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spring fruit sensations: inspiration galore!

thanks to everyone who contributed a delicious dish to spring fruit sensations. there are some fabulous ideas here for using fruit, so get ready to bookmark your favourites...


first up is bellini valli from more than burnt toast with a beautiful looking spinach salad with strawberries. the spinach and strawberries are complemented by spiced pecan nuts and sliced mushrooms. an intriguing combination of flavours which i'll be trying in the summer when strawberries are available here in the uk, not least as this is one of bellini valli's favourite salads.



strawberry pomelo granita is the contribution from karen at do better. when she says "do better", i'm not sure how you'd manage that with a dish that is so simple to make, so beautiful to look at and such a healthy option!  i've never eaten pomelos (they tastes like a sweet mild grapefruit apparently) and this looks like a great way to try them out.


pear-chocolet-pie.jpgdhivya's cuisine is the place to go for this fabulous looking pear and chocolate pie. inspired by a pie she ate in a local restaurant, dhivya created this lattice-topped pear tart, which also contains a few chocolate chips for an extra treat!

the pie is served with pumpkin ice cream which is a recipe i hope dhivya shares with us some time soon...



hippolyra from fuss free flavours is a big fan of muffins and these zingy maple mango muffins look amazing! flavoured with chilli and ginger and studded with pieces of lovely ripe mango, they look like the perfect way to start your day. and if you're vegan they are still a good choice as these are part of hippolyra's experimentation with vegan baking!


fruit pizza is not something i've thought of eating but according to ranji's kitchen corner we should all try it!

thankfully this is not some sort of sweet and savoury concoction. instead it is a pizza base topped with melted chocolate, sliced fruit (apples and strawberries is ranji's suggestion) and finished with chopped nuts and some extra melted chocolate. sounds delicious!



rhubarb & rose bread puding with vanilla bean, rose and rhubarb coulis - wow, what a name for a dish! i adore rhubarb and the idea of adding a layer of soft floral flavours is delicious. this recipe comes from the smith family recipes and stories and has made my mouth water.



siri's corner is apparently "a place where the belly rules the mind!" - what a great rule to live by!

this honeydew agua fresca was siri's 100th post on her blog and the first drink that joined the monthly mingle. this beautiful looking drink is as innocent as a glass of water but i'm sure you could oomph it with a shot of something if you need to get in the party mood!



more rhubarb, this time in the form of a rhubarb strudel from ruth's kitchen experiments. ruth, from northern ireland, loves rhubarb and decided to flavour her strudel with nutmeg and vanilla. she suggests serving it with ice cream, sorbet or custard - what a treat!

ruth's strudel uses puff pastry which is wonderfully decadent but if you're on a diet, try it with filo pastry - i'm sure it'll be just as good!


these gorgeous looking wholemeal ricotta pancakes with berries and grilled pears are the creation of dhivya and her culinary bazaar. like a lot of us, dhivya is becoming keen on cooking more exciting food at the weekend. she has chosen breakfast as her starting point and promises these will save you time - they're so delicious and filling apparently you won't need to bother with lunch!


i'm very jealous of amy from delicious by nature. in california, where she lives, strawberries are already in season! don't the strawberries with honey vanilla mascarpone in the picture look delicious? and aren't you jealous too?




cham from the spice club is also in california but she chose pears for her monthly mingle dish - a grilled pear salad.

the pears are sprinkled with chilli powder, salt & pepper before they are grilled, and the vinaigrette has soy sauce in it - i'm sure all of these savoury flavours come together wonderfully in the salad.



more mangoes - this time a mango crisp, courtesy of gretechen who lives in lima, peru. in case you're wondering what a crisp is, i would call it a crumble and others woud call it a cobbler.

canela & comino is full of delicious peruvian recipes that gretchen has discovered since moving to the country in 2003 - make sure you take time to browse through her archives.


this sweet samosa with pear filling has been created in kitchen by radha.

the pear filling is flavoured with nutmeg and cinnamon and these sweet samosas were radha's contribution to a friend's birthday party - what a great gift! and best of all, you should make a double batch as they are freezable.


bhawana lives in bangalore and through her blog shares with us various tastes of india. this orange juice with mint leaves is a great way to get a range of important vitamins and minerals, particularly iron and vitamin c.

