02/05/2006

Apricot (or loquat) crunch

(serves 4)

120g/4oz margarine or butter
120g/4oz soft brown sugar
120g/4oz rolled oats
40g/1.5oz sultanas or raisins
15oz/428g can apricot halves (or stewed sweetened loquats or apricots)
1 tblsp lemon juice

Method:
Cream the butter and sugar, then stir in the oats and sultanas, mixing well. Drain the apricots, then tip the fruit into a 600ml/1 pint ovenproof dish. Sprinkle over a little apricot syrup mixed with lemon juice. Gently spoon the topping over the fruit and firm it with a knife. Cook for 30-40 minutes at 350F/ 180C/ Gas 4 until golden brown on top.

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This is a very flexible dessert, ideal for the family or doubled when there are guests. The oven temperature isn't vital - it can be cooked along with anything else, although it's better to have it lower rather than higher.

Since we have a loquat (mespila) tree, I pick several kilograms each year and then freeze them in a light syrup, to use in this dessert. About 500g frozen fruit is right for this - I tip it straight into a saucepan, simmer until soft, and then use as if it were from a can. Sometimes when doubling I use a large can of pears mixed with loquats or apricots for a little variety.

This is excellent served with evaporated milk, or home-made ice cream or yogurt.

01/05/2006

Tomato and Rosemary Bread

(makes a 1kg/2lb loaf)

50g sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
2 tblsp oil (from the sundried tomato jar)
1 tsp dried rosemary
320ml lukewarm water (or half milk)
200g granary or malted flour
150g plain white flour
150g white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp instant dried yeast

Method:
Place the ingredients in a breadmaker in the correct order - usually liquids, then flours, then salt and yeast. Switch to the lightest crust, regular white bread setting.

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It took me a while to get the ingredients in the correct quantities for my breadmaker; for some reason the first few times I made it, the mixture was rather too wet and the result heavy and not very well-risen, though still tasty. I tend to use half soya milk when making this; for some reason the bread is a little firmer and easier to cut than when I use all water.

Jars of sun-dried tomatoes in oil which I've found seem to contain about 150g actual tomatoes, so I use about a third of the jar each time. The rest keep well in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks, perhaps more. The tomatoes can be added right at the beginning with the other ingredients, since the initial kneading chops them a little more and distributes them well.

We find this particularly good with cheese and marmite, or egg mayonnaise. It's also extremely good lightly spread with butter or Bertolli, when still warm.

I haven't tried this without a breadmaker, but it should work in the traditional way, with mixing, kneading, rising, knocking down, re-rising in a 1kg bread pan, and baking in the oven.