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Saffron and vanilla grilled fruit recipe

Saffron and vanilla grilled fruit recipe


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This warm medley of luscious fruit is elegantly spiced with a marinade of saffron and vanilla. It is delicious on its own for a virtually no-fat dessert, or can be topped with a fruity sorbet, vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream.

1 person made this

IngredientsServes: 6

  • small pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp Marsala wine or sweet sherry
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 2 bananas
  • 100 g (3½ oz) black grapes
  • 1 papaya
  • 2 kiwi fruit
  • 1 Ugli fruit
  • To serve (optional)
  • 6 scoops frozen yogurt, reduced-fat ice cream or sorbet

MethodPrep:1hr15min ›Cook:5min ›Ready in:1hr20min

  1. Heat a small dry pan over a high heat, add the saffron threads and toast for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Place the toasted saffron in a mortar and crush it with a pestle until fine. Add 4 tbsp hot water to the saffron and stir.
  2. Transfer the saffron liquid to a mixing bowl and stir in the vanilla extract, honey, Marsala or sherry and orange juice.
  3. Add the fruit to the saffron and vanilla marinade as you prepare it. Peel the bananas and cut them into bite-sized chunks. Pick the grapes from their stalks and add them whole to the marinade. Peel the papaya, remove the seeds and cut into bite-sized chunks. Peel the kiwi fruit and quarter it lengthways. Peel the Ugli fruit, removing all the white pith, and cut out the segments from between the membranes. Stir the fruit in the marinade. If time permits, cover the bowl tightly with cling film and leave the fruit to marinate for 1 hour before cooking.
  4. Preheat the grill. Pour the fruit and marinade into a shallow ovenproof dish. Spread out the fruit in an even layer. Grill for 5 minutes or until all the fruit is heated through. Serve the fruit warm, topping each serving with a scoop of frozen yogurt, reduced-fat ice cream or sorbet, if you like.

Some more ideas

Make a tropical version of this dish by replacing the grapes with 2 thick slices of fresh pineapple, cut into chunks, and 3–4 fresh ripe apricots, halved and stoned. To make the marinade, omit the toasted saffron and hot water mixture and simply stir 1 tsp ground cinnamon with the vanilla extract and honey; use rum instead of Marsala or sherry, and the juice of 2 limes instead of orange juice. * Stone fruit, such as peaches, apricots and cherries, can be added to this warm fruit salad.

Plus points

Long cooking will destroy a lot of the vitamin C in fruit, but most will survive the short cooking time in this recipe. Fibre and minerals are not affected by heat. The bananas, kiwi fruit and citrus fruit here provide potassium, which keeps body fluids in balance and blood pressure down. * Papaya is a useful source of vitamin A (from the beta-carotene it contains), which is needed for good vision. This tropical fruit plays a vital role in preventing blindness in many parts of the world where those foods that provide most vitamin A in the UK (full-fat milk, cheese, butter and egg yolks) are not part of the average diet.

Each serving provides

Excellent source of vitamin C. Useful source of folate, potassium.

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Saffron & Vanilla Infused Honey

Honey, that most natural of sweeteners, holds an important place in every culture of the world. Honeybees, so crucial to the development of flowering plants, thrive in temperate regions around the globe, busily spreading pollen and concentrating the sweet, energy-rich nectar of the flowers that they visit into that prized substance, honey.

The flavor of honey varies tremendously, depending on the type of flowers visited by the bees who store the precious honey in the waxy combs of their hive. It seems only logical that the infusion of saffron and vanilla into honey tastes so heavenly. Saffron, the most valuable spice in the world, is made from the tiny dried stigmas of the flower of the saffron crocus. Each flower bears only three stigmas each year, which must be carefully harvested by hand. These stigmas are the pollen receptors of the crocus, capturing tiny grains of pollen as the flowers are visited by bees seeking their nectar. No wonder that there is such a strong affinity between the flavors of honey and saffron!

Likewise, vanilla is derived from the seed pod of a flowering orchid. The production of vanilla is highly dependent on pollination, a step that is crucial in the development of the flower. While artificial hand-pollination is now used in commercial vanilla production, vanilla orchids were originally pollinated only by one local species of stingless bee native to Central and South America, the home of the vanilla orchid.

These three simple, ancient ingredients – honey, saffron and vanilla – combine to create a never-to-be-forgotten flavor that is beyond words. It’s easy to make, stores indefinitely and will change the way you think about that simple gift of the bees – honey.