according to bhawana it also boosts the immune system (all that vitamin c!) and aids digestion (i love fresh mint tea for this). this is an easy way to give your body an extra healthy boost.


speaking of healthy drinks, green tea is another favourite for many people and this green matcha cake with blueberry compote loks like a great way to indulge.

created by lemonpi, who found a few berries despite the autumnal australian weather, i'm sure this compote can be put to good use in many different ways...



more pears! more rhubarb! this spring pear and rhubarb pudding would be a great compromise dish in my house - david loves pears and i love rhubarb!

this gluten-free pudding was created by sarah from eating britain and used rhubarb from her mum's garden. i bet it was glad to escape the snowy spells we've recently been having here in the uk.


holly, the phe:mom:enon from utah, has given us a big chocolate hit with these fabulous looking raspberry spiked brownies which were inspired by a donna hay recipe.

i often find brownies too rich but have learnt that adding raspberries is a great way to lighten them up. i usually add a generous slug of bailey's irish cream liquer too.



fun and food is mansi's lovely blog and, as you'd expect from someone living in california, she is sharing with us a health-conscious recipe. this pear and almond yoghurt cake is low in fat and would be a great breakfast treat.

 personally, i think i'll be having mine at 11am, and maybe 3pm as well, with a cup of tea!



i'm a big fan of fruit smoothies and try to have one every day for breakfast. they take hardly any time to make, are a quick way to eat several portions of fruit and are truly delicious. raaga, the singing chef, shares with us her recipe for a mixed fruit smoothie.

an apple, a pear, an orange and some guava nectar - what a fabulous way to start the day. or finish the day. or just to have whenever you feel like it.



chris from mele cotte is sharing with us a fabulously creamy looking marbled blackberry mousse.

made with a mixture of cream cheese and heavy (double) cream, this mousse simply has blackberry jam swirled through the creamy lemony mousse. a topping of crunchy nuts and some beautiful fresh ripe berries makes this the kind of pudding i'd be very excited to see appearing before me after supper!



divya from dil se... is another californian food blogger who chose pears for her dish. this pear and walnut cake would be the perfect choice if you have any pears in your fruit bowl that are looking a little ripe for eating raw. divya decided the cake didn't need any frosting and i'm sure she's right, but i think i'd quite like a scoop of mascarpone with mine.



pamela is a lucky lady - not only does her husband think she's a goddess (sensible man!) but her parents have an organic farm that provided the fabulous looking strawberries which are used in this strawberry panna cotta. and if you're worried about attempting a panna cotta, be sure to visit pamela's kitchen where she assures us that it's a quick and easy dish.


medhaa from cook with love has a way with words, describing pears as "teardrop shaped... voluptuous contours... golden skin... buttery textured flesh... juicy sweet flavours... conjuring an image of grace, sophistication and the ultimate in good taste."

with those beautiful words how can you possible resist her baked pear pudding?



helen's blog tartelette is packed full of the most beautiful looking desserts and this ice cold lemon strawberry frasier is no exception.

i can only imagine how good this tastes - layers of lemon pound cake interspersed with grand marnier mousseline and a few strawberries for colour and their sweet fruity flavour. which is probably just as well as, unlike helen who combines being a pastry chef with being a personal trainer, i've got no hope of working off those calories!


although having said that, half baked opens her blog with a quote from james beard: "a gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." perhaps i shouldn't be worrying!

paula shares with us an old fashioned way of making strawberry preserves, which doesn't rely on pectin. so, if jam-making scares you, give this method a try!


this picture-perfect tangerine and olive oil pound cake was almost thrown away. suganya, from tasty palettes made the cake and found it lacking in flavour when she had her first bite. luckily she decided to try it again two days later, before dispatching it to the bin, and it was a completely different story. the flavours had developed and it was now a winner. which is lucky for us!


linda is cooking in cleveland and shares with us her recipe for this pear and cardamom spice cake. cardamom's flavour polarises people - i love the slightly floral hit it gives to dishes but for many people it is something to avoid. however, the walnuts, poppy seeds and honey in this cake will, i am sure, provide enough balancing flavours to keep most of us happy.



