Archive for the Category ◊ Fruits ◊

04 Sep 2011 Sparkling Watermelon Lemonade

Last family BBQ of the season?  I wish I had posted this recipe as a season opener so that we could have had enjoyed this drink throughout the summer, but at least it is posted in time for the last BBQ of the summer. So toast the summer good-bye and pack away the white shoes with a glass of this sparkling Watermelon Lemonade.

This is  a summery, refreshing drink that’s lightly bubbly. No artificial colors, no artificial flavorings, no preservatives; just all natural ingredients! (…and it will use up all of that H-U-G-E watermelon you just bought!  My local grocery store had BIG ‘UNs for $2.49 yesterday.  How could I resist? Now, with this recipe for Watermelon Lemonade, none of that BIG ‘UN is going to waste!)

You could easily use this recipe and make a watermelon concentrate to freeze for future use.  Just mix the watermelon puree, the lemon juice, and the simple syrup, stir to blend. and then freeze (a quart Ziploc bag would work fine).  When ready to serve remove concentrate from freezer, defrost, add water and sparkling water, and stir until blended.

The kids are going to love this.  In fact, I think it will be their favorite. Go ahead and make some concentrate.  You know there is going to be a kid oriented event in the next few weeks.  Better to serve them good-for-you Watermelon Lemonade than a can of fizzy artificial flavorings and colorings.

This recipe has a long pedigree.  I found it here, http://traceysculinaryadventures.blogspot.com/2011/07/watermelon-lemonade.html (Tracey has posted a much better picture of the Watermelon Lemonade), where it was adapted from from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from  Bubby’s.  I added the recipe for 8 servings  (why not make a pitcher  full?) and changed the ratio of bubbly water to straight water. You could make either version with all still water, or with all bubbly water.  Do what suits you. Make this recipe yours! Enjoy!  Here’s look to next summer, when we can have glass after glass after glass of this Sparkling Watermelon Lemonade.

Sparkling Watermelon Lemonade

For two glasses:

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (usually one lemon)
  • 1/2 cup fresh watermelon puree (Put cubes of seedless watermelon in blender and whirl until smooth.  Strain to remove seeds and pulp. )
  • 3-4 tablespoons simple syrup (recipe below, make first and let cool!)
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup sparkling water

Add all of the ingredients to a small pitcher and stir to combine.  Divide between two glasses and serve over ice.

For Eight Servings:

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4-5 lemons)
  • 2 cups fresh, strained watermelon puree (about 1/2 a medium watermelon)
  • 1 cup simple syrup (recipe below, make first and let cool!)
  • 1  1/2 cups cold water
  • 1  1/2 cups sparkling water

Add all of the ingredients to a small pitcher and stir to combine.  Pour into ice filled glasses and serve.

Simple Syrup:

To make the simple syrup: Combine equal parts water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  (1/4 cup of sugar and water for 2 servings, 1 cup of sugar and water for 8 servings). Continue simmering until the sugar has dissolved.  Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool to room temperature.  Leftover syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  I hope I’ll be back cooking up a storm tomorrow.  Fingers crossed, I’ll see you then!

Polly

 

26 Jul 2011 Blueberry Chip Cookies

Hey world, there’s a new cookie on the plate!  It’s sort of like a chocolate chip cookie.  It has all the elements of a chocolate chip cookie.  It crunches like a chocolate chip cookie; crisp around the edges and chewy in the middle. It even looks like a chocolate chip cookie.  But it’s NOT!  It’s a Blueberry Chip Cookie!  Nope, not reminiscent of a blueberry muffin  or a blueberry cake.   Nothing like a blueberry tart or a sugar cookie with jam either.  I think it really is a chocolate chip cookie.  With blueberries. And white chocolate chips.

