar, which I assumed was granulated sugar. I later found out it is icing sugar, which would easily melt and thus make the dough more pliable. So, with the tough and crumbly dough, there was some great effort pressing the dough onto my Pyrex tart mold. Then I had to freeze the shell before putting in the filling. But that’s not all.

For the filling, the almonds need to be blanched, then chopped fine with the food processor. Next up for the food processor is the butter and sugar. Then mix the butter and sugar and the chopped almonds with the pistachio and beaten eggs. And after all this, the filling has to be chilled.

By the time it went into the shell with the plum, I was shaking from hunger. After an hour of baking (or less – watch that the almond does not burn – nuts tend to burn easily in the oven), another half hour is needed to cool it down. My advice is, there’s nothing like a nutty tart you make with your own two hands, but do not attempt it on an empty stomach.

Shopping list:

For the pastry shell – vanilla bean, lemon (zest), cold milk (or water)

For the filling – plums, almonds, pistachio nuts, vanilla sugar (or use caster sugar plus vanilla)

From the pantry:

For the pastry shell – butter, icing sugar, salt, flour, eggs (yolk), salt

For the filling – sugar, eggs, butter, sugar

Hardware: oven, tart mold, fridge, food processer

Can I do it?: It’s not difficult as you think if you buy a readymade tart shell. If you attempt to make the shell from scratch, be prepared to spend a lot of time on this. Maybe you can make the shell a day or two earlier.

Tip: 1. Make sure you have enough space in the freezer to freeze your tart shell.   2. The recipe is actually enough for two tarts. I made one first and froze the leftover dough and filling. The second time around, I left out the plums and used a silicone muffin tray instead of tart mould. I find this easier as the baking time can be halved and the portions are perfect for single servings. It’s also easier to store muffin-size tarts in the fridge compared to a tart mold. And no more messy slicing if your crust doesn’t turn out perfect. You could use a tin muffin tray too but line with cupcake paper for easier removal of baked tart.

Credit: Jamie’s Kitchen by Jamie Oliver. Full recipe for tart here

Starfruit jam

In fruits on April 28, 2013 at 3:46 pm

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You know that small pack of  butter that comes with the bread on an in-flight meal? I’d devour the whole thing because I’m a butter girl. One pinch of bread, one pinch of butter, mmm… The jam on the other hand, I give a miss and would take home for my mother. I’m no fan of jam, until now.

I watch Daniel Delaney’s WTF?! (What’s This Food?!) podcasts on my commute and chanced upon this recipe when I had two starfruits in my fridge. The rest of the ingredients were easy to get, so there was no excuse not to try this recipe. Plus, the addition of dried chilli to a jam was intriguing.

I’ve never made jam before and was surprised at how easy it is to whip up. A basic jam is fruit, liquid and sugar. Stir over a slow fire until the liquid dries up and you’re done!

Daniel added this jam to his burger and I intend to try it with my neighbour’s homemade pork sausages, when I get around to defrosting them. In the meantime, it tastes super delicious with crackers. My testimony speaks volumes because I’m not a jam lover.

Some of you may find this starfruit jam strange or confusing because of the sweet-spicy combination, but as long as you don’t overdo the chilli, it’s pretty good. The sweet orange juice balances the tart taste of the fruit while the heat from the chilli gives it a nice punch.

Shopping list: starfruit, orange juice, coriander seeds (I used coriander powder), dried chilli

From the pantry: sugar

Can I do it?: Super easy. You just need the patience to stand and stir. 

Tip: If you’re worried the jam would be too spicy, scoop out the chilli seeds with a tea leaf strainer as you watch over the jam. If you don’t like too much bite in your jam, chop up the fruit into smaller pieces or use a blender.

Credit: WTF?! by Daniel Delaney. Video recipe here. For every day of one year, Daniel picked an ingredient to feature in his WTF?! podcast.

Baked apples

In baking, fruits, Jamie Olver on March 31, 2013 at 10:01 pm

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When I have guests over, I like to offer them something they may not have tried or don’t often get to eat. This is one of them. It’s impressive but not too difficult to make. No special skills are needed. Just bash the cloves and bay leaves, mix with everything else, squish the mix (this gets pretty messy, so have paper towels at hand), stuff into the cored and halved apples and bake. Like Jamie always says, it’s easy-peasy!

