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Sep 24

Cheap food ideas – Recipes using fruit

Check out these amazing food ideas and recipes using healthy fruit ingredients by Sarah Lockett

 

Almost Free ORANGE Marmalade

Miniature orange tree

A while back I bought a mini ornamental orange tree  (well, it’s a Calamon Tree, to be more accurate, from Plants4Presents.co.uk), which has borne fruit.

It’s now about a metre high and loves sitting in my conservatory kitchen, soaking up the sun and heat. Incidentally these make great presents – the company delivers them all over the UK in very sturdy, upright boxes – I’ve sent one to my sister and Mum may be getting one soon.

Anyway, I’ve harvested the oranges several times and I tend to quarter them, de-pip them and freeze for later.

More recently I decided to make some Almost Free Marmalade. I put the prepared fruit (previously frozen, which seems to soften it up and release the juices) in a saucepan with 100g sugar (9p!) and simmered gently till it became syrupy and jammy, then cooled it down. Voila. I could have simply poured it into a clean jar (sterilised with hot water or run through one cycle of the dishwasher) and used it as ordinary marmalade.

Marmalade with miniature oranges

But, as I avoid bread, I used it to make a teatime cake with ground almonds, creme fraiche, eggs, butter, more sugar and some self raising flour – and the whole family wolfed it.

About a third of it, I mixed with half-fat creme fraiche and a teaspoon of ground cardamom, spooned into individual ramekins and froze for a sort of creamy, orange semmifreddo-sorbet, with less sugar than you’d expect from most desserts. Yum.

 

Frozen Strawberry Cake

Strawberry cake

Lidl were doing 750g frozen strawberries for £2. So I bought them, not really knowing what to do with them. Now, strawberries don’t really freeze very well: they can be woolly and watery when defrosted. So I decided to do an impromptu cake (the kind I don’t really know how I am going to do it, or how it’s going to turn out, till the end).

Usually, bags of frozen fruit come in 400g, and that would be fine – 750g just makes a supersized cake. This turns out really fudgey and creamy, fruity and delicious, plus moist-er and squidgier than ordinary cake.

Recipe: Frozen Strawberry Cake

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 125 butter or margarine
  • 250g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (these spices are advisory – nutmeg, mace etc work well, or leave out)
  • 2 tbsp parl socker (tiny Swedish sugar lumps – Optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. In a mixer (or bowl) cream the room-temperature butter and sugar together
  3. Add the eggs and mix further.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and flavourings.
  5. Mix well.
  6. Line a 25-28cm round springform cake tin with greaseproof paper/baking parchment (or a ready made greaseproof liner)
  7. Spoon in half the cake mix.
  8. Spread over the bottom, then tip the strawberries over.
  9. Blob over the rest of the cake mix and sprinkle with sugar (optional).
  10. Bake at least 35 minutes – check to see how watery it is because the fruit will release a lot of juice. The high sugar content combines with this to make a sweet syrup, and gives a fudgey texture but ONLY if you cook it long enough. If it needs 45 minutes, so be it.

Serving: Serve with creme fraiche to cut through the sweetness, or plain yoghurt.

 

food saving idea – banana semifreddo

Banana semifreddo in mason jars

Looking for a food saving idea, try this Banana Semifreddo – seems to be the name I’m giving to any type of sweet mousse or fool etc that’s a bit too liquid to be served at fridge temperature. Perhaps that is the definition? Anyway this came about as an experiment because I am trying to use up food before going on holiday in 2 days time (so various odd fruits and veg won’t languish at home while we’re away, and rot). So, two bananas and one 450g pot of Greek yoghurt, plus a few bits and bobs, and we’re away. I was fully expecting my kids to pull faces but they asked for seconds, so I was (a) astounded and (b) delighted and (c) resolved to blog about it immediately. It’s a great, cheap, child-friendly, everyday family dessert.

RECIPE: BANANA SEMIFREDDO

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 2 or 3 bananas, peeled and chunked
  • 450g pot Greek yoghurt with honey (or add your own honey)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • few scrapes fresh nutmeg

Method

  1. Put everything in the blender and blitz.
  2. Pour into 4 individual ramekins.
  3. Freeze for at least an hour.
  4. Defrost a bit before eating as they will be rock hard otherwise.

Serving: Serve with a blob of whipped cream, a few slices of banana, or chocolate shavings, or crushed peanut brittle would be nice, or a smashed up Crunchie, or a few of those sesame brittle things you get in newsagents/sweetshops – smashed-up.

 

Blackberrying and Blackberry Crumble

Blackberry crumble

My kids love blackberrying. In fact the husband loves it too, because picking berries reminds him of his childhood summers spent in Finland (in a cottage without running water or electricity – now there’s a way to have a cheap holiday). I also like getting back to the land and foraging for free food. So, everyone’s happy, indulging in an free, enjoyable, productive family activity. Today we’ve been to the PYO fruit farm and stocked up (more of this in later columns). So, here’s the recipe, and it’s a bit crisper, chewier and more substantial than ordinary crumble.

