Fruit Comes To The Fore In Winter Warming Recipes

autumnAs the final days of Autumn give way to Winter this year, temperatures on the Gold Coast have been anything but chilly. Days are gloriously sunny and warm and only a few nights have warranted extra blankets on the bed.

Nonetheless, winter will arrive and the genuinely cold weather will come with it very soon. When it does, you might not immediately think of fruit for warming meals but Winter fruits provide a nourishing foundation for a broad range of warming recipes such as pies and desserts, even breakfasts.

Winter fruits typically include apples, avocados, custard apples, grapefruit, kiwifruit, lemons, limes, mandarins, navel oranges and passionfruit, panama pears, pomelos, quince and rhubarb. Why not check out the range we have in store at Yuen’s to use with some of the tasty eating ideas below?

Citrus rules the winter fruit bowl, emerging through the season, led by mandarins – ancestors of the common orange – and navel oranges, so named for the growth of a second fruit at the apex which protrudes slightly and resembles a human navel or ‘belly button’.

Navel’s thicker skins make them easy to peel and, being slightly bitter, they’re not especially favoured for juicing as are some of the sweeter varieties. However, they go extremely well not only as a lunchbox favourite but also in basic desserts or baked in custards, puddings and cakes. Here they are in a pudding cake recipe which, as it bakes, separates into what chef Gina Eriquez describes as ‘a soufflé-like layer on top and citrusy pudding on the bottom’. She notes the process isn’t magic but the resulting dessert ‘looks and tastes like it’.

Blood oranges and Seville come along later in Winter. Blood oranges have a lovely berry colour when juiced and slip superbly into cocktails. Seville oranges are definitely bitter and make excellent marmalade. While sharing his recipe, pastry chef David Lebovitz, author of The Sweet Life in Paris, also tells us Seville orange marmalade was created because of an error:

 “Apparently an Englishwoman in 1700, the wife of a grocer, was stuck with some sour oranges that were bought cheaply from a boat that was carrying them from Seville. Since there was a storm, they wanted to get rid of their stock of oranges quickly, so the grocer bought them. But they were inedible and sour so his wife decided to try making jam from then, and viola!”

Autumn-harvested apples and pears remain good through winter as more exotic produce such as starfruit, passionfruit, mangosteen and guava starts to arrive from tropical north Queensland.

Mangosteens are a deep purple, leathery skinned tropical fruit native to south-east Asia. Remarkably, it’s only just become available in North America in recent years. This recipe uses mangosteen to put a Thai twist on clafouti, an old-style dessert originally from France.

One way to enjoy Winter fruits is to make a spiced compote. Chef Melissa Goodwin notes many compotes use dried fruits, but her recipe is ‘just for fresh winter apples, pears and, as something a little different, mandarins’. She then goes on to suggest fruit compote for a simple but gourmet breakfast.

rhubarbWe misled you a little near the start of this blog post – rhubarb is actually a vegetable, but in the kitchen it is prepared as if it were a fruit. In the northern hemisphere, particularly around Europe, it is regarded as a classic home-grown item for the garden or allotment. The large leaves are poisonous but the long fleshy stalks are edible, crisp like celery and with a strong, tart taste. The stalks are usually cooked with sugar and used in pies.

Martha Stewart calls rhubarb ‘the pie plant’ and admits it makes a divine filling. However, she points out it’s delicious in all kinds of desserts, and even extends to savoury dishes.

For traditional use, she cooks up Rhubarb-Strawberry Lattice Pie in which the strawberries, or an alternative of other berries, mellow out the sharpness of the rhubarb or you can simply use all rhubarb. She also offers a crumble recipe as well.

Then Stewart really takes a different road with Pork Chops with Rhubarb-Cherry Sauce. “Try the sauce with roasted chicken or drizzled over toasted bread topped with goat cheese,” she also suggests.

Rhubarb, of course, also has a theatrical role – it allows a group of actors to mimic indistinct background chatter because the word contains no very sharp or recognisable phonemes. The place of ‘rhubarb, rhubarb’ in theatre and television was immortalised in 1980 by British actor Eric Sykes who used it as the basis for a short comedy with a cast of stars.