Plums under a blanket

The magic of a plum tree

The magic of a plum tree

The plum trees in my garden have decided that this is their year! Standing on the ‘inside’ of a plum tree next to the trunk with the branches curving in like an igloo all around you is quite an experience. Everywhere I look the rich fruit pours down and I wonder whether I have gone to heaven. Fortunately, not yet…I’m quite alive so far and have been thinking about all of the many fine recipes I can prepare with these beauties.

First, to encourage you to enjoy plums, here’s the nutritional scoop on them. Plums are giving blueberries competition when it comes to antioxidant value (antioxidants fight free radicals associated with cancer and heart disease). In difficult economic times they could even be a preferable choice since a single plum can give you just as effective an antioxidant boost as a handful of more expensive blueberries.  Plums are also famous for their beneficial effects in encouraging good digestion due to a substance under the skin.

Apart from eating them just as they are, sweet and delicious, this season, it is hard to resist making a sweet dessert with them.  Here is my recipe for plums under a blanket which suits the cooling weather of September and isn’t too dangerous for your wasteline in delicate quantities.

Plums under a Blanket

800 g or 1.8 lbs plums
3/4 dl or 1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 dl or just under 1 cup white flour
1.5 dl or 1/2 cup wheat germ
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 dl or 1/3 cup sugar
100 g or 3.5 oz butter
1 egg
1.5 dl or 1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 125 C or 257 F.

Plums under a blanket

Plums under a blanket

Rinse the plums and pat dry. Cut in half, remove the pit and place in a cooking pot. Add sugar and cinnamon and cook on medium heat for up to five minutes so that the sugar blends into the fruit. Remove from heat.

Combine the dry ingredients for the blanket in a food processor and add butter cut into chunks, egg and milk. Blend until an even batter.

Place plums in an oven-proof dish and cover with the batter. Bake 30-40 minutes and serve warm. Of course, a dollop of cream is nice but not necessary.

I’ll be exploring making a savory plum sauce this evening. If it’s successful, watch this space!  Until then, check the Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook.

Written by Admin in: Desserts | Tags: ,

Newly harvested honey on flambéd fruit

Raw Honey

Raw Honey

Last night I tried out a few experimental recipes from various cookbooks I have in my kitchen library but it was my own dessert recipe, whipped up on the spur of the moment, that I got that 5 stars for.

The secret to this lovely sweet is the power of warmed, newly harvested raw honey. When I say raw, I mean honey that has not been preheated and remixed with sugar by the food industry. You can find it sold in the small boutiques and by beekeepers in your area.  As you know, I am a beekeeper, so it isn’t hard for me to find raw honey.

I had six very mature bananas resting in the fruit bowl on my kitchen counter, last year’s rosewater (liquid from aromatic rose petals immersed in brandy) and more jars of newly harvested honey than I can count, I set to work as follows:

Flambéd Fruit with Honey
Serves 4

4 mature (but not black) bananas peeled and halved lengthwise (it doesn’t matter if the bananas break into smaller pieces)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
50 g or 2 oz butter for sautéing
1 dl or 1/2 cup brandy, warmed
1 dl or 1/2 cup raw honey
Vanilla ice cream or whipping cream

Warm the honey in a small pan. Do not allow to boil. Whip the cream or remove the vanilla ice cream from the freezer. Place 4 dessert bowls on the counter so that it is easy to assemble the dessert quickly and serve.

Douse the newly sliced bananas in lemon juice. Sauté the bananas in a thick-bottomed pan in butter until lightly browned. Don’t over-handle the bananas as they will become mushy. Flambé the bananas for your dining audience by momentarily bringing the pan near the table, throwing the warm brandy over the bananas and setting it alight. As soon as the flame has died down, spoon the bananas into the bowls and top with one scoop of vanilla ice cream plus a generous drizzle of warm honey. Serve immediately.

As with all desserts, in fact all foods, please remember to stick to small portions. This is a lovely sweet to round off the meal, not the main feature of a second meal after the first meal!

Written by Admin in: Bananas,Desserts,Fruits,honey,Sweet Food | Tags: , ,

Chocolate Fruit Balls

Sweet Tooth's Healthy Delight

Sweet Tooth

Kids in Sweden love them. Adults in Sweden buy them at the shops without telling their kids. They are an energy bomb and are the sweet tooth’s delight. What are they? Chokladbollar or chocolate balls! How can I possibly think of including this in a health food blog, you may well wonder. Well, let’s see.

I’ve been working on ways to create this Swedish sweet-tooth’s dream with means other than the usual bomb of butter and sugar. I’ve worked out a version with oats and honey in the past, but that still includes butter. Chocolate balls do have the virtues that you can make them bite-size and they don’t include white flour. However, I’ve got to do better than that.

