Tag Archives: Raspberry

Leftover champagne? Say what?

Woah, 2013 needs to slow down.  I can’t quite believe that it’s already been a whole two weeks since Kat and I opened the fridge on New Year’s Day and were greeted by a rather astonishing sight: an unfinished bottle of champagne.  The concept of leftover champagne may well be foreign to you – indeed it’s an incredibly rare event when I’m involved (assuming it isn’t a case (badum-tschhhh!) of bad champagne…).  So.  What does one do with champagne leftovers?  Despite the teaspoon trick (popping a teaspoon handle down in the bottle which is magically supposed to keep most of the bubbles in, though I’m not sure how), it wasn’t in the bubbliest state so drinking it wasn’t going to be ideal.

This.  This is what you do with leftover champagne…

Baking with SpiritLuckily, the alcohol of choice for this month’s Baking with Spirit challenge is “champagne” – perfect, although that doesn’t really help in choose what exactly to make.  I feel a little guilty for missing last month’s Baking with Spirit challenge (here’s the round-up) since I went on holiday and generally ran out of time, so I wanted to make something awesome to make up for it, plus it’s also Janine’s birthday month.  That plan failed a little because after much deliberation, we settled on something not particularly original and which may seem a bit of a cop-out, but it’s so delicious that I do hope Janine will forgive me…

Oh look, a champagne cork crept into the photo and everything…

It is, of course, summer here in NZ, and summer means summer berries.  Yay!  Originally we wanted to honour the Kir Royale by poaching some blackcurrants in a champagne syrup (in case you’re not familiar with Kir Royale, it consists of crème de cassis – blackcurrant liqueur – and champagne).  However, we couldn’t find any blackcurrants – I wonder if they’re only available at farmers’ markets or at pick-your-owns.  So our idea morphed into poaching a combination of summer berries in a Kir Royale syrup.  Oh hey there decadence, how you doing?  The champagne is quite a subtle taste, coming through at the start and then turning into a deliciously fruity flavour.

Looks like decadence invited itself to this party

Simple and in SeasonI have a little confession though.  Even though summer berries are in season, we actually used a frozen summer berry mix.  Shock horror, I know, but let me explain.  For a start, I needed to create a bit of space in my freezer, but more importantly, not all of the summer berries in the mix are readily available to buy fresh – as well as the mysterious lack of blackcurrants, I’ve never seen fresh boysenberries, for example.  I’m not sure why that is because the berry mix is from a NZ farm, so they are definitely grown here.  Luckily this dessert works perfectly whether you use fresh or frozen berries.  I’m going to be cheeky and still submit this to Simple and in Season, hosted by Lavender and Lovage this month, since the berries are in season, and I’d have used fresh if I could find them all.  I might be bending the rules a little bit, so I’m just going to smile, wave and move on swiftly to the actual recipe.

Langues de chat make the perfect accompaniment for this general deliciousness

Kir Royale-poached summer berries

Serves 2
Recipe by Sharky Oven Gloves

You can use fresh or frozen berries for this dessert, but if using frozen berries, defrost them in advance and make sure to keep the juice.  You can use berries in whatever combination you like – although definitely make sure to try and get blackcurrants in there.  The dessert is best served with little biscuits to nibble on alongside (although it won’t necessarily be dairy-, egg- and gluten-free anymore) – langues de chat would work perfectly – and serving it in fancy glasses such as champagne saucers or martini glasses really dresses it up.  I sprinkled a bit of raw sugar crystals over the top but most of them ended up dissolving into the poaching liquid, so that ended up being a bit pointless.  If you have any leftover syrup, keep it in the fridge and use it to drizzle over icecream or sorbets.

Ingredients

250g mixed summer berries (blackberries, blackcurrants, blueberries, boysenberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.)
250g caster sugar
250ml champagne
1 tsp crème de cassis
Langues de chat or other little biscuits, to serve

Directions

1.  Add the sugar, champagne, crème de cassis and 350ml water to a medium saucepan (make sure that it’ll be large enough to fit all the fruit as well) and bring to the boil.

2.  Turn down the heat, and add the fruit (and any juice if using defrosted fruit).  Simmer for about 10-15 mins.

3.  Remove the fruit into a serving bowls or individual dishes or glasses.  Return the poaching liquid to the heat and simmer down until syrupy and reduced by half.  Spoon over the top of the fruit and serve with little biscuits on the side.

