A fruitful venture

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May I suggest an excellent Christmas gift idea, perhaps for your parents or in-laws? A food tour! The CAE has a fab list of culinary walks and tours, and I can’t wait to head off on a mushroom hunting expedition with my mum next year. The husband and I took my mother-in-law on a food tour of Sydney Road 12 years ago. It was surprisingly intriguing playing tourist on one of our favourite streets, and I learned the technique for making khoshaf from our guide.
Khoshaf is a traditional Middle Eastern dried fruit salad; made by soaking, rather than stewing, dried fruit in water overnight with fragrant rosewater and spices. I dished it up to my lovely lady friends for breakfast, on our recent holiday in Trentham. A country vacation is not complete without enamelware, and I was rapt to discover 2 classic enamel picnic plates among the unmatched crockery – see my first photo below.
I’m not a fan of overly sweet fruit for breakfast, so although authentic khoshaf includes sugar, I’ve found using a mixture of water and orange juice adds just enough sweetness. Khoshaf usually includes nuts too, but I omit these and serve the fruit with my honeyed nuts on the side instead. The plump fruit and crunchy nuts go beautifully with a dollop of Greek yogurt. Such a lip-smackingly healthy way to start the day!
I made another batch of khoshaf recently, determined to see if I could transform it into a second meal, and lo and behold it morphed into the most addictive Orange, mixed fruit and chia muffins. My boys loved these, and I’m both embarrassed and proud to say we ate the lot in one day. I’ve since made another batch, and placed them directly in the freezer.
I used my own go-to muffin recipe as the base. The 1½ cups of reserved dried fruit salad can be replaced with almost any fruit – see ingredients for my banana, coconut and lime muffins and carrot and sultana spice muffins in the recipe notes. I must say dried fruit salad is one of my most favourite muffin additions to date, and I may go and snaffle one from the freezer right now.

Khoshaf (dried fruit salad)[Recipe 1] Khoshaf (dried fruit salad) with honeyed nuts

Ingredients (makes approximately 4 cups):
150g (5¼ oz) dried apples, halved
200g (7 oz) dried apricots (or dried peaches, halved)
150g (5¼ oz) pitted prunes
2 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
1½ cups freshly-squeezed orange juice (from 2 large oranges)
cups water
1½ teaspoons rose water
Honeyed nuts, to serve
Greek yogurt, to serve

Place dried fruit, cinnamon and star anise in a bowl. Bring orange juice and water to the boil in a small saucepan. Pour over the dried fruits and spices. Fruit should be well-covered with liquid, so add more boiling water if necessary. Sprinkle with rosewater.
Stir lightly. Steep overnight in the fridge, covered.
Serve with Greek yogurt, scattered with honeyed nuts.

♦ Reserve 1½ cups of the dried fruit salad for the orange, mixed fruit and chia muffins.

  • Dried fruit salad will keep in the fridge for up to one week. Add a little more boiling water if it begins to need more liquid.
  • You can use any dried fruit for this dish; such as figs, medjool dates, pears or large raisins. This recipe is a great way to use up all those bits and pieces languishing in your pantry. You’ll need a total of 500g (approx. 1 lb).
  • If the idea of dried apricots marinating in a pool of sulphites isn’t appealing, you can use organic apricots – the colour won’t be as vivid but the flavour will be just as fabulous.
  • Rose water can be found at Middle Eastern grocery stores, such as Oasis or A1 Bakery. If you have roses in your garden, you can make your own. Leftover pure rosewater can be used as a natural face toner!

