Summer time is often characterized by the abundance of bright sweet fruits like cherries and berries. When you think of strawberries and cream, you think of sun and Wimbledon. Cherries evoke thoughts of ooey gooey cherry pies….the truth is, I live in country where it is pretty much “summer” for at least 2/3 of the year so there is generally a glut of tropical fruits which I take great advantage of in my food lab. Fruits like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries etc are usually imported and wield a hefty price tag.

This did not deter me one weekend when I went grocery shopping; I just craved something different and decided to splurge on some cherries. When I got home I stared at them and was loathe to eat them…..the portion was disproportionate to the price and I was beginning to query my decision to purchase them. I scoured all my resources for a recipe that would stretch these overpriced fruits and found something quite interesting! A healthy cherry pie muffin! And there was no fancy shmancy prep work involved! Now THAT really got my attention! I adapted my recipe from The Cheeky Kitchen

Ingredients for the Muffins
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 fresh cherries, pitted & halved

For the topping
1/4 cup almond flour. Read this post for an easy way to make your own almond flour.
2 Tbs rolled Oats
2 Tbs caster or icing sugar
1/2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs coconut oil

The “How To”
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius.

In a large bowl. beat together all muffin ingredients until well mixed. Spoon mixed batter into a muffin tin prepared with cupcake wrappers. If you don’t have cupcake wrappers you could use squares of parchment paper, pushed in gently into the muffin pan to form a “cup” for your batter. (Pitting the cherries with a knife was a little fiddley but doable).

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In a medium bowl, use a fork to combine all topping ingredients until you get a coarse crumb. Sprinkle it over the batter in each muffin tin (about 1 1/2 tsp for each), then bake in the oven for 18-22 minutes, or until the center of the muffins bounce back to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Top with fresh cherries…..if you have any left to spare πŸ™‚

My family made quick work of this weekend treat which I served with cherry yoghurt, a slice of coconut banana bread and a smidgen of raspberry coulis.

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The tomato is an interesting, and not mention, versatile fruit (we all know that it is a fruit right? Not a vegetable :-)…..good). It’s great to eat raw on it’s own or in sandwiches and salads. It works well when purΓ©ed and cooked or used in a gazpacho and it is an amazing garnish.

It’s baby cousin, the cherry tomato, is just a cuter sweeter version of the fruit and I find them impossible to resist.

Here are two cheery cherry tomato inspired meals that are super simple to put together. I’m fact, one of them is a left over make over.

The first is a simple, light, stir fried spaghetti dish with a side of fish.

Ingredients
100 grams spaghetti
1/2 chopped green bell pepper
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tbs vegetable oil
Salt to taste

The “How To”
Cook spaghetti in salted water following packet instructions. Drain and reserve hot spaghetti water.

In pan heat vegetable oil and when it is hot, add the chopped onions and garlic and sautΓ©e for a minute, then add pepper and tomatoes for another minute. Add drained spaghetti and back pepper. Mix to ensure that the spaghetti is evenly coated. Add about 1-2 tbs of spaghetti liquid (depending on how dry your pan is). Serve immediately and enjoy.

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For the fish recipe and another great recipe using two types of berries in a dessert, read Flavour Infusion; Taste Explosion

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The second cherry tomato meal is a simple sandwich using left overs from the pork chop meal in this post. I call it the “Caveman sandwich”….for no particular reason other than I thought it was cute name for the sandwich….go figure….:-)

Essentially layer slices of bread with sliced pork chops, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers topped with wasabi and mayo until you have a decent stack. Top with cherry tomatoes for a fun garnish and voilΓ !

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All meals in this post were met with great enthusiasm and devoured with equal gusto. Throw some cherries and berries into your meals for a pretty delicious eating experience.

FFF Tip of the Day: Berries and tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin c and deliver a good dose of antioxidants to the body. Whenever possible eat them fresh to maximize their full benefits.

There are only so many ways to make cakes, or so I thought. I’d like to clear up a small detail though; I have no pastry making training nor am I am authority. Also, I am not big on sweet pastry, I tend more towards the savory end of the spectrum. Having said that there a few cakes that have stood out; by now I think half the planet is conversant with my lemon poppy seed cake obssession.

During a recent internet trawl, I found two recipes that literally called out to me. Helped by the fact that I had all the ingredients to hand I could not rest until I made them. And thus began my night time baking sessions.

Both recipes were so simple that I wondered why they weren’t more popular……or maybe I move in the wrong cake circles. The first was a recipe for a blueberry lemon poke cake, From my post, “When life throws You a Lemon” you will quickly realise that I approve of anything that has lemons in it and even more so when paired with blueberries but on this occasion, I didn’t have blueberries. However, I had a freezer full of raspberries and in the spirit of giving things a twist, I decided to make it a two berry cake! So I filled it with raspberry coulis and topped it with fresh strawberries.

Here’s what you will need. 

