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Fruits of love

February brings with it the last glorious month of summer, the peak of the summer fruit season and, of course, Valentine’s Day. Here are Metropol’s recommendations on how to celebrate all three in style via some fruity treats to spoil your sweetheart (or yourself!) this romantic month.




According to both health experts and cuisine connoisseurs, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What better way to start Valentine’s Day off than by treating the love in your life to a glorious berry breakfast spread? A frothy smoothie, fresh fruit salad or buckwheat waffles topped with berries straight from the punnet makes for a romantic start to the day.

Toast the day and the season with a fruity twist on your favourite beverage – or try something new. Simply add a fresh berry to garnish your prosecco; muddle some berries with crushed ice, vodka and soda, or, go all out with mixed-berry mojitos and frozen margaritas. For non-alcoholic options, add fresh fruit with mint and cucumber to iced water.

Dessert is a sure way to win any heart, so why not sweeten up your V Day with a luxe post-dinner treat. Layer fresh fruit with whipped cream and passionfruit pulp in a glass for an easy (but impressive-looking) option, or get creative with barbecued stone fruit, balsamic roasted strawberries or homemade real fruit ice cream.


Almond Meringue Torte recipe


COOK 1.5 | SERVES 10

Meringue nut layer

75g (½ cup) roasted almonds
4 egg whites
250g (1½ cups) icing sugar
1 tbsp white vinegar
30g (¼ cup) unsweetened
Dutch cocoa powder


600ml (2½ scant cups) thickened
(whipping) cream
75g (½ cup) roasted almonds, chopped
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
135g (1 cup) raspberries
165g (1 cup) blueberries
165g (1 cup) strawberries, quartered



Preheat the oven to 150°C. Line two large baking trays. Trace three circles approximately 20cm in diameter on the baking paper.

To make the meringue nut layer, place the roasted almonds in a food processor and pulse until they are ground, and resemble breadcrumbs. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then slowly add the icing sugar one tablespoon at a time, while continuing to whisk. Whisk for 10 minutes or until stiff and glossy. Using a spatula, fold in the vinegar, cocoa powder and the ground almonds. Use the spatula to spread the meringue inside the outlines you’ve traced, smoothing out to the edges. Bake for 45 minutes or until the discs are crisp to the touch. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, whip the cream in a bowl just until soft peaks form and set aside. In a separate bowl combine the almonds and the chocolate. In a third bowl combine the berries.

To assemble the torte, place the first disc of meringue on a serving platter and top with one-third of the cream, one-third of the almond/chocolate mixture and one-third of the berries. Repeat with the remaining discs.



Recipe extracted from Now for Something Sweet by the Monday Morning Cooking Club. HarperCollins. RRP $55


What hunger are you feeding?

In a world where people are bombarded with celebrity diets and images of photoshopped bodies, disordered eating has become the new normal while our body’s natural hunger cues are being ignored.


Oxford Women’s Health Dietitian Sara Widdowson is encouraging people to recognise what hunger they are actually feeding, when it comes to our complicated relationship with body image and Sara says humans are born intuitive eaters, meaning they listen to their body’s hunger and fullness cues.

For example, a baby may cry when they are hungry and stop when they are full.

Although body shapes are incredibly diverse, when people begin to develop a sense of self-image around ages five-seven, the body’s natural hunger cues can become blurred as weight-related stigma pressures people to think their body needs to be a certain size. With complex emotions comes a tendency to eat for comfort or over-eat when full.

“Paying attention to what we eat and why we are eating it is important to ensure our bodies are getting the nutrients they need to be healthy,” Sara says.

“It’s important for people to acknowledge that food and the experience of eating is complicated. We live in a world that celebrates dieting but dieting fights those cues your body is giving you about hunger, so you develop distrust.”

She says it is important to celebrate non-weight-related outcomes such as sticking to a regular fitness plan rather than being concerned by the number showing on the scales.

Having a healthy relationship with food and ensuring your body is getting the nutrients that it needs is paramount.

“People can be healthy at all sizes, so we need to focus on health-related goals rather than weight-related goals. We know that diets don’t work because when the body experiences a major calorie deficit it protects itself as if there’s a famine and does everything it can to preserve itself.”

A good way to reconnect with your body’s intuitive cues is to practice being mindful of the experience of eating, such as recognising how you feel before, during and after a meal.

Doing this can also help to identify emotional triggers, when you consider what you are eating and why you are eating it, Sara says.

“People will eat food as a socially acceptable way to self-soothe. If you come home from work and you’re stressed and reach for the wine or chocolate, it’s the stress doing that.

Try to find something else that makes you feel just as relaxed.”


