Pear and Persimmon Crumble

Persimmon Pear Cobbler

As a child, apple crumble was my favorite dessert.  Especially when you climbed the tree yourself and picked the apples and then crumble on your plate piping hot and next to with a real vanilla ice cream. (Not the yellow kind. The white one with the little black flecks of vanilla in it… mmm).  Our London home had an apple tree in the garden and there were huge orchards at both sets of grandparents’ homes so crumbles were a staple on the menu wherever we were.  Through apple season my darling granny could usually be found with a box of apples beside her, peeling, coring, chopping away into a colander, and I was never too far away stealing little apple slices (despite her warnings that they were tart ‘cookers’).

Along with chocolate cake, crumble was one of the first things I learned to make.  We had a regular Sunday routine of rolling (starving) home from church to a chicken roasting in the oven, then Mummy making gravy and cooking veggies, and me rubbing butter into flour for crumble.  Well with an overabundance of persimmons and pears on my counter top from the veg box, and a family dinner planned this weekend, I thought crumble would be the perfect way to use them up. So here’s what I threw together!

the whole food diary

For the fruit layer:

5 Fuyu Persimmons, sliced

5 ripe pears, sliced

3 tbsp almond meal

1 shot of ameretto (optional but recommended!)

1.5 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/3 cup maple syrup

Mix together all of the above and spread into a 10″ skillet or equivalent pan.

For the crumble topping: 

1.5 cups almond meal

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

10 big juicy (or soaked) dates

Pinch good salt

3 tbsp coconut oil

2 cups oats (gluten free if you need)

Pulse everything but the oats together until combined then add in half the oats continuing to pulse until they are evenly distributed through but not completely ground down.  Then add in the second half and just pulse a few times. You want some almost whole oats left in there.  Then get your hands in and spread it over the fruit layer.  You can refrigerate it at this point if you want to cook it later in the day or cook it right away.  Either way, reheat the oven to 350F and bake for 35-40 minutes or until bubbling and browning on top.

Note: You could use apples instead or pears and persimmons.  Sub out the pumpkin pie spice for ground ginger for a fun twist.  For the paleo version, lost eh oats and add in an extra cup of nut meal and a cup of slices almonds at the end!

We ate ours with homemake maple cinnamon ice cream, I’ll get the that recipe shortly! (In short though, if you know the method… one can coconut cream, half cup almond milk, 4 egg yolks, one good tsp cinnamon, half cup maple syrup, 1 tsp vanilla)

Happy crumble eating!

 

Sweet Potato Soup with Pomegranate Seeds

Sweet Potato Soup Autumn taunted us for a few days last week with lower temperatures and I was instantly ready to dig out the pumpkin pie spice, start Christmas shopping and curl up by the fire.  Alas, it then withdrew and we’re back up at 100F outside with iced coffees in hand. Autumn, we’ll see you soon (please).  So given the heat I really didn’t set out to make soup but as happens more and more now I get a weekly produce box, the ingredients in the fridge spoke to me.

A sweet lady at work asked me if I wanted a huge box of pomegranates from her tree.  Well, who would say no to that?! So I said yes and they sat on my coffee table for a week looking at me. Later that day the veg box arrived and it was full of the largest sweet potatoes I’ve ever seen.  Fall root veggies always say soup to me but a bowl of soup wouldn’t be the first place I’d think to use pomegranate seeds. With a whole box to use though, I’ve already done everything I know and I needed something new.  The sweet crunchy seeds are actually the perfect addition to the warm, creamy soup!!  They add a fun burst of tart, freshness in the middle of the soup – I was surprised at how good it was!  To me even the best soup can get a little boring if it’s lots of mouthfuls of exactly the same taste so this is the perfect remedy.

A little tip: To adorn the coffee table whole intact pomegranates are going to be best, but for eating you actually want the less attractive already splitting open ones.  Those are the ones that are ripe and sweet and perfect! So don’t judge the book by it’s cover on this one, pick the ugly duckling!

Recipe:

Makes 2 large servings or 3 small ones!

1 medium sweet potato
3 carrots
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup good stock
1/2-1 cup fresh cashew coconut milk (or any nut milk but that’s my favourite home made one!)
A good dose of salt and pepper
A pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup Pomegranate seeds to top

Chop the sweet potato and carrots into chunks and steam them until they’re soft when you prod them with a fork. At the same time, sauté the onion over a medium heat in a little coconut oil until it’s translucent and softened.  Let them cool and throw them in a good blender with the veggies, stock, 1/2 cup milk and a pinch of cinnamon, salt and pepper. Blend it all up until its completely smooth and then taste test.  If you want it thinner more milk 1/4 cup at a time, and add more salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a container to store/freeze or back into a pan to warm if you’re going to eat it right away. I split it and did both.   Then top your yummy bowl with a good handful of juicy pomegranate seeds and dive in!