Orange, mixed fruit and chia muffinsOrange, mixed fruit, chia muffins

[Recipe 2] Orange, mixed fruit and chia muffins

Ingredients (makes 12):
2 cups (300g) self-raising (self-rising) flour
½ cup (50g) oat bran
3 tablespoons chia seeds

½ cup (100g) caster sugar
1 cup (250ml) buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
60 grams (2 oz/½ stick) butter, melted, slightly cooled
1½ cups reserved dried fruit salad, drained, roughly chopped
¼ cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons orange zest

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Combine flour, oat bran, chia seeds and sugar in a large bowl.
Lightly whisk buttermilk, egg and melted butter in a separate bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and mix lightly until just combined.
Add reserved dried fruit salad, orange juice and zest and fold together gently until just combined (a few floury lumps are perfectly fine). Don’t over-mix, or you’ll end up with tough muffins! Divide mixture among 12 lined muffin pans.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a muffin. Allow to cool in tray for ten minutes, then turn onto racks to cool completely.

  • Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days – they remain surprisingly moist. If you’re frightened you may polish off the lot in one sitting, they can be frozen for up 2 months and thawed overnight in the fridge.
  • This muffin recipe is easy to vary:
    Banana, lime and coconut muffins: Replace the 1½ cups reserved dried fruit salad with 1 cup mashed banana (you’ll need 2 large very ripe bananas) and ½ cup shredded dried coconut. Replace the orange juice and zest with lime juice and lime zest. Sprinkle with extra shredded coconut.
    Carrot and sultana spice muffins: Add ½ teaspoon mixed spice and 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the dry ingredients. Replace the 1½ cups reserved dried fruit salad with 1 cup grated carrot (you’ll need 2 large carrots) and ½ cup sultanas.

36 thoughts on “A fruitful venture

  1. Pingback: Healthy and Nutritious Fruit Salad Recipes - Un - ComplicateUn – Complicate

  2. YUM! Kind of virtuous too….love the addition of the rosewater.
    Thank you Sass — you may have solved my parental Christmas present conundrum. In years past I have bought them walks down Sydney Rd and Victoria St, and even been on one or two with them. I thought that I might have exhausted all of the possibilities but there must be some new ones –or it might be time for a re-run. Surely Mum would appreciate an Asian vegetable identification refresher??!!!

  3. I always splurge on a good breakfast and both the fruit and muffins are calling my name!!! I am in a mini pumpkin muffin rut again this year so I will have to give your recipe a try soon Saskia. Do you guys celebrate Halloween in October? I am afraid I can’t remember.

    • Mini pumpkin muffins sound fab to me! We do indeed celebrate Halloween – my boys are looking forward to strolling the streets with the ‘big kids’ on the 31st; ie. the teenagers at the end of our street, who over the years have sussed out the local houses with the most generous treat-givers! We’re off to a Death in the Garden party on Saturday too, to mark Day of the Dead; so it’s spooky costume-arama around here! Happy Halloween!

  4. I’ve never had Khoshaf before! This is fantastic. Not being a big fan of dried fruit I don’t ever buy it. Now I must try it your way, steeped. And your muffins! Great post Saskia. Could use a shot of your perfect looking coffee right about now.

    • Steeping dried fruit is great – it loses the sticky texture and sourness and becomes lovely and plump. Khoshaf is actually a great Winter salad, for when the fun fruits aren’t available and one can’t face another apple!

    • Thanks Dedy. Yep, sometimes it’s hard not to scoff all the planned-overs when trying out these recipes! Interesting that you like dried fruit, with such an abundance of fresh fruit available in Indonesia (I dream of the towering fruit platters served to us in Bali)! I adore fresh fruit, but khoshaf is lovely for variety. The fruit retains its’ shape, and has a much more intense flavour than ‘normal’ stewed fruit.

  5. I’ve never heard of khoshaf Saskia, but it looks and sounds amazing. I’m sitting here trying to imagine the flavors. I just love the idea of rosewater!
    I also love the idea of putting the fruit in the muffins. They look delicious and with a nice crisp to the exterior! Delish!

    • Thank you! The rosewater addition is lovely. It adds a sweet, almost musky underflavour to the fruit. It’s important to add a small amount though (as specified) – I made a batch years ago and accidentally poured in half a bottle of rosewater. It was like eating 3-dimensional ladies perfume.