Saffron & Vanilla Infused Honey

Drizzle this luscious, fragrant honey over mild or sharp cheeses, fruit, yogurt, freshly baked goods, waffles and desserts – it’s equally fantastic with grilled or smoked meats and fish.

Ingredients:

Orange-red saffron threads

Preparation:

Place the saffron threads in a small bowl. Add the vanilla extract and stir until the saffron is well-moistened. Allow to “steep” for at least 10 minutes.

Gently warm the honey over low heat or for a few seconds in the microwave – just enough to slightly warm and liquify it. Remove the honey from the heat and stir in the saffron/vanilla mixture until evenly distributed. Allow to stand at room temperature for an hour or two before serving so the flavors can mingle.

Honey. being the excellent preservative that it is, allows this mixture to be stored indefinitely. The longer it stands, the more harmonious the flavors will become.

Goat cheese drizzled with saffron & vanilla infused honey

Beghrir (Moroccan “Honeycomb” Pancakes)

Adapted from “Near and Far” by Heidi Swanson

One of our favorite ways to enjoy Saffron & Vanilla Infused Honey is on Beghrir, the crepe-like pancakes traditional in Moroccan cuisine. Crisp and golden on the bottom, pale and tender on top, their delicate flavor comes from semolina flour and a leavening with yeast. Saffron, cultivated in North Africa since ancient times, flavors the honey that is poured over the top, soaking into every nook and cranny of the honeycombed surface.

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp wildflower or clover honey
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 1/2 cups semolina flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • Butter for cooking pancakes

Place the warm water in a small bowl and stir in the honey. Sprinkle the yeast over the top, stir well, and set aside while the yeast develops, approximately 10 minutes. In the meantime, whisk together the flours, salt and sesame seeds in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk and water. Pour this mixture over the flours, add the yeast liquid, and use a hand mixer to combine until the batter is smooth and light (and blowing soft bubbles). The consistency should be that of a thin batter, a little thicker than heavy cream. Cover with a towel and place in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for an hour.

When you are ready to cook the beghrir, preheat a large non-stick pan or a griddle over medium to medium high heat. When hot, swirl a little butter around the pan to coat it. Ladle approximately 3 tablespoons of batter onto the pan to form a small circle. The batter should spread to form a thin pancake, about 1/4 inch high. If the batter is too thick, add a little water until you reach the desired consistency. Adjust the heat as necessary.

Ladle circles of batter into the pan or griddle until it’s full, but the pancakes are not touching. Cook on ONE side until the surface is covered with tiny holes, the bottom of the pancake is crisp and golden-brown, and the top has set. Remove the pancakes from the pan and transfer to a low oven to keep warm.

Serve with a generous drizzle of saffron & vanilla infused honey and more butter if desired.

Refrigerate any unused portion of the batter overnight, or up to 3 days.

Stacked Beghrir (Moroccan “Honeycomb” Pancakes)

Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.

For even more news, information and recipes, sign up for the free Earthy Delights email newsletter.

beautiful, love this honey infusion! Can’t wait to try it with goat cheese the next time i entertain


Honey & Saffron Liquor

I’m no stranger to a good homemade cordial. J’adore the mix of instant and delayed gratification from the infusing process. Liquors generally need to stew for weeks or even months to fully form and then morph into all sorts of directions over time, but most recipes take mere minutes to come together. And I am instantly attracted to an instant recipe, so it’s no surprise that I typically first tackle cordial recipes in any new cookbook.

While you’ve likely seen my blog posts for tart Rhubarb Cordial, creamy Homemade Baileys and different types of lemon-infused drinks (Limoncello and Meyer Lemon Liquor, where you should leave your vote because I’ll be tasting soon), I perform a lot of experiments that rarely see the light of day. My freezer hosts a few successes. For example, I’m on my last few ounces of a Kumquat Liquor made four years ago that I plan to reproduce the moment I lay my eyes on the perfect specimens.

My cupboard, though, is filled with lots of trials in-process, like a Seckle Pear Infused Vodka that seems to need another zillion years to form and the largest jar of Cherry Bourbon you’ve ever seen due to an impulse buy of organic Washington Bing cherries last June. I sneak a cherry every now and then. You know, chef’s treat.

