Monday 30 September 2013


Dear readers,

Back in May I bought myself a packet of cucamelon seeds from Suttons. Since we had a slow start with summer this year, the seeds took a little while to take off. However, we were very lucky with our summer when it did arrive and my cucamelons have bloomed!

Cucamelons, despite their name, do not taste of melon. They taste of cucumber with a sharp hint of citrus. The 'melon' part of the name comes from the fact that they look like baby watermelons. They are native to Mexico, where they are called "Sandíitas de raton" (baby mouse watermelons).

Once they got going, they became a little wild and greedy, stretching their curly arms all over the metal supports and neighbouring plants! The cucamelon fruits themselves, however, do tend to hide behind the big leaves and sometimes a low angle is required to spot them!

From the 10 seeds that I planted, only three germinated into seedlings, two of which grew into tall plants that provided fruits. I think that, including allowing for the odd person stealing a sample, they yielded 60 to 70 cucamelons in total. Not bad for my first attempt at homegrowing!

I showed the top photo in this post to a colleague of mine who is also interested in homegrowing. He gave me a wonderful (and rather unexpected) reaction; I quote "Ah bless, they look lovely! Perhaps you could call them cute-a-melons?". How sweet!

Now I need some help in creating some recipes in which I can let these little beauties shine, both visually and flavour-wise. Please feel free to share any ideas and I'll see what I can conjure up!

Thursday 5 September 2013

Blackberry and Sage Cheesecake Cupcakes

Dear readers,

Blackberries have been available all over the place and I thought it would be a shame not to include them in a recipe, especially since they are abundant and free! I wanted to make something which would encourage the gorgeous juices of the blackberries to run and show off their colour, so I decided on a cheesecake cupcake.

As always, I like to create recipes with unusual flavour combinations. I especially like adding herbs to sweet treats because they can create very intriguing flavour combinations even though they are more commonly used in savoury recipes. I wandered around the garden and came across sage. I have seen a couple of sage and blackberry recipes before, so decided to go for it. One could call these "foraged cupcakes" since both the blackberries and the sage have been foraged. But I'm sure that there are plenty of other "foraged cupcake" flavour combinations out there!

Blackberry and Sage Cheesecake Cupcakes
2 medium eggs
100g caster sugar
100g self raising flour
100g butter
8 sage leaves, finely chopped140g cream cheese
60g caster sugar
1 medium egg
75g blackberries

Cream together the sugar and butter, then add the flour and eggs and whisk. Mix in the finely chopped sage leaves and fill the cupcake cases up by two thirds.
Whisk together the cream cheese, sugar and egg then stir in the blackberries. Add a tablespoonful of the cheesecake mixture with the blackberries on top of the cupcake mix and bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown, depending on the size of the cupcakes.
Unfortunately, most of the cheesecake mixture migrated to the bottom and the sides of the cupcake which left the gorgeous purple colours to only be seen through the cases! I'm glad that I used white cases so that the colours of the blackberries were visible. However, once one opens the case, the gorgeous purples are unveiled to reveal their true colours!
These cupcakes had an interesting mix of reviews. Some found the sage flavour quite dominant, while others thought that it was very subtle. Personally, I think that they have just the right amount of sage, but the recipe can be adjusted according to one's taste!