Now that winter is here, or supposed to be in Otago, I’m on the lookout for ingredients that are going to spike my ice creams with fresh fruitiness or flavour my lattes with intrigue or top my chocolate cakes with panache or garnish my huevos rancheros with roasted and fresh herbs… Problem is, it’s winter – or supposed to be – and I can’t get fresh blueberries, raspberries, black doris plums or kaffir leaves for these dishes. Not to worry says my Raeward Fresh pal Nathan at the store in Queenstown, Fresh As has got me sorted. These guys produce freeze dried produce that seals in not only the freshness and nutrition of the fruits and herbs they sell, but a fantastic twist to the original product that makes my ice cream for instance, a whimsical magical thing. I’ll explain.
Tommy Roff is a perfectionist who has been in the produce business for over 25 years. In his experience, when winter came around chefs and home cooks alike wanted access to fresh herbs and fruits but struggled to find them. Tommy decided then to freeze dry certain foods that would tap into the imagination of chefs developing new cuisines flourishing around the world (Fresh As now sells to chefs and retails stores in seven countries). Freeze drying food is a process that combines super cold temps and vacuum technology. It freezes the food, however instead of producing liquid the moisture turns to ice and is then vacuumed from the food leaving a distinct crispy texture. This means the Fresh As dried blueberries I use for my sweetened condensed milk ice cream reconstitute just a bit in the process of making the ice cream (see recipe below) but also maintain a chewy gooeyness that makes the ice cream amazing! Same is true for my Black Doris latte using Tommy’s plum powder in the steamed milk – AMAZING!
Tommy and the crew at Fresh As have created heaps of great recipes which you can see on their site
but I wanted to highlight a few of my own creations, made with Fresh As goodness, to encourage you along the road of freeze dried discoveries in your own kitchen. I started out by getting a huge range of Fresh As gear, from herbs (kaffir and sage powder to tarragon and thyme) and spices, to some fruit powders (mango and black doris for instance) and then dried fruits (like lychee, blueberry, strawberries, whole cherries and plum slices) and started experimenting. Of course, the fruits are fantastic just popping them in your mouth (they melt revealing all their original freshness), but I’ve tried a few other recipes I’ll pass on here.
Fresh As Blueberry and Sweetened Condensed Milk Ice Cream
This recipe is a staple at my place which allows you to make any kind of ice cream you want without the fuss of an ice cream maker or the constance stir, freeze, stir… process. And now with Fresh As dried fruits, it’s all gone up a few notches!
250 ml fresh cream (or Lewis Road thickened cream if you want to go hard)
200 ml sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla paste or essence
half a pack of Fresh As freeze dried blueberries
Simple As method:
whip the cream until thick
whip in the condensed milk and vanilla
stir in the blueberries
That’s it folks. Put it in the freezer and 12 hours later you have the most amazing ice cream. The texture is smooth and perfect and the blueberries become a chewy candy like thing which makes the whole affair fantastic. I’ve added some pomegranate syrup over the top in the pic below just to add a little kick to the dessert.
Fresh As Black Doris Latte
In the U.S. you’ll often find flavored latte’s on offer at interesting cafes. I’ve had Hawaiian Black Sea Salt Latte’s, Lavender Latte’s and of course, dark chocolate and chili… so when I saw the Black Doris plum powder from Fresh As, I thought the rich flavour would go well with a long black straight up or steamed in the latte milk. Both worked a treat. Have a go for your self and see what you think.
Fresh As Mandarin Chocolate Cake
We’ve been working on an extension at home and decided to treat the builders to this amazing coffee cake treat. Smiles all around especially with the candy crunch of the punchy mandarin slices.
1 & 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 & 3/4 cups buttermilk
2 generous tablespoons rice bran oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp Blue Frog Zesty Orange syrup
100 ml fresh cream
100 grams chopped dark chocolate
a pack of Fresh As Mandarin slices
Preheat your oven 160˚ C and line a lot tin with baking paper.
Mix all the dry ingredients well and then add the wet ingredients one by one stirring with a wooden spoon until well combined.
Pour into the lined loaf tin and back at 160˚ for 40 minutes or until your knife come out clean from poking into the middle of the cake. Allow 1 hour to cool
For the icing, finely chop the 100 grams of dark chocolate and set in a glass bowl. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Allow it to sit for 4 minutes and then stir to create the ganache. Allow to cool for another 10 minutes stirring occasionally and then pour over the cake.
Add scrunched up bits of the mandarin to the top of the iced cake and then artfully place the rest of the whole pieces. Serve warm with coffee. Yum!
I’ve been adding the coriander power to my quesadillas (see below), sage to my split pea and ham hock soups, kaffir to my salad dressings, and the list goes on. Fresh As herbs and spices really do take the flavour up a notch and the fruits have got me thinking anew about many of my old recipes. Have a go for your self at a Raeward Fresh near you and see what you can create.