Category Archives: Recipe

No Churn Zabaglione Ice Cream

Zabaglione Ice Cream

This recipe emerged after a stint of tiramisu making while I was visiting my family for Christmas in 2012. We made the entire tiramisu from scratch, including the ladyfingers, and it was a bit of a mission. The adventure left us with a lot of leftover marsala wine and whipped cream, which led me to this ice cream creation.

Zabaglione Ice Cream

Zabaglione is an Italian custard whose core ingredients are egg yolks, sugar and a sweet wine (usually Marsala). Effort-wise, this ice cream version of Zabaglione is the complete opposite of tiramisu. There are only four ingredients and you don’t need an ice cream maker to achieve a scoopable, almost fluffy ice cream (you can thank the whipping cream for that). Sure, there’s some double boiler action going on and a little cream whipping, but trust me, you can do this!

Zabaglione ice cream in progress. #bsfic

I made this at least twice while I was visiting home, largely because my mom was kind of obsessed with it. So there you have it folks, a mom-approved ice cream that’s easy to make and just as good as tiramisu (stick a lady finger in it and enjoy it with a hot espresso if you don’t believe me!).

Zabaglione Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 150ml dry Marsala
  • 150ml whipping cream
  • crushed amaretti biscuits (optional)

Method

  1. Put the egg yolks into a large bowl that will fit over a saucepan. Add the sugar and whisk until the mixture is pale and thick and leaves a trail when the beaters are lifted.
  2. Whisk in the Marsala, then put the bowl over (not in) a pan of simmering water and continue whisking until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
  3. Remove from the heat, stand the bowl in cold water and whisk until cool (or put it in the fridge for a few hours).
  4. Whip the cream until it just holds its shape. Add to the cold zabaglione and whisk together.
  5. Pour into a container and freeze for about 1½-2 hours or until firm. Serve in small glasses or bowls, garnished with crushed amaretti biscuits if you’d like.

Zabaglione Ice Cream in progress

Zabaglione Ice Cream
I am submitting this to Kavey’s Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream challenge. Trust me, you will totally scream for this one!

Plum Upside Down Cake

Plum upside down cake

I have recently been the grateful recipient of a large quantity of Damson Plums thanks to the generosity of nature and my friend Gloria Nicol. Some of these plums have been turned into Damson Vodka, others were made into Gloria’s recipe for Dumpsideary Jam from her book 100 Jams, Jellies, Preserves and Pickles. But the first thing I did was turn some of these plums – super soft, ripe and sweet – into a cake.

Plum upside down cake

I was inspired by my friend (and pastry chef) Kathy (aka stresscake) to go for an upside down cake. She did something very similar with her plums last August and aptly pointed out that a recipe like this will help you get through a pound and a half or so of plums in an extremely delicious way (very handy if you have a lot of plums to get through).

Damson Plums

Upside down cakes are really easy to make, but usually the reserve for pineapples (and if you’re going that route, Kathy’s got a classic Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe, too). Plums offer a nice twist on this, with a hint of spice in the cake complimenting the autumnal plums. If you don’t have a cake pan that is large enough to fit all of the batter called for in this recipe, you can make smaller mini upside down cakes in ramekins which are really fun.

Plum upside down cake

I really love this plum upside down cake served with creme fraiche or Greek yogurt, but vanilla ice cream or whipped cream would go equally well.

Plum Upside Down Cake

For the plum layer

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 12-15 damsons (or other plum), halved and pitted
  • Blackberries or blueberries (optional)

For the cake

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup milk

To serve

  • Whipped cream, creme fraiche or ice cream

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F. Put 4 Tbsp of butter in a 9-inch-diameter skillet or cake pan. Put the pan in the oven and leave it until the butter has melted. Remove the pan and swirl the butter around so its distributed evenly. Sprinkle over 3/4 cup of brown sugar. Lay the plums on top of the sugar in a single, tightly-packed layer, skin-side up. If you’d like, fill in any gaps with blackberries or blueberries.
  2. Now make the batter. Mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl. Beat the remaining 6 Tbsp butter in large bowl with an electric mixer until light. Add sugar and beat until creamy. Add eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and almond extract.
  3. Add the milk and the dry ingredients to the mixture and mix with a spatula just until blended. Spoon batter evenly over plums. Bake  until golden and a toothpick or knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean (this will take about 50-60 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack; cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Using a knife, cut around the pan sides to loosen the cake. Place a plate on top of the cake pan then invert the cake. Let it stand with the pan still on for 5 minutes, then gently lift off the pan. Serve cake warm with whipped cream, creme fraiche or ice cream.