Enjoy!

Always a good sign.

11 Comments

Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

How NOT to reheat a summer fruits crumble…

We were invited to dinner at my Scottish grandma’s on Sunday, so we offered to bring dessert.  You might think we’re lovely people, but actually we just wanted to be sure that at least part of the meal would be edible (my grandma isn’t exactly renowned for her wonderful cooking).  We needed a dessert that could be made in advance and was easy to transport.  There are, of course, plenty of options, particularly with all the different fruit that are in season at the moment.  The last time we brought dessert (this is quite a regular occurrence), we’d made a rhubarb clafoutis and the time before was a tart of some description, so we decided to make a summer fruit crumble, which I’ll be submitting to this month’s Simple and in Season blog challenge.

This was an excellent occasion to make use of my awesome new Joseph Joseph mixing bowls that I won after the June Simple and in Season challenge (thanks again Ren!), and their colourfulness definitely brightened up the day.  I was actually feeling rather rotten on Sunday, and my mum did suggest that I just stay home, but I really wanted some of the delicious-looking crumble so I went along anyway (priorities and all that…).  Considering that I’ve spent most of the last three days stuck in bed with severe tonsillitis (and the reason it’s taken me so long to get this post up), that probably wasn’t the best plan, particularly considering the fate of the crumble…

We’d taken the crumble out of the oven about ten minutes or so before the end of cooking so that we could just heat it up gently once at my grandma’s and serve it warm.  What could possibly go wrong?  (Famous last words…)  About four minutes after going in the oven, a distinct smell of burning suddenly filled the air and the fire alarm went off.  Hardly a good sign.  My mum rapidly removed a heavily singed crumble from the oven and discovered that my grandma had accidentally managed to set the oven to the highest grill setting…  Not the ideal way to reheat a crumble.  Once the burnt bits were scraped off though, it still tasted delicious, so the plan to make sure that at least something was edible still worked.  For obvious reasons, I don’t have any photos of the fully singed cooked crumble, but I did take this one before we left, so just imagine it slightly more golden on top and that’s how it should have looked…

Summer fruit crumble

Serves 6
Adapted from one of my mum’s recipes

You can use any combination of fresh summer fruits depending on what is available.  Having said that, I seem to remember that we tried adding strawberries once and that didn’t actually work all that well.  I know of some people who make their crumble in a blender, but making it by hand is much better (and loads more fun!).  If you’re preparing this crumble in advance, remove it from the oven after about 20-25 mins and then just gently reheat it in the oven for about 10 mins, just before serving.

Ingredients

For the crumble:
125g unsalted butter, cubed
200g flour
125g granulated sugar
2 tbsp ground almonds
Pinch of salt

For the filling:
200g fresh blackberries
200g fresh blueberries
200g fresh raspberries
175g fresh red currants
6-8 tbsp granulated sugar

Directions

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.

2.  Cut the butter into small cubes and add to a large bowl.  Add the rest of the crumble ingredients and rub together with your fingers to form crumbs, making sure that the butter is properly broken down.

3.  Wash the fruit and pat dry.  In a large bowl, mix the fruit with the sugar until evenly coated, then transfer the fruit to an oven-proof dish (make sure the fruit come quite high up the sides of the dish).

4.  Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the top of the fruit mixture (but don’t pat it down) and bake for 30 mins until golden.  Serve with pouring cream or ice-cream.

Enjoy!

8 Comments

Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

Breakfast Club #12: Berry crumble bars

I was super-enthusiastic about the theme for this month’s Breakfast Club challenge, which is “Berries,” chosen by Nayna at simply.food.  Along with warm sunshine, summer berries have to be one of my favourite things about summer.  Fife seems to have a lot berry farms, and I think it might be one of the main raspberry-producing areas in the UK – with good reason, because the local raspberries are absolutely scrumptious.  So that’s one of my favourite summer things sorted.  As for sunshine, well, although St Andrews is apparently one of the sunniest spots in the UK, I still feel that the heat of a proper summer is distinctly lacking.  I suppose you can’t have  everything, and it would seem that local, tasty summer berries and a hot, sunny summer are too much to ask for.  So, as a whole bunch of clouds appear out of nowhere and the temperature drops to prove my point, let’s focus on the fruit.

