Salvaged peach compote for Sunday dessert

Garbatella, Bar dei Cesaroni

After months of ifs and maybes, we have some clarity. Moving day is approaching: we should be on a plane in 7-8 weeks, and the finality of that is sinking in. I am writing lists, sorting through cupboards, de-cluttering shelves and wondering what all this will mean. The planned destination is Accra (Ghana), which should be really interesting on many levels. I hear so many good things about Accra, and am very much looking forward to new opportunities there. It will be very challenging to leave Rome and friends here, and I am certainly a bit overwhelmed by it all. This morning we went for our usual Sunday cappuccino up the hill, in the heart of Garbatella, and it is hard to imagine being a continent away from here.

steps in garbatella

Part of moving is emptying out fridge, freezer, and most of the cupboards, all of which are stuffed. It calms me, sorting through section by section. We could live for weeks on stored food, and it does spark thought of why I keep so much on hand. Love of cooking, wanting lots of option of what to cook, recipe contents of Ottolenghi cookbooks, the hunt for certain ingredients in Rome (tarragon, lemongrass, custard powder…) and subsequent stockpiling when the item is located here or abroad. Or the interesting items discovered at local food markets: truffle salami, peperoncino honey (very spicy!), a new lemon-zucchini-pepper condiment….. No, it is time to enjoy it. I am sure Accra will have interesting food markets as well.

I had a box in the freezer marked “chocolate cake”, so yesterday I pulled that out for afternoon tea. Autumn is coming, it’s down to 23-24 degrees and sunny, so we’ve actually started having hot tea again. Freezer-burned mystery chocolate cake? Why not? But when I opened the box, it was rock-hard frozen chopped-up fruit, not cake. Possibly plums, probably hastily tossed in before some trip, with a vague idea of using those for a smoothie or a cake. Oh well. Our oven just broke, and as I have been reading Norwegian news about plums being in season there, I thought – aha! I’ll make a Norwegian plum compote! Very retro. More dessert than jam: plums cooked with water and sugar, maybe a pinch of cinnamon, until they collapse a bit, then thickened with potato starch. You serve it cold or lukewarm, with cold milk or cream. On closer examination the box contained ice-crusted peach wedges, so peach compote for Sunday dessert it is.

peach compote

Salvaged peach compote for Sunday dessert

500 grammes stoned peaches (or plums), roughly chopped
200 ml water
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla sugar
75 grammes golden sugar
2 tbs potato starch, stirred into 100 mol cold water

Cook the chopped peaches with the 200 ml of water, sugar and cinnamon, ten minutes or so until soft. My peaches were frozen and needed 15 minutes. No need to skin them first, the peach pieces will gently collapse after a while. Taste it to see if you think it is sweet enough, if not add a bit more sugar. Now, take the pot off the heat. Stir in the potato starch + water by pouring it int the hot fruit mixture, then put the pot back on the heat and bring to the boil again, for a couple minutes. Keep stirring, you feel it thicken and become more gelatinous. Cool. Serve cold with milk or cream, with a little sprinkle of sugar if needed.

And for afternoon tea, I am now baking banana bread in our old bread machine……. There is always some way to make cake!


Orange salad sprinkled with pomegranate seeds

oranges with pomegranate
“Do you eat frozen pizza?” said the old lady. We had just left our small local supermarket, each wheeling our shopping home and as often happens, she fancied a chat, though we had not met before. It is good practice for my Italian, so I try (though my accent is getting rougher and more Roman, I am told). Anyway, the pizza query. Pizza, yes, but frozen? “Noooo… not very often. We usually make it, or go out…” I said, wondering where this was going. Did I look like the kind of person who eats frozen pizza? Shabby coat, flat shoes AND a frozen-pizza consumer? That would probably not be a good thing. She explained that she had just bought her first frozen pizzas, as they were on offer. “Look! 1.59 euro for two pizza margheritas! But how do I cook them?” The print of the cooking advice was small, so I read it out to her, wondering what she would think of the culinary experience that evening. We waved farewell, and I hope she was not too disappointed.

Speaking of culinary experiences, it is Fiesta Friday Anniversary (part 2)! This time I am bringing this Orange salad sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, in honour of simplicity and freshness, cheerful neighbours and new friends. Very easy to make, and a nice serving of sunshine now that January rain is battering our windows. Many thanks to our wonderful hosts, especially Angie@thenovicegardener. And happy anniversary! This is bound to be a culinary and visual extravaganza! Now, please pardon me while I go schmooze and taste my way through the festivities……. Mmm……….

Fiesta Friday

Orange salad sprinkled with pomegranate seeds

3 oranges
2 blood oranges
1 pomegranate

Slice the peel off the oranges, top and base, then sides. Then slice them horizontally, and layer them in a bowl. Scoop out your pomegranate seeds (a teaspoon helps) and sprinkle this over: voila! Dessert!

sliced oranges

You could use grapefruit as well, and a splash of alcohol might be nice too. This is great for a dinner party, just make it advance and cover it until ready to serve.


Hazelnut-coconut stuffed baked apples

Baked apple
My husband’s parents arrive next week, so I popped up to the market this weekend to get herbs for the bedraggled windowboxes, and wholewheat flour for bread. Then I saw baskets of shiny new chestnuts, piles of fresh hazelnuts and walnuts….. and could not resist them. Roasted chestnuts with red wine? Sourdough loaf with walnuts? We shall see. A handful of hazelnuts ended up in these baked apples, an easy weeknight dessert. So I am bringing these to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener, with autumn greetings to all, and special thanks to the hosts Angie, Selma and Elaine!
It is gorgeous and sunny today, after two evenings of storms. Below is Wednesday night, our piazza was drenched.  Five streets meet there, and the drains get blocked, so streets and lower lying shops get flooded now and then. Thunder, wind and buckets of rain: looks like autumn is finally arriving here. Still nice and warm, so storms aside: it is a lovely time of the year!
Storm on piazza

Hazelnut-coconut stuffed baked apples with raisins

6 apples
30 grammes shelled chopped hazelnuts
50 grammes dessicated coconut
40g butter, shaved in
40 grammes golden syrup or honey
30 grammes raisins

A little golden syrup or honey to drizzle over before baking
Serves six.

Core and peel the apples. You will be stuffing the apple centres later, so it is fine to have a slightly wide ex-core.

In a bowl, mix nuts, coconut, and butter. Shave in the butter so you can roughly amalgamate the mixture with a fork, like making crumble topping. Stuff the apples generously with the coconut-nut mixture, with raisins stuffed in the middle and more topping packed in on top. Stand upright in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle a little golden syrup or honey over each apple, maybe 3 tsp for all apples together. Cover dish until ready to make.

Heat oven to 200C. Bake 35-40 min or so at 200C, until the apples are slightly softened but not so long the stuffing burns. Enjoy!
Apples baking
Notes: I baked these uncovered, and they were a little drier than when I made Oatmeal-coconut stuffed baked apples at Easter, which were baked partially covered. Still good flavour, though, and the small amount of fresh hazelnuts came through.

Fiesta Friday