A little tip: I actually ate mine cold for lunch the next day with more seeds and it made a delicious chilled soup so that’s what I’ll be doing until it cools down!!

Fresh Asian Pear Vinaigrette

Pear and Walnut Salad
I love putting a huge salad on the table with a loaf of bread and some other goodies and then tucking in with people I love followed by a french press of delicious coffee and something chocolatey. (Read ‘…and Port’ if it’s dinner.)
Personally I’m not a huge salad dressing person, mainly because the ingredients often make me nervous and I’ve always avoided it.  So I’ve been experimenting recently with making clean ones.  Last week I tried a raspberry vinaigrette to go on a strawberry and toasted pecan salad. It was a hit (I found myself eating the dressing on a spoon, don’t tell anyone) so I’m delving in again this week with a fresh pear vinaigrette on a walnut, arugula and apple salad. Thanks to my veg box for providing the pear inspiration. Enjoy!
Pear vinaigrette

To feed four people alongside a loaf of crusty fresh bread:

1 6 oz bag of spinach
1/2 6oz bag of rocket/arugula
4oz goat cheese
1-2 apples finely sliced and tossed in lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped and toasted walnuts
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 portion of fresh pear vinaigrette (below)
For the vinaigrette:
1 medium asian pear, cored and chopped
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp melted coconut oil
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp raw honey


Throw the pear in a good blender with the vinegars, lemon juice, salt, pepper and honey. Blend it really well until it’s completely smooth and combined and then with the blender running slowly drizzle in the oils and continue blending for a further minute.  Pour it in to a glass container and refrigerate.
Note: The coconut oil is a personal preference as I’m not a huge fan of the taste of olive.  You could equally use all olive oil or a walnut oil would be a great addition. The coconut oil sets it a little but if it’s well blended it’s ok, just take it out 10 minutes before eating and give it a good shake.
Toss all the leaves into a large bowl, crumble the goat cheese on top with the apple and walnuts.  I like to slice the apple thinly so you don’t get big chunks but just little bits of crisp juicy fruit in the leaves.  Squeeze half a lemon over the slices before adding them to the salad so they don’t brown.  Toasting nuts really brings out the flavour so for a salad I always like to toast them.  Gently heat the walnuts in a little skillet for 5-10 minutes shaking regularly so they don’t burn., they’ll taste twice as good afterwards! Then allow them to cool and sprinkle them on the salad.  Just before serving it drizzle as much of the dressing over as you’d like.  I like to put about a third of that amount on and then put the jar on the table for people who like more. Now tuck in and enjoy!
Pear and Walnut salad

Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

Raspberry Vinaigrette

 

Tonight we took a salad to a dinner party to accompany steaks.  Usually Jared is not hugely opinionated on what we take, when I ask he’ll give me a look that says, ‘You know that’s your thing and I don’t mind’.  But I still ask him anyway, just for fun.  This time he surprised me and straight away said, ‘Yes, a salad with strawberries, pecans, cheese…’ So that’s what we did.

On my own I’m not a huge salad dressing person, I never have been but when I need them for Jared or to take on something like this, I don’t like the ingredients in a store bought ones so I want to get better at making my own with good, clean, ingredients.  There’s only one vinaigrette that this salad wants and it’s a raspberry vinaigrette.

Here’s what I used:

1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

A pinch of salt and pepper

A 6oz punnet of raspberries

6 tbsp coconut oil (you could use olive oil or another good oil but I’m not a huge fan of the taste and coconut oil was what we had today)

Have all the ingredients at room temp (especially if you’re using frozen raspberries).  Place everything except the oil in a blender and whizz until it’s completely blended then slowly add in the oil. Done!

For the rest of the salad and to feed 8 with steaks I used about 10 cups spinach, 1 1/2 cups strawberries, sliced, 1/2 cup almonds and 1/2 cup pecans which I lightly toasted with salt and black pepper, and 1/3 cup goat’s cheese. Toss it all together and mix on half of that vinaigrette.  Put the rest in the fridge for next time and put the steaks on the grill :)
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Kale salad with tahini lemon dressing

Kale salad
This, ladies and gentlemen, is one of my favourite salads in the world. So when kale and asian pears arrived in my produce box this week I knew exactly where they were going. In my opinion every salad should have something crunchy, something sweet, something tangy, and then be hearty enough to actually fill you up, and this one has it all.  Wholefoods often has a similar one in their heavenly salad bar and I always pile it into my brown takeout box whenever I see it in the line up, so this is my twist.

It’s also just about the only way I’ll eat kale raw, so if kale scares you, I dare you to still give this one a try!