Earlier this year, I visited Rabelais Books (Portland, Maine) in search of some new cookbooks. Instead of impulsing buying everything in sight, I asked one of the owners, Don, to tell me what he’d buy. He happened to be carrying Jane Lawson’s latest tome, a tribute to cold weather Northern European cuisine with the photography and book design of a modern day 1970s ski lodge. Since the Australian cookbook author’s books are rarely available in the States, I grabbed it fast and have pretty much been in love ever since.

While many favor her recipes for ‘Meatballs with a Vodka Dill Cream Sauce’ – and I do too – she actually has pages and pages dedicated to infused cordials and warming cocktails. My first recipe was her Honey and Saffron Liquor, just in time for a winter visit from Chloe and Dennis (also Eat Boutique contributors). Within a simple seven days, I had a one-liter jar of heaven to sip by the fire (not at one sitting, of course). And now over a month later, the liquor has only gotten better.

Fully formed and completely aromatic, this cordial will be a staple in my pantry and freezer no matter what the season, because I always have a taste for saffron, honey and vodka. (Um, who doesn’t?) And now that spring is springing, I top off a couple tablespoons of this stuff with some Champagne. Sipping my instant cocktail, I feel like, indeed, spring is in the air, almost instantly.

A huge welcome and thank you to new Eat Boutique contributor, Jill Chen. Jill is a photographer in Toronto, Canada and photographed this liquor for Eat Boutique. (Her liquor happens to be a bit lighter in color than mine the color of the honey you use will decide your liquor’s tone. I used a dark clover honey.) Jill Chen also blogs about her homemade urban life and her beautiful chickens, among other topics, at Freestyle Farm.


Recipe: Vanilla is no plain Jane

A variety of vanilla extracts appear in Alexandria, Va.

I used to take vanilla for granted.

Until the day I made chocolate chip cookies and found I was out of vanilla extract. So I left it out. It was like leaving out salt. The cookies lacked the round, full flavors they usually had. I realized vanilla was the foundation of all my favorite baked goods.

Vanilla is an essential ingredient like salt, and its usual supporting role is to enhance and bring out the featured flavor. Whether it&rsquos part of the supporting cast or the star, however, it is important to use the best quality pure vanilla you can find, not imitation or a vanilla-flavored product.

&ldquoOnly pure vanilla complements and adds all the depths of flavor,&rdquo says Matt Nielsen of Nielsen-Massey Fine Vanillas & Flavors.

Although the word &ldquovanilla&rdquo can carry a &ldquoplain Jane&rdquo vibe, vanilla is anything but plain. Cultivating and growing vanilla beans is complex, making vanilla the second most expensive spice after saffron. But you use so little of it per recipe that the cost of even the highest-quality vanilla in a batch of cookies is nominal, and a small price to pay for maximizing flavor.

Vanilla planifolia originated in Mexico and was brought to Madagascar, Indonesia, Uganda and Tahiti, among other places. Today, Madagascar produces the most vanilla beans, and is likely the origin of the vanilla product in your pantry. Making extracts, paste and powder out of the fruit of an orchid is a time- and labor-intensive proposition.

Until recently, I didn&rsquot realize how many vanilla options there were. Nielsen Massey, for instance, makes five single-origin extracts, and I wondered if I could taste a difference.

Vanilla tastings are generally done by making vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. To save time, however, I decided to taste the vanilla varieties dropped on a white sugar cube instead. And I really could taste the differences.

With the help of Nielsen, I have created a primer on vanilla. It includes the five single-origins that I tasted, as well as vanilla paste and powder, which can be substituted 1 for 1 for extract. Meaning, if your recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, you can opt for 1 teaspoon of paste or powder instead.

Fresh Vanilla Whipped Cream

Make the most of vanilla by making fresh whipped cream. It&rsquos so easy, there is no excuse to buy it.

  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, paste or powder
  • Pinch fine-grain sea salt

Using an electric mixer, whip cream until stiff, adding sugar, vanilla and salt as it is being whipped. Serve immediately, but leftovers may be refrigerated.

Nutritional information unavailable.

Note: To spike the whipped cream, add 2 tablespoons bourbon or rum as it is being whipped.

Vanilla primer

>> Pure extract: The pantry staple is made from a blend of beans of different origins. A small amount of sugar and alcohol is generally added. The sugar keeps the vanilla suspended in the liquid, so if using sugar-free extract, it must be shaken before use.

