This time of year is my favourite. There is a slight chill in the air, making it the ideal time wear a ‘transition scarf’, yet there is still enough of a whisper of summer left to make the occasional evening unendingly balmy. At around this time every year I take this opportunity to gorge myself on fruit like it’s going out of fashion – so much so that I’m even cajoling it into savoury dishes.
According to the Waitrose catalogue (on which I base a lot of my culinary decisions) one of the best things about this period of time, referred to as late summer, is the abundance of apricots. Paris and I decided to turn to the apricot for our next source of culinary inspiration. Such a versatile little number deserves some attention – so we’re going to experiment with how they can be used in sweet and savoury dishes.
We have discovered the joys of chargrilling fruit, caramelising the natural sugars into blackened lines. This works particularly well with soft stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines and apricots. Brushing a bit of scarlet-red, fiery harissa paste onto the fruit before grilling is a good idea, although it’ll leave a burn in the back of your throat as it cooks. To add to the harissa apricots, we wilted some chard, and piled the whole lot on top of some cous-cous. Not just any cous-cous, mind. Giant cous-cous – also known as maftoul –is, as the name suggests, a bigger, plumper version of the regular variety, with a pleasant nutty taste. The whole thing was finished off with a dollop of yoghurt with some more harissa swirled into it.
For Paris’ write up, click here.
I love breakfast. And I love eating granola for breakfast more than almost anything else. My most devoted and eagle-eyed readers (hi, Mum) will notice that I have already posted a granola recipe, albeit 6 months ago. Given my pretty all-consuming love of granola, I can’t get enough of experimenting with different combinations of ingredients until I get it right. I decided to give the Pecan and Maple Syrup granola that I made before another try. I guess this could be called ‘recipe development’, and is something that I should probably do more of, rather than just chucking random amounts of things together and hoping it works out.
One of the main motivations for making this particular batch of granola was my recent discovery of the many uses for coconut oil. This miracle ingredient can be used both as a remarkably effective facial cleanser, and to cook with, leaving me with the rather pressing dilemma of whether to keep it in the bathroom or the kitchen. I’ve opted for the kitchen, and resorted to occasionally delving into the jar with a cotton pad to smear some on my face. As well as being a delicious start to stir-frys and curries, coconut oil can also be used to make granola. Deliciously crunchy granola at that. My previous recipe used sunflower oil and apple juice, leaving the granola slightly too soggy. The coconut oil helps everything to dry out and crisp up, and perfumes everything with a pleasant coconutty aroma.
I accidentally over-bought on fruit this week. I always get a bit overexcited at the fruit and veg shop in late summer, as it seems as though the days I’ve got left to gorge myself on all the lovely summer fruits are dwindling rapidly. I don’t usually manage to consume 6 nectarines in the brief five minute window that they’re ripe, but I always forget this and buy them anyway. So I decided to make use of their slightly under-ripe state by poaching them until soft in a vanilla and honey syrup. The combination of crunchy granola, tart yoghurt and the silky, sweet nectarines is, as they say in Bristol, ‘gert lush’.