Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Fresh this Month: Clementines

Clementines from Spain, Morocco or Algeria bring a glimpse of sunshine to our English winter.
Welcome to Fresh this Month, the successor of Ingredient of the Month, where we showcase some of the produce we're finding in the shops here in the UK for some inspiration. Some of it will be local, some imported, but all of it will be at its vibrant best, ready to use or just pick up and eat. This month we've been bowled over by the abundance of cute little wooden boxes of North African clementines appearing in our local groceries. They even have their beautiful glossy leaves still attached! As well as looking lovely in your fruit bowl, clementines make the perfect lunchbox fruit as they are seedless, easy to peel and usually very sweet. 
Known as winter oranges to some, clementines originated in Algeria in 1902, as an accidental cross between mandarins and sweet oranges. They may also have been grown in China long ago where they were called Canton mandarins. Clementines soon caught on in the USA, and are grown in California. Right now, they are my favourite orange citrus fruit being so sweet and juicy with a more fragrant mandarin flavour than regular oranges. 
One clementine has just under 50 calories, and is a good source of vitamin C. There are  B vitamins and trace minerals in there too. Chunks of clementine are a delicious addition to a raw beetroot salad, and you can also make delicious clementine marmalade. I've also seen some clementine sauce and cake recipes around the internet, too.

I have to admit that I've been just grabbing clementines from the fruit bowl, peeling them and popping them into my mouth. I have not yet got round to cooking with them, but when I do, I think it will be marmalade... what would you like to make?

Monday, 26 January 2015

Banana Nut Choc Ice Bites

Crispy chocolate on the outside; velvety-smooth frozen banana inside...
Believe us, these little munchies are seriously good! Tried and tested on adults and teens in the house, with a unanimous thumbs-up. And the best thing is you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now, so what are we waiting for? Let's get making...

Serves 2:
1 large banana
2-3 tabs nut butter (almond would be great; we went one better and used our homemade almond and pistachio, but even plain old peanut will be yummy)
100-150g vegan dark chocolate
some chopped nuts for decoration

  • Slice the banana into 5 or 6 chunks (or smaller slices if you prefer a higher chocolate to banana ratio).
  • With damp fingers, carefully coat the banana pieces in the nut butter. We left the tops uncoated for some reason, but you needn't.
  • Place on greaseproof paper and freeze until the banana is solid.
  • Melt the chocolate and remove the coated banana pieces from the freezer. At this stage, you can pat the nut butter into a more even layer. Dip the pieces into the chocolate and stand on the greaseproof paper; top each one with chopped nuts straight away because the chocolate will begin to set as soon as it touches the frozen banana.
  • Eat as soon as possible or store in the freezer. Our little batch lasted approximately 5 minutes, so I don't know how long they keep.