Plum upside down cake

Raw Double Chocolate Brownies

Raw Vegan Brownies

Here is a brownie that ticks all the right boxes – raw, vegan, gluten-free, paleo… – and they taste delicious too. The classic raw brownie is made by blitzing dates, nuts and cocoa in a food processor and mushing the mix together into a ball or bar. Though tasty, those raw brownies are also very dense and usually very sweet because it takes a lot of dates to hold the mixture together. These raw brownies are a slightly different breed. Made with coconut flour, ground almonds and apple puree, they have a texture that’s much more like a traditional brownie.

I was inspired to make these by Emma Potts of Coconut & Berries who posted a recipe for Raw Berry Cream Brownies which totally got my attention. I used a similar method for the brownie base, but instead of a berry cream topping, I went for chocolate ganache – it was a double chocolate kind of day.

This recipe uses cacao powder, which you can readily buy at health food shops or online. I make my own cacao powder from Naturya Cacao Nibs which I blitz to a powder in my blender (I use a Froothie Optimum 9400 which has a jug specially made for grinding dry ingredients). You could do the same to make almond flour, too.

Raw Vegan Brownies

Alternatively, if you’re not fussed about the raw aspect, you can use regular cocoa powder (cocoa powder is made by roasting cacao at high temperatures, which destroys some of the enzymes, and makes it no longer raw – snap!).

Another bonus to these brownies is they give me an opportunity to use my retro vintage nut grinder! Perfect for sprinkling walnuts on top of the brownies! (Of course, you could just use a knife and a cutting board instead.)

Raw Vegan Brownies

Raw Double Chocolate Brownies 

Makes 6 brownies.

For the brownies:

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-4 Tbsp maple syrup or agave (add more or less depending on how sweet you like your brownies)
  • 1/3 cup apple puree or mashed banana
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder if you aren’t worried about the raw thing)
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup ground almonds or almond flour
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • pinch of salt

For the ganache:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar (or other liquid sweetener of choice)
  • small pinch salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method

  1. Line a small baking tin or container with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all of the brownie ingredients together with your hands or in a food processor. You should get a very thick mixture.
  3. Spread the mixture into the prepared container and smooth out the top. Refrigerate or freeze.
  4. For the ganache, melt the coconut oil over low heat in a medium pot. Remove from heat and whisk in the cacao powder, agave, salt, and vanilla until combined and smooth.
  5. Pour the ganache over the brownies and spread out evenly. If you’d like, dust the top with cacao powder and/or chopped walnuts. Put back into the refrigerator to chill.
  6. Remove from the refrigerator, slice and enjoy!

Raw Vegan Brownies

There are lots more people out there grinding their own flours and powders to make awesome snacks. Check out Nazima’s Fig and Blackberry Crumble using her own quinoa flour, and Emma’s Flatbread made with almond and oat flour.

Also seen on Great British Chefs.

 

Mixed Vegetable and Tofu Coconut Curry

Tofu Coconut Curry

It doesn’t make the prettiest of pictures but that’s curry for you. This is one of those anything-goes curries and is a great way to use some of those trickier items in the veggie box. On this particular occasion, the vegetable that mystified me most was runner beans. I know this is staple British fare but where I’m from in the US, I’d never seen them before. So when a big bunch of runner beans arrived in the Riverford box last week, I was mystified. When in doubt: make a curry. And in this case, the runner beans turned out to be the star of the show.

Riverford Box

To make this curry, I had on hand my friend Donovan, a real Master of Taste especially when it comes to Asian flavours. We were lucky to have some fresh turmeric around (gratefully received from my friend Jo at Demuths Cookery School) which we combined with cumin, coriander, chilli, lime and coconut to create a tangy, creamy spicy sauce for the vegetables. In addition to the runner beans, we also made use of carrots, potatoes, celery, red pepper and broccoli, all from the Riverford box. The beans really made this dish, though, their fresh green flavour going perfectly with the coconut sauce.

Donovan at work on Tofu Coconut Curry

We ate this like a soup with some crusty sourdough bread – a bit of fusion, I know – but you could also have it over rice or noodles.