Kale salad

To serve 2 as a main or 3-4 as a side you’ll need:

1 bunch kale (about 8-10 stalks)

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup raisins

1 apple or pear

For the dressing:

Juice of 1 1/2 lemons

1/4 cup tahini

2 tbs olive oil

2 tbsp water

1 tbsp minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Start by tossing the pine nuts in a small skillet over a low heat and toasting them for 5 minutes or until you can see them gently browning – you don’t want them to go black. Shake the pan regularly to move them around.

Take the kale and tear the leaves off the hard stems, discard the stems and put the leaves in a bowl.  Now (don’t laugh at me…) you’re going to massage the kale.  It might sound strange but it really does help to break it down and make it more palatable, give it a go for a few minutes until you feel a difference.

Now, in a bowl mix all of the dressing ingredients together thoroughly with a fork.  You really want the dressing to coat the kale so and pour it on mix until its really well and evenly combined.  Slice the pear and add that to the salad with the raisins and the toasted pine nuts, give it a gentle toss and you’re ready to go!

Kale salad

 

Fig, red onion and port jam on spelt pizza with goat’s cheese and arugula

Spelt Pizza

 

I love small town living.  There are many things I’ve learned to love in moving from the cosmopolitan millions of London to this Northern California 90,000 but one of them is the food producing and sharing community.  Picking up my veg box the other week, someone kindly handed me an extra half gallon of delicious raw milk from their goats, a friend brought me two passive bags of persimmons, while she was on vacation another friend told me to go and pick chard and strawberries from her garden. Regularly I go to the gym and there is a box of garden bounty left by another gym member… it’s a dream!  Last week someone said they had a whole fig tree that needed picking, and that is a red rag to this bull.  I took a big bag and went on my way home from a party.  I picked and picked until the sun was down and I couldn’t see the figs any more! Thanks Craig and Cindy, you are so generous.

But now, what to do with hundreds of figs?

Well, the same answer as to hundreds of any kind of fruit: jam. Perfect.

I made some sweet with orange, vanilla and cinnamon and then I made this one with red onions and port… it’s a winner in my opinion.  And then to take it a step further, lather it on a pizza with goats cheese, fire it up and then top it with rocket, a drizzle of balsamic reduction, and some chopped nuts.  Sit it next to a good glass of wine and you have the perfect summer night.

15(ish!)oz fresh figs

1 red onion finely chopped

1/2 cup port

3 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the red onion in the oil for about 10 mins until its going translucent and it’s nicely soft.  As it’s cooking, finely chop up all the figs, removing the stems.  When the onion is ready, pour in the port and scrape down the pan.  The throw in all the figs and stir it all together. Let it simmer with a lid on for about 15 mins stirring occasionally, then remove the lid and continue cooking until you reach the jam consistency that you want! Now put it on a cracker, on some cheese, or load up a home made pizza crust!

Beni’s Grawnola

Last weekend my wonderful boss Beni handed me a paper bag of home made granola.  It was delicious looking raw granola made with nuts and seeds, no grains and lots of yummy healthy hidden extras.  I couldn’t wait to dig in.  Save it until breakfast the next day? Nope. No way, I stuck my hand in the bag and started snacking.  A little crunch, a little chewiness, gently sweet but not too sweet, and surprisingly light for a nut based granola.  Yum.  I went for round two after a long Monday morning workout and made myself a smoothie bowl topped it with blueberries and a handful of the granola.  It was perfect. Honestly I had thought it might be two heavy and rich for more than just snacking on in very small quantities but somehow it isn’t and today’s round three with homemade cashew milk and fresh figs next to a perfect cup of coffee confirmed: it’s the ultimate ‘grawnola’.  So I asked Beni if I could share the recipe here and she kindly said yes so here it is, thanks boss ;)

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Ingredients:

6 cups of soaked nuts (I use mostly almonds and cashews)
1/2 raw honey
2 TBS maca (optional)
3/4 cup dates
1/4 cup freshly ground flax seed
1TBS vanilla
1/4 cup buckwheat flour (optional)
1/2 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds

Method: Soak all the nuts in filtered water for 8 hours, or overnight, to activate them. (Cashews don’t need more than 6 hours so if you want you can soak them separately from the almonds) Drain the water and place the nuts in a food processor with the honey, maca, dates, flax seed and vanilla.  Combine them by pulsing the blender a few times. Be careful not to process to much, you want them broken down but also for it to still have texture keep pulsing until you have no whole nuts and they are in small pieces. Transfer that nut mixture into a big bowl and mix in the hemp and chia seeds. Once it’s well combined spread the mixture out onto dehydrator trays. Dehydrate the grawnola for at least 12 hours at 118 degrees.  Once it’s done you can transfer it to a sealed glass jar for storage… or pop it straight into a bowl, top it with some fruit and cold fresh cashew milk, (take a picture!) and enjoy. Perfect.