Monday, December 17, 2012

Delicious and easy 'summer simmer fruits' for Christmas

Last Saturday night we had a whole crowd of people over. There were 12 adults, one teenager, six and eight-year-old boys and a three month old baby boy. We had lovely 'befores' courtesy of Kate and Chris followed by prawns and plenty of champagne. For the main course we served Christmas ham cooked in a marinade of orange zest, orange juice, cloves and Dijon mustard, roast pork with pears, Parmesan baked potatoes, Jamie Oliver's baked beetroot with balsalmic vinegar, marjoram and garlic and David Herbert's roasted asparagus with mozzarella salad. It was all very delicious if I don't say so myself.  But I think the dish that got the most rapturous response was the dessert, 'Summer Simmer Fruits'.

It was the first time we had cooked this recipe which I found in a Donna Hay magazine from Feb/March 2007.  While I shopped for the ingredients Bruce cut up the fruit and made the dish.
And what a hit it was. A beautiful mixture of mangoes, apricots and blackberries with a vanilla bean or two and some castor sugar. So simple, which is the key to all the best recipes.

I also made some meringues topped with chopped pistachio nuts.  The idea for the pistachio nuts came from a recipe in Country Style's Christmas 2012 collector's edition. I used the meringue recipe in Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion as it has served me well in the past and it was less complicated than the Country Style one. We served the summer simmer fruits and meringues with Bulla vanilla ice cream which is gluten free (GF). The other GF ice cream is Sara Lee's French Vanilla. To complete the festival of food, Kate made some delicious GF chocolate fudge brownies which we enjoyed with a cup of tea.  Here are the recipes:

Summer simmer fruits

2 mangoes, cut into wedges (skin on)
2 apricots, halved and stones removed
125g blackberries
1 thick piece of lemon peel
1 thick piece of orange peel
1 vanilla bean, split or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
(These ingredients serves 4, so increase the quantities for more people)

Instructions: Heat a deep frying pan over low heat. Add the mangoes, apricots, blackberries, lemon peel, orange peel and vanilla. Sprinkle over the sugar and cover with a tight fitting lid. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is syrupy. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Sue's meringues (page 432 of Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion (2004 edition)

2 egg whites at room temperature
Half a cup of castor sugar
One quarter of a teaspoon of pure vanilla 
To reduce or increase the quantities allow 60g castor sugar to an egg white.
Note: I used 4 egg whites and produced nearly 40 meringues.

Instructions: Preheat oven to 150 degree Celsius and line a baking tray with baking paper. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, then add sugar, a little at a time, still beating. Beat in vanilla. Place small spoonfuls of meringue on baking tray and bake for 45 minutes. Turn oven off, leave door slightly ajar and allow meringues to cool completely in oven. Store in an airtight container lined with greaseproof paper. *If you would like to add pistachios to your meringues, chop up the nuts and sprinkle over the meringues before placing in oven.

Chocolate fudge brownies (gluten-free)

Photo from
Note from Kate: she added a big handful of macadamia nuts to this recipe.

Happy gluten-free Christmas.