Tofu Coconut Curry

Mixed Vegetable and Tofu Coconut Curry

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 inch chunk of fresh turmeric, finely chopped (or 1/4 tsp turmeric powder)
  • 1 inch chunk of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 potatoes, peeled, diced and par-boiled
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 8-10 runner beans, sliced into then 2-inch pieces
  • 250g tofu, cubed
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • salt and pepper
  • handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Method

  1. In a small bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, cayenne, sugar, paprika, lime juice and some salt and pepper (and the turmeric powder if using).
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a wok or frying pan on medium heat. Add the turmeric, ginger, garlic, onion, carrots, celery and red pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Add the lime juice and spices and stir to combine. Add the coconut milk, tofu, runner beans and broccoli and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked but still have some bite to them.
  4. Serve garnished with fresh coriander and lime wedges.

Also seen on Great British Chefs.

 

Squash and Sweetcorn Tamales

Roast Butternut Tamales with Mole Poblano

Last night I had a little Tamale Party with friends Jane, Jimmy and Steve to celebrate Jane’s and Jimmy’s Month of Anniversary. The event stemmed from a recent walk in Wales, wherein I expressed to Jane and Jimmy my desire to further my tamale practice, and they offered themselves as willing taste testers and sous chefs.

Hot Tamale Party Chalkboard Menu

There was a pretty steep learning curve here, and I admit our tamale rolling efforts weren’t exquisite (that may have been the numerous margaritas, white russians, negronis and long island iced teas talking). So this morning I woke up and had another sober attempt at rolling tamales, and things went pretty well, so I thought I’d share my notes and photos from the process in case it’s helpful to anyone else.

Roast Butternut Tamales with Mole Poblano

The recipe I used as a base is Rachel Demuth’s Tamales Rellenos de Calabacin from Demuths Cookery School which uses roast butternut squash and feta for the filling. I’ve written about this recipe before, but this time I made a few tweaks that I think improved matters considerably. I added roasted red pepper and sweetcorn to mine – the corn really made it for me. Instead of feta, I did some tamales with queso fresco, and others with goats cheese. The queso fresco offered a nice melty chewy cheesy hit, but I think I preferred the salty creaminess of the goats cheese tamales.

Big learning points were: make sure that the batter is pretty soft – you should be able to smear it across the husk with a spoon; also, spread the batter in one corner of the husk – this makes rolling the tamale a no-brainer (this video was very helpful in this regard).

My tamale technique still needs practice and I’d love to experiment with other fillings, so hopefully my amazing sous chefs will return for more tamale rolling and taste testing, and requisite margarita drinking which, let’s face it, makes even the most poorly rolled tamale taste like a dream!

Squash and Sweetcorn Tamales

I recommend serving these with mole poblano sauce, but you could also do any kind of salsa, red or green, or a creamy verde sauce.

Makes about 10 tamales.

Ingredients

  • 20 large fresh or dried sweetcorn husks

For the masa

  • 200g masa harina
  • 50g butter, softened
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 50mls milk
  • 100mls vegetable stock

For the filling

  • 100g queso fresco, goats cheese, feta or other cheese of choice
  • 1 small butternut squash (or another variety if available)
  • corn kernels from 1 ear of corn
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 chopped fresh red chilli
  • 4 cloves garlic, whole with the skin on
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • Chopped coriander
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Olive oil

Method:

  1. Roast the squash and red peppers in a hot oven (180/gas mark 7) with the garlic, chilli, thyme, and olive oil until it is soft-this should take 30-40 minutes. When cooked remove the garlic from its skin and pound in a pestle and mortar and then stir back through the squash. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir through some chopped coriander and lime juice. Add the corn and crumble in the cheese (or if using a very soft cheese like goats cheese, keep it separate until you are filling the tamales).
    Roast Butternut Tamales with Mole Poblano
  2. To prepare the sweet corn husks, if fresh, carefully peel the husks off the cobs and place in a saucepan of boiling water and simmer for 5minutes, drain and leave to cool. If using dried husks soak them in hot water for 30minutes. When they are soft rinse them under running water as you separate them. Lay them flat on a plate and keep them covered with a damp cloth.
  3. To prepare the masa, combine the masa harina with the salt and baking powder. Add the butter in chunks and crumble it through with your hands until it reaches the consistency of breadcrumbs (much like making scones).
  4. Add the milk and stock and mix with your hands until combined and you have a soft dough. Add a bit more milk until it becomes easily spreadable (slightly softer than the consistency of scone dough).
  5. To assemble a tamale, take on corn husk and place it on the table. Put a heaped spoonful of batter in one corner of the husk and spread it out into a long rectangle with two sides running along the edge of the husk (see picture below).
    Roast Butternut Tamales with Mole Poblano
  6. Take a spoonful of the filling and spread it out down the middle of the masa. Roll the tamale as you would a burrito, starting with the end where the masa is flush with the side of the corn husk, rolling over so that the edges of the masa meet, folding up the bottom corner of the tamale, and then finishing the roll.
  7. Steam the tamales in a vegetables steamer. Cover the bottom of the steamer with some left over husks, place the tamales standing upright and fill the spaces between them with wads of silver foil. Cover the top with a lid or cover with silver foil. Steam for 45- 60 minutes. You can tell when they are done because the masa will be soft and sponge like.
  8. Serve them as soon as possible, before the masa becomes stodgy.

