Hibiscus poached Berries & Vanilla Cashew Cream...

Blogging, writing, editing photos, taking photos of homemade recipes...unless I'm out on an assignment with a team, life as a freelancer can, at times, feel pretty lonely. Now, I don't actually suffer overly from loneliness as I'm generally quite happy with my own company. If that sounds in any way arrogant, that's not what I meant to express. Rather that I truly like being on my own - most of the time. I like having the house to myself during the day. I like not having to make small talk with colleagues. I like being able to let my thoughts wander and take my time to write without distraction. I like that I can set up any sort of photo story and I know I'm not getting in anybody's way and nobody is getting in mine. 

All this doesn't mean that I'm completely unsociable or a total hermit. I like people, albeit in small doses. Small groups are often tremendous fun, two to three people ideal and meeting like-minded people one-on-one and forgetting the time is one of the best things. Since I have moved a fair bit over my lifetime, I had to try and make new friends in every new location. This might be easy for some people, but not for me. I still have my best friends from back in my late teens/early twenties, but as we don't even live in the same country, catching up over a cup of coffee is somewhat tricky. This is where blogging has become something of a life saver - ok, not in the literal sense, but you get my point. I have made connections with people I would never have otherwise met. Some of my now best friends are bloggers and last week I met with two. On Monday the lovely Hung from Jet and Indigo and I finally met up for longer than "hi, nice to meet you". We'd only briefly met once before but since it turned out we live pretty much in the same 'hood, we decided it was time for a proper meeting. We had coffee and croissants as well as a long natter about everything from blogging and children to how we'd put the world right - in short, we hit it off immediately and I can't wait for our next meeting. 

The next day Kimberly from The Little Plantation came to visit me in my new (new in the sense that we've only been here since December and Kimberly hadn't seen the house before) home for a little cooking and photography session. We first met last year and got on straight away, so it was a no-brainer that we would do something like this at some point. Kimberly is fun, open, bouncy (she's a yoga teacher) and a vegan without being preachy about it. There are things she can teach me about food that are completely different to how I usually cook which is why I'm so happy that she'll be one of the teachers (yoga and vegan food) at our Devon retreat in March 2017. Since we're both of the "keep it simple and seasonal and let the flavours speak for themselves" school of thought when it comes to food, we decided on a delicious summer dessert for our little get-together. And what could be more summery than berries? So, here the recipe for the hibiscus poached berries and vanilla cashew cream. Let me tell you, it was delicious!

Ingredients to serve 4:

NOTE: You will need to start the cashew cream the day before you intend to serve it.

For the cashew cream:

  • 200g unsalted, raw cashew nuts
  • 4tbsp maple syrup
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 125ml filtered water
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

For the poached berries:

  • 800g fresh strawberries
  • 500g fresh blueberries
  • 2tbsp dried hibiscus flowers
  • 400ml water
  • 250g sugar

How it's done:

  • place the cashew nuts in a bowl with still water and leave to soak over night
  • the next day, drain the nuts and put in a high speed blender
  • add the filtered water, maple syrup, lime juice and vanilla extract
  • blend until you have a creamy smooth texture
  • chill until ready to serve
  • to make the hibiscus syrup put the water and sugar into a large pan and add the hibiscus leaves
  • bring slowly to a simmer to dissolve the sugar
  • now keep on a simmer to reduce by a third
  • wash all the berries and hull and quarter the strawberries
  • put all the berries into a large bowl and then just pour the hot syrup over them
  • leave to cool just a little before serving with the cool cashew cream