A berry good day

Yesterday was brilliant. The sun came out, the gala was a huge hit (not least because I came home with empty tins, a pair of Zambesi trousers and some heirloom tomato plants),  and we had barbecued Murellen pork chops a la Bill Granger for dinner. Even better, the first of our strawberries were ripe enough to pick…

 

It’s hard to say who was more excited about this, me or the owner of the little hand in the photo. Slightly shamefully though I must admit that they don’t taste as good as the ones I bought last week. I might have to try the trick an old workmate once told me about, whereupon you line a bowl with cabbage leaves and put the strawberries in it for 30 minutes. Some chemical reaction apparently makes them taste sweeter. I’ll be sure to give it a go when the next berries are ripe.

 

How was your weekend?

The Black Forest Sandwich

Want to see what I had for lunch the other day?

This is a Black Forest sandwich – my entry for Urban Harvest’s inaugural sandwich competition.
I took two slices of Simply Paris chocolate bread and slathered them with cream cheese, then added slices of black doris plum (I initially wanted to use cherries, but they’re now out of season until next Christmas, sob!). Then I sliced and toasted a handful of almonds and scattered them on top. A light dusting of icing sugar and voila, a sandwich so good I ate it all greedily before remembering that I needed to photograph it as well.

If you’re a luncheon sausage and tomato sauce sort of sandwich eater, then this obviously isn’t the thing for you. But if you’re a fan of luscious chocolate bread, tangy cream cheese, juicy plums and crunchy almonds, you’re going to love it. Excuse me while I go and make another one for breakfast…

The Urban Harvest sandwich comp closes this week. Find out more here. (And if you REALLY think it looks good, please go here and ‘Like’ it. Thanks!

Sweet sweet Friday: Plum Crumble Cake

For months now the weather forecasters have been promising us an Indian summer. Now, with the trees outside nearly blown horizontal by winds of up to 130km and rain seeping in the dining room window, I read that they are admitting we might be waiting until 2013. Lovely.

In the meantime, summer must be happening somewhere in New Zealand because the market last week was full of stonefruit – big, juicy Golden Queen peaches and Omega plums. Some of the plums suffered a bit from being squashed on the way home (not to mention being rolled along the kitchen floor by a pair of small hands), so they ended up in this cake.

Easy Plum Crumble Cake

Plum Crumble Cake
I started experimenting with this cake a few weeks ago, using rhubarb, when Melissa came over for morning tea. I think this version is better – and as luck would have it she’s coming over this morning so I’ll see what she thinks. Don’t be put off by the length of the instructions – with a processor you can get this in the oven in 20 minutes or less (especially if you have a date with Grand Designs on TV. Oh Kevin, how I love thee…)

150g soft butter
300g caster sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp almond essence (I have a thing for almond essence at the moment, but you could use vanilla)
100g ground almonds
150g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Fruit – about two cups of sliced stonefruit or rhubarb

Crumble topping
50g butter
50g flour
1Tbsp sugar

Preheat the oven to 170C and grease and flour a 22-24cm tin.
Put the crumble ingredients in the processor and whiz briefly. Tip out into a waiting bowl.
Slice the fruit and set aside.
Put the butter and sugar into the processor and whiz until well creamed. Stop the machine and tip in the essence, half the ground almonds and the eggs. Process again for 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides and pulse again. Tip in the rest of the almonds, the flour and baking powder. Pulse until mixed.
Scrape out into the prepared tin. Top with the fruit, then the crumble mixture. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean-ish. Leave in the tin for five minutes, then turn out carefully. Good warm after watching Kevin McCloud or cold in the morning for breakfast.

Have a sweet, sweet Friday everyone. I had a moment of madness and signed up to do another half-marathon on Sunday… so think of me, when you’re lying in bed reading the paper, won’t you?

Avocado Hummus

Late last year, when the avocado mafia were bombarding me with emails about how to use avocados in all manner of things instead of eating them as nature intended (on Vogels toast, with lots of lemon juice, salt and pepper), I went on strike and hardly ate any. But a couple of weeks ago I found some that were perfectly ripe, with firm, buttery flesh and had a bit of a binge. Well, I ate two in two days. Is that a binge? This is what I did with the third one.

Easy Avocado Hummus Recipe And Image By Lucy Corry/The Kitchenmaid

Avocado Hummus

This is hardly a recipe – more what I would tell you to do if you rang me up and said, “what shall I do with this avocado?”. It was a complete spur of the moment experiment that turned out exceptionally well. Don’t you love it when that happens? The hummus has a faintly green tinge and the lemon juice seems to stop it from going brown if you don’t eat it all in one go.

1 clove garlic, smashed

good pinch of sea salt

zest and juice of 2 lemons

1 tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 ripe avocado, halved, stoned and peeled

2 spring onions, white part only, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, smashed

good pinch of sea salt

zest and juice of 2 lemons

a slosh of good olive oil

a spoonful or two of tahini (optional)

Put the garlic, salt and lemon zest and juice into a food processor. Whizz briefly. Add all other ingredients and blitz until a smooth puree forms. You may need to add a little more lemon juice or olive oil to taste, but you don’t need much olive oil thanks to the avocado. Scrape into a bowl and serve. Store in the fridge for up to three days.

On another note, my friends at Crumbs have declared 2012 to be the year of the vegetable (take that, London Olympics!). They’re harnessing the power of the interweb to collate a whole lot of vege-friendly recipes, so do nip over if you’re in need of inspiration or have something to share.