Two secret ingredients:  freeze dried blueberries and dried wild blueberries!  I had never seen freeze dried blueberries either, but there they were right on the shelf at Trader Joe’s, not too far from the dried blueberries.  The freeze dried blueberries are crushed into a powder and then mixed into the dough with the flour.  The small dried blueberries have a lot a flavor and don’t burst into a gooey mess when cooked.   Genius, pure genius!  And we have Irvin, from Eat the Love, to thank for this delightfully twisted Chocolate Chip Cookie 🙂

I made a few changes to the original recipe.  I didn’t use Kamut flour (what IS that?) and I didn’t make these jumbo.  Irvin made 18 cookies from this recipe (they must have been the size of a PIE!), I made 5 dozen.  I am not sure the sugar sprinkle is necessary, I might leave it off next time but my daughter liked the sparkle (she’s such a girlie girl).

Blueberry  Chip  Cookies

  • 3 cups plus 3 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup freeze dried blueberries, crushed into powder (put into a Ziploc and go to town with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 10 oz white chocolate chips (don’t use Nestle’s-they are nasty)
  • 1 cup dried wild blueberries (I’d probably add an extra 1/4 – 1/2 cup next time)
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar to sprinkle on top (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350º F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

2. Place the  flour, freeze dried blueberry powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whisk vigorously until the dry ingredients are evenly distributed and uniform in color.

3. Place the butter and sugars in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. On medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about three minutes.

4. Add one egg to the creamed butter and beat on medium until incorporated. Scrape down the sides and repeat with the second egg and then the vanilla.

5. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter and beat on slow speed turning up the speed to medium as the ingredients incorporate into the dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add an additional 1/3 of the batter repeat, beating on slow to medium. Scrap and add the final 1/3 dry ingredients.

6. Add the white chocolate chips and dried blueberries to the cookie dough and turn the mixer on to slow speed, mixing in the chips and blueberries until evenly distributed.

7. Scoop a tablespoon of the dough, roll into a ball, place on cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Sprinkle with a little white sugar. Repeat.  I found I could place 14 cookies on each cookie sheet.

8. Bake in preheated 350º oven for  about 13 minutes or until the edges of the cookie starts to look golden brown. Remove from the oven and let rest on the pan for 5 to 10 minutes to cool before moving them to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

I am so pleased with these cookies!  They are so much like a chocolate chip cookie, but so different.  The dichotomy tickles me purple!   I hope you are the first person on your block to make Blueberry Chip Cookies!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

05 Jul 2011 Strawberry Agua Fresca

My Strawberry Man came again yesterday.  He’s been stopping by with a flat of strawberries, every month or so, for about a decade now.   With the temperatures in the triple digits I’ve been in a hurry to use  up the strawberries before the heat gets to them. We had Strawberries with Brown Sugar and Sour Cream for dessert, which is our very favorite way to eat strawberries, but that only used up about three baskets, which left nine baskets sitting in the heat.  I made Chocolate Strawberry Tarts for our July 4th bake off.  Now I have six baskets to go.  Time to hit the Internet…

After a lot of scrolling and clicking, I landed at Heat Oven to 350°.  Strawberry soda!  Since I don’t drink alcohol or anything like Coke or Pepsi, I am always looking for something interesting to drink.

I like this!  This drink is sort of in the lemonade family, not that it is tart, but that it is fruity, and pulpy, and is a very summery good-for-you feel drink.  Not sure I’ll be giving up iced tea or iced lattes anytime soon, or my Blueberry Lemonade, but I’m certainly glad to have one more drink to add into my rotation! And one with the added bonus of letting me drink some fruit, too!

