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Archive for the ‘Floral’ Category

There was a glut of fresh figs on our market during the autumn and I was able to buy a whole tray really inexpensively.  My family could eat a whole tray in one sitting and these were particularly sweet and soft, but I squirrelled a few away so I could try this wonderful sounding dish.  At the same time on the market there were the last of the years peaches and nectarines, a little hard and not easy to ripen, so not especially good for eating, but ideal for cooking which brings out their flavour beautifully.  A good reminder of the last of summer.

My starting point for this recipe came from Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson and had the exotic sounding name: Figs for 1001 Nights.  I gently grilled the fruits in the spiced butter as in the original recipe but using peaches as well as figs.  An alternative would be to pop them briefly in a hot oven, but I would only do this if I already had the oven on to cook something else  – flash grilling is fine.  Nigella used a little rosewater and orange flower water in her basting mixture.  I used the orange flower but although I had the rose water in my cupboard I left it out as my daughter sadly dislikes the traditional rose turkish delight flavour.   I do have a bottle of rose syrup in the cupboard, however, so I used this as a pouring sauce for those of us who do like it.  (As an alternative she used a little honey, which proved equally as good as honey and figs are also a good match.)  Rose syrup is a lovely item to have in the cupboard and is delicious with rhubarb and yoghurt, or poured over ice cream, however it is very sweet so I suggest it is used sparingly at first as it can be quite overpowering.  I have some sachets of vanilla sugar, bought on holiday in France, with one being just about 1 tbsp.  If this is not available then substitute granulated sugar and a very small amount of vanilla extract, one or two drops maximum.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Grilled Figs & Peaches
(Serves 6 – 6 figs & 6 peaches/nectarines)

1 fresh fig per person (or 2 smaller ones)
1 fresh peach or nectarine per person
25 g unsalted butter
½tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
or
1 tbsp granulated sugar & 1 or 2 drops vanilla extract
½tsp orange flower water
To serve:
50 g pistachio nuts, chopped
Crème fraîche
Rose syrup, to drizzle – to taste or honey

1. Preheat the grill on a high heat – alternatively use an oven set to a high heat, at least 200oC/400oF/Gas 6.

2. Carefully cut the figs with a cross shape as if quartering them but do not cut righ through to the bottom and then gently press each fig.  They should look like four petalled flowers.

3.  Cut the peaches or nectarines into halves or quarters, depending on size, removing the stones.

4.  Place the opened figs and peach/nectarine pieces in a snugly fitting single layer in a heatproof dish.

5.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave in a glass microwave proof bowl or jug.  Stir in the cinnamon, sugar and orange flower water until the sugar has dissolved.  If you are using rose water rather than syrup, as in the original recipe, add it at this point (½tsp should be enough).  Stir well and baste the figs and peaches/nectarines.

6.  Place under the hot grill or into the oven for just a few minutes.  The fruit should warm through slightly and the skins should start to blister from the heat.  Beware leaving too long, especially if oven cooked, as the fruit can become over soft and could also burn.

7.  Serve immediately giving each person two figs and one peach or nectarine (either two or four pieces depending on how they have been cut.   Add a generous spoonful of crème fraîche and pour over the brown cooking juices  and a drizzle of rose syrup (if you have not used rose water in the cooking mixture) or honey.  Finally sprinkle over some chopped green pistachio nuts.

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Out and about in Kent this last Monday, a bank holiday, we couldn’t fail to enjoy the late Spring beauty of the country lanes – nothing makes me feel as if Summer is really on the way than when the frothy elderflower blossoms appear.  We have a small bush in our garden which yields just enough flowers each year to make a small batch of elderflower syrup: if the flowers are a herald of Summer then the syrup is definitely its flavour.  If you want to make this Syrup you have to act immediately: the elder is already in flower here in London and the South East: I think it may already be too late for some parts of the country.  This picture is actually last Summer’s batch. By the time I was ready to post the Elderflowers were over so I determined I would save it for this year. It is certainly a popular drink at the moment, probably because it is very seasonal: I have spotted at least three (different) variations from fellow food bloggers in the past few days.

I first made Elderflower Syrup, or Cordial, many years ago.  I remember it was orange and lemon flavoured but with the elderflowers adding a delicious scent.  I have no idea of the whereabouts of my original recipe, but after some research I based my version on this quick Elderflower Syrup recipe, which seemed familiar, at joannasfood.  Many recipes add Citric Acid (there is one giving this method on the same site) but it can be difficult to find and quite expensive for a relatively small amount.  This quick recipe uses just citrus juice (lemon but not orange) and was certainly successful.  It lasted for a week or two in the fridge in plastic bottles but was quickly drunk so I have no idea how long it would have lasted.  Some recipes suggest it will last about a month at most in the fridge.  I gather that to be sure of keeping the syrup for longer it can be frozen in plastic containers or even frozen in ice cube trays, drunk topped up with still or sparkling water or even wine.  Try adding a a few tablespoonfuls of this syrup to a fruit salad for its wonderful perfumed taste.  One warning though: flowers should be picked while they are still young and white, discarding the brown ones which will taint the flavour of the drink.  Picking the flowers early in the day and using them as quickly as possible afterwards is also recommended.  This recipe uses lemon as the citrus content but it would be interesting to do a lemon and orange version, as with my old original recipe, or even substitute lime juice.  I have seen bottles of commercially produced elderflower and lime drink so it could be worth a try.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Elderflower Syrup

1 litre water
500g sugar
2 lemons, juiced
10 large elderflower heads – about 30g (young & pale colour – no browning)

1.  Add the lemon juice to the water and stir in the sugar.

2.  Put onto the heat and boil for about a minute until the sugar is dissolved.

3.  Put in the elderflower heads and remove from the heat.  Cover and leave to cool.

4.  When it’s completely cold strain the liquid well.  I used the clean cut off foot from a pair of tights, which can then be discarded.

5.  Bottle into plastic rather than glass bottles as occasionally the liquid can start to ferment. I think it is best to store this in the fridge as I am not sure about the shelf life.  Some recipes imply this will only keep for around a 1month.

6.  Dilute to taste.

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