Shopping list: green apples, sliced almonds, orange and lemon (for zest), raisins, brandy or whisky (I left this out because I had neither)

From the pantry: unsalted butter, bay leaves, cloves, mixed spice, soft light brown sugar

Hardware: baking pan or bake-proof dish, apple corer, oven, grater, pestle and mortar

Can I do it?: Most certainly yes but be prepared for squishing your fingers into the butter and sugar.

Credit: Jamie’s Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver. Full recipe here.

What to do with that grapefruit in the fridge – make grapefruit sorbet!

In Bill Granger, dessert, fruits on February 24, 2013 at 5:07 pm

grapefruit sorbet

When you live in a tropical country like I do, it’s always nice to have some sorbet in the freezer for hot, sunny days. It’s also a great dessert to follow heavy meals, when you want something to ease that sluggish feeling in your stomach.

The only snag is you need to anticipate when you want to have it, because it has to be ‘defrosted’ in the fridge for about an hour or two, depending on the container you use to store it (shallow/deep).

This is the second sorbet recipe I’ve tried, only because I happened to have some grapefruit in the fridge. It’s not readily available here and when I saw it at my regular fruit stall, I thought I’d give it a try, even though I did not fancy eating it raw.

This recipe calls for raw egg white, which I skipped when I first tried making lemon sorbet. I don’t think the egg white made a difference, so I may leave it out next time.

Shopping list: Grapefruit, egg white (optional)

From the pantry: Sugar

Hardware: Freezer, fridge, shallow metal tray, whisk

Can I do it?: Yes, if you have half a day to spare at home for the freezing of the mixture, taking it out and beating it – three times!

Tips: 1. Don’t strain the fibre of the fruit. It’s always nice to have some ‘bite’ to the sorbet.   2. Shallow metal tray is not a good idea if you end up spilling half the content before you reach the freezer. A freeze-proof plastic container with lid would be a better alternative.

Credit: Bills Sydney Food by Bill Granger

Surprise Fruit Baskets

In dessert, fruits on March 7, 2011 at 2:21 am

I love my food in crunchy wraps.

LL was having a post-Chinese New Year steamboat party. I asked if I could bring anything. She said dessert. I initially wanted to make Grapes Rolled in Goat’s Cheese with Pistachio Crust, but three attempts had yet to yield a satisfactory result (i.e. decent enough to be served to others).

So I turned to my most bookmarked recipe book. It was between the Fruit Baskets and Spiced Milk Pudding. Fruit Baskets won because I figured that pudding would be too ‘heavy’ after everyone stuffed themselves full on steamboat. Besides, I didn’t think pudding would go down well with the more or less same crowd that hardly touched my couscous at LL’s housewarming potluck party last year. It was also the perfect recipe because I had leftover filo pastry from my baklava attempt.

This recipe is somewhat similar to the Spicy Mexican Snack Cups I tried before. That used tortillas shaped into cups using a muffin tray and baked to a crisp. Same with this. It’s a matter of assembly. I used two sheets of pastry because some parts were torn. Filo is really brittle. You have to be very careful when shaping it and taking it out of the oven.

What makes this a winner is the whipping cream mix. I didn’t have Cointreau nor strawberry jam, so I substituted them with Brem Bali (liqueur made from Bali’s traditional rice wine) and roselle jam. Feel free to use anything you have at home. The trick is to make sure the alcohol and jam go well together.

As for the fruits, the recipe calls for grapes, pineapple and raspberries. I bought fresh raspberries a few days before. By the time I was ready to use them, fungus/mould had started to grow. So out they went and canned blueberries came to the rescue. It was a perfect balance of sweetness and tart.

The verdict? Everyone loved it! I redeemed myself after the couscous.

Shopping list: filo pastry, Black and white grapes (seedless), raspberries (I used canned blueberries), pineapple, mint leaves, whipping cream

From the pantry: strawberry jam (I used roselle), Cointreau (I used Bali Brem) or any other orange flavoured liquer, icing sugar (for sprinkling – I skipped this)

Hardware: oven, pastry brush, muffin trays

Can I do it?: Yes. It’s a matter of putting everything together. But you need to be gentle with the pastry.

Tips:

1.   Bake the cups just before serving or they’ll go soft. If you need to make them earlier, store in an airtight container. Take care not to break the brittle cups.

2.  Spoon the whipping cream mix over the fruits instead of placing it at the bottom layer as the cream would turn the pastry soggy.

3.   Allow enough time for the pastry to thaw.

Credit: Cook’s Kitchen Handbook and 500 Basic Recipes edited by Carole Clements

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