Morning tea slice
Makes 10 bars
This scrumptious raw recipe comes from my friend and former River Cottage colleague Nonie Dwyer and the title sums it up nicely – these fruity bars are great with your morning cuppa as an effort-free but energy-packed breakfast or elevenses. Flakes of millet – a nutritious, gluten-free grain, easy to find in health food shops – help to bind these sweet, tasty slabs together.
100g millet flakes
75g whole, skin-on almonds
175g unsulphured dried apricots
200g pitted dates, chopped
100g dried apples
2 dried figs, tough stem ends snipped off
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
¼-½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
Finely grated zest of 1 orange and juice of about ½ the fruit
Line a 19-20cm square tin or dish with cling film or baking parchment.
Put all the ingredients, except the orange juice, into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until well chopped and combined, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides so the blades can process all the ingredients. Slowly add the orange juice, pulsing the mixture until it comes together into a very stiff, chunky paste.
Press the mixture firmly into the prepared dish in an even layer, smoothing over the top. Refrigerate for three to four hours or, preferably, overnight, then slice into bars. Store in the fridge. These bars will keep happily for at least a couple of weeks.
Baked pears with almonds and apricots
Here's an easy, luscious pud that's a great alternative to the traditional baked apple, and quicker too. It works best with pears that are nicely ripe – though definitely not squishy over-ripe ones, as they may fall apart.
2 very large, ripe pears, or 4 smaller ones
50g whole almonds, roughly chopped
8 unsulphured dried apricots, chopped
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons cloudy apple juice
1 tablespoon runny honey
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking dish with baking parchment.
Peel the pears and slice them in half lengthways. Scoop out the cores with a melon baller or teaspoon to create a cavity about four centimetres in diameter. Take a little slice off the underside of each pear so they will sit steady, and put them, cut side up, in the baking dish.
Mix together the chopped almonds, dried apricots and lemon zest. Distribute the almond mixture between the pears – it will fill the cavities and overflow on to the cut surface. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the pears, spoon on the apple juice, then trickle over the honey.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes, until the pears are tender, then uncover and return to the oven for seven to 10 minutes to lightly toast the almonds.
Serve hot, with any juices spooned over. This is particularly good with a spoonful of sweetened cashew cream (page 394) dolloped over, or a scoop of peach and orange sorbet (page 340) alongside.
Chop and change: You can of course vary the nutty, fruity filling: try walnut and prune, or hazelnut and raisin.
Boozy pears: For something a shade more indulgent and adult, replace some or all of the apple juice with a shot of Calvados or Poire William.
Fish and tomato curry
Fish curry may sound like an undertaking, but it can be fast because the fish itself cooks through in a matter of minutes. All you need to do is create a flavoursome, spicy sauce first, which is easy, as this dish demonstrates.
2 tablespoons rapeseed or sunflower oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
3 garlic cloves, grated
1 tablespoon medium curry powder, or paste
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
300ml tomato passata
100ml coconut milk
½ teaspoon sugar
500g white fish fillets, such as pollack, coley or sustainably caught haddock, skinned
Juice of ½ large lime
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few black onion (kalonji) seeds (optional)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring regularly, for eight to 10 minutes until soft.
Now add the ginger, garlic, curry powder or paste and cinnamon stick, if using, and fry for a minute or two. Add the passata and coconut milk, the sugar, a pinch of salt and some pepper. Stir well and simmer, stirring from time to time, for about 10 minutes until rich and well blended.
Meanwhile, check the fish for pin bones, prising out any you find with tweezers, then cut into large pieces, about four centimetres square. Add these to the sauce, bring back to a very gentle simmer and cook for four to six minutes, until the fish is just cooked through, stirring very carefully a couple of times (you don't want to break up the fish if you can help it). Remember it will continue to cook after you have taken it off the heat.
Stir in the lime juice, taste and add more salt or pepper if needed. Serve straight away with rice. Finish with a scattering of fresh coriander, and black onion seeds if you like.
River Cottage Light and Easy: Healthy recipes for everyday, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. (Bloomsbury, $49.99.)