There are so many breakfast possibilities involving berries, and the first that sprang to mind were granola, pancakes or muffins.  I decided that I wanted to try something a little less obvious, particularly since I have time to try things out at the moment (and all those baking supplies that I need to work my way through).  I happened across a recipe for some fruity crumble bars the other day, and not only did they look super tasty but the recipe was easy to adapt depending on whatever fruit you want to use.  So I decided to try the recipe out last night, ready for breakfast this morning.

Since Tesco (my local supermarket) conveniently had a whole bunch of locally-grown berries at half price, I decided to make the crumble bars with a selection of berries.  I picked up some raspberries, blueberries and strawberries (they didn’t have any blackberries sadly) and headed home to attempt the bars.  In a vague attempt to make this slightly healthier, I added some porridge oats to the crumble mixture, which worked nicely, adding a little bit of subtle crunch.  I actually really enjoyed having these for breakfast, they’re filling and tasty and a little different from what I usually tend to eat for breakfast, but they would also work as a post-lunch or mid-afternoon snack if cut into smaller squares, although they’re quite crumbly and not necessarily all that transportable unless in a box.

Berry crumble bars

Makes 12 squares
Adapted from Shop.Cook.Make

You can easily adapt these depending on which fruits you have at home or are in season.  You can also use whichever type of jam you want, and if you really like marmalade, you can also use that (I did, and it was yummy, though make sure to spread it thinly so the bitterness of the peel doesn’t overpower the rest of the bar too much!).  I was worried that keeping them overnight in an air-tight box would make them go a bit soft, but they were absolutely fine.

Ingredients

230g all-purpose flour
50g porridge oats
150g demerrera sugar
225g unsalted butter
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
Pinch salt
Jam of your choice, to spread
200g of mixed fresh berries or fruit

Directions

1.  Line a 19 x 25 cm baking tin with baking parchment (this will make it easier to lift out of the tin when cooled so that it can be cut into squares).  Pre-heat the oven to 175°C.

2.  In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg.  Cut the butter into small cubes and add to a large bowl with the flour, oats, sugar, beaten egg, baking powder, vanilla extract and salt.  Work the ingredients together using your hands to make a lumpy crumbly mixture (don’t worry if you think that the mixture is unlikely to turn into anything resembling the end product, or is a lot more buttery than a normal crumble mixture – this is normal).

3.  Gently press about half of the crumble mixture into the baking tin.  Spread a thin layer of jam/marmalade over the top of the crumble mix, leaving an edge of about 1cm.  Spread the washed and dried fruit (if using strawberries, do chop them up, and rip raspberries or blackberries in half as well) over the top of the jam, and then crumble the rest of the crumble mixture over the top of the fruit.  Don’t press the mixture down, but make sure that it’s more or less evenly spread across the bars.

4.  Bake for about 45 mins, until golden on top.  Allow to cool fully (it will harden up as it cools, which should take about 40-50 mins or so) before lifting out of the tin and slicing into squares.

Enjoy!

8 Comments

Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

Pimm’s cupcakes to celebrate the Royal Wedding

In case you haven’t heard (since there wasn’t any media coverage of it or anything), there was a Royal Wedding earlier today.  If you’ve vaguely followed the run-up to the wedding, you’ll know that William and Kate Catherine met at the University of St Andrews, so whilst they’re generally loved across the country, I think we all have a particular soft spot for them up here.  St Andrews is full of bunting (I have a secret love for bunting) and Union Jacks and a lot of people have been throwing parties, or attended the Royal Breakfast hosted in St Salvator’s quad, and have just generally been using today as an excuse for a celebration (it’s a busy weekend anyway with the May Dip on Sunday morning).

Unfortunately, I have a dissertation to write (which is why things have been a little quiet on the blog lately – I’ll start posting regularly again soon, I promise!), so no partying for me…  (Don’t be too sad, I’ll make up for it once the dissertation has been handed in.  iPlayer.  Royal Wedding Drinking Game.  Enough said.)  Instead I’ve spent the morning in the Bute computer lab with Kat, watching the Wedding on one computer and dissertating on another, whilst eating cupcakes.

