Tamarillos forever

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I hadn’t eaten a tamarillo in something like 15 years but my god I have been missing out. You don’t see them much in Britain though, so I do have an excuse, but now that I am back in New Zealand I can enjoy these stunning burgundy fruit every autumn. They have a unique flavour that I can’t really pinpoint but it’s like a really fragrant, fruity tomato that is also slightly tropical in taste. They are very sharp eaten raw, but are just the business when poached becoming slightly silken and just pure delightfulness. Skye Gyngell is one of my food heroes (I’ve probably gone on and on about her loads already on this blog) and raves about tamarillos. I’ve had Skye’s recipe for Almond Panna Cotta with Poached Tamarillos earmarked by an unusually stained post-it note for years, waiting patiently to be made. Just the other day, I spotted some fine looking tamarillos at the weekly market and finally got around to making one half of the said recipe – the poached tamarillos. The almond panna cotta will have to wait. Sigh. Tamarillos are simmered gently in sugar syrup imparted with the all-important spices: cinnamon, vanilla pod and yes, bay leaves. (I’ve only just discovered, over the past year, how good bay leaves are in sweet things. Rice pudding with bay leaf and manuka honey being one of my all-time favourite ways to eat rice!)

I served these jewel-like beauties warm with ice cream. On the following days I had them on top of granola and then buttermilk pancakes as the syrup just keeps on giving. You can keep any leftover tamarillos and syrup in a jar in the fridge and just add to smoothies or the odd porridge that needs a bit more excitement. One thing is for sure in this life and that is I’m definitely a tamarillo convert and there is no going back.

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Poached tamarillos

6 tamarillos

220 g caster sugar

1 vanilla pod, slit in half

1 cinnamon stick

2 fresh bay leaves

Prepare the tamarillos buy cutting them in half lengthways. Put 500 ml water, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and bay leaves into a saucepan and set over low heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer for 5–10 minutes, or until the liquid looks a little syrupy. Add the tamarillos and poach for 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften and pop out of their skins. Take off the heat and leave to cool in the poaching liquid for a few minutes. Serve warm or transfer to a jar and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

(Recipe from A Year in My Kitchen by Skye Gyngell, Quadrille)

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Chestnut crepes

Chestnut flour is something we don’t rave about enough. I hadn’t really heard of it until this year, having come across it in a couple of recipes while editing a cookbook, but it is such a scrumptious and delicious flour that I intend to use more often. It isn’t easy to find, nor is it the cheapest flour on the market, but if you do enough research you can find it slightly cheaper than what Wholefoods sell it for. I found mine at Lina Stores in Soho but you can also get it from the brilliant Natoora website.

These chestnut crepes are so wafer thin and taste divine. I went to the photo shoot for the Nina St Tropez cookbook (publishing in June 2014) and Nina made these with her Nintella (like Nutella, but with the luxurious addition of macadamia nuts). We got to eat the crepes after the shot was done and oh my my was it a rollercoaster ride of the tastebuds. I was literally stamping the ground with my feet in excitement because it was the best crepe I had ever eaten. Paired with the chocolate spread, it tasted truly out of this world. They are so delicately thin and light-tasting. The chestnut flour gives the crepes an almost roasted nutty, sweet quality, and even after you eat five or six you don’t feel bloated or fat (and they are gluten free).  Since making these the first time, I’ve had them again and again. They are going to be my go-to weekend breakfast, there is simply no turning back.

Pictured directly below are Nina’s version from the photo shoot.

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Chestnut crepes

150g chestnut flour

60g golden caster sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

300ml whole milk

10g unsalted butter

In a large bowl, mix together the chestnut flour, sugar and egg. Drizzle in the milk, stirring continuously with a whisk to stop any lumps from forming. Place a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and add a little butter to coat the bottom of the pan. Once melted, add a ladle of batter to the pan, quickly swirling it around to create a very thin crepe. Cook for about 1 minute per side. Eat immediately. Don’t even attempt to keep them warm because they are best straight out of the frying pan and into hungry mouths.

Serve with Nintella (recipe featured in the book, published in 2014!) or Nutella. I also love them with Greek yoghurt, maple syrup and strawberries or sliced bananas.

(Recipe from Nina St Tropez: Recipes from the South of France, Nina Parker, W&N, June 2014)

Ricotta Pancakes

There is something so luxurious about adding cheese to pancakes, especially fresh ricotta. It is one of those ingredients that adds a lovely lightness, and a fresh taste you can’t quite put your finger on. Although the husband makes a pretty faultless pancake (using a Skye Gyngell recipe), I was inspired to try my hand at them myself. What better excuse than the just purchased Rose Bakery cookbook: Breakfast Lunch Tea. The book’s cover, a florescent green, is arresting enough to be instantly pick-up-able, but the recipes in it speak to me, all those tea cakes and rich tarts – things you want to eat everyday for the rest of your life. Recipes like chestnut and chocolate tart for those times when you are feeling just that little bit ambitious; lemon, rice and polenta cake: irresistible; and blueberry scones, which seem so inviting in their simplicity, all make me want to visit Rose Bakery in Paris. These ricotta pancakes were divine served with strawberries, bananas and a good drizzle of maple syrup and a bit of yoghurt. They really gave my husband’s pancakes a run for their money …

ricotta pancakes

Ricotta Pancakes

200g ricotta cheese

190ml whole milk

4 eggs, separated

150g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

unsalted butter, for cooking

To serve

75g unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon icing sugar

fresh berries, banana or any kind of fruit

1. Firstly make the sweetened butter by whisking the softened butter with the icing sugar together to lighten and combine. Set aside while you make the pancakes.

2. Beat the ricotta with the milk and egg yolks together until smooth

3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt

4. Add the ricotta mixture to the flour and carefully stir until just combined

5. Now beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold them into the pancake mix, trying to keep in as much air as possible.

6. Melt some butter in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add spoonfuls of the batter to make as many pancakes as you like. Cook on a low to medium heat until the pancake is lightly golden underneath.

7. Turn over and cook on the other side for about another minute until both sides are golden. Continue making all pancakes in this way. Serve hot, spread with some sweetened butter and fresh fruit.