  6. Meusli and bircher-meusli are big in my breakfast rotation, and Khoshaf looks like a wonderful new spin on dried fruit for breakfast. I love this Sas! Those muffins sound rather yummy too, and look like they could be modified to a gluten-free version without much trouble. Thanks, as ever, for the wonderfully fresh ideas!

    • Thanks df! I’m planning to make Amelia’s bircher muesli this weekend. Actually, khoshaf would be great plopped on top of it! We’re heading into warmer weather so I’m happy to say goodbye to our Groundhog Day porridge. I’m positive these muffins could be modified to a GF version. I’m not sure what you’d use to replace the oat bran, although I’ve seen ‘gluten-free’ oats specified in recipes lately, which I find intriguing (do they go through some kind of freaky stripping process)? Perhaps there is a GF version of oat bran too.

    • Thanks so much CCU.
      Yes, you must give your a teeth a good workout! But the gain would be so worth the pain. Your ice cream with double stuffed Oreos looks like heaven in a bowl.

  7. I’m not at all familiar with Khoshaf but it sounds like a great way to start the day. Nothing will beat a fresh fruit salad but this sure will come close. Love the idea of “resuscitating”the fruit overnight rather than stewing them. I also like your use of OJ rather than sugar. Now, about those muffins … ding, ding, ding .. we have a winner! I’m not much of a breakfast person and muffins are about all I manage. I do as you do. Bake a batch, freeze them, and pull one out the night before for the next day’s breakfast. With these muffins, I’ll be taking 2 out of the freezer each night. 🙂

    • Ha! Love the thought of resuscitating fruit John. They really do come back to life don’t they. They regain their youth in the process too – if only humans had access to such a simple wrinkle-removal remedy.
      And yes, I’ve become a bit of a 2-muffin lady lately. I must be having a growth spurt. I now bake 24 at a time as they disappear quickly around these parts.

  8. Those colours! So vivid and beautiful. I love new and interesting breakfast ideas, this is definitely going on the list. And I’d also like to snaffle one of those muffins right now.

    Also, thanks for the xmas gift idea! That’s mum sorted.

    • Thanks Amelia. I was pretty rapt to discover that ice blue enamel plate at the back of the holiday house cupboard – it does set off the fruit colours rather nicely doesn’t it! And I’m with you re. new/interesting brekkie ideas. We’ve been on the porridge treadmill lately due to Melbourne’s disgusting weather. I’m planning to make your lovely-looking bircher muesli soon.
      Oh, that’s ace about your mum’s Christmas gift!

  9. Yum! I’ve stewed dried fruit before but I’ve never soaked it overnight in such a lovely mixture of fragrant flavours. Sounds so good, particularly with thick sour Greek yoghurt and the honeyed nuts (and those MUFFINS! I can understand why they got demolished immediately!). Can I come to one of your brekky picnics one day? I think I’d be blissed out for the rest of the weekend! xx

    • Ha! Thanks Laura. It’s a yummy combination of flavours; and the ladies and I were indeed pretty blissed out a lot of the time on our holiday (which may or may not be due to the amount of wine imbibed once the kidlets were in bed).

  10. I love the idea of the Khoshaf (I didn’t know about these). Your friends with you at your trip must have been impressed 🙂 Then turning them into muffins sounds great.

  11. I personally find khushaf too sweet but I will do it your way next time! I am sure I will love it a lot better.
    I also love the idea of transforming khushaf into muffins. I can’t wait to give it a try!
    My friend uses tea to soak the fruits to make this amazing tart. Now I have two reasons to make khushaf 🙂 thank you Saskia for the inspiration

    • Thanks Sawsan! I’ve only made it once with sugar and it was so cloying. The OJ adds just a touch of sweetness to counter the tanginess of the apricots. LOVE the idea of using tea. That sounds amazing. Just noticed your ‘khushaf’ spelling. I’d better add that to my tags!

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