My daughter suggested the name Strawberry Fizz, since I add carbonated water (most of the time) to the base mixture, but it’s also good with the so called “flat” water.  As I noted above, the original recipe was entitled Strawberry Soda, but that doesn’t work for me. Do you remember Strawberry Soda?  It’s bright red, super bubbly, and very, very sweet (with no taste of real strawberries), this  isn’t.  It’s refreshing. It’s very similar to the Central American Agua Frescas. We North Americans should look more closely at Agua Frescas.  They are delicious, and a good alternative to fizzy dark brown chemicals, syrupy frappuccinos, and girly cocktails.  Well, you won’t get the buzz from a Strawaberry Agua Fresca as you would from a girlie cocktail, but you could certainly put it in a fancy glass with lots of crushed ice and a paper parasol 🙂

The Strawberry base syrup is easy to make and keeps for about a week in the refrigerator.  Just mix the desired amount of the syrup with club soda and ice (a quarter cup of the base, a cup and a half of club soda, and half a glass of ice work for me).  Add a straw and take your flip-flopped self out in the backyard to enjoy the summer.

I was going to try this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, to see how stupendous a Strawberry Float would be, but my son came home with a sugar-free, low fat, store brand of vanilla ice cream.  He was quite proud to tell me it was the cheapest. Ummmm, no. He can eat that carton all by himself. Maybe he’ll be more discerning when picking out ice cream in the future.

Strawberry Agua Fresca

  • 3 lbs strawberries, trimmed and hulled (about three baskets)
  • 4 T white vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  1. Place strawberries in a food processor and pulse until liquified. Add vinegar and mix well.
  2. Transfer liquified strawberries to a medium pot and add sugar. Stir and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove syrup from stove. Cool. Syrup will keep one week, covered, in the refrigerator.
  5. To serve:  eventually you will hit on your favorite proportions.  I like one-quarter cup of syrup mixed with 1 1/2 cups soda water and poured over a glass of ice, stirred, not shaken, and with a pretty straw!  A paper umbrella would be a nice addition, too.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Believe-it-or-not, this might be a healthy week.  My friend Barb is guest posting tomorrow with her delicious Fennel-Apple Salad, but later in the week I think I will post my recipe for Chocolate-Strawberry Pie.  I stuck an American Flag in the middle of it, and won the July 4th Dessert contest at our neighborhood July 4th party!  But I STILL have three boxes of strawberries to mess with….

Note:  I liked this so much that I made my next batch with blackberries.  Delicious! And I feel so healthy!

Polly

04 Jun 2011 Frozen Bananas

Such an easy recipe, and one you’ll probably use all summer long, assuming the weather gets better.  June 4th here in San Jose, and it rained all day!  Unbelievable, but we ate frozen bananas for dessert anyway!  They were a hit.  I only wish we had waited 5 minutes for the bananas to soften a bit before we tore into them.  You can see the frost on the bananas in these pictures!  On hot days you won’t have to wait so long…

I’ve been making frozen bananas for a decade or so, and have decided that Hershey’s Special Dark is the best chocolate to compliment the taste of the banana (odd, since I am usually a milk chocolate devotee). There are a variety of toppings the chocolate covered banana can be rolled in.  The most popular, in my experience, are toasted coconut, chopped peanuts, and rainbow jimmies.  Other options include leaving them plain (for the boring people in your crowd!) chopped peanut butter chips, mini M&M’s, cookie crumbs, granola, and any kids cereal.  IMHO, bananas+cereal+bit of chocolate= a special summer breakfast.  I think your kids might nominate you for mom/pop-of-the-year, if you agreed with me!  Just think; frozen bananas as a special treat for a summer birthday (or for a summer half birthday for winter birthday kids–as all my kids were), or for the first day of summer vacation, or to celebrate the summer solstice…

Frozen Bananas

Quantities are approximate, as size of bananas varies widely.  If you end up with extra bananas, and not enough chocolate, just keep the extra bananas in the freezer until you are ready to make smoothies or banana bread.