Since they were in celebration of the Royal Wedding, they couldn’t just be any old cupcakes.  I decided to attempt Pimm’s cupcakes, because Pimm’s is just so quintessentially British and summery, with the added bonus of being super tasty, too.  They didn’t turn out as Pimm’s-y as I was expecting, but they were still lovely and fruity, and I think they can be declared a success.  Hurrah!  My dissertating, on the other hand was not such a success…  (30 words in 4 hours?  Epic fail.)  Never mind, the lack of productivity was worth it – the Wedding was beautiful to watch, Kate was beautiful (no surprises there) and so was her dress.  Though I would just like to say that I absolutely loved Pippa Middleton’s maid-of-honour dress – it suited her perfectly and she looked absolutely stunning in it.  So before I go off and dream about one day managing to look that exquisite (ha ha, good joke right there), I’ll just share these cupcakes with you for this wonderfully British celebration.  I’d also like to offer my congratulations and wish all the best to William and Catherine – I think they will make an absolutely superb royal couple.

Pimm’s cupcakes

Makes 16 cupcakes
Adapted from BakeSpace

This recipe isn’t quite as time-consuming as it looks, mostly because the glaze can be prepared whilst the cupcakes are in the oven, and the icing whilst they are cooling.  This would be a perfect street party food (to be kept in mind for the next royal event?)  I usually make Pimm’s with strawberries, but the raspberries worked really well with the cupcakes as they cut through the sweetness of the cupcakes perfectly.  I’m sure these would be wonderful served with a jug of Pimm’s.  Yummy!

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
225g butter, softened
200g brown sugar
230g self-raising flour
¼ tsp baking powder
4 eggs
3 shots Pimm’s No. 1
Handful fresh mint, chopped (or you can use 1 tbsp dried mint)

For the glaze:
8 tbsp Pimm’s
2 tbsp brown sugar
Handful of raspberries
Further 6 tbsp Pimm’s No. 1 (optional)

For the icing:
170g butter, softened
370g icing sugar
Zest & juice of 2 limes
Zest & juice of 1 lemon
Fresh raspberries (to decorate)
Fresh mint, finely chopped (to decorate)

Directions

To make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Line a muffin with tin with 16 paper cases or set out silicone moulds.

2.  Cream the butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl.  Add all the other batter ingredients and mix well.

3.  Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared cases and bake for 18-20 minutes.

To make the glaze:
4.  Whilst the cupcakes bake, mix the glaze ingredients together in a small saucepan and mush in the raspberries.  Set on a low heat and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes until a little syrupy.

5.  When the cupcakes are done, remove from the oven, poke a few holes into the tops of each (I used a pointy chopstick) and spoon about 1 tsp of the glaze per cupcake into them.  Spoon in a bit of extra Pimm’s over the top of the glaze (optional, but so good).  Allow the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing:
6.  Cream the butter and icing sugar (be prepared for an icing sugar explosion).  Add the rest of the icing ingredients (except the raspberries and chopped mint) and continue mixing until smooth.

7.  Pipe the icing over each cupcake once they have fully cooled.  Sprinkle with some raspberries and freshly-chopped mint before serving.

Enjoy!

Right.  I should probably get back to the dissertation now…  Joy.

5 Comments

Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

“Auld Alliance” cranachan

Tomorrow (January 25th) is Burns Night, a celebration of the life and works of the Scottish poet Robert Burns on the day of his birth.  I’m not actually sure what there is to celebrate about his life (apparently he was basically a drunken misogynist and racist) or his works (not having been to school in Scotland I never studied any of his poetry, but I have been assured by various friends that it was a lucky escape), but as far as I’m concerned, it’s an excuse for a dinner party, or Burns Supper, so I’m all for it.

