Eat the Seasons: Summer

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Summer is a wonderful time for British produce, with many tasty fruit and veggies at their very best. If you’re stuck for inspiration over what to do with what, here are a few quick and easy ideas.

Rhubarb: Most of us have horrible memories from our childhood involving eating unripe too-sharp rhubarb, but if you use it when it’s bright pink you shouldn’t have to sweeten it too much. My simple rhubarb fool or chilled crumble will take you just a few minutes to prepare.

Berries: Everyone loves strawberries and cream, but how about doing something a little different? Chocolate pots are super easy and always go down a storm. (to serve four) melt 200g good quality dark chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir in 200ml double cream, divide into bowls or glasses and leave to cool in the fridge. Once you are ready to serve top with a layer of freshly chopped strawberries or raspberries. Or try my free from recipe.

Make the most of all the lovely lettuce that’s around by having salads for lunch instead of sandwiches. Top with British tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and leftover roasted meat or veg. Make a delicious dressing with extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon, apple cider vinegar and a dash of local honey.

Marrow: don’t be afraid, these are just extra large courgettes. Dice them up with some onions and aubergines, season, drizzle with olive oil and roast them in a pre-heated oven for half an hour. Add to curries, stir fries or your lunchtime salad. Or try making these grain free pancakes.

Spinach: I love the green stuff and cannot get enough of it, but I know not everyone shares my enthusiasm. Add a handful to your banana smoothie next time you’re in the mood for one to give it a massive iron boost. For pure indulgence add a tbsp cocoa powder and a tsp honey and have yourself a fab thick shake. Test it out on the kids, I bet they have no idea!  

Linking up to the fab linkies below: 

recipe-of-the-week  tasty tuesday

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Chilled Apple & Rhubarb Crumble (gluten & dairy free)

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As the apple season is coming to an end and rhubarb is very plentiful at the moment, I thought I’d share my take on a British classic. The humble crumble has always been a firm favourite of mine; in fact I remember making a pineapple version in one of my first ever Home Economics classes. Times have changed for me and these days I like to find ways to keep sugar out my deserts instead of piling it in.

Rhubarb and apple are a match made in stewed fruit heaven. Although rhubarb is rather tart, if you use Jangold or Royal Gala apples, you shouldn’t have to sweeten it too much. I like to cook the fruit, allow it to cool down and add a tablespoonful of local honey during the blending process as you should need to use less of it this way (see here for some of the fab health benefits of the bee nectar). Rather than being served hot with custard, this is a chilled desert and can be made in advance.

Ingredients (for 6):
200g apple – peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
200g rhubarb – top, tailed and cut into small chunks
Tbsp honey (or sweeten to taste)
200g mixed nuts
50g dried apricots, plus two extra
Chilled cream of choice for serving

Method:
– make the stewed fruit first by placing the rhubarb and apple in a saucepan. Turn the heat up high and when you hear sizzling (after 30-60 secs) put the lid on the pan and turn the heat down low

– cook for 5-10 mins until soft, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the honey/sweetener until it is as sweet as you would like, then tip the contents of the pan into your blender or food processor and whiz on high until smooth. Set to one side

– finely chop the nuts and 50g apricots

– slice the two additional apricots into six pieces each

– when you are ready to plate up divide the stewed fruit into six dishes, then top with the nuts and apricots

– finally spoon a dollop of thick cream on the top, and in the centre place two slices of apricot across each other

TIP: any cream will work well, for those avoiding dairy try coconut cream

Apple & rhubarb muffins (gluten & dairy free)

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I had another fab local fruit & veg selection this week including crisp, sweet jangold apples and delicious rhubarb. I make a fruit compote to mix into plain goats yoghurt for my kids, and while making a jars’ worth I had an idea for these muffins.

I’ve used a large variety of fruit and nuts in the sponge which might seem like a lot of ingredients, but the flavour is definitely worth it. I buy dried goods in bulk either from Suma or Natural Choice, as the quality is far superior to what is readily available in the supermarkets, and the price is better too. I’d highly recommend doing the same if you make a lot of these type of recipes as the small packets can be extortionate!

Ingredients (for 10 large muffins, or 18 cupcakes):
2 large free range eggs
200ml olive oil
100ml water
100g dates
100g dried apricots
100g brazil nuts
100g cashew nuts
100g pecans
100g rhubarb (washed, top & tailed and cut into large chunks)
100g apple (peeled, cored and cut into large chunks)
Tbsp honey (optional)

Method:
– make the compote first: place the rhubarb and apple in a saucepan and turn the heat up high. When you hear sizzling a few minutes in put the lid on the pan and turn the heat down low

– allow to cook for 5-10 mins until soft, add the honey if you’re doing so, then tip the contents of the pan into your blender/food processor and whiz on high until smooth. Set to one side

– preheat the oven to 160C fan/170C non-fan/340F/GM3. Line a cupcake or muffin tray with cases

– either whiz together all the muffin ingredients in your blender/food processor until combined to form a thick wet batter

– OR finely chop the fruit and nuts and place in a large bowl, then whisk together the eggs, olive oil and water in another bowl. Pour over the top of the fruit and nuts combining well

– put a tablespoon of batter into your cases, top with a tablespoon of fruit, then top again with another tablespoon of batter

– bake for 35-40 mins until golden brown and cooked through