>> Vanilla bean paste: Delivers the same flavor and look of a whole vanilla bean (those tiny black specks), especially appealing in ice cream and other desserts. May be brushed on mild fish before grilling &mdash the sugar in the paste caramelizes and creates a glaze.

>> Vanilla powder: The Nielsen-Massey version is extract encapsulated in a cornstarch base, which dissolves when blended with any wet product. It is sugar- and alcohol-free, best used in dry applications or when you don&rsquot want the brown tint of extract, as in a white cake. Also good for spice rubs for grilled fruit.

Single-origin extracts

>> Madagascar bourbon: Deep, smooth, creamy flavor ­ &mdash what most people associate with vanilla. Best choice for a multipurpose extract.

>> Mexican: Spicy works well with warm autumn spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice. Has an affinity to chocolate as well.

>> Ugandan: Creamy and sweet, but with a chocolate note. Good in caramel and citrus dishes.

>> Indonesian: Has a woody and earthy profile, with natural smoky notes. Retains its flavor in high heat and is a good choice for a grilling marinade, as well as cookies like biscotti that are baked twice.

>> Tahitian: Uniquely fruity and floral, this vanilla is delicate and cannot withstand heat well. It has a cherry fruit note and is best in fruit-based desserts, or chilled foods that won&rsquot be cooked.

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For baking season, a primer on an essential: vanilla

Then, I was making chocolate chip cookies one day and ran out of vanilla extract. So I left it out. It was like leaving salt out of the recipe. The cookies lacked the round, full flavors they usually had. I realized vanilla was the foundation of all my favorite baked goods.

Vanilla is an essential ingredient like salt, and its usual supporting role is to enhance and bring out the featured flavor. Whether it’s part of the supporting cast or the star, however, it is important to use the best quality vanilla you can find.

As baking season ramps up, here's a primer on vanilla extracts, pastes and powders, including single-origin vanillas, which have specific uses depending on where they come from.

First, buy pure vanilla, not imitation or vanilla-flavored.

"Only pure vanilla complements and adds all the depths of flavor” to baked goods, says Matt Nielsen of Nielsen-Massey Fine Vanillas & Flavors.

Although the word ``vanilla'' can carry a “plain Jane” vibe, vanilla is anything but plain. Cultivating and growing vanilla beans is complex, and vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron. But you use so little of it per recipe that the cost of even the highest-quality vanilla in a batch of cookies, say, is nominal, and a small price to pay for maximizing flavor.

Vanilla planifolia originated in Mexico and was brought to Madagascar, Indonesia, Uganda and Tahiti, among other places. Today, Madagascar produces the most vanilla beans, and is likely the origin of the vanilla product in your pantry. Making extracts, paste and powder out of the fruit of an orchid is a time- and labor-intensive proposition.

Until recently, I didn’t realize how many vanilla options there were. Nielsen Massey, for instance, makes five single-origin extracts, and I wondered if I could taste a difference among them.

Vanilla tastings are generally done by making vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. To save time, however, I decided to taste the vanilla varieties dropped on a white sugar cube instead. And I really could taste the differences.

With the help of Nielsen, I have created a primer here on vanilla and the five single-origins that I tasted. The good news about the paste and powder is you can substitute them 1 for 1. Meaning, if your recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, you can opt for 1 teaspoon of either paste or powder instead.

For everyday cooking and baking, choose your favorite single-origin vanilla, or opt for the pure vanilla extract.

The pantry staple, it's made from a blend of different origins. Different brands have different blends. Vanilla extract generally has a small amount of sugar in it, in addition to alcohol. The sugar keeps the vanilla suspended in the liquid. You can buy No Sugar Added Vanilla Extract, but it must be shaken before use.

These, Nielsen says, “shine in their distinct ways, such as high-heat application for Indonesian, chocolate dishes for Ugandan, etc.” Varieties include:

Madagascar Bourbon: Deep, smooth, creamy flavor. This is what most people associate with the flavor of vanilla. Best choice for a multi-purpose vanilla.

Mexican: The OG vanilla, spicy, works well with warm autumn spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice. This is the vanilla to pair with fall flavors. Has an affinity to chocolate as well.

Ugandan: Similar to Madagascar vanilla in that it is creamy and sweet, but it has a chocolate note and is good in caramel and citrus dishes.

Indonesian: Indonesia is the second largest grower in the world, and the vanilla has a unique flavor profile that is woody and earthy, with natural smoky notes. It retains its flavor in high heat and is a good choice for a grilling marinade, as well as cookies like biscotti which are baked twice.

