Saturday, October 20, 2012

How I Learned to Eat Fruit

Or:  Pour Sugar All over That Stuff.

I am not a big fruit eater.  Well, correction: When I am in a country where I can get certain fruits freshly grown and plucked, I will eat papaya, mango, pineapple, guava, figs, guanabana, 'til my every pore oozes with the scent of those fragrant, warm climes fruits.  I adore them.  But here on the Eastern Seaboard, the lack of freshness makes those fruits taste dull, metallic.  Not that I won't eat them at all, but they're usually slightly disappointing, unless you get extremely lucky.

And, other than watermelon during the ripe season,* I'm not a big fruit eater.  Blackberries just remind me of our bramble bushes in my back garden at home, where somehow my mother has the knack of growing pounds of the buggers each year.  Rambling through the thorns, picking up oozing, giant brambles and stuffing our faces with them, covering ourselves and our clothes in them - that's how blackberries should be eaten, not slightly cold and sour.  Raspberries I love, but somehow rarely pick up in the shops.

I'm trying to eat more and, to try something different, a while back I made a strawberry and rhubarb compote, based on an internet recipe I found, to have with waffles for breakfast.  (Can't imagine what put me in the mood).  I did; and it was great.  So I've been experimenting a little with my methods, and have come up with what I think is a pretty lovely way to eat breakfast.

Strawberry & Ginger & [AN Other Fruit] Breakfast Compote

First, I chop up one of the big boxes of strawberries you get here in the US.  I think they're about 1lb.  Cut off the stalks, chop up the fruit, and put into a frying pan/skillet over a low-medium heat.  If I have other fruit I want to throw in, I do those then, too.  Recently I've been using a couple of peaches.  Skins on (fibre!), but chopped up.  Then I add a bit of icing sugar.  In British terms, it's about 3.5oz, or around 100g.  In U.S. terms, it's not icing but confectioner's (or powdered) sugar, and it's about 3/4 cup.  Then I grate in a small knob of raw ginger - about 1 inch, cubed.  Then I bring it to the boil, which sounds weird, but the juices all bubble up.  You let it boil for a little while - maybe one-two minutes - stirring all the while, and then you reduce the heat so it's simmering.  That's the point at which I add balsamic vinegar.  Yes, it seems a bit restauranty, but the acid cuts through the sugariness of the strawberries, while the vinegar provides an unusual sweetness.  I also add black pepper, too, so that there is some heat with the pepper and the ginger.  Then some fresh mint from our back garden.  I shred in about 6 small leaves.  Then I just let it simmer down for about 30-45 minutes.  Weirdly, if you simmer it too low, you don't get as many of the juices; I think it's because the temperature isn't high enough to fully break down the fruit.  You have to be careful for the fruit sugars burning, but I like the mixture a little sticky and caramelized.

Then I whack on top of low-fat/whole grain waffles, and serve with either greek yogurt or sour cream; maybe with some chopped almonds or pumpkin seeds on top.  Either way: bonza.

* Admittedly, most of which I consume in the form of Murricanes.  

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