Festive Raspberry Ice Blocks

They’re the coolest little treat for the Christmas feast. In fact, one could argue they’re part of your five plus a day! Fill the freezer up and they’ll get you right through the summer holidays!



Two punnets of fresh raspberries
1/3 cup caster sugar
One tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
1/3 cup water


In a food processor, puree all ingredients until smooth.

Strain ingredients, or keep it rustic with chunks of fruit.

Pour the pureed fruit into a pitcher or a large measuring cup with a pouring spout and pour it into ice block moulds. Cover and insert the sticks, then freeze until firm.

When you’re ready to eat one, run the bottoms of the moulds under warm water for a few seconds in order to loosen the ice block from the mould.

Remove it from the mould and enjoy!


Ugly Food

Ugly Food

The ugly food movement – this decade’s term to describe fruit and vegetables of the knotted, gnarly and spotty kind –is taking over our soils.


Ugly Food


Although an unflattering title, ugly food is a new food group we can include in our shopping baskets. People are saving on pennies whilst simultaneously saving the world food-shortage and wastage problem. As a growing trend, with those like Jamie Oliver spreading the word, this is really just a reversal back to the good old days.

In decades passed, a child’s image of an apple included a worm peeping out the side. Now it’s more likely the Apple logo. Cut out the codling moth, peel away the brown patch and pop that puny cast-off into the lunchbox. Take a large perfectly spherical Californian orange for instance and a local, small organic blemished one. Cut both into quarters and compare. It’s likely the later surpasses in intense juicy flavour.

Every year reportedly 2.9 trillion pounds of food gets dumped, according the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations – ‘ugly food’ is a big part of the problem. The EU, until recently, imposed rules on the length, size and condition of what fruits and vegetables retailers could sell. Big is not necessarily beautiful, but the food industry has been conditioning our eyes over our taste buds. New Zealand produce, such as kiwifruit, sells overseas as voluptuous clones in a row – for an arguably brazen price-tag. The tasty small fuzzy ones left behind, can sell for a song.

However, times ‘they are a changing’. It’s been a couple of years since Countdown introduced The Odd Bunch – asymmetrical avocados, odd-ball kumaras, hail-stone pocked stone fruit, or apples that would not otherwise make the grade. Until wild and interesting becomes the new normal, they sport a cheaper price tag – a great way to save money.  In many remote parts of the world, living off the land correlates to longevity. Food in its heirloom ancient form is unrecognisable to many of our purposely bred next-gen varieties and those pumped with chemicals to increase shelf-life and aesthetic value.

Thankfully, in many a home vege garden in New Zealand, it’s often taste before beauty. It is at the retail stores where we often have our aesthetic-appeal radars out. Carrots spring to mind in the funny deformity stakes – the Frankensteins of the vege world. The tangled multi-limbed vegetable has simply just struck a pebble or stick while growing, then branched out to save itself. Capsicums come a close second in hilarious, but harmless, renditions. Strawberries and tomatoes can split or fuse together or sprout extra ‘bits’.

Share your comical food photos on Instagram, support farmers’ markets and ask for their more aesthetically challenged items, grow your own and shop for what’s on the inside – not the outside. There is in fact a fruit called Ugly Fruit, which interestingly has exotic-food status. This bulbous oddity is a hybridised Jamaican grapefruit, tangelo and orange mix.

It might be a while until we see Master Chef: the ugly edition, or warty root vegetables in Michelin Star dishes – but watch this space.




A feijoa fixation: nine ideas for what to do with all those feijoas

There’s great excitement in the autumnal air, with feijoa season upon us.

Generally available from about mid-March until early June, the small, green, egg-shaped fruit is pretty unique to New Zealand – although not native.
A distinctive flavour and culinary versatility sees feijoa making their mark on an exceptional range of cakes, salsas, jams and curries. And yet, although we naturally gravitate to some of the more traditional options, such as feijoa crumble, feijoa chutney, feijoa cider or just cut in half, scooped out and eaten raw, we’ve donned our detective caps and hunted out a fruitful range of some of the more unique options that may well become some flavourful favourites.
So what not try some of these clever culinary creations or get out your innovative chef’s hat and try some creative creations of your very own.

  • Feijoa, chocolate and ginger croissant pudding
  • Roasted feijoa and almond shortcake
  • Walnut shortbread with feijoa and ricotta filling
  • Traditional English feijoa tart
  • Feijoa tarte tartin
  • Feijoa daquiri
  • Feijoa, honey yoghurt smoothie
  • Dehydrated feijoa chips
  • Slow-roasted feijoas recipe with star anise