Beetroot and Carrot Slaw

Raw Carrot & Beetroot Salad with Raisins & Pine Nuts

I’m on a bit of a raw food kick lately. Of course when it comes to raw food, it’s all about the quality of the ingredients, which should ideally be organic and locally sourced to maximise their flavour potential. In this way, my recent Riverford boxes have been packed full of autumn inspiration, with carrots and beetroot being mainstays for the last couple of weeks. Most of my beets typically go straight into the juicer, but recently I’ve been look for other ways to enjoy beetroot in its pure unadulterated form.

Riverford Box

Most recently, my favourite way to enjoy raw beetroot is shredded in combination with carrots and dressed with something sweet and tangy. Here I use raisins for the sweetness and lemon and white wine vinegar for the tang. Feel free to experiment with other dried fruits like dates, apricots or prunes. Same goes for the nuts: I use pine nuts but pistachios would be fantastic here, as would some toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Raw Carrot & Beetroot Salad with Raisins & Pine Nuts

Many people don’t often brave the gory hand mess that comes with handling raw beetroot. But really, folks, the mess isn’t that bad and the result is fantastic. Just wear an apron and go to it!

And if the slaw isn’t enough, here’s more beetroot inspiration for you:

Raw Carrot & Beetroot Salad with Raisins & Pine Nuts

Beetroot and Carrot Slaw

Serves 2-3 (or one greedy Monica)

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 beetroot
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp raisins
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • small handful parsley
  • small handful mint
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted

Method

  1. Combine the raisins, vinegar and garlic in a bowl and leave to sit for about an hour.
  2. Peel the carrots and beetroot and grate them with a box grater or a julienne slicer (a julienne slicer looks prettier).
  3. Combine the raisins, vinegar and garlic with the carrots and beetroot, then toss with the olive oil, lemon juice, most of the parsley and mint, salt and pepper.
  4. Serve the slaw scattered with pine nuts and sprinkled with the extra herbs.

Also seen on Great British Chefs.

Hemp Protein Post Workout Smoothie

Hemp Protein Green Smoothie

This has become a favourite smoothie of mine as of late, especially after a good swim or a tough workout. Even without the hemp, it’s pretty killer. The base ingredients are pineapple, banana, spinach, celery, cucumber, lime and avocado, which when blended together taste like a tart-and-tangy treat, almost margarita-esque in its sweet and sour balance (hello salt-rimmed glass?). This is also good with a bit of fresh mint.

As far as post-workout nutrition is concerned, the smoothie has lots of good things going for it. The obvious element of good carbs, vitamins and nutrients from all the fruit and vegetables. Celery and banana in particular contain electrolytes (sodium and potassium) which you lose when you sweat. Meanwhile, the hemp and flax seed add a boost of protein. The avocado add fiber and make it creamy delicious.

When I swim in the morning, this is my go-to breakfast. It’s filling, nourishing, refreshing and super tasty. And to really splash out, garnish with coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds, bee pollen and – my favourite – a pinch of good salt such as Maldon Sea Salt or some of that fancy Himalayan stuff.

Hemp Protein Green Smoothie

I make this smoothie by juicing the veggie bits then blending with the hemp protein powder, avocado and flax seeds, but you can just as easily put everything in the blender with a bit of water and blend away. The juicer and blender I’m using at the moment the Froothie Optimum 400 Slow Juicer and the Optimum 9400 Blender, which together have been cranking out super silky results, but other blenders and juicers will work, too.

Hemp Protein Post Workout Smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1/4 pineapple
  • 1/4 cucumber
  • 1/2 lime, peeled (or juiced if you’re using a blender)
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 15g hemp protein (I use Naturya Hemp Protein Powder)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 tsp flax seeds

Method

  1. If you have a juicer, juice the celery, pineapple, cucumber, lime and spinach. Blend the juice with the hemp protein powder, avocado, flax seeds and a few ice cubes until smooth.
  2. If you don’t have a juicer, make sure everything is cut into blender-friendly pieces. Put the pineapple, cucumber and lime juice at the bottom of the blender, then add everything else. Add a enough water to blend everything to a smooth happy consistency.
  3. Serve with your choice of garnishes.

