Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Fruit to keep you Young

In all the following recipes, the 'ready to eat, no-soak' prunes have been used, although they may require a short soaking to plump them up. Try some or all and see how good they are.
Prune Bread: (made without yeast)
5 oz (150g) dried prunes
1 level tsp bicarb. soda
boiling water
1 tblsp soft margarine
4 oz (110g) sugar
1 egg
8 oz (225g) wholewheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 oz (50g) chopped nuts
Put the prunes in a bowl, sprinkle over the bicarb and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for twenty minutes or so. Drain, but keep the soaking liquid. If the prunes are unpitted, remove the stones and chop the prunes coarsely. Cream together the margarine and sugar until light and beat in the egg. Sift the flour with the baking powder and stir this into the creamed mixture, finally stir in the prunes and the soaking liquid (enough to give a dropping consistency, add more water if necessary), then stir in the nuts.
Spoon into a greased and floured 1 lb (450g) loaf tin, and bake at 300C, 150F, gas 2 for one hour. Remove from oven and leave to stand for ten minutes before turning out to cool on a cake airer. When cold, wrap in foil then keep for a day before eating.

Healthy Eating Crumble Bars: makes 8
4 oz (100g) butter
3 tblsp honey
2 oz (50g) jumbo oats
2 oz (50g) porridge oats
2 oz (50g) chopped pitted prunes
Melt the butter with the honey in a saucepan, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Spoon into a lightly greased 8" (20cm) baking tin, smooth the top and bake for 17-20 mins at 170C, 325F, gas 3 or until golden brown. Leave to cool slightly, then mark into eight bars. When cold, cut right through the marks to separate the bars and remove from tin.

Although adults don't seem to mind eating prunes when included in a beef casserole, you often find children turn up their noses as soon as they see them. Try blitzing some pitted prunes with some minced steak and then turn them into beefburgers or meatballs. The fruit will make them taste sweeter (no child seems to mind that), but are virtually undetectable.

The Italian Job 'burger: serves 4
1 lb 10 oz (750g) minced steak
1 egg
1 tblsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tblsp Tomato Ketchup
1 small onion, grated
4 prunes (optional) pitted
ground black pepper to taste
olive oil for frying
Put all the ingredients (except the oil) into a food processor and give a quick blitz to give a smooth texture (but not as smooth as a puree). Put this mixture into a bowl and form into eight balls, pat these down into burger shapes. Put a little oil in the base of a frying pan and when hot, fry the burgers for 4 - 5 minutes on each side. Stick a fork into a burger and if the meat juices runs clear they are ready, if it still pink then cook for a moment or two longer.
Serve in small buns, or with a salad and oven chips or what you will.
Tip: To make more burgers with the same amount of meat, add more onion and include some fresh breadcrumbs. You may need an extra egg (either just the white, yolk or both).
The meat does not have to be beef, you could use lamb, chicken or pork mince. If using other meats, instead of adding the above sauces, experiment using grated apple or apple sauce with pork, with lamb add a dash of mint sauce or jelly, with chicken a spoonful of cranberry sauce, or include a little tikka paste and yogurt for a spicier version.
Instead of tucking burgers into buns, wrap each in a lettuce leaf - perfect when eating on the hoof so to speak.