Tag-Archive for ◊ fruit ◊

06 Sep 2013 Pavlova

pavlova1

In England, Australia, New Zealand and my house Pavlova is  a very popular dessert.  I am not sure why it’s not only not popular in the US but it’s not even well known.  Pavlova is a  quick, light, inexpensive, impressive, and utterly delicious dessert.  Pavlova is usually served during summer months since fresh berries are an important component.

Legend has it that Pavlova was named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova sometime in the 1920’s. But there the agreement ends. There is a huge and controversial issue around the country of origin of this dessert.  Both Australia and  New Zealand claim it.  Pavlova is a popular dish and important part of the national cuisine of both countries–as it is England (but England doesn’t claim to be a country of origin). Ok, ok! I can hear you all hollering but, what IS  “Pavlova”?

Pavlova is a meringue dessert with a crisp outer shell and a soft, light, fluffy center.  The meringue crust is  topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries–and kiwi– to serve.

I make two versions of this dessert.  Version #1, and the most traditional is below.  In Version #2, I mix a little lemon curd into the whipped cream, and I use blueberries instead of the more traditional raspberries and strawberries.  Trader Joe’s carries a very good and inexpensive lemon curd.  If you have a lemon tree, you can make your own lemon curd in the microwave with my recipe.

Pavlova doesn’t keep!  Don’t assemble the Pavlova until JUST before serving, and don’t expect to enjoy they leftovers (they’ll be soggy).  Make sure this is eaten all up all at once.  The good news is that the meringue base can be made ahead and stored for a few days in an airtight container before assembling and serving, which makes this a great showstopping dessert to make for guests.

High humidity might negatively affect this dessert. It’s best not to attempt to make this on a humid, wet, rainy day.

Pavlova

  •  4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt (about 1/8 tsp)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sweetened Whipped Cream, recipe follows
  • fresh raspberries, strawberries, kiwi or combination (see above for a blueberry version)
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
  2. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking pan. Draw a 9-inch circle on the paper, using a 9-inch plate as a guide.  Turn the paper over so the drawn circle is on the reverse side of the paper. (This way you won’t get a pencil mark on the meringue.)
  3. Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. (Be SURE the bowl and beaters are very, very, very clean–with not one bit of oil, butter or fat residue.)
  4. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 1 minute. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar, in slow steady stream or 1 T. at a time and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 3 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
  5. Mix vanilla, cornstarch and vinegar together then fold that mixture lightly into the egg white mixture using a very clean rubber spatula (there should be no oil, fat, butter, residue on the spatula).
  6. Pile the meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it within the circle, making a rough disk. Then, make a crater or a bowl in the middle of the flat meringue pile. (So the meringue looks like a rimmed soup bowl or large saucer.  This “crater” will hold the whipped cream and fruit at serving time.
  7. Bake at 200 degrees for  1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, at least 1 hour, overnight is better. (The meringue will deflate if exposed to cold air before it’s cool).  Store in an airtight container until ready to serve. Do not refrigerate.
  8. Place meringue disk onto a serving plate and JUST BEFORE SERVING spread the top completely with sweetened whipped cream. Spoon the berries and the traditional Kiwi, if you can get it, carefully into the middle of the Pavlova, leaving a border of cream and meringue. Serve immediately.

Sweetened Whipped Cream:

1 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
½ – 1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until firm. Don’t overbeat!  If using a Kitchen Aid, make 1 ½ or 2 cups cream, any less and the whisk won’t get it all up from the bottom.

You’ll love it!  Practice this once for the family, and then WOW your guests with it the next time!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

31 Jul 2013 Blueberry Heaven

 

Do you ever go into a bakery?  Of COURSE you do!  Do you ever buy a pastry that looks delicious, but then are seriously disappointed in the taste…? And then, to top it off, are you overwhelmed by the amount of  fat you’ve just consumed for something that really wasn’t that all that great?  Me, too 🙁 Do you ever wish, on a weekend morning with your second cup of coffee, for that imagined deliciousness, without all greasy pastry and sugary icing?  Me, too 🙂 Pssssst…  Come here! No, come closer! I am going to tell you how to make a breakfast pastry as delicious as the one you are dreaming of…, and without the load upon load of grease and sugar!