Tahitian: Comes from a slightly different vanilla orchid called the Vanilla tahitensis, and only grows in tropical Tahiti. It is uniquely fruity and floral, and the beans are shorter. This vanilla is delicate and cannot withstand heat well. It has a cherry fruit note and is best in fruit-based desserts, or added to ice cream, cream anglaise and non-cook desserts.

Available as a blend and as a single-origin from Madagascar, vanilla bean paste delivers the same flavor and adds the look of the vanilla bean, which is especially appealing in ice cream, cream brulee and other desserts. Beth Nielsen, vice president of culinary for the company, also brushes it on mild fish before grilling. The sugar in the paste caramelizes during cooking and creates a simple glaze.

The Nielsen-Massey powder is made by encapsulating vanilla extract in a cornstarch base, which dissolves when blended with any wet product. It is sugar- and alcohol-free. It is best used in any dry applications or when you want the taste of vanilla but not the tint of vanilla extract, as in a white cake or white buttercream. I also use it in spice rubs (recipe below) made of dried ingredients, for grilled fruit recipes, for instance. There are other vanilla powders in the marketplace that are ground beans and dark brown in color.

A couple recipes that make the most of vanilla:

FRESH VANILLA WHIPPED CREAM

It's so easy to make whipped cream, there is no excuse to buy it. You'll need:

1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, paste or powder

Pinch of fine-grain sea salt

Directions: Add the sugar, vanilla and salt to the cream as it is being whipped. Beat until stiff, and serve immediately. Refrigerate any unused cream.

Note: To spike the whipped cream, add 2 tablespoons bourbon or rum as it is being whipped.

Use this spice mixture on fruit desserts that you are grilling or baking, including bananas, peaches, plums, apples, pears, apricots or grilled poundcake.

3 tablespoons granulated white sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey vanilla powder

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. The rub will keep in an airtight container for up to 6 months.


Grilled nectarines with saffron and lavender syrup

When I first got to the UK in 2000, I embarked on a culinary voyage of discovery. Suddenly, berries that had cost half a month’s salary in South Africa (or simply weren’t available) were available on every supermarket shelf – and sometimes even available for free in the hedgerows around our house! The stuff I had always been told was spinach was finally correctly identified to me as Swiss Chard. I caught my first glimpse of Jerusalem artichokes, Spring Greens and Brussels sprouts sold on stems (also broad beans, although I think this is more because my father refused to eat them so my mother didn’t buy them, rather than their unobtainability!). I was in heaven. It took a year or two for the novelty to wear off a little and to start noticing the things that weren’t there: gem squashes, an abundance of prickly pears or guavas, hanepoot grapes, and yellow cling peaches. Yup, it didn’t take me long to start pining for South African fruit.

Of course, Outspan oranges have long been known outside South Africa as we have been exporting them for decades. I was slightly taken aback in 2000 (six years after the demise of Apartheid) when a friend in London told me that many people she knew were still hesitant about buying them because they had grown up in an era when boycotting Outspan was a form of protest against the Apartheid regime. I, on the other hand, searched the citrus shelves at the supermarket and made damn sure that I bought South African citrus wherever I could. And as soon as the nice middle-class English people realised that they did not have to boycott South African oranges any more, a new reason to avoid South African fruit in England presented itself: food miles.

The orthodoxy goes something like this: if I buy a packet of green beans from Farmer Brown who farms on the outskirts of my town, then I am doing the planet a favour. No carbon emissions from any aeroplane, shop or truck were generated to transport the beans to me, so therefore buying Farmer Brown’s beans is fundamentally a better choice than buying green beans imported from Kenya. The Kenyan beans obviously had to be flown here, generating a ton of food miles and carbon emissions, meaning that to buy them is to contribute to the demise of the planet. Simple, right? Well, actually, no. If Farmer Brown used chemical fertiliser and the Kenyan farm used natural manure fertiliser or if Farmer Brown used a mechanical harvester and the Kenyan farm harvested by hand or if Farmer Brown’s beans were first trucked to a packing plant in Scotland before hitting the shop shelves – then the picture becomes far less clear, and many of the benefits of Farmer Brown’s proximity are effectively cancelled out. In fact, we are increasingly realising that food miles are an overly simplistic measurement of which foods, on balance, harm the planet and which don’t: you have to take a holistic view of a product’s total environmental impact, from growing it to transporting it to storing it to cooking it. And that’s before you bring the human factor into the equation.