  • 3-4 perfect bananas (not over-ripe and not green, no bruises or black spots)
  • 6 or 8 Popsicle sticks (if you don’t have Popsicle sticks craft sticks, lollipop sticks, chopsticks, or even the tops of plastic Popsicle molds can be used)
  • 2  4.25 oz. bars Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate (don’t substitute chocolate chips…if you do, you’ll have to add a few tablespoons of Crisco to help them melt…, and I think that’s yucky)
  • assorted toppings (rainbow jimmies, chopped peanuts or other nuts, mini M&M’s, chopped peanut butter chips, toasted coconut, granola, cereal…)
  1. Peel the bananas and remove any banana strings.  Inspect the bananas carefully and cut off any bruises or soft parts.  Cut the good bananas in half, and insert a stick into the flat, cut end, of each banana.  Place skewered bananas on a pan/plate/tray that will fit into your freezer and open freeze for an hour or so (or even overnight).
  2. Set out chosen toppings in shallow bowls or on pieces of wax paper or foil.
  3. Break chocolate into squares, place into good quality microwave safe bowl, and melt chocolate in microwave on 50% power for about 2 or 3 minutes.
  4. While chocolate is melting remove frozen bananas from freezer.
  5. Dip frozen banana into warm melted chocolate and, with a knife,  QUICKLY spread chocolate all over the banana.  Before chocolate hardens–work quickly–dip and roll banana in chosen topping.  Repeat with remaining bananas.
  6. Refreeze chocolate covered bananas for about 30 minutes or so.
  7. Remove bananas from freezer, place in a covered container or Ziploc bag, and return to freezer until ready to eat.  Frozen bananas keep well, or at least for a few weeks (I haven’t had any in the freezer for longer than 2 weeks…)

Thank for stopping by my kitchen today.  See you tomorrow!!

31 Jan 2011 Strawberry Sandwiches

I have never seen a recipe published for this sandwich, but it’s one of my favorites (probably because it’s more like dessert than a sandwich.  I have my demons, and all of them are sweet…).  I first encountered this sandwich on the campus of San Diego State University, in the late 1970’s, then I never saw it anywhere else, except in my own kitchen. I’ve made my version a lot over the years, usually for tea (tea-the-meal, the one with finger sandwiches, scones, little cakes, and  served on fancy china).  I love tea-the-meal.  It’s a grazers delight; little bits of everything, and everything tasty and pretty. But I digress, back to the Strawberry Sandwich.  (I have never been able to spell “sandwich” without spell check…, it just doesn’t look right without another “h” in there. And I digress yet again…) With strawberries now showing up in our farmer’s markets (yes, in January!) I had a hankering for this sandwich, so I made one, or two.

Like I said, this s-a-n-d-w-h-i-c-h is a great addition to any tea, but it’s a good treat to serve at play dates (PB&J for the kids, SBS for the moms), pack for a walk or a picnic, or to pull together if someone stops by and you want to keep them around for awhile.  The trick to pulling these together at the last minute?  Keep a loaf of raisin bread in the freezer!  Pull out 2 or 4 slices when needed, by the time you get the honey and cream cheese out, the strawberries sliced, and the tea brewing, the bread will be defrosted and ready to use.  These sandwiches would also be good for a Valentine’s Day treat, or a special Mother’s Day event. My daughter had a catering gig on Sunday and I suggested this sandwich to round out a fabulous spread of finger sandwiches. This sandwich could fit in anywhere!  I really can’t understand why no one else makes it.

So, a big Thank You to the cafeteria ladies of San Diego State University for this lovely sandwich.  I hope you get your day in the sun 🙂

Strawberry Sandwich

For each sandwich:

2 slices of good quality raisin bread or cinnamon-raisin bread

approx 1T cream cheese (whatever kind you like, full fat, low fat, no fat…)

approx 1 teaspoon honey (or a little less)

3-4 strawberries, thickly sliced, rounded edges set aside for another use.

Thinly spread the cream cheese on both sides of the raisin bread.  On one side, drizzle the honey and spread evenly over the cream cheese.  On the other slice, lay thick, flat slices of strawberry.  It’s bit of a jigsaw puzzle to get them all to fit without leaving too much space between the slices, but it’s only a small puzzle, nothing intimidating.  Put the bread with honey on top of the bread with the strawberries.  For easiest slicing, flip the sandwich over.  Cut off all the crusts, and then slice as desired.  I usually get three rectangular shaped finger sandwiches from each, but in the picture above I cut in half on the diagonal.  Eat within a few hours.  The sandwich does not keep long, and definitely not overnight.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  If you are looking for a more savory sandwich to serve with this, check out the post for Smoked Chicken & Almond Sandwiches!