Now. Seriously…, am I your best friend, or what?!

It’s so simple!  You need 2 slices of bread, a bit of cream cheese, and a handful of blueberries. It helps if you have a sandwich maker or a panini press, but if you don’t, use a frying pan and make this Blueberry Heaven just like you would a grilled cheese sandwich.

I found the original recipe here: http://www.fitfromconception.com/2012/06/blueberry-breakfast-grilled-cheese.html  No, I am not pregnant, roflmao.  Neither are any of my children.  I have no idea how I ended up at that website, but I am glad I did.

Blueberry Heaven

[a Stand-in for Fat and Sugar Laden Blueberry Pastries]

For each serving:

  • 2 slices of bread, any kind.  Make it whole wheat if that’s the way you roll.  I use Orrowheat Country Buttermilk Bread.  Cinnamon bread would probably be delicious, as would almost any kind of homemade bread (don’t use homemade rye bread or anything like that!).
  • Plain cream cheese, enough to spread on two slices of bread.
  • a sprinkling of sugar, less than 1/4 tsp, optional
  • a handful of fresh blueberries, about 24 (jam can be substituted)
  • Butter, optional, unless you are using a frying pan

 

  1. Preheat sandwich maker, panini press, or frying pan.
  2. Spread each slice of bread with cream cheese, no measurements here, just coat the slices of bread to your preference. (If you are using a frying pan, spread the other side of the bread with butter)
  3. Sprinkle a bit, and I do mean a bit, less than 1/4 tsp of sugar over the cream cheese, just to sweeten up the cream cheese a little bit. (I’ve made this without the sugar, and it’s just not the same.)
  4. Arrange blueberries on one slice of the cream cheese covered bread.  Use as many as you want, but I think 24 is about perfect.  I like to evenly space the blueberries on the bread so I get an equal number of  blueberries in every bite.
  5. Put the other slice of cream cheese covered bread onto of the blueberries, cream cheese to cream cheese.
  6. Put the sandwich in the press, latch close, and cook for 2 minutes. (If using a frying pan, put the sandwich, butter side down on the preheated frying pan.  When the first side is golden brown, flip, and cook the second side until it is golden brown too.)
  7. Remove sandwich from the press or the pan and let cool a bit, the filing will be mad hot right out of the press. Be careful.
  8. Enjoy! It’s a little slice of heaven, isn’t it?
  9. Repeat.  You’ll want to make one for someone else… 🙂

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! Aren’t you glad you don’t have to drive over to the Olde Time Bakery for a pastry that will only make you feel badly about yourself? Hooray!!

27 Nov 2012 Mini Apple Pies

I hear mini pies are all the rage now. Bye-bye cake pops and chocolate with bacon, hellooooooo mini pies!  Here’s a great recipe with which to start.  Having made this recipe a few times, I now know a few things things about mini pies.  1.  The filing needs to be seasoned more than that of a regular pie 2.  The filling needs more “syrup”.

At first, I questioned this recipe; why put that much flour into the filling (I thought would taste, well, flour-y, and, having baked many a pie before, I was sure cornstarch or tapioca would be a better choice) and HOLY MOLY, I like cinnamon but a heaping tablespoon of cinnamon to 8 cups of apples?  In a weak moment, I did something completely out of character,  questioning the recipe all the way to the taste test,  I baked it,  “as is”.   (Did ya faint?!)

The recipe worked beautifully!  The filing is not flour-y nor is it too cinnamon-y. The recipe works because the extra flavor and the extra syrup is needed  in order for the filing to stand up to extra crust of a mini pie!  Well, of course!

