I feel a bit of a hypocrite at the moment. I'm busy - I've been travelling, I've had lots of people over at Easter, and now I'm preparing for a big family weekend plus a couple of parties (why does everything always happen at once?) - and I'm not eating well. That's not actually quite right: I'm eating TOO well, and not lean enough. I don't mean to seem ungrateful, but I'd rather be eating mostly vegetables and fish, with the odd bit of fruit. Hard to do when you're out and about.
Time to cut back, then, at least until tomorrow evening, the first party, a 60th birthday. A huge leaf salad for lunch, then fish and plain vegetables for supper. Fruit in between. Nothing else.
And in that spirit, I need to think of pudding: the sort of pudding you want to eat, which feels indulgent, but which doesn't break the everyday rhythm of a lean eating pattern. Fruit, obviously. Virtually all the puddings I make these days are fruit-based. Just now, it needs to be simple. But fruit salad can feel a little like omelette for a vegetarian - slightly unimaginative, a what-on-earth-can-we-give-them last resort.
So, for the first of my Heart of the Matter pudding posts, I'm giving you a few ideas for pepping up fruit-as-dessert ...
Chargrilled fruit with honey glaze: whisk together 6 tbsp honey with a little grated ginger (to taste) and the zest of an orange and a lemon. Brush the glaze over slices of pineapple, mango, papaya, banana, kiwi fruit, peaches, nectarines (not necessarily all at once!). Cook under a hot grill for 10 minutes, turning once, and brushing with more glaze. Serve hot.
Currants in cassis: You can make this with frozen berries, or, in summer, with fresh berries. Gently poach 500-600g mixed soft fruit - redcurrants, blackcurrants, whitecurrants, blueberries, raspberries - with a little sugar (say 3-4 tbsp) and the grated rind of an orange. They will give off a lot of juice. Strain this into a saucepan, and thicken it with a little arrowroot or cornflour slaked in a few drops of water. When it's cooked through, let it cool slightly, and stir in 2 tbsp creme de cassis, that lovely blackcurrant liqueur from France. Put the berries in a pretty serving dish, and pour the liquid over them. Serve with a garnish of mint, if you've got some.
Jamie Oliver's sticky figs: This is a wonderful thing to do with figs when you've got a glut. Tear them open, put them on a rack, and into the oven on the lowest setting possible, 50C. After two hours, turn the oven off, but leave them in until it's cold. Then you'll find you've got something seriously sticky, and good with (0%) Greek yoghurt. Jamie has lots of other ideas for them which I've never tried: good in stew or pasta sauce, "surprisingly amazing" with roast chicken, or chopped into gravy. But in my experience, you don't get many left over for any of that!
Friday flowers - in a convent garden - "If poverty had been the keynote of the convent buildings, its garden was redolent of wealth. There was, even here, certain evidence of monastic austerity,...
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