15 Nov 2010 Poached Pear Salad

My friend Louise made this wonderful Poached Pear Salad for Cookbook Club last weekend.  Louise, one of the best cooks in the world,  has been making this salad, to much acclaim, for her family’s Thanksgiving dinner for the last I-don’t-know-how-many years.  I am so glad Louise shared this with us!  You have your hands on tried-and-true family recipe! The Poached Pear Salad is ideal for any fancy meal. It would also be good for a light lunch when paired (peared! now there’s a joke in the making… Hmm, no light bulbs going off here…, obviously someone more talented than I needs to come up with it 🙂 ) when paired with a bowl of soup or a sandwich. The salad looks elegant, tastes great and is dead easy to throw together at the last minute (as longs as the pears have been made and chilled ahead of time).

The green salad surrounding the poached pear can be customized as  you wish.  Louise used a bag of mixed salad greens, including some of that bitter stuff, and a sprinkling of feta cheese (some pomegranate seeds might have been a  nice addition, too).  I am going to use mixed lettuces with a sprinkling of blue cheese, some sweet and spicy pecans and some dried cranberries.  My daughter is thinking about baby spinach, macadamia nuts and goat cheese.  What will you come up with?  Arugula, walnuts and orange bits?  Bibb lettuce and almonds? Let me know!

Three cheers for Poached Pear Salad!! Easy, customizable, good looking, and great tasting! I have a feeling this salad will become a staple in my, and your, dinner party and elegant lunch repertoire.

Poached Pear Salad

  • 6-8 Bosch Pears, with stems left on, peeled (Bosch pears are the ugly brown skinned pears.  I’d suggest using smaller pears so your guests aren’t too full after the salad to enjoy the main meal)
  • 2 cups Port, Shriaz or Zinfandel (The choice of wine will affect the taste of your pears.  Louise prefers a good port.  I liked the pears poached in Zinfandel)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 slices orange
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 bag of salad greens
  • Cheese of choice, about 1 T. per plate (feta, blue, goat)
  • Extra toppings of choice, if desired: chopped nuts, candied nuts, dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds…
  • In a large pan with a lid, combine wine, sugar, water, and star anise.  Turn heat to high and bring mixture just to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.

    Add peeled whole pears-with stem intact-to hot liquid turning to coat well.

    Stir in orange slices

    Cover pan and simmer pears on low for 10 to 15 minutes, turning pears occasionally, until pears are tender, but still hold their shape.

    Discard star anise.  Remove pears to a bowl and set aside to cool.

    Turn up heat under the wine mixture, heat to boiling, and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.  Liquid should thicken and reduce to 1 ½ cups. (Pour liquid into measuring cup every once in awhile to measure progress).  When pears are cool, cut in half lengthwise, and carefully remove core.

    Pour reduced wine and the orange slices over halved pears.  Cover and chill for at least 4-6 hours, and up to two days.

    When ready to serve, cut pear into a fan and the bottom(see picture above), and keeping intact at the narrow top end.  Place pear in the middle of a salad plate and carefully spread out the fanned bottom part.

    Discard the orange slices. Reserve the wine syrup and pour into a serving bowl to pass at the table (will be extra dressing).

    Circle the fanned pear with a desired amount of salad greens.  Sprinkle greens and/or pear with approximately 1T. of the crumbled cheese of your choice and any desired “gilding the lily” toppings.

    Pass the reserved wine syrup at the table as a dressing (or serve with a light champagne vinaigrette).

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today…, and I am so glad you were able to meet my good friend Louise.  Maybe one of these days she will share some more of her recipes with us!