RECIPE: SWEDISH BLACKBERRY CRUMBLE

Ingredients: (for 8)

  • Biggish bag fresh picked blackberries (1kg?)
  • 150g sugar + 2 tbsp extra (optional)
  • 150g butter
  • 300g oats
  • 150ml golden syrup
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  2. Melt the butter gently in the microwave in a big bowl.
  3. Use a little of this to butter a big oven-proof dish.
  4. Wash blackberries and tip into the dish.
  5. If they’re particularly tart, add a sprinkling of sugar (1-2 tbsp) and maybe a dash of water or creme de mur (blackberry liqueur).
  6. To the melted butter, add sugar, syrup, flour, baking powder, oats and milk. You could also add a little cinnamon at this stage.
  7. Cover the blackberries with the topping, spreading it out, as it forms clumps.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes until crisp, golden brown and bubbling.
  9. Serve with creme fraiche, cream, ice cream, custard or on its own. Great cold for breakfast with chilled no-fat yoghurt too

 

Pomegranate Superfood Dressing

Secret Garden Pomegranate Essence dressing

Secret Garden Pomegranate Essence dressing

Pomegranates are a superfood, which just means they’ve got lots of antioxidants in, like most fruit and veg, as far as I can tell. But they’re quite a fiddle to prepare. So why not get a a hit of this tangy, sweet, refreshing fruit in a salad dressing, where all the work has been done for you?

I’ve been testing Pomegranate Essence by Secret Gardens this week, and it works for marinades, salads, sauces, dipping and even as a health supplement, sloshed into a homemade smoothie or juice (or cocktails!) It’s made by pressing the fruit and simmering it for several hours to make a natural pomegranate extract that’s both sweet and sour.

I found it nice drizzled over cherry tomato salads, heavy with parsley, mint and a little lemon juice. I marinaded organic, skinned chicken thighs in it and then roasted them – the pomegranate gives a lovely caramelised sheen to it. I lowered the tone by serving it with oven chips, but it was gorgeous (and oven chips are only 5% fat).

Pomegranate has more antioxidants than red wine (sorry, red wine drinkers!) green tea and blueberries. plus Vitamin E, calcium, iron and potassium. It also comes in environmentally friendly packaging manufactured from sand, limestone and sodium ash (who knew?). Get it from Ocado and other stockists www.discoversecretgardens.com

 

Easiest, healthiest ice lollies in the world

Frozen Banana Ice Lollies

I read about these a while back and then, when I had a glut of bananas last week, I decided to try them. They’re so creamy and indulgent-tasting, yet easy, they’re hardly even worth a recipe!

Easy Frozen Banana Pops

You will need:

  • Bananas
  • Popsicle sticks, plastic knives or plastic coffee stirrers
  • Toppings of choice (eg. Chocolate, nuts, sprinkles)

Method

  1. Peel bananas
  2. Halve them and carefully jam a popsicle stick, plastic knife, or a coffee stirrer in the middle.
  3. Place on a baking tray on some greaseproof paper.
  4. Freeze for about 3 hours.
  5. Once they’re frozen, you can carefully peel them off and store in a bag (if you used plastic knives or stirrers be careful you don’t snap them – easily done).

Serving: Try dipping in a jar of Nutella as you eat them, or melting some chocolate (milk or dark, or white) and either refreezing immediately or sprinkling with toasted chopped hazelnuts/almonds and refreezing immediately.
They’re about 44 calories and really creamy, just like eating an ice cream, really!  My kids, husband, au pair and I have been wolfing them down for dessert, or a heat-beating snack, without even noticing they’re healthy. Yum.

 

Free lemon balm syrup

Bundle of lemon balm leaves

I’ve mentioned before that there’s some lemon balm growing wild in my street. Now, autumn is not the best time of year to pick it, as it’s going a bit patchily brown, but I decided to swipe some this morning to make a lemon balm syrup – for cocktails! Got your attention now? If there’s none growing near you, it’s easy to cultivate in the garden, on your windowsill, in pots or a in a flower bed (but be careful – it takes over).

Recipe: lemon balm syrup

Ingredients (makes a jarful)

  • 5 or 6 stalks lemon balm
  • 2 tbsps delicately-flavoured honey or sugar
  • Splash of hot water
  • 2 tbsp apple puree (optional)

 

Method

  1. Pick the leaves off the stalks and throw into a blender.
  2. Add the other ingredients and whizz.
  3. Either sieve or leave chunky/with some texture.
  4. Use the syrup to make vodka-based cocktails (it goes really well with fruits/fruit juices such as peach, apricot, cranberry etc).

 

Or use it as I did, in a windfall apple crumble.

  1. Just mix about 1/3 of the the lemon balm mixture (chunky) into your peeled, cored and sliced apples, after lightly microwaving for 10 minutes.
  2. Then pile into a deep baking dish and sprinkle the crumble mix on top.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes at 180°C.

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