I made these Mini Pies for the 22 members of my Dining For Women group who came to my house for a meeting last night.  I lost count of how many people asked me for the recipe, so that has prompted me, at long last, to post another recipe.

I found this recipe at Little Bit Funky.  There are lots of nice, helpful pictures posted there.  The picture showing the size of the cut apples is especially helpful (dice don’t slice!).

Mini pies are great to take to potlucks.  No knife or pie slice needed to serve.  No plate or fork needed to eat (just pick the mini pie out of the cupcake liner and bite! If there are any crumbs, a well placed cupcake liner catches them), and no one seems to even think of wanting whipped cream or ice-cream with mini pie. Whooo HOOOO!

 Mini Apple Pies

  • 8 cups of chopped fresh apples (I like granny smith or pippin mixed with jonagold or golden delicious…but in a pinch I use whatever I can get my hands on), diced to about ½” by ½” by ½”.
  • ¾ cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups sugar (yes, it’s a lot, but again, the extra syrup is needed)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into 24 small chunks
  • 2 boxes Pillsbury pie crusts (that’s 4 crusts), or if you are fabulous, 2 recipes of homemade pastry
  • a tiny bit of milk, cream or half-and-half
  • a tiny bit of white or raw sugar
  • decorative cupcake liners to display and serve, if desired

 Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Unroll the pie crust and cut to fit into the bottom of 24 cupcake tins (no need to spray or line the tins).  I used a 3 ¼” round cookie cutter, but the ring from a mason jar, and probably a ring made from a well washed tuna can with the top and bottom removed would work too.  Save the pastry scraps to re-roll for the top crust.
  3. Refrigerate the dough in the tins while you prepare the apples.
  4. Peel,  core, and dice the apples.
  5. Pour prepared apples into a large bowl and completely coat with the flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  6. Remove the pie crusts from the refrigerator.
  7. Divide the apples between the 24 bottom crusts.  You should have enough apple filling to “mound” into the pie crust.
  8. Top each mound with a piece of butter.
  9. Re-roll the leftover pastry and cut circles (or shapes if you want to get fancy) to form the top crust.
  10. Use you fingers to press the top crust into the bottom crust.
  11. Brush each top crust with a bit of milk, half-and-half, or cream and then sprinkle with sugar.
  12. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes  (check at 20 minutes, then every 2 minutes after that until the pies are perfectly browned).
  13. Cool in pans.  You should have no trouble removing the pies from the cupcake tin.  I like to put each pie into a decorative cupcake liner at this point.

Enjoy!

I have made mini mincemeat pies for years, but now I have another mini pie to add to the platter for all the mincemeat haters of the world! (BTW, in my experience, mincemeat haters are usually people who have never even tried mincemeat).  If there is a loud ruckus from the mincemeat lovers out there I just might share my recipe for mini mincemeat pies (with my personal secret ingredient) in another post!

Happy baking!  Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today (I’ve missed you…)

 

08 Jun 2012 Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes with Spiced Maple Syrup

Love blueberries! Love cornmeal! So when I saw this recipe (having bought blueberries just yesterday and forgetting why), I jumped up from my chair (well…, not exactly “jumped”) to make an impromptu special breakfast since it was my son’s one day off this week. And he was HOME. And he was UP!  What an opportunity!!  I saw this recipe on Pinterest,  pinned from Tracy’s Culinary Adventures and she got it from Fine Cooking.  Fine Cooking has published the recipe in their “Big Buy Cookbook“.  Long pedigree, I know, and it’s a keeper.

This recipe makes a lot of batter.  I am not even half way through it and I’m full, my son is full, my grandson is full, my daughter is full, and my daughter’s guest and her two kids are full!  Make ’em and freeze ’em, I say! Or mix up the dry ingredients, divide into three parts, and make one part now with 1 egg and 1/3 of the rest of the liquid ingredients.  Save the rest of the dry ingredients in an airtight container until needed. If you don’t have buttermilk substitute milk stirred with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes, or use buttermilk powder (add the powder into the flour then add an amount of milk or water equal to that of the buttermilk in with the liquid ingredients.  If you do use buttermilk, and you have some leftover, remember that you can freeze buttermilk so you have some on hand next time.

