Winter wonders (+ recipes)

By Amanda Laird

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Tamarillos can be used for sweet and savoury dishes and add a unique rich flavour to heartier fare.

Eat tamarillos fresh with a sprinkling of sugar or cook them slowly in warming winter dishes. Photo / Northern Advocate
Eat tamarillos fresh with a sprinkling of sugar or cook them slowly in warming winter dishes. Photo / Northern Advocate

The tamarillo or "tree tomato" as it is also known, is a unique fruit people seem to either love or hate.

We grew up eating them halved and sprinkled with caster sugar and grew to love the tart flavour and acidity.

But even though they can be eaten unadorned, they are a treasure when cooked slowly with complementary flavours.

Apart from the ubiquitous tamarillo chutney, tamarillos can be made into salsas, baked or poached. Flavours such as chilli, anise, citrus, vanilla and cardamom work well, remembering the flavour of the tamarillo is a dominant one.

Poaching them in a sugar and wine syrup then serving hot with a caramel sauce and cream is a lovely wintry dessert. Poach with the skins on to create a gorgeous red syrup then let cool, remove the skins and return the fruit to the hot liquid.

I enjoy serving tamarillos with spices and meat and though free-range pork chops are a favourite, the flavour is also good with both venison and duck.

Chilli and ginger give tamarillos a bit of a rev-up and any seasonal green vegetable is a good addition to the plate to cut through the richness.

Once the fruit has been poached, it can be refrigerated and used in other ways. Top short pastry with slices of tamarillo then bake in a hot oven until golden and delicious. Toast a little coconut and zest and orange then mix with home-made or store-bought custard to top it off for a simple but yummy dessert.

All in all, the tamarillo which has just started appearing in the stores and will be available until September, is an interesting winter fruit that needs to be appreciated for its ability to enhance both sweet and savoury flavours.

Chef's tip

The skin needs to be removed before eating, either by peeling the raw fruit or poaching whole then leaving to cool before removing the skin with the point of a paring knife.

- NZ Herald

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