Fresh - May Edition

Great Fruit Crumbles

It's been a busy old time of late in the Biuso household, although it's never so busy that there's no time to talk about good food, or to cook it, or, of course, to eat it! Today is like spring, but we know the weather is just teasing us – we have winter still to come, and with that in mind I am posting some great fruit crumble recipes. We adore crumbles. There's the gorgeous smell of the fruit as it cooks down to tenderness and those tantalizing wafts of nuts or coconut or brown sugar from the crumble itself. As well as adding to your daily 5Plus of fruit and vege, crumbles can also add other health benefits if you include ingredients such as oats, which naturally lower your cholesterol, and nuts, which are very nutritious. These things take away some of the guilt about eating pudding! Crumbles are also quick and easy to make...and leftovers make the best breakfast! If it's summertime where you live (lucky you!) you can make crumbles with berries or stonefruits such as apricots and plums. A little vanilla-scented sugar added to apricots works a treat as does a little ground cinnamon added to plums.

There are a few tips, then success is assured. If, like me, you can't eat a lot of cream, serve crumbles with thick rich Greek yoghurt, for added nutrition. If you have regular yoghurt and wish to make it thicker, so it really 'plops' off the spoon, just drain it in a sieve lined with paper towels for 30 minutes or more. Yum! And if you can't have yoghurt made from cow's milk, try the new sheep milk yoghurt (available from specialist food stores).

My latest book is now on its journey, editing is nearly complete and design is well underway. But that elusive title! Today is the day we are going to pin it down. We have to! The photography is looking fabulous, and I can’t wait to see it in print. It may be book number 14, but each and every one is like a new baby – you can't wait to hold it in your hands.

I've been cooking lots of warming wintry food of late and I am just about to do my last winter feature for Taste magazine (we work several months in advance) before embarking on spring. Spring!!! It's hard to get my taste buds tuned that far in advance. However, I do promise a really scrumptious and useful food feature for my American followers for July 4th. That's what I'll be working on next.

If you're looking for something really tasty for dinner tonight, how about this chicken dish I cooked last night? I mixed 3 rashers, chopped streaky bacon with 2 cloves peeled and crushed garlic and a dozen chopped fresh sage leaves and stuffed this into little pockets I slit in skinned and boned organic free-range chicken breasts. Then I browned them in sizzling butter over a medium heat (I also had a dash of olive oil in the pan to stop the chicken catching, but I prefer butter as the main cooking fat as it makes the chicken golden). Once they were browned I lowered the heat, browned them for 2-3 minutes more, then covered with pan with a lid and cooked them until nearly cooked through. This ensures they stay beautifully moist. To finish, I removed the lid and continued cooking them over medium heat until they were a good golden colour all over, and just cooked through. This is the trick with chicken breasts. Overcook them and they will become dry and tough. Cook them until the palest rosy pink in the centre of the breast has just cooked out. They'll hold their heat and continue to cook off with residual heat. Perfection! I transferred them to a warmed serving platter and splashed some white wine in the pan to deglaze it (to lift up any sticky little bits which are full of flavour), but you could use verjuice, apple cider or chicken stock if you prefer. Then I poured the juices over them. Delicious. I served them with a warm cauliflower salad with capers, chopped green olives, marjoram and parsley, garlic, lemon and extra virgin olive oil, and plenty of salt and pepper. The kids fought over the remnants of the cauliflower. If you have difficulty getting kids to eat cauliflower, try it. Just blanch the cauli florets (chop them quite small) in a saucepan of boiling salted water until the water comes aback to the boil. Then drain and refresh with plenty of cold water to stop the cauli cooking. Oh, and we had roasted parsnips smothered with garlic, rosemary and parmesan. Very tasty. Very good for us. And we all felt replete and content. That's how homecooked winter food should be.

Hope you enjoy the crumbles. And, just think it's only matter of weeks before the shortest day...then roll on summer!

Ciao for now