This week I was introduced to a fantastic, locally grown, superfood that is produced organically, just 15 minutes from my door step - Organic Blackcurrants by ViBERi, Owned by Tony and Afsaneh Howey.
The packaging has caught my eye many times on supermarket shelving, local cafes and health food stores. As I knew little about them I never took it any further but made a note in my blog diary to look into them. In a strange twist of fate, just one week later I bump into Afsaneh, at Strawberry Divine (The local ice cream shop). Had a quick chat and got handed her card and flier with an offer to stop by!
Of course I cannot resist and here I am! Afsaneh was fantastic and took me for a look around the pristine facility and popped my head through the door of the sorting and packaging room where the overwhelming smell of sweet berries and even sweeter chocolate hit me like a freight train. (If they could bottle that smell I would buy it!).
All the blackcurrants are grown organically, which is a huge bonus in this day and age where chemicals and genetic modification is rife. As you can imagine with weed control alone, it turns it into a much more labour intensive operation but results in a premium product that is suitable for everyone. They also introduced a lateral irrigation system 2 years ago which has significantly increased yield.
The word SUPERFOOD has been thrown around a lot over the past few years but these wee berries have the research to back the claims! Great for the brain, Assists with muscle fatigue and recovery, Help with lung inflammation and asthma as well as containing around 4 times the amount of vitamin C that is found in oranges and one of natures most potent source of antioxidants (Over double that found in Boysenberries, Blueberries, Raspberries and Cranberries!)
Other benefits with research to back them include -
- Cardiovascular Health
- Eye Health and Vision
- Kidney Health
- Healthy bacteria in the gut
- Immune Function
I have had a blast over the past 2 days creating recipes and incorporating blackcurrants into almost every meal and I just have to share them with you as I am so impressed by these wee berries and the versatility of them.
Venison Back-strap with a Blackcurrant reduction and Couscous salad
(Fed 2 adults and 2 children)
As you may know, we are lucky enough to live on a station with 3000 deer meaning that from time to time we get a much sought after piece of venison back strap. This must be cooked rare to medium rare - no alternatives! The blackcurrants paired with this meat better are than any I have ever tried before and Dave was suitably impressed also!
5 heaped Tbsp of fresh or frozen ViBERi Organic Blackcurrants
4 Tbsp of Port or Red Wine
3 Tbsp of Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp of brown sugar
Start with the reduction as it will need time to reduce. Mix all ingredients together in a small pot and simmer gently on the stove top until it has reduced by half or is thick, syrupy and glossy. Season to taste with a pinch of salt, a twist of black pepper or a little more brown sugar.
Coat liberally in Himalayan pink salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Sear each side until golden and browned in an oiled, hot pan and then place in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 10-15 Minutes. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting.
1 C of dry couscous
1 C of seasoned boiling water or stock
3 Tbsp of soft-dried ViBERi Organic Blackcurrants
1/4 of a red onion sliced finely
1 small carrot, grated
a small handful of roasted almonds chopped roughly
Fresh, chopped herbs such as chives and parsley (Optional)
Place the couscous and soft-dried blackcurrants into a bowl and pour over the boiling water. Cover and let it sit for 5 minutes while the meat is resting and while you are preparing the other salad elements. Fluff it with a fork and add the rest of the ingredients.
Raw Blackcurrant Cashew Slice
(Vegan, Raw, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Refined sugar free, Paleo, Low Carb High Fat)
Now this was fun! I started throwing this together at 10pm on Monday night after pouring water over some cashews earlier in anticipation. Make sure you Soak the cashews for at least 8 hours or longer for maximum creaminess.
1 C Raw cashews
3/4 C Shredded or Dessicated Coconut
2 Tbsp of Cocoa or Cacao Powder
a pinch of pink salt
10 Dried Dates
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
Start by whizzing the dry ingredients in a food processor until it's well broken up and like coarse breadcrumbs. Pop in the dates 2 at a time as it's going to combine well and then the coconut oil. The mix should come together and be quite heavy and slightly sticky.
Press in into a 20cm square silicone baking dish or line a metal one with baking paper. Refrigerate while other elements are being made.
2 C or soaked raw Cashews (8 hours +)
1/4 C Coconut Cream
1/4 C Lemon Juice
1/3 C Coconut Oil
2 Tbsp of Maple Syrup or Honey or Rice Malt syrup
2 Heaped Tbsp of ViBERi Freeze dried organic blackcurrants - pounded into a powder
Put the cashews, coconut cream, lemon juice, coconut oil and maple syrup into the food processor and whizz well until its smooth and creamy. Take out 1/4 of the mixture and set aside. Add the powdered black currants to the mixture remaining in the processor and whizz until evenly coloured.
Get the base out of the fridge, scoop out and spread all the delightfully purple mixture smoothly onto it and place it back in the fridge to set for at least 15 minutes. Top with the white mix and crumble over some more freeze dried blackcurrants for presentation.
Keep in the fridge or freezer depending on the texture you prefer. Slice with a hot, sharp knife to keep the edges tidy.
and last but CERTAINLY not least -
Blackcurrant and Cinnamon Brioche Scrolls
(Makes 24 normal muffin tin sized scrolls using the whole mixture but I used half and did 12 with the other half being burger buns)
Now this was my first time ever making Brioche and I used a 'Little & Friday' recipe from a recipe book I got last Christmas called 'The Great New Zealand Cookbook' (Ya know the one with the green NZ tea towel as the cover?)
It was faultless and amazing and just all-round lovely. DO use a food processor with a dough hook if you can 'cause its a VERY sticky mix (but entirely worth it)
550 ml milk
3 tsp dried yeast
6 1/2 C plain flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 C caster sugar
140 g unsalted butter
In a sauce pan (Or microwave for 2 minutes), heat milk over a medium heat until lukewarm. Remove milk from heat and sprinkle over yeast, stir until yeast has dissolved.
Place flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl mix ingredients until combined, add yeast mixture and eggs to the dry ingredients. Using a electric beater with a dough hook mix on a low speed until a sticky dough forms. Stop mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 10 minutes on a medium speed until a elastic, shiny dough forms and pulls away from the bowl. If doing this by hand, tip dough onto a bench and knead for 10 minutes.
Cut butter into small pieces and gradually add to dough mixture, mixing until well combined. Cover bowl with a clean tea towel and allow dough to prove until it has almost doubled in size. Pour dough onto a well floured bench, it is now ready to use for any brioche recipe.
*FOR HALF THE DOUGH MIXTURE*
25 gm Butter melted
5 Heaped Tbsp of Whole, Freeze dried Organic ViBERi Blackcurrants (about 3 Tbsp of powder)
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
Flatten out half the dough recipe into a rectangle about 1-1.5cm thick. Brush the dough with most of the butter (generously of course). Mix together the dry filling ingredients and sprinkle it over the dough. Roll it up top to bottom, long side to long side into a big long tube and cut it into 12 even pieces and stand upright in buttered muffin tins.
Use the last of the melted butter to gloss the tops and bake in a 180 degree over from 20-25 minutes until they are lightly browned.
One product I haven't yet mentioned and the one that didn't make it out the driveway at ViBERi before being opened is the Dark Chocolate Rolled, (NZ Organic, Dairy free, Freaking-Amazing) Freeze dried Blackcurrants wrapped perfectly in 70% Belgium chocolate... Yep... I am in love. They are all gone. I miss them already... (There may even be another chocolate product waiting in the wings and it is just as amazing)