Monday, 11 August 2014

Winter Spoiler - Summer Fruits

Ok, everyone is asking so I am going to have to tell you about my last trip to Europe! Summer is something I love to talk about in relation to the northern hemisphere. Generally when I visit I am lucky with the weather and this year was no exception. 35 degrees C in London and Poland. Which brings me to my favourite things about Europe; wild flowers, glorious landscapes and fresh fruit with a taste that reminds me so much of my childhood. But I won't tell you everything right now, I will leave some for my next few posts.
Wild Flowers, Lowther Castle, Cumbria

Wild Flowers, Cumbria
Firstly let me tell you that I have added a wonderful Winter Fruit Dessert, at the end of this post, so make sure you scroll to the end.

In London there has been an increase in local markets. You could call them 'pop up markets' because they seem to appear literally over night. The larger and more renown markets get bigger and better every year with the most outstanding varieties of vegetables, fruit, bread, cakes, biscuits and cooked dishes from every corner of the world. (I have some smashing cake photos I am saving for later)

In Hackney, London, the Broadway Market has been attracting customers since the 1890's. It is now a vibrant, multi cultural meeting place with around 100 stalls offering hand crafted cakes and biscuits, pies, stews and casseroles from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It is well supported by the local population and visitors like myself who seem to jump at the chance to try something new and different. The vendors are young, enthusiastic and very friendly.

African Spinach Stew
Turkish Beetroot Savoury Cakes
Making Turkish style Crepes
At Borough Market, London Bridge, you can buy just about anything in the way of fruit and vegetables. Some varieties of plums, mushrooms, beans and potatoes I have never seen before and believe me I have visited many markets in many countries. But I was definitely drawn to the fruit. Mangoes from India, Oranges and Clementines from Spain and a wonderful mixture of cane fruit and berries from parts of England. Yes,  Pink Gooseberries and masses of succulent Blackberries, raspberries, white, black and red currants.

They looked so succulent that I was tempted to buy and eat them, but I had already eaten a punnet of raspberries and I was afraid of the consequencies. So it became just an awe inspiring look.

I began to think about the summer fruit in Australia. We are a lucky country because we tend to grow the vast majority of our food. But, I don't remember seeing any currants. Maybe the odd punnet of red currants at 
Christmas but certainly not this range. 

Here the markets make so much effort to show off their wares. The delightful baskets of mixed fruit; So many colours and varieties.

I was wondering why we are not growing the same range of berries in Australia; Black currants, red and white currants in abundance because they are so delicious and a fabulous addition to the table. They can be used for both savoury and sweet dishes. In Victoria red currants are grown but I have rarely see them on the markets in Adelaide. It is a short season, but no excuse not to have them here. I recently contacted Parkview Farm in Victoria to find out about their red currants. Coby Tromp tells me there should be some available in Adelaide and to look out for them in December. He also mentioned that he is in the process of planting white currants - I can't wait for those! Once the red currants are in season, I will post recipes. But until then enjoy this fabulous winter dessert.

 Just adding this amazing photo of Cow Heart Tomatoes. (Just to add to my cow fetish) I have never seen these before; but its defining characteristics are the deep ridges and folds around its outside. It looks like pleated fabric. Some of them have the distinct heart shape too. Many people compare them to the Beefsteak tomato, but I am assured that the Cow Heart has a great full flavour. I have been trying to find more references to these tomatoes, but so far everything leads me back to Borough Markets. It looks like I will have to do some further investigation.

Ok , I have you hankering after summer, sorry! But I promised you a luscious winter dessert to appease you. Here it is:

Pineapple and Prune Upside Down Pudding


3 tbls soft brown sugar
130g caster sugar
250g plain flour
2 tsps baking powder
4 pineapple slices either tinned or fresh - I use fresh 
handful of pitted prunes
2 eggs
1/2+cup of milk
170g butter room temperature

  • Heat fan forced oven 190º/375 degrees 
  • Take a cake tin which has a loose base approx 20 cms and lightly grease with butter.
  • Line base with baking paper and sprinkle with soft brown sugar.
  • Lay sliced pineapple on the base on top of sugar. 
  • Fill in the holes with pitted prunes
  • Mix flour and baking powder together.
  • Cream butter and caster sugar until light and creamy. Add beaten eggs a little at a time but do not over beat.
  • Fold flour into egg and butter mixture, adding a little milk to form a dropping consistency.
  • Place the batter on top of the pineapple and spread over the pineapple, making sure that the top is level.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes, then turn out on to a serving plate.
  • Serve immediately with Crème Fraîche or vanilla ice cream. 

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