South Africa produces massive amounts of fruit for the (predominantly European) export market. Being in the Southern hemisphere, it means South Africa’s summer fruits are at their best when the UK is in the depths of winter, making South Africa a popular source of fruit for UK supermarkets. It’s also the closest southern-hemisphere port to the UK where fruit is grown on an industrial scale, so produce does not travel as far as, say, things grown in Chile. The other big bonus is that well over 90% of South African fruit is shipped to the UK rather than air-freighted – and shipping is a far greener option. But most importantly for me, a thriving export market for South African fruit provides considerable direct benefits to the South African fruit farming industry and the national economy. According to a 2006 study, over one million people in rural Africa are supported by the fresh fruit and vegetable exports to the UK. In South Africa, a third of a million people are employed in the deciduous fruit industry alone and for every farm worker there are, on average, 4 dependents that rely on the fruit industryto provide education, housing, health and social care. And because growing fruit is a very labour intensive industry that can never be totally mechanised, an increase in the demand for our fruit almost inevitably means an increase in job creation in the growing, packing and supply chain in South Africa – something which the country badly needs. And as European shoppers become more demanding about how their food was produced, this in turn places pressure on South African fruit farmers to improve ethical farming practices, particularly in relation to uplifting the working conditions and rights of farm workers. In 2011 a number of South African producers and exporters signed up for an ethical trade programme to improve the working conditions of fruit farm labourers, and as a result of the Government’s black empowerment policies there has been some progress (albeit slow!) in providing management and ownership opportunities to previously disadvantaged members of the workforce. So when I see a South African clementine (a good old naartjie with a fancy name!), butternut, apple or nectarine, I buy it (same as I do with green beans from Kenya). I figure it’s a small way of investing in a country I love.

South African Fruit recently (and very kindly!) sent me a South African stone fruit hamper containing a number of Alpine nectarines and Flavor King plums, both of which are currently on sale in leading UK supermarkets (in fact, I saw no fewer than three different varieties of plums in our local Sainsbury’s last weekend!). The fruit arrived in perfect condition, cosseted in a bed of shredded paper. The first thing that struck me as I opened the lid was the scent. As child, I remember watching my mom choose her fruit almost entirely by smell – and of course I thought she was crazy! But now I catch myself doing the same, standing in the fruit aisle with a dreamy expression on my face sniffing cantaloupes for a whiff of ripeness or clementines for the first whiff of citrussy decay (which means at least one of them has a hidden bruise and will dissolve in a mass of mildew in my fruit bowl in a matter of days!). Most supermarket fruit, though, smells of nothing – but not these babies! The nectarines were positively perfumed. I was already in love. Most of the plums, I ate raw before I could stop myself. Flavor Kings are actually pluots – a hybrid between an apricot and a plum, with firm yellow flesh that darkens to pink and red as it ripens – and they have a sweet, intense flavour. Delicious. The nectarines were similarly firm and not spongy or tastless as they can sometimes be. Nick declined to have his any other way but raw – but I had other plans for mine. I still have some of the culinary lavender from Delices du Luberons that was sent to me by the Vaucluse Tourist Board in Provence, and I had been wanting to make something with a saffron syrup ever since my saffron epiphany at Restaurang Familjen in Gothenburg last year – and this was my chance. The recipe is super-easy and quite breathtakingly delicious. Because it is verjuice-based the syrup is not nearly as sweet as you think. In fact, if you have a sweet tooth, I would say make it as I did with half water, half vinegar/verjuice, or add extra sugar. It’s a perfect standby for an impromptu dessert when you are too lazy to do anything fancy, it’s naturally gluten-free – and it looks gorgeous! A plate of South African sunshine on a grey London evening.

DISCLOSURE: The nectarines were free samples provided by South African Fruit and the lavender flowers were a free sample provided by the Vaucluse Tourisn Board in Provence.

And finally, are you a writer or photographer who feels stuck in a creative rut? Want to take your writing and photographs to the next level but need some extra inspiration? Then sign up now for the last couple of places on Plate to Page, the hands-on weekend workshop that Meeta, Ilva and Jamie and I are running in the gorgeous Somerset countryside on 18-21 May! Here is what participants said about our previous workshop. If this sounds like something you want to be a part of, sign up here!