chriesi from zurich has been blogging at almond corner  since december and already has some fabulous recipes on her blog. this rhubarb with white chocolate cream dessert has already been printed out for me to try - i love the idea of contrasting a rich white chocolate mousse with the tangy, slightly sour, fruitiness of rhubarb.



at the moment, in india it is summer. what a wonderful thought that is as i sit here on a grey drizzly london day, with a hot water bottle on my lap and a warming cup of tea by my side.  

nags from for the cook in me, who blogs from hyderabad, loves pears in salads. i'm also a fan, having blogged a few pear salad recipes in my time, but this apple pear salad with honey dressing looks particularly good. as you'd expect there are spices involved - cinnamon and chaat masala - plus lime and honey in the dressing - a summery delight!


a-kay from lemon and chillies (what a great blog name- the two ingredients guaranteed to make every dish special!) is a dab hand at grilled pears - look at those perfect singe marks where the bars of the griddle have caramelised the sweet pear flesh!

a-kay suggests serving the pears with a balsamic reduction, vanilla ice cream and a cherry on top!



srivalli from cooking 4 all seasons is another indian blogger who is enjoying summer.

she's keeping cool with these brightly coloured minty water melon sorbet drinks which are a recent creation of hers - just blitz some water melon flesh together with some fresh mint leaves and that's it. perfect for a hot sunny day when you've not got much energy for slaving away in the kitchen!



lavender is the second flower to appear in this monthly mingle, and here it's being used by the cupcake project to make some glamorous lavender pear cupcakes with vosges bianca ganache.

and in case you're wondering why i'm describing them as glamorous check out the ingredient list - these cupcakes are made with champagne! the topping is also pretty exotic, made using a white chocolate cocoa flavoured with lemon myrtle, lavender and vanilla.



here we have another chocolate creation which is lightened and made more exciting by the addition of fruit - chocolate walnut cakes with passion fruit and star anise syrup.

made by smita serves you right, this is another cake made using olive oil instead of butter. the spicy fruit syrup was a good contrast with the light chocolate cakes and it's another recipe that i have printed off to try.


anna from morsels and musings has been inpired by jamie oliver to learn how to make meringue. this is a great thing to learn to cook - one of my absolute favourites!

and with her grapefruit meringue with yoghurt and strawberries anna gets creative. her meringue is scented with the zest of a ruby grapefruit creating an aromatic floral flavour; the strawberries are macerated in grapefruit juice; and the vanilla yoghurt which brings everything together is flavoured with honey.

this is an eton mess which i will be recreating!


more strawberries from california! this is great as i adore strawberries (when i went missing as a child, i was often found sitting in our strawberry patch) and strawberry ice cream is an absolute favourite.

allen, from eating out loud, has served his ice cream in the most adorable puff pastry bowls which resemble tulips!



michelle from big black dog is also sharing an ice cream recipe with us. this time it is homemade peach ice cream, made using peaches that  she froze last summer.

and if you're wondering why her blog is so named - check out those lovely puppies of hers...



pandan muffins with jackfruit and coconut - what an exotic sounding, and looking, delight!

i've only used pandan leaves to flavour savoury dishes and have never tried jackfruit (which apparently has a flavour similar to pineapple) so i can only imagine what epicurean escapism's muffins taste like. aren't they cute though, just like zhulaiha's new friend...




for jokergirl in sweden, rhubarb is the message that spring has arrived. as a result we have the pleasure of sharing her recipe for strawberry and rhubarb crumble pie - aren't we lucky!

and if, like anna, you have asparagus appearing in your markets too be sure to visit were rabbits for some tasty recipes using it - not fruit i know, but worth a look nonetheless. 


an attempt to spread love by cooking includes pooja's attempt to persuade herself that pears are worth eating and to move beyond just using them in smoothies. this savoury pear salsa seems to have sorted her out and is described as "how i started loving pears" - if you're a bit unsure about pears, perhaps you should also give it a try.



deeba, who is passionate about baking and blogs from gurgaon in north india has a similar approach to food as i do - eat what is seasonal and try to eat local.

unlike me, she is also a dab hand at creating fiddly and beautiful looking dishes such as these baskets a la melon. filled with a selction of fresh and dried fruit, as well as a few nuts and some mint, these were a huge success with deeba's children polishing them off in no time.




