Last minute buys

 

There’s a fruit and veg stall in one of the small local shopping precincts – all the traditional calls and a fine array of good produce.  At the end of the day, there are bargains to be had if you can use them fairly quickly.

The punnets of strawberries made a quick pudding and half went into the dehydrator for another day.  Baby plum tomatoes were halved and dried in the oven with a little salt and pepper – now in jars steeping in olive oil.  Raspberries went straight into the freezer but I wanted something special with the fresh figs.

 

9-12 fresh figs, stems removed and halved

1 orange, juice and zest

2 teaspoons of butter

2-3 tablespoons of honey

Handful of walnuts, shelled and chopped.

 

Place the figs cut side up in an oven proof dish.

Pour over the orange juice, dot with butter, anoint with honey and top with walnuts.

Cook in a pre-heated oven Gas 4 for 45-60 minutes.

Serve with yoghurt or cream, sprinkled with the orange zest.

 

Don’t be mean with the honey or orange juice – it is delicious.

 

And I’ve been experimenting with my hot water pastry.  It made excellent cases for turkey and mushroom pies – hot or cold – and also for vegetable tarts (sautéed onion, courgette, mushroom, potato, fresh thyme with a little well-seasoned egg and cream   custard).  The pastry had been sitting in the fridge overnight after making pork pies but was still easy to handle and cooked perfectly.  This is a pastry that can do more than just raised game pies.

 

 

One orange:two recipes

You probably won’t want to serve both at the same meal, especially as the strawberries need some time to macerate, but a little morning prep gives you the basis for lunch and supper.

2 carrots, peeled and grated

1 orange, grated zest of half

1 handful sultanas

1 handful of nuts or seeds

1-2 tablespoons of vinaigrette dressing.

I have a handy grater that attaches to its own bowl so that I can grate the carrots and orange straight into it.

My current favourite version uses pumpkin seeds heated in a dry frying pan until they are popping but walnut pieces work well too.

Add the sultanas, vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper.

Keep in the fridge for an hour or so while the sultanas plump up a little with the juice from the carrots.

With the rest of the orange:

1 orange, grated zest of half and the juice

1 punnet strawberries, hulled and quartered

A splash of an orange liqueur

1 teaspoon sugar.

 

Simply mix everything and keep in the fridge for an hour or more until serving.

Delicious dishes that let simple ingredients shine through.

 


.Perfect with Tempura King Prawns and home-grown tomatoes!

BOGOF

If your self-isolating hoard of UHT milk tastes awful in tea, here’s the answer: homemade yoghurt plus the vital ingredient for a simple bread.  Two for the price of one.

The yoghurt is blissfully simple: just heat half a litre of UHT milk to 43.5 degrees Celsius and pour in to a container with a lid.  Stir a tablespoon or so of plain natural yoghurt (ideally without any additives) in to the milk.  Put on the lid and keep at the same temperature for 8-10 hours.

I’m lucky enough to have a sous-vide water bath that will maintain the pre-set temperature but you could experiment: perhaps a vacuum  flask wrapped up in a freezer bag or insulated cooler.

Pour the yoghurt through a sieve  lined with muslin and leave to drain to reach the consistency you want: the longer it drains, the less you make but the thicker it becomes.

Don’t waste the milky liquid that drains off.  Mix 250g of plain flour with 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda and a good pinch of salt.  Pour in just under 200ml of the drained liquid and form the mix into a soft dough.  Quickly knead into a rough ball and place on to a floured baking sheet.  Slash a cross into the top and cook in a pre-heated oven  at Gas 6, 200C for about 30 minutes.  Knock the bottom to check if it sounds hollow – if not, return it to the oven upside down for a couple of minutes.  Eat the same day with homemade soup or it will toast well for breakfast.

You can experiment  with the yoghurt: try adding orange zest at the start , add milk powder for thicker results.

When life feels tough, it can be very satisfying to try something new, that’s created with the simplest ingredients and that you can perfect to impress family and friends when you see them next.