Jan Bilton: Who could ask for a nicer namesake (+recipes)

By Jan Bilton

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Vietnamese kiwifruit relish.
Vietnamese kiwifruit relish.

We all know that kiwifruit packs a punch - crammed with antioxidants, vitamins C, E and folate as well as being a great aid for digestion. But kiwifruit has been particularly good to me.

Back in the 80s the microwave heralded a new approach to cooking and I attended two culinary schools in California to hone my skills. Students asked what we did with kiwifruit in New Zealand and on my return home I realised there was a need for a cookbook to spread the word on the fruit's versatility. My imagination ran wild creating innovative recipes based on international cuisines.

But, not being able to persuade anyone to publish the book, I gritted my teeth and self-published the New Zealand Kiwifruit Cookbook.

The book sold 10,000 copies in one month and was republished twice within the year. There have been four editions. This led to being asked to promote kiwifruit with top food TV and radio personalities in the US, Canada, Australia and Asia.

Kiwifruit was combined with local foods or cooking techniques of the places visited. In Calgary the annual stampede festivities had just started so kiwifruit stampede (kiwifruit and strawberries flambeed in brandy) was devised and cooked on air at a radio station.

In Atlanta, the famous local peaches were combined with kiwifruit in summer salads. In Toronto, they were served on pancakes with maple syrup. In Bangkok, limes, mint and coriander were added to diced kiwifruit to make a relish. It certainly proved that kiwifruit is versatile.

Some of my favourite local combos are:

Thinly sliced roast lamb, diced avocado and kiwifruit served in a pita pocket with plain yoghurt combined with chopped mint.

Crostini topped with sliced kiwifruit and smoked salmon.

Smoked mussels, diced celery and kiwifruit dressed with a well-flavoured vinaigrette.

Ripe rock melon and kiwifruit drizzled with passionfruit pulp.

Following are a selection of new international ideas. Enjoy!


Recipes

Vietnamese kiwifruit relish

Choose kiwifruit that is firm but ripe. Best made just before serving. Makes about 1 & 1/4 cups.

• 1 kaffir lime leaf, finely julienned
• Finely grated rind 1 kaffir lime
• 1 tbsp kaffir lime juice or common lime juice
• 1 long red chilli, cut into rings
• 2 tbsp coarsely chopped coriander leaves and stems
• 3-4 each: common mint leaves, Vietnamese mint leaves
• 3 large firm green kiwifruit, peeled and diced

1. Combine ingredients in a bowl.

2. Great served with poached prawns tossed with chilli sauce and fresh herbs, or with grills or curries.


Kiwifruit and peach cobbler

Use fresh peaches if possible. Alternatively, use canned sliced peaches. One 425g can provides 1 & 1/2 cups peaches. Excellent served with icecream. Serves 6-8.

• Base: 125g unsalted butter
• 2 tbsp bourbon
• 1 cup plain flour
• 1 tbsp baking powder
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup milk
• Topping: 2 green kiwifruit
• 1 & 1/2 cups peeled and sliced peaches, well drained
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Place butter in a 20cm heavy frying pan suitable for the hob and oven. Melt on medium heat until nutty brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in bourbon.

2. Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Stir in milk. Crumble over butter mixture.

3. Peel kiwifruit and halve lengthwise. Cut each half in quarters lengthwise.

4. Arrange fruit attractively over crumble mixture. Sprinkle with combined brown sugar and cinnamon.

5. Bake for about 40 minutes until lightly browned and set in the centre.


Stir-fried prawns with ginger kiwi sauce

Great served on crisp noodles. Serves 2 as a starter.

• 2 tbsp rice bran oil
• 12 large raw prawns, shelled
• 1/2 cup ginger wine
• 1 tbsp each: soy sauce, finely grated root ginger
• 2 green kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
• Heat oil in a wok. Stir-fry prawns until pink and just cooked. Remove to a warm bowl.

1. Add ginger wine to wok, then soy sauce and ginger. Simmer for 2 minutes.

2. Add kiwifruit and warm through. Pour over prawns.


French almond flan

Serves 6-8.

• Pastry: 1/4 cup plain flour
• 140g ground almonds
• 3/4 cup desiccated coconut
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 75g butter
• Filling: 1/4 cup caster sugar
• 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
• 3 tbsp flour
• 2 tbsp cornflour
• 1 & 3/4 cups milk
• 2 drops almond essence
• 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
• Topping: 3-4 kiwifruit
• 4 tbsp sieved apricot jam
• 1 tsp lemon juice
• 1 tbsp water

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 20-23cm flan dish.

2. To make the pastry, combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Rub in butter. Press into prepared flan dish. Bake for 15 minutes until golden. Cool.

3. To make the filling, cream caster sugar, egg and egg yolk until smooth. Add flours and a little milk to moisten. Mix well.

4. Scald remainder of milk and slowly whisk into egg mixture. Heat gently, stirring constantly, until boiling. Cool, then stir in essences. Pour into flan.

5. To make the topping, peel and thinly slice kiwifruit. Arrange in circles over filling. Heat jam, lemon juice and water and brush over fruit. Chill.

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