If you’re going to do a Burns Supper properly, there are a whole set of traditions associated with it, including a piper and a heck of a lot of speeches.  Including the Address To a Haggis.  Yes, that’s right, an 8-verse poem in Scots dialect recited to a stuffed sheep’s stomach.  So anyway, I don’t happen to have a piper on hand and (despite being Scottish) I sound ridiculous attempting to pronounce any Scots words, so I think we’ll be skipping most of those traditions (shock horror, I know), though perhaps I’ll attempt to convince one of my friends with an actual Scottish accent to do the Address.  We shall see…

Now that I’ve rambled a bit, I’ll get to the point: food.  Well, more specifically: dessert.  One of the traditional Burns Supper desserts is cranachan, a concoction of oats, whipped cream, honey, whisky (depending on who is making it) and raspberries.  I’m not sure why there are raspberries in a dish that is usually served in January – they’re not exactly in season – but we’ll gloss over that.  I’m not a huge fan of oats though (I find them rather boring), so I was looking for an alternative and suddenly it hit me – use a macaron base to get a bit of crunch just like the oats!  Genius!  Using a macaron base would be a perfect way to introduce some extra colour, too…

I also discovered that this month’s Mac Attack (#15 – MacInspirational) was all about incorporating macarons into your favourite dessert.  So ok, cranachan isn’t my favourite dessert, but here was the perfect excuse to try out my idea. I’ve done a trial run, which I’m quite happy with and am only planning a few minor adjustments – making the bases bigger and slightly “puffier” and also crumbling macarons over the top to create a bit more crunch.  So I give you the “Auld Alliance” cranachan – a perfect Scottish-French partnership (I know, I know, I am just so witty):

“Auld Alliance” cranachan

Serves 8
Macaron shell recipe based on Mad About Macarons!
The topping was made from my imagination

The shells can be prepared the day before, but to get maximum crunch, it’s best to add the topping just before serving, otherwise the cream soaks into the shell and softens it.

Ingredients

For the macarons shells:
150g aged egg whites (age them for 4-5 days in a sealed jar in the fridge)
100g caster sugar
180g ground almonds
270g icing sugar
Pink & purple food colouring paste (optional)

For the topping (these are all very approximate measures – definitely refine them to your tastes):
550ml double cream
20 tbsp icing sugar
20 tbsp whisky
15 tbsp heather honey (or just normal set honey if you can’t get heather honey)
300g raspberries

Directions

To make the macaron shells:
1. Line three or four flat baking sheets with baking paper and set aside.  Prepare a piping bag with a plain nozzle (a wide nozzle is best to make the large shells).

2.  Blend the icing sugar and ground almonds together (don’t skip this step!)  Sift them through a medium sieve into a large bowl.  Sift them again if necessary.

3.  Make the French meringue by whisking the egg whites at room temperature (take them out of the fridge 2h beforehand) to glossy firm peaks, gradually adding the caster sugar.  Add a good dollop of pink food colouring paste and a few drops (splodges?) of purple just before the end and mix well (this is totally optional, but it just adds a bit of colour to the dessert, and it’s also kind of fun).

4.  Incorporate the French meringue into the dry ingredients using a large spatula and mix well.  Now work on the mixture by pressing down well with the spatula, going backwards and forwards, to press out the oxygen from the egg whites (this is the macaronnage stage), until you have a smooth mixture.  Don’t do this for longer than 5 minutes.  The result should be a soft and brilliant mixture that forms a “ribbon” on the spatula.

5.  Transfer the mixture to the previously prepared piping bag and pipe out the desired size of rounds (mine were about 10cm but I’m going to try 15cm next time. Make sure you make at least 8 – any extra shells can be crumbled and used for decoration at the end).  Press the nozzle right down on the paper and finish off with a flourish to obtain a nice round.  Leave a good space between them so they can spread out.

6.  Leave to set for about 30mins (this helps to produce the feet – because these are big shells, a bit longer might be required).  Preheat the oven to fan-oven 160°C.  When you can feel that a skin has formed over the top, they are ready to go into the oven.

7.  Bake one tray at a time in the centre of the oven for about 10-15mins (to see if they are done, touch the top – if there is a “wobble,” leave them in 2-3mins longer).  Leave them to cool on the baking trays.

To make the topping:
8.  Add the cream, icing sugar and whisky to a bowl and whip into stiff peaks.  Once this is done, add the honey and mix into the cream (heather honey is set, so use the electric whisk).

9.  Spoon a thick layer of the whisky-honey-cream onto the macaron shells (you could also pipe it into a pretty pattern if you are feeling enthusiastic/have the time).  Decorate with raspberries and crushed left-over macaron shells before serving.

Enjoy!

11 Comments

Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods