Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Creative Combinations: Kavey's Apricot & Pistachio

Brunch

JordansBrunch-6298

One fine and sunny Saturday morning, earlier this month, I made my way to London Fields to enjoy a very fine brunch organised by Jordans Cereals and laid on by the lovely Uyen of the Fernandez & Leluu supper club.

The brunch was to introduce a group of us to the latest product from Jordans Cereals, their Creations Range. As well as trying the two new cereals, we were also treated to a huge selection of goodies from the most incredible lobster salad (with a genius passion fruit, lime and honey dressing) to home-made bacon and cheese pastry whirls, quiches and muffins and more, not to mention the tea, coffee, juices and prosecco – yes, prosecco in the morning! Oh and some fabulous panna cotta to finish…

JordansBrunch-6321
JordansBrunch-6319 JordansBrunch-6322
JordansBrunch-6324


Conservation Grade

16 months ago I met some of the Jordans Cereal team, including one of the founders, Bill Jordan.

JordanCereal-1388

I had lots and lots of fun using some of their Country Crisp cereal in a cake recipe, learning about how the product was developed and making up my own perfect combination of ingredients to take home in a box with my face on it!

I was particularly happy to learn, from Bill, that all the cereal used in Jordans Cereals is grown to Conservation Grade (by more than 50 farmers around Britain). What this means is that the farmers are paid a premium for their produce in return for creating nature-friendly habitats on 10% of their farmed land, thereby encouraging biodiversity – they plant wildflowers, clover and other plants to provide pollen, nectar and food for insects and birds, provide grassland habitat that will shelter spiders, beetles and small mammals and support wildlife by retaining hedges, ditches, old barns, ponds and woodland. As a very keen wildlife enthusiast and amateur wildlife photographer, wildlife and habitat conservation is a cause I'm passionate about, so this initiative is something that makes me very happy indeed. You can learn more at the Conservation Grade website.


Creations

Like their other products, the Creation range is made from Conservation Grade oats and all the other ingredients used also adhere to high environmental standards, with no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or GMOs.

Whereas the original granola range is super crunchy (which I really love) and the Country Crisp range gives a much lighter, puffier crunch (which I like, but not as much as the original granola), the new Creations cereals are soft and chewy. The oats are toasted lightly, sweetened a little with honey, combined with a little oil (to soften and preserve without the aid of artificial preserving agents) and then just a small number of ingredients such as cranberries, apples, cinnamon are added.

Ruth Fergyson, Head of New Product Development, explained that some of their potential customers find some of their cereals, those with lots of added fruits and nuts, often have an ingredient they don't like and which puts them off. With the simpler combinations in Creations, Jordans are offering something to those consumers. The range is also designed to appeal to those who want a softer cereal than the typical hard granolas.

JordansBrunch-6302

The two flavours in the range so far are Juicy Cranberry & Golden Honey and Baked Apple & a Hint of Cinnamon. Of the two, I prefer the cranberry one, which surprises me as I am not usually a cranberry fan, but these are soft and sweet with just a hint of sharp that contrasts with the honey.


Getting Inventive


JordansBrunch-6312

Between the cereal and Uyen's enormous feast, Rachel Kerr, Jordans' Head of Brand Communications, invited us to try our hand at coming up with the next Creations flavour combinations using lots of ingredients provided in bowls along the table as inspiration to kick start our imaginations.



Challenge

With a beautiful green KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer offered as a prize for the winner, I quickly got my thinking cap on to see if I might be the one to suggest that perfect combination of textures and flavours for the next Creations... something that would appeal to the development team at Jordans and, most importantly, to their consumers.

I came up with a few ideas... my first one was figs with vanilla (plus the honey mixed in with the oats), a combination I think would be particularly nice to eat with natural yoghurt... I then wondered whether one could combine natural yoghurt into the cereal itself, much like those yoghurt covered nuts and dried fruit one can buy from health shops.

The next combination that jumped out at me was sticky dates with chewy toffee, a duo which works so well in sticky toffee puddings...

Ever sweet toothed, I also wondered whether a mocha combination would be pounced on by breakfast cereal eaters, or left on the shelf as being too indulgent for the morning… it would depend if they were coffee and pain au chocolat kind of people! As a big fan of mocha drinks and of coffee chocolate, I know I'd enjoy it!

But in the end, I chose to think about the adage that "what grows together goes together" and tested my favourite suggestion for a new Creations flavour:


What Grows Together Goes Together
Kavey's Apricot & Pistachio Creation

JordansKaveyApricotPistachio-6333

Pistachios are what are referred to as "culinary nuts" – not actually nuts, botanically speaking, but classified as such by our culinary usage. They likely originated in Western Asia/ the Middle East, and the region remains the main producer of pistachios today, with Iran growing more than any other nation. Their shells remind me of cupped hands, clasping the nut in a tight grasp. Cracking them open one after the other, to reveal their pretty purple-red skins and the pale green flesh inside, is part of what makes eating them so enjoyable. Pistachios taste a little like almonds, but with a softer texture and more subtle yet distinct flavour.

JordansKaveyApricotPistachio-6337

Apricots are also thought to have originated in Western Asia, most likely in Armenia, though they've been cultivated so long, this is not altogether certain. These days, the largest producers are Turkey, Iran and Italy. Part of the prunus genus, which also includes plums, cherries, peaches and almonds, the soft amber-coloured fruits are a lovely balance of sweet and tart. Surprisingly, for a lover of fresh fruit, I adore dried apricots even more than fresh ones, particularly the meltingly soft, dark brown ones with their subtle caramel flavour and sweetness.

Interestingly, apricot kernels are widely used too - often so sweet they are substituted for almonds, and forming a key ingredient in amaretto liqueurs. Perhaps, edible apricot kernels might also be mixed into the cereal as well, for a little added crunch?

JordansKaveyApricotPistachio-6339
Trying out my combination

Of course, I couldn't propose my creation without testing it first, so I improvised. Using the cereal from my box of Juicy Cranberry & Golden Honey Creations, I discarded the cranberries (to be eaten later!) and mixed it with the Turkish apricots and Iranian pistachios I purchased especially.

JordansKaveyApricotPistachio-6330

I thought the combination worked wonderfully well, both visually and in terms of taste and texture.

A lovely thought to leave you with:

The Turkish have an idiom "bundan iyisi Şam'da kayısı" the meaning of which is "it doesn't get any better than this". The literal translation, "the only thing better than this is an apricot in Damascus" tells you all you need to know – for something that is the very best it can be is a delicious apricot from Damascus!

6 comments:

London Lady said...

Reading this, all I can think it that this sounds like it would be sooo good on vanilla ice cream with a touch of honey.

Foodycat said...

Pistachio and honey is a brilliant combination! I am not a cold breakfast cereal fan, but I would eat that.

As much as I love coffee, when I have had coffee-flavoured cereals it has been a bit too desserty for my taste (and I am a devotee of porridge with honey, whiskey and cream, so make of that what you will).

The Grubworm said...

Good combo, I was thinking that the apricots would work well with dates, but pistachio would be even better. Something about the tangy soft fruit combining with the creamy nut. Yum.

Kavey said...

I love the pretty colour of pistachios, plus they're a little softer than other nuts, with a subtler, different flavour. And I think the work so well with those soft brown natural dried apricots...

Daily Spud said...

Love that Turkish saying! Though I think after last week, we could have our own Lebanese version, to wit "the only thing better than this is apricot jam in Jdita" :)

celia said...

It sounds like you had great, creative fun! Can I just say though, that there's no way I'd be eating cold cereal if there was lobster salad and homemade bacon on the breakfast buffet table! ;-)