food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

Gosh, it feels like ages since I last put fingers to keyboard. All thumbs here. As I am feeling somewhat rusty this might be a bit brief.’ Yay!’ I hear you cry. But not because I have nothing to say. Oh no.

We have recently returned from sunny Spain, where it most certainly did not rain mainly on the plain, or anywhere else. We had a brilliant time staying in Sitges, just outside of Barcelona. Everything was perfect. Usually when we go away, by the end of our time in wherever, I am ready to go home and see my animals and put my head on my own pillow. But not this time. I really felt at home with the heat, the slow pace, the simple food and the welcoming people. Walking the string of sparkling bays lined with attractive restaurants, bars and shops, punctuated by peeks into majestic churches, was a particular highlight. And, outside of the urbanised areas, are swathes of pine forests, sweeping verdant vineyards and the odd preserved Roman site. It is hard to overlay the daily reports of Spain’s economic upheaval and uncertainty with what we saw and experienced: it just doesn’t fit, at least in that area. I truly hope the mess that is the euro at present is resolved without too much sacrifice by the ordinary, hard-working citizens in the countries most affected.

Anyway, as hoped, not only did I come back several shades darker and no longer looking as if I live in a mayonnaise jar, but my feeble, pneumonia-ed lungs have improved. I still have what my GP refers to as my old man’s cough but – touch wood – I am improving every day. Perhaps not enough to tackle the EU mountain of ironing that seems to have grown from nowhere: didn’t we all take perma-press stuff? Methinks I may have to milk this lack of energy thing a bit longer.

Unfortunately, my tastebuds weren’t quite up to assessing the food as well as I would have liked, but I came back inspired by the  bounty and colours of the markets. Unlike here in the UK, where we seemingly demand all of our produce look measuring stick-perfect, Spanish markets are filled with delightfully misshapen specimens, all smelling and tasting (I am told) as they should. Naturally I came away inspired so I hope to soon have a couple of ‘sun-spired’ recipes for you.

But, today we are decidedly British. Scottish even. Despite the Biblical-style rain dumped by an errant jetstream, somehow most of the berry crops have survived. Unfortunately the potato and root crops haven’t fared so well, all blighted and drowned. Washed away in some cases. But for now my glasses are rose-tinted, or rather raspberry, blackberry and blueberry tinted.

Berry Good For You: Berries are arguably Nature’s perfect cancer-fighting fruit. Literally stuffed with top nutrients, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries are in a league of their own. Despite the fact that they grow wild and can be picked for free or for a nominal price, the blue-black and red coloured berries contain the most antioxidants of any edible plant foods. Best fresh, they are also great from frozen and lightly cooked  – smoothies, crumbles, salsas, salads, juices, compotes, sauces, ice creams.

All berries are good or excellent sources of anthocyanins (what makes the colour), Vitamin C, and fibre. Raspberries are brilliant for potassium, folate and fibre, while blackberries are a source of vitamins A, C, E and K, a host of B vitamins, and numerous minerals such as copper and potassium. But the big guns  as far as cancer is concerned is  ellagic acid. A potentially potent tumour fighter ellagic acid balances our phase 1 and phase 2 detox enzymes (of which phase 2 is involved in transforming carcinogenic substances into a harmless form) and, as the late James Joseph wrote in his book, The Colour Code, “takes the battery out of cancer cells.” This happens by a process known as apoptosis, a fancy word for programmed cell death, what a healthy cell does. This area of interest is too involved for discussion here, when most of you just want to get on to dessert. But if you wish to know more, grab a copy of The Colour Code (mine is well thumbed and stained with berry juice – really!) or have a look at this overview from the American Cancer Society, this from the American Heart Association or, best of all, this fantastic piece from the American Institute for Cancer Research – it’s my crib sheet for work. Most of the phytochemicals are very complicated to study as they interact in innumerable ways, so perhaps it is best just to include them plentifully in a varied diet and not necessarily see them as medicine. But they are fascinating.

What is your favourite way with berries? Do you like them straight from the bush, all sun-warmed and juicy, or do you like them cooked up into jam for a summer treat when snow is falling? Me? I can’t think of any way I don’t like berries!