Ingredients For the White Cake 

2ΒΌ cups cake flour 

1 Tablespoon baking powder 

Β½ tsp salt 

1ΒΌ cups buttermilk, at room temperature 

4 extra large egg whites, at room temperature 

1Β½ cups granulated sugar 

8 Tablespoons (4-ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature 

1 vanilla bean or 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence 

 For the coulis
Please read my post on how to make a raspberry coulis. And for the Frosting
I used store bought cream cheese frosting. 1 carton strawberries was sufficient for the garnish 

 The “How To”

Preheat the oven to180 degrees Celcius. Butter and flour a 9 x 13-inch baking pan; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites.
In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until they are light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Split the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and add it in; scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue beating. 

Add flour mixture in portions still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk-egg mixture, beating continuously to get an even mix, then add the rest of the dry ingredients.
Beat batter for a couple of minutes to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool completely in pan on a wire rack, at least one hour.

Here’s why it s called a poke cake; using a fork poke holes in the cake (the cake should have plenty of poked holes).

Carefully pour your cooled raspberry coulis into the holes; it helps if you use a cup that had a spout. Then spread the cream cheese topping evenly over cake and place fresh strawberries on top for garnish. 

 Store this cake covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

This delightsome treat did not make it back to the refrigerator it all but disappeared on the table. There just seemed to be something magical about the raspberry soaked cake and the black flecks of vanilla that made us want to eat more of it.

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Note: if you don’t have came flour don’t panic, you can make your own. All you need is all purpose flour and corn flour. Measure out a cup of all purpose flour then take out two table spoons (put them back in the flour pack) and replace with two tablespoons of corn flour. Do this until you have the desired quantity for the recipe. The sift the flour mix in a large bowl and sift again into another bowl, do this 4 – 5 times. This helps to mix the flour through properly and to aerate the mix. There! Cake flour!

A day later, barely over the guilt of eating so much cake, I found another amazing recipe on David Lebovitz site.

When I read his recipe, there was no doubt in my mind that I would make it. Not only did it sound decadent, I just happened to have every single ingredient in my kitchen! I didn’t have to scamper off to find one ingredient or the other. In fact, I had a big jar of orange syrup idling away in my refrigerator!

I did not attempt to tweak or personalise this recipe, I followed it to the letter and I had no regrets! It turned out perfectly! My husband and I dubbed it “Burst if Sunshine” because that is exactly what it was.

We shared it with friends, hubby took a huge chunk to work and everyone who ate it was mesmerized. You absolutely must try it!

You an find the recipe here

Well, now that I think of it, I made a tiny adjustment to the recipe. Since I already had orange syrup, I did not go through the process of candying my oranges and opted to use fresh slices instead as a garnish.

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To be frank, nothing stops you from trying something new. These cakes are amazing but yet so easy to put together. Surprise yourself and your friends today. All it takes is a little effort. 

FFF Tip of the Day: Reasons to make fruit Sauces and Syrup 

1. Fruit sauces or coulis and syrups are wonderful to make ahead and can save so much time if you do. 

 2. They are also a great way to preserve fruits especially when they are in season and you have tonnes! 

 3. They make an excellent addition most desserts and even breakfast meals. 

4. They are easy to make and require no great technical ability. 

 Need I say more? πŸ™‚

As a rule of thumb, I run screaming in the opposite direction when I encounter a recipe that requires the use of yeast as a raising agent.

But when I woke up today with an unrelenting craving for Puffies, I knew that I was done for. Puffies are popularly called puff-puff here in Nigeria and a favourite snack. There is hardly a Nigerian party that you will attend that won’t have these sweet ishy squishy delights as part of the meal offerings. They will usually be part of what we call “small chops” which is essentially finger foods.

Puffies are akin to the infamous French Beignets; consider them to be the African cousin to beignets.

After a hasty assessment, I gathered the ingredients I needed.

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups plain flour
2 1/4 tsp instant active yeast
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups warm water
1tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or store bought ground nutmeg)
Vegetable oil for frying
Icing sugar ( to garnish) optional

The “How To”

In a large bowl combine yeast, sugar, salt and warm water and leave to sit for a couple of minutes. Then add the flour and nut meg. Using your (clean) hands work the dough through until all ingredients are evenly mixed through. The consistency should be sticky and be a dropping consistency. Cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm placed for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Then heat up the oil in a heavy bottomed skillet; you should have at least 3 – 4 inches oh oil. To test the temperature of the oil drop a bitter of the batter in the oil, if it sizzles and rises to the top then the oil is ready.

Proceed to carefully drop balls of the batter in the hot oil. The batter will puff up once it hits the oil (which is where it gets its name) so be mindful of that when you’re determining the size of each one.

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Fry them turning then over until they are evenly golden brown. Drain on paper towels, dust with icing sugar and favourite dip, in my case I paired mine with a raspberry coulis. The sharpness of the coulis was a fab contrast to sweet warm squishy treat.

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In my next post, I will share my recent berry cherry obssession.

FFF Tip of the day: Coulis are a versatile fruit “sauce” that can be made well ahead and keeps well on the deep freezer. The add such vibrancy to dishes that it’s a shame not to try them.