250 Calories | 8g Fat | 13g Fiber | 38g Carbs | 12g Protein

“The Bump Start” Elderflower Cocktail

The Bump Start

If you made elderflower cordial this season, then this is totally what you need to make with it. But this magical elixir isn’t just about the elderflower. This Prosecco cocktail recipe has a story, and it’s all in the name: “The Bump Start”.

It started in the Lake District. Two of my dear friends, Rachel and Emily, and I were on a camping trip to celebrate the summer solstice, an occasion I shall forever associate with elderflowers (see my earlier post, Solstice and Elderflowers). We had few fixed plans, only to walk, talk, cook, eat and enjoy ourselves. We did well on most of those accounts, but as for the walking, I think this magnet sums it up best (this gem found Emily in Coniston):

Lake District magnet

Of course, there are some GREAT pubs in the Lake District worth getting distracted by, including The Manor Arms in wee Broughton, in the corner of their tiny square. This pub is all about the pints (no food, no music – a proper pub!). We happened there because we were in town to buy groceries (at the charming Melville Tyson grocer). We also needed cash, and learned that the only way to get cash was to go to a pub, buy something, and get cash back. A welcome interruption to our high-octane day!

About two pints (for my friends – I the “responsible” driver was on the Diet Coke) and a bundle of cash later, I remembered the car. Assuming we were just stopping quickly for groceries, I’d left my ultra-awesome electric cooler (“coolbox” for you Brits) plugged into the cigarette lighter. “Do you think the car will start,” I asked my friends? You know where this is going…

Sure enough the engine was totally dead. But hey, no big deal, I’ve got AA and we were in a pleasant enough place to be stuck in for a while. Plus there were loads of people around, surely someone would have jumper cables?

While somewhat nervously scoping out the car park (“parking lot” for you Yankees), my eyes settled on a Land Rover of some variety, and I immediately thought, “whoever owns that car can help me”. Within seconds a man and woman arrived and I hustled over to ask if they had jumper cables. No. “But,” the gentleman said, “you can bump start it.”

A bump start? I’d heard of this and seen it in movies – Little Miss Sunshine namely (watch the quintessential clip). But I had no idea how the mechanics of it worked and found it hugely intimidating (particularly since I’d parked in a parallel spot on an incline). Little-Miss-Sunshine

This guy was amazing. First, through a lot of convoluted pushing, he helped us shimmy the car out of the parking spot. Then he explained the bump start, which isn’t complicated at all: basically you push the car with the clutch in, and when it’s at about 5-10mph, you release the clutch, the car “bumps”, and the engine rotates and fires. Then you quickly break and put the clutch back in and give it a few good revs. Done.

Because I was parked on an incline, we were going to have to do this going backwards. As sat in the car while he and my friends did the pushing. Facing me, he was able to guide me through the whole process. He could obviously tell I was nervous and had such patience in explaining how it would all work – I swear he must be a teacher. And when it was done and the car was actually running, my heart was beating like crazy and I felt like a minor miracle had occurred – the thrill of mechanics!

Hugs were shared amongst my friends and our Lake District heroes, whose names I never got, but whose generosity and kindness will never be forgotten. Furthermore, the metaphor of the “bump start” has become an ongoing thread in all aspects of life. Such a life changer deserves a tribute cocktail.

This cocktail is a riff on a mocktail I make with elderflower cordial, lots of lemon and lime, and fizzy water. I’d been drinking this refreshing elixer in the early evening to “bump start” me out of an afternoon lull. I’d long wanted to turn it into a proper cocktail, and having experimented with several different types of liquor, I finally settled on gin and Prosecco as the happy combination. It contains the juice of half a lemon and half a lime, so it’s quite tart, but the elderflower balances things out. You could hold back the gin for a slightly less potent cocktail, but with good gin (Hendricks is my preferred), it actually makes the drink better.

This drink tastes best after having achieved a real-life bump start of your own (but don’t drink it until you’re finished driving!).

Thanks to my friend Donovan who helped me fine tune this.