So here comes my solution: chocolate balls made with dried fruit. Some of us (including me) are sensitive to dry fruit and, in general, medical science is beginning to realize that different bodies have different tolerances for high quantities of fiber. So, choose a dried fruit that agrees with you. I love dried apricots, but my stomach growls when I eat more than just a touch of them, so I combine a bit of dried apricot with dried figs, dried apples and sometimes dried cranberries. The great thing about using dried fruit to make these delicious little sweet quenchers is that the moisture and sugar in the fruit allows you to skip the sugar and butter. A little added honey and you are away. Also, if you are lactose, gluten, milk or egg intolerant, this recipe meets your needs! Here is my suggestion which can be made in many variations.

Chocolate Fruit Balls (makes about 20-25)

2 cups or 5 dl nuts of your choice (a mixture of almonds, walnuts and cashew works well)
1 cup or 2 1/2 dl dried fruits of your choice
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsps honey
either 2 tbsps grated apple or grated rind of one orange plus juice of half an orange

1/4 cup or 1 dl dessicated coconut or unsweetened cocoa powder for dipping the balls in

Grind nuts and dried fruit in a food processor until they form moist clumps. Add remaining ingredients and blend until a smooth paste. Pour the dessicated coconut or cocoa powder into a bowl. Take a tablespoon of the paste and roll into a ball, dip in the coconut/cocoa and place on a serving plate. Keep refrigerated.

Chocolate fruit balls are not just a child’s delight. They are also an elegant finish to a nice meal, particularly if everyone is too full for a major dessert. Just serve them up with coffee or tea after the meal. Very elegant indeed served on a platter and surrounded with a bit of fresh fruit.


Hot Blueberry Crumble

Dalarna Blueberries

Dalarna Blueberries

I love the very cold spells that we still have down in Stockholm (despite the grape-growing climate that the warming of the planet seems to promise us). It gives the lake ice a chance to become thick enough for us to skate on so that we can explore the islands of Lake Mälaren the way that people used to do in the winter. Our bay is an enormous ice skating rink at the moment and you don’t have to wonder what we will be doing with our Saturday morning!

Don’t go unprepared! Pack some Maple Roasted Nuts and hot chocolate as a snack. Whatever you pack, do expect everyone to be starving and ready to eat your right arm when you get home. The cold has a habit of making us feel truly hungry (a good thing). In this situation, I usually have ready some Chicken Soup for the Cold with a nice dill white cabbage salad (see the next entry!) on the side.

The crowning glory of the day, however, will be this dessert recipe for Hot Blueberry Crumble which everyone will lap up with a warm cup of coffee or tea. Don’t expect there to be any leftovers. If you didn’t know it already blueberries are a superfood packed with antioxidants (cancer shield) and good for eye health. As always, and hard as it may be with something so delicious, eat in moderation since this dish doesn’t just consist of blueberries!

Hot Blueberry Crumble

500 g or 1.1 lbs frozen blueberries
2 tbsps potato or corn starch
1 tsp vanilla sugar
4 tbsps sugar
rind of one lemon which has been rinsed and dried
100 g or 3.5 oz. butter
3 dl 1 1/3 cups oats
1 dl or 1/2 cup wheat germ
3/4 dl or 1/3 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 200 C or 390 F. Grease a medium-sized casserole dish. Blend the blueberries, starch, vanilla sugar, sugar and lemon rind in a bowl and pour into the casserole dish. Wipe out the bowl and combine remaining dry ingredients in it. Add the butter in chunks and rub it into the dry ingredients so that a crumble forms. If it is too dry take a little more butter. Scatter the crumble evenly on top of the blueberries. Bake 15-20 minutes. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream or a spoon of Turkish yogurt.

Remember to visit the Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook which is a continually growing directory of recipes for your good health this 2009!


Citrus Fruit for the Holidays

Vitamin C for Christmas

Vitamin C for Christmas

The citrus fruit that comes up to Scandinavia from Spain during November and December have become a holiday season institution up North. They are a light, Vitamin C-rich contrast to all of the heavy, vitaminless sweet food offerings of December. The aroma of orange or mandarin is a distinct Christmas aroma in the Nordic region.

Aside from placing a bowl of mandarins on your Christmas smorgåsbord, you can also consider making up this simple compote which everyone will eat loads of because it is sweet and, most importantly, light.

Orange Compote with Berries & Cinnamon

8-10 oranges, peeled and sliced in thin cross-sections
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup Cointreau (optional)
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup red currant, alternatively 1/2 cup soaked raisins

Slice round segments of orange into quarters so that the pieces are bite-sized. Place in a mixing bowl. Add orange juice and cointreau, if desired. Sprinkle over the icing sugar and cinnamon. Blend gently. Place orange mixture in a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate for one hour. Serve garnished with red currants or raisins.

Since this dish is light, you can afford a dollop of whipped cream on top which makes it even more festive.

Visit the Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook!

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