Recipe Ideas


Recipes that include Saffron Milk Cap Mushrooms. One is easiest, three is harder.
Not Quite Nigella Saffron Milk Cap Mushroom Tart with Ash Brie & Thyme
Forager Chef Saffron Milkcaps with Chickpeas, Tomato, and Gran Queso
Palachinka Red Pine Mushroom Fry
Forager Chef Fricando of Veal with Saffron Milk Caps
Naked Cuisine Creamy Pine Mushroom Pasta
Honest Food dot Net Polish Salted Mushrooms
Forager Chef Catalan Saffron Milkcaps
Forager Chef Saffron Milkcap Paella
Active & Eco Red Pine Mushroom in Butter for Winter
Finding Feasts Mushroom and Walnut Pillows and Saffron Milk Cap Sauce

Langoustine with Saffron Vanilla Tarragon Cream Sauce

An entertaining-ready recipe for langoustine in a beurre blanc style saffron- and vanilla-flavored cream sauce with fresh tarragon to serve over saffron rice with Nielsen-Massey Vanilla. I have partnered with Nielsen-Massey to develop a savory vanilla dish and was compensated for my work. Opinions, words, ramblings all my own.

Winter is nearly here. Each night as the last member of the family arrives through the door, we lock it behind them. The Christmas tree illuminates in the living room, tiny balls of glimmering incandescent light against the black outside.

We’ve been creating our own small holiday moments in our tiny home. Hot chocolate with peppermint sticks after sliding down the snow-covered hill in the backyard, homework spread out on a table surrounded by drying gloves and winter hats. Christmas movies on heavy rotation, watched in front of the tree while having laundry-folding parties on weeknights. Nightly homemade ornament making because the kids found supplies in the basement and it can’t wait one minute more. Obscure holiday songs played throughout dinner, loudly laughing at our favorite lines.

I made this on a particularly hectic night, rice thrown in a rice cooker with steeped saffron and stock made from a previous meal. Tossing together the sauce on the stove, I left the butter adding in the capable hands of my teen, who handed it off to my husband, as I went about chasing the light and steaming green beans last minute. By dinnertime, we’d called the children in from the snow-covered hill in the backyard, set gloves out to dry in front of heater vents, and closed the house to the cold.

I watched them eat a meal meant for entertaining, a once-in-a-while type of meal cooked for more than just daily nourishment on an anyday in December. I smiled when they asked for second helpings as I sipped the remaining wine leftover from the sauce. I turned to making hot chocolate for dessert as plates were cleared and the table wiped and reset for homework, and I resolved that there’s a bit of calming comfort in a sun that sets too early, in air that keeps windows closed, in mugs grasped with chilled hands.

This meal is definitely ready for your holiday dinner in smaller portions as a side dish or a main for a few holiday guests arrived at your door. It could even just be a weekly family meal, served without much fanfare, the bottle of wine and cozy house creating the special occasion for you.

The Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean plays up the saffron fragrance and complexities, while the orange extract helps cut the richness of the sauce and brighten it just a bit. Saffron rice with a bit of tarragon and Meyer lemon finish the dish. Turn on the music and sit down. It’s time to create a holiday moment.


The Secret Ingredient (Vanilla): Almond-Crusted Tilapia with Vanilla Sauce Recipe

The history of vanilla is a rich one. It is the pod of an orchid, and long grew only in Mexico when explorers tried to bring vanilla back to Europe, the plant could not survive without the little Mexican bee that pollinated it. It wasn't until 1841, when a young slave on the Ile Bourbon discovered that vanilla could be hand-pollinated, which led not only to an international vanilla market, but also to vanilla's high price. It is the second highest priced spice, after saffron.

Vanilla, for being so common and ubiquitous, has a very exotic history. This dish is a bit exotic itself, even though I had a version of it at the now defunct Hoot, Toot, and Whistle in Delray Beach, Florida. I crust tilapia with almonds and panko, and fry it until golden and crisp, and serve it with a mild and creamy vanilla beurre blanc. The original version, I think, was with catfish and pecans. So you can play around. But it's an unusual and savory way to play with vanilla in your own kitchen.


"This bisque is incredible! It uses everyday ingredients but the results are impressive enough for a fancy dinner party."

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Watch the video: Κορμός Σοκολάτας με Μακεδονικό Ταχίνι και Μακεδονικό Χαλβά (July 2022).


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