Summer Berries Crumble Tart

Last Year:  Courgette, Lemon and Elderflower Cake

Miss R’s Track of the Week: Olly Murs performs ‘Heart Skips A Beat’ – Acoustic version in a hotel room with mates, and Niall Horan (One Direction) playing the guitar in the loo! A jolly, summery tune from the master of modern up-tempo pop. Miss R, her pals and I are seeing him this Friday. Woo hoo!

The best way to have tip top quality berries is, of course, to just pop them in your mouth. But if you fancy something a teensy bit decadent but still bursting with tart-sweet goodness, give this a go. Shop-bought-pastry ensures this is a doddle to prepare and bake. I specify all-butter puff pastry, but if you have a proper sweet tooth feel free to use sweet shortcrust pastry (your own, or bought). This tart is not too sweet so may be good for those who claim they don’t do puddings. 

1 sheet of ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry – I use Jus-Rol (320g)
75g (3 oz) low-fat soft cheese/cream cheese
75g (3 oz) half-fat crème fraiche/thick sour cream
Zest ½ unwaxed lemon or small orange
3-4 heaped tbsp coconut palm sugar OR light muscovado/brown sugar + extra
½ tsp each vanilla powder/vanilla paste and ground cardamom OR 1 tsp ground cinnamon 
200g (7 oz) washed and dried mixed summer berries – I used blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and redcurrants. Next time I would try blackcurrants instead of the redcurrants as the latter are quite mouth-puckering. Have extra berries for popping on after the tart is baked
A little milk or extra crème fraiche for brushing

The Crumble

30g (1 ¼ oz) cold butter, diced
50g (2 oz) white spelt flour OR plain/all-purpose flour
pinch of fine salt
2 tbsp coconut palm sugar OR light muscovado/brown sugar
¼ tps each ground cardamom and vanilla powder OR ½ tsp ground cinnamon

Lay your sheet of puff or short-crust pastry on a baking paper-lined baking tray. Fold up the edges to form a raised border – about 2 cm (3/4 inch) wide. It should look like picture frame. And when you fill it with the berries it will looks as pretty as a picture.

Now make the crumble by either working it lightly between your (cold) fingers – like you are trying to snap with your thumbs, index and middle fingers. Or – much easier – whack it all in a food processor and use the pulse button to blend the ingredients without making a dough. You want a breadcrumb consistency, but with no big lumps of butter. Those of you with warm kitchens – and hands – should probably use a food processor or Kitchen Aid-type device.

In a small bowl mix together the crème fraiche, soft cheese, lemon or orange zest, 3 tbsp of coconut sugar and the spices. Spread this creamy mixture evenly over the pastry sheet. Scatter over the berries as well as some extra sugar if your berries aren’t sweet enough for you. Slick some milk or creme fraiche around the border, and sprinkle over the crumble mixture. Pop the tart into a 200C/400F oven for 20 minutes, or until the tart is golden. Add on some extra berries for contrast and texture. Serve warm on its own or with a berry compote. Serves 8

36 thoughts on “Summer Berries Crumble Tart – A Slice of Summer

  1. summersage says:

    Love this, will have to try this soon! I am a student studying nutrition and just now starting my own blog and it is addictive! A fun way to learn about new things and keep expanding my knowledge along with putting my own opinion in sometimes!!

    1. Welcome to blogging! I agree that it is a good way to keep up with research and get your opinion (and daft stories in my case) out there. Good luck with the studies and the blogging. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Urvashi Roe says:

    Love this idea. so simple and so fresh. Yummm!

    1. Thanks Urvashi. I hope you are having a lovely summer – not too wet.

      1. Urvashi Roe says:

        Oh ridiculously wet!

      2. Snap! Are you getting away to the sun?

      3. Urvashi Roe says:

        Just trying to work out if we can. Too much going on this summer 🙂

  3. Welcome home! Happy to see you back (and with improving lungs), and to see those bright berries jumping off my screen. I’m having a hard time thinking of my favorite way to indulge in them, as berries rock in any form (your tart being no exception).

    1. Thanks Jean-Francois. I’m crossing my fingers that recovery isn’t hampered by this rubbish cool, wet weather. Good reason to slip back to Spain! Let me know if you finally decide how you like your berries. Are you back on this side of the world?