kiriel, who lives in geneva and blogs at the papillon pantry, has also been inspired by the combination of rhubarb and strawberries, making a vividly coloured red fruit crumble. i don't know what kiriel served with her crumble but i think it's just calling out for some double cream!


arundati's escapades are always worth finding out about. this time its pears in orange sauce with custard and it looks delicious.

the custards are set in beautiful moulds, making this dish look particularly professional and i love the look of the caramelised orange slices.



bhagyashri is a fellow londoner and is only in her second month of blogging so make sure you check out taste buds and offer her lots of encouragement! not that i need to persuade you to visit her blog when you see she's making delicious looking recipes like this berrykand, a light dessert made from curd.



and of course, there was my own contribution to the spring fruit sensations monthly mingle - rhubarb crumble kuchen.

this lightly spiced bread is perfect for breakfast and can easily be modified using other fruit  - apples, pears, peaches and apricots all spring to mind as perfect topping alternatives.




if you're a regular participant in the monthly mingle i'm sure you'll be wondering where meeta, from what's for lunch, honey?, is - not only has she let someone else host the mingle but she hasn't contributed a dish!

of course that's not true, here is a fabulous fresh fruit platter with ginger mango sauce. this fantastically healthy dish is something that meeta has eaten since her childhood and is, as she says, a real indulgence.


and that's it - forty five fabulous spring fruit sensations! if i've missed anyone, please let me know but in the meantime, enjoy your fruit! and start thinking about what to cook for the next monthly mingle - details here.



lentil, mushroom and spinach lasagne


i remain entranced by my lentil and mushroom ragu. i’ve made it a couple of times now and each time i have used some of it to make lasagne.

the first version i tried used crème fraiche in place of the traditional final layer of white sauce. this is a cheat which i regularly use when making lasagne as the slightly sharp flavour that it provides can be a welcome contrast to the richness of the rest of the lasagne.

however, with the lentil ragu this didn’t really work – somehow it made it richer! this version, which uses a nutmeg-scented white sauce for the topping and a layer of wilted spinach in the middle of the layers was far more successful and the version i will use next time i have a batch of ragu that needs using.

this dish is my contribution to presto pasta nights, as hosted by ruth at once upon a feast.

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april foodie profile: anna colquhoun


as you’ll know, this year i want to make space on my blog to explore the huge range of food-related careers that exist and how they affect the way that people cook and eat.

this month we’re hearing from anna colquhoun, a chef who is currently eating her way round Europe, Turkey, north and west Africa, collecting recipes, stories and other culinary notes. Keep an eye on her progress via the Culinary Anthropologist.

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rhubarb crumble kuchen


it’s a funny time of year if you’re trying to eat seasonally in the uk. well, it is when it is when it comes to fruit – apart from stored apples and pears, almost the only locally grown choice you have is rhubarb.

to be honest, this isn’t much of a hardship as it’s a favourite of mine but it’s not a cheap option so i was keen to find a way to use it in a more frugal way than just stewing it for adding to smoothies or eating with yoghurt.

this, coupled with the approaching weekend and a desire for something lovely for breakfast, saw me decide to try nigella lawson’s rhubarb-crumble kuchen. the kuchen is a spiced sweetened dough which is topped with pieces of rhubarb and sprinkled with a crumble mix.

as promised by nigella, this is a lovely fruity bread to have with a cup of tea – just perfect for a slightly chilly weekend breakfast. and perfect too for the meeta’s monthly mingle which i have the pleasure of hosting this month and which has the theme spring fruit sensations! if you’re a food blogger, the 7th is the last day for you to post your recipe, just make sure you let me know about it.

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easy ice cream


this is the ice cream of my childhood and remains one of the few ice creams that i really enjoy. it is incredibly easy to make, not requiring a custard, churning in an ice cream maker or regular stirring as it freezes. it is also the ice cream that is responsible for a friend’s daughter stopping being a vegan – powerful stuff eh?

i decided to keep things simple and just added vanilla flavouring but you can adapt the recipe easily, adding chocolate chips or perhaps fruit puree and swirling it through the mix for a rippled effect.

it’s probably fifteen years since i’ve eaten this ice cream and it’s as good as i remember. it also passed the david taste test (he’s a big ice cream fan) and as a result will no doubt appear (briefly) in our freezer on a regular basis.

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