The Bump Start

The Bump Start

Juice of half a lemon
Juice of half a lime
1oz good gin (I use Hendricks)
Prosecco
Elderflower Cordial
Ice

Fill a glass or a wine glass with ice. Add the lemon and lime juice, the gin, then a good splash of elderflower cordial. Fill the rest of the glass with Prosecco then have a taste (you want about 2/3 Prosecco to 2/3 everything else). You might need to add more elderflower if it’s too tart for you.

I like to keep frozen berries in the freezer which make a stellar garnish for this – especially strawberries.

Also seen on Great British Chefs.

Grilled Mackerel with Watercress, Fennel & Orange Salad

Mackerel with watercress, fennel and orange salad.

My mackerel flipping skills need work, but otherwise this was the perfect lunch following a tough workout at CrossFit Cirencester: grilled mackerel with a salad of watercress, fennel, orange, spring onions and pomegranate, dressed with a little olive oil and salt (the salt pulls out the juices in the fruit so you don’t need vinegar). Extremely quick to make. Big props to Ben at New Wave Fish Shop who recommended this ingredient combination. I feel restored!

And since I’ve been talking macronutrients lately, this was about 400 calories, 22g fat, 19g carbs, 30g protein.

How to Make Fruit Leather (Oven or Dehydrator)

Making Fruit Leather

Is it just me or is this a bumper year for strawberries? My accidental strawberry patch (it started as a potted plant then escaped to the gravel and has taken over) is producing way more than I could ever eat, freeze or smoothie-ify. Jam is an option, but I’ve been looking for something less sugary, yet equally non-perishable. Enter fruit leather!

First Strawberry Harvest

My fellow Americans know fruit leather as “fruit roll-ups”, which when purchased from the shop contains just as much sugar as that jam I’m trying to avoid. But if you start with real fruit, puree it and dry it yourself, you’ll find the fruit needs little sugar if any. The drying process super-concentrates the fruit sugars leaving you with a naturally sweet “leather” that tastes like pure fruit

Making Fruit Leather

Strawberries are perfect for this and since the elderflowers are in bloom, I thought I’d kick up my fruit leather with a little elder-injection. I also had some homemade apple puree in the freezer, the lingering remains from last year’s orchard crop, so I thawed that out, added some grated fresh ginger, and turned that into leather, too. The apple was by far my favourite – I added a LOT of ginger and I loved the spicy kick. But I must admit, the strawberry leather tastes like pure summer.

Really blown away by my strawberry crop. This has been my daily harvest the last three days with more are on the way!

These fruit leathers are perfect for the lunchbox or for taking on long hikes. In fact, “hiking” was my motivation for all this as I’m heading to the Lake District this weekend and am getting ready to hike the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in July. The fruit leather will be a welcome energy shot on the “rocky road” (and for a super energy shot – fruit leather rolled up with almond butter!).

Best of all, you can do this in the oven (no fancy dehydrator necessary).

How to Make Strawberry (or any other fruit) Leather

Making Fruit Leather

You can skip the elderflower in this but it does add that extra something. Try swapping it out with other flavour add-ins: orange zest, cinnamon, ginger… be creative! And feel free to sub the strawberries for any other fruit. You can do this in either an oven or a dehydrator; I’ve included instructions for both. If you live in a warm climate, you can also do this on a hot day by simply leaving the fruit to dry out in the sun!

Ingredients

  • 5 cups strawberries, stems removed and halved (or any other fruit)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (more or less to taste)
  • 3-4 clusters of elderflowers (optional)

Method (Oven)

  1. In a medium saucepan, on a low heat, cook the strawberries until they are soft and the juices are released.
  2. Tie up the elderflowers in a muslin or jelly bag and add to the juicy strawberries. Cover, leave to cool, then put in the refrigerator and leave overnight. (If you skip the elderflowers, there’s no need to leave the strawberries overnight – you can make your leather right away!)
  3. The next day, preheat oven to its lowest temperature setting.
  4. Remove the elderflower bundle and pour the berries into a blender. Add the honey and puree.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Pour the berry mixture onto parchment lined pan – it should be about 1/8 inch thick.
  7. Put in the oven and bake for 4-6 hours, until leather peels away easily from the parchment. Using scissors cut into rectangles and roll them up, parchment and all.

Method (Dehydrator)

  1. Follow the oven method through step 4.
  2. Spread the mixture out onto a dehydrator sheet to about 1/8 inch thickness.
  3. Dehydrate at 130 F / 50 C for four hours. Check the fruit leather periodically – when it peels away easily, peel it off, flip it over and dry for another hour or two.
  4. Remove from dehydrator and use scissors or a pizza roller to cut it into you desired shapes.

Making Fruit Leather