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Sunday, 29 July 2007

Tropical Overload - SHF #33

If you are a food blog reader, you will notice numerous sweet 'tropical' posts appearing lately. This is because Mary at Alpineberry is hosting the 33rd edition of Sugar High Friday, with the theme "Tropical Paradise".
This couldn't have come at a better time because the weather for the past few weeks, in England, has been atrocious! The forecast this week is better and my chilli plants need some sunshine.

So here is my entry - lush, moist, tropical cakes - just willing that Sun to do it's thing!

tropical muffin3

I've called them 'cakes' because they are not quite muffins, even though they were cooked in muffin tins. The texture is heavier and similar to banana bread. This was adapted from an ordinary banana bread recipe, adding coconut, pineapple and macadamia nuts - to incorporate the taste of the tropics!

Tropical Cakes

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup caster sugar
½ cup light, soft brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1½ cups self rising flour
1 cup mashed bananas, about 2 medium ones
½ cup macadamia nuts, chopped
½ cup pineapple, finely chopped, or use crushed pineapple
½ cup sour cream
toasted flaked coconut for the top, if wanted

Cream the butter, sugars, eggs and coconut extract together.
Fold in the flour, followed by the mashed bananas, nuts, pineapple and the sour cream.
Mix well and drop into muffin cases. Sprinkle the toasted coconut onto the top.
Bake at 350º for about 20-30 minutes.
I also made mini ones that took about 15-20 minutes to cook.

(Printable Recipe)

tropical muffin1 tropical muffin2

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Raspberry Ice Cream

Our raspberries are nearing the end and this is one of the recipes I have been making to use them up. You don't need an ice cream maker, which is good because I don't have one.... yet.
Frozen raspberries can also be used if, like me, your freezer is groaning with them.

You really get two recipes for one here, as the first 4 ingredients make a delicious raspberry sauce, just leave out the cream and add the sugar gradually to taste - you don't need the full amount.

This is also my contribution to For the Love of Ice Cream Challenge, which is being hosted by Yum Sugar.

raspberry ice cream - top view

Raspberry Ice Cream
Adapted from one of my favourite books, sadly out of print, The Best of Sainsbury's Desserts

350g (12oz) raspberries, fresh or frozen
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 lemon
175g (6oz) fine granulated sugar
426ml (15fl oz) double cream (heavy cream)

To serve:
175g (6oz) raspberries
3 tablespoons Framboise or other liqueur, eg. kirsch
2 tablespoons toasted almond flakes

Puree the raspberries in a blender with the lemon and orange juices, then sieve into a bowl.
Add the sugar, stir and chill for about an hour.
Whip the cream until if forms soft peaks, then stir in the raspberry puree.
Turn into plastic container and cover and freeze for about an hour, after which it needs to be taken out, stirred and then frozen again until solid.
Meanwhile, soak the raspberries in the liqueur.

To serve:
Spoon the raspberries into 4 glasses and scoop the ice cream on top.
Top with the almonds.

Note: Recipe can be easily halved.

(Printable Recipe)

raspberry ice cream 1

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Chilli Chocolate!

tulips chilli 3

Fellow bloggers are the best! And one that I had the pleasure of meeting recently was Tulip.
Knowing my love for all things chilli, she gave me a young chilli plant - that in the last few days has sprouted fiery looking fruit.

I guess she must know my other love, because on a recent trip to France she spotted (and sent to me) a bar of chocolate that put me into a frenzy!!
Not just any old chocolate, but a bar of chilli chocolate - and it's amazing!

When you bite into it, it doesn't just taste of chilli. First, it's just gorgeous dark chocolate, but then - when it's melting - you start getting an amazing heat sensation. But it's not a raw chilli heat that sends you running for a glass of water, just a spicy warmth that lasts longer than the chocolate.

Another discovery I made in the last few days, was that this spicy sensation can also be found in Waitrose, so I can pick up a bar without having to travel to France.
I should be saying 'thank you' to Tulip for her gift, but she has unleashed a monster and it's going to cost me dearly!

chilli choc bar 2

Monday, 9 July 2007

Marvellous Mirabelles!

And no, that's not the latest Harry Potter spell - just another discovery in our sprawling garden!

cherrytree1 mirabelles 1

We have a beautiful tree growing in our garden and for a long time I thought it was a cherry tree - several people even told me that. Although it's our fifth year here, the tree has never really had that much fruit - there was a sprinkling last year and they did look like yellow cherries, but they didn't taste quite right.
This year, however, there were quite a few, at least 3-4 lbs that I could reach to pick.
Halfway through writing a piece on our 'yellow cherries' I decided to research the variety and found, to my amazement, that they were not cherries at all but 'mirabelle plums'. I had never even heard of such a fruit!
Mirabelles are small, oval in shape and are dark yellow in colour. They taste just like a plum and are the size of a large cherry.

Armed with that information I decided to make Delia's Plum and Cinnamon Oat Slices - but a smaller version with the mirabelles. I halved her recipe and used a smaller tin to cook them in.
The slices were good, just the right amount of tartness from the fruit, and quite crumbly with the oats. This would be best served warm with a big dollop of cream.

mirabelle crumble1 mirabelle crumble 2

Mirabelle and Cinnamon Oat Slices
Adapted from Delia Smith

8oz mirabelles, cut in half, stone removed
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2½ oz oats
2½ oz plain wholemeal flour
2½ oz plain flour (you can use all wholemeal flour)
½ teaspoon salt
4 oz unsalted butter
2 oz light soft brown sugar

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).

Line a tin (I used an 8" round cake tin) with baking parchment.

Cut the mirabelles in half and remove the stones, place in a bowl and toss with the cinnamon.

Mix the flours and porridge oats together with the salt in a mixing bowl, then melt the butter and sugar in a small saucepan over a fairly gentle heat, stirring until the butter has melted.

Mix the melted butter/sugar into the oat mixture, starting with a wooden spoon but finishing off with your hands so you end up with a lump of dough. Now halve the dough and press one half of the mixture into the baking tin, pressing down firmly.

Scatter the mirabelles evenly over the surface, then top with the remaining oat mixture, again pressing down firmly.

Now place the tin on the centre shelf of the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, or a bit longer if you like the top really crispy. Remove tin from oven and allow to cool in the tin if serving cold, or serve straight away, hot with a big dollop of cream.

(Printable Recipe)

mirabelle crumble 3

Weekend To Remember

So it's not food, but, how often can you say that the Tour de France came through your village?
During its lifetime, it has only crossed the channel three times and two of those have been through the town/village where we live. Last time was 1994, we were living in a small Hampshire town when the Tour flew through.
This weekend saw a return to England and it came through our village in Kent.
There was a wonderful atmosphere and even though the cyclists, 189 of them, had been and gone in a matter of minutes, we will remember it for a long time to come.

bike 9 bike5
Going through our village

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And a couple taken at the prologue, which we went to in London, on Saturday 7th July

My 13 year old son took this one of Denis Menchov - isn't it great? (Maybe I should get him to take the food pics!)