      1. Sounds like a good enough reason to me. And yes, back in LA until the 24th, then off again.

  4. Lindsey says:

    You beautiful lady! Thank you for sharing such a fantastic recipe!!!

    1. It was fun to make. Love those jewel-like berries!

  5. julietfitz says:

    I’m going to the store after work to get the ingredients! Any suggestions for black current sub…don’t have those readily available here.

    Glad you’re feeling better! xoxo

    1. Hi Julie! Just use more of the other berries. Blackberries are really nice, I think. Call me this weekend. I don’t have your new number etc. Lots to catch up on.

  6. Faith says:

    I’m so glad you had a nice vacation! I can imagine the breathtaking sights, sounds, and colors of Spain, and this bright and cheery crumble is the perfect tribute. I’m glad to hear your cough is subsiding, my dear! Another reason a stint in Spain is good for the body and soul. 🙂

    1. It was so good we want to sneak back in a couple of months. I want to be able to taste all the things I was eating! Sitges and Barcelona were wonderful. Thanks for your sweet words 😀

  7. Ann says:

    We had a similar feast for pud at Karen’s on Monday- all berries, including gooseberries, from her allotment..absolutely delish.

    1. Glad you enjoyed yourself at Karen’s. What flavours, if any, did she add? I’m a sucker for ‘Scandiwegian’ cardamom and vanilla.

  8. Glad you’re back and that you are on the mend! This tart is lovely and I do think berries make everything pretty. My favorites, though, are raspberries straight up.

    1. Me too. Straight off the bush if I can get away with it. The adventure of foraging brakes in our local wood is also a real treat but have to avoid the dog walkers, if you know what I mean…

  9. Heidi Zeitler Noyes says:

    Hi Kellie!

    Love the story and recipe! So glad to have found you again. Be well my friend! 🙂

    1. Hi Heidi. Gosh, it’s been a long time! I hope you are well. I always remember you when I visit home & walk around the old neighbourhood. You, Pam, Mark & Lawton. When I was skinny! So glad you found me.

  10. eastofedencook says:

    What a wonderful vacation! Sunshine sounds divine, as we’re spending July under the annual blanket of coastal fog. Such a scrumptious berry tart! Just enough crust to gather together the vibrant and irresistible berries; a splendid dessert.

    1. Thanks Deb. Now that we are back we are under the cloud and gloom that is our lot this year. My tan is already fading… Glad you like the look of the berry tart. I could hardly go wrong with beauties like those though.

  11. I think you got it right, “I can’t think of a way I don’t like berries.” We just picked 25 pounds of raspberries, marionberries (you can only find them in Oregon), and blueberries. Yummy. Fresh with a bit of heavy cream is amazingly good for a snack. We had them on pancakes (my whole wheat, multigrain/nut version) this morning for breakfast. Tomorrow we are having them for a party strawberry shortcake style with coconut milk, vanilla ice cream.

    1. All of those ways sound scrummy! You have a lucky family, Emilia 😀 Twenty-five pounds though, whew!You either have a big freezer or a lot of hungry friends

  12. Berries are the best taste of summer for me…thanks for sharing this recipe. Glad your va-cay was fun! We, too, have been getting a TON of rain in Atlanta, GA, USA….2 inches on Friday night in a downpour that was flash flood worthy. Today, sunny and warm!

  13. heather says:

    Oh this is making me yearn for some sun even more than I already am. It looks so fantastically summery!!

    1. Thanks Heather. I hope today has been sunny for you; it has finally cheered up up here so lots of smiling people and short sleeves. Congratulations on your Cosmo nomination, btw.

  14. I ADORE berries and this tart looks LUSH Kellie, just my kind of tart! I have redcurrants, blackcurrants and raspberries in my garden, but my poor strawberries hate the wet and I have lost them to mould… waiting for the elderberries and blackberries to come out!

  15. Gorgeous photo it looks very tasty, I will have to make this soon. I love summer berries 🙂

    1. I love this time of year because, unlike the British ‘summer,’ fresh berries rarely disappoint.

  16. I love crumble, I love berries…thank you for the recipe!

    1. Any time. Love your Gravatar – so sweet!

  17. narf77 says:

    Lubbly Jubbly Ma’am 😉

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