Tracy didn’t make the Spiced Maple Butter,  I don’t know why, but I quite enjoyed it!  If you make it, taste it.  As written, the butter is very, very lightly spiced. Not a tinge of heat.  Next time I would up the spices a bit, maybe using 1/2  teaspoon chili powder ( or 1/4 tsp cayenne).  I can’t believe I am saying this!  My taste buds must be changing.  I really am (or used to be, I guess) a pepper wimp.

Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes

  • 1 3/4 cups (7 3/4 oz) all-purpose flour (I used 3/4 cup of white whole wheat flour and 1 cup of all-purpose)
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (I was tempted to add more, I like sweet, but I am glad I didn’t)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups buttermilk (I used about 1/4 cup more, I like a thinner batter)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (all out!  How can I be out of oil?  Substituted melted butter)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (was tempted to add some grated lemon zest, too)
  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed
  1. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients, and gently whisk just until combined.  The batter should be a bit lumpy.
  2. Heat the frying pan, reduce the heat to medium, and then add 1 teaspoon of oil or butter.  Once the oil/butter is hot, use paper towels to wipe the pan so only a thin, even coating of oil covers the bottom and sides.
  3. Use a 1/3-1/2  cup measure to portion the batter into the hot pan.
  4. Sprinkle some blueberries over the surface of the pancake (do this evenly so every bite has at least one blueberry!).
  5. Cook on the first side until the edges are set and the bottom browned, about 3 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the pancakes and cook on the second side until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 more minutes.  If not serving immediately, transfer the cooked pancakes to a wire rack in a preheated 200 degree oven.
  6. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil to the pan if necessary.
  7. Makes about 15 pancakes 1/3 cup pancakes.

Serve with butter, maple syrup and/or more blueberries or this fabulous topping…

Lightly Spiced  Maple Syrup

  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup/1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  1. Stir the chili powder and cinnamon into the butter.  Add the maple syrup and heat in microwave until you have a beautiful, pourable syrup.  Pour a little over your pancake. YUM.
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen this morning 🙂  I hope I got this recipe to you in time for weekend pancakes!  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

23 Sep 2011 Apple Pie Cake

With a name like “Apple Pie Cake,” how could I not try this recipe?  I saw a picture of this Apple Pie Cake on Pinterest a few days ago.  (OMG have you visited Pinterest?   I happily waste a lot of time on that website.  I love, love, love it!  It’s like I am writing my own magazine.  I choose the subjects, the articles, and the pictures and have the whole thing saved so I can flip through the pages whenever I want…, but I digress 🙂 Onto this fabulous recipe…!

This is a Martha Stewart recipe.  I have never been a big fan of Martha. To be honest, she scares me.  Doesn’t she seem a bit abrupt?  And imperial?  I get the feeling she’s looking  down her nose at me.  I feel frumpy and incompetent when she’s on TV.  It’s a surprise I tried this recipe actually!  I’m so glad I did though.

I love fruit based desserts.  Mix some fruit with flour, butter, sugar, and cinnamon, bake it until it all melts together and I’ll fall all over myself getting to the table. This recipe results in sort of an apple crisp turned pie that looks like a cake!  De-licious! Easier-than-pie and much easier-than-cake. It’s best eaten the day it’s made, the crust softens a bit after a night in the refrigerator, but no one would turn down a leftover slice. No one.

I tried a slice of this with whipped cream, and a slice of it without whipped cream.  I can’t believe I am saying this, but I liked it better without the whipped cream.   I haven’t tried this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream yet.  I guess I should make another,  just to test that out 😉

I found the recipe at MarthaStewart.com.  And I did make a few changes to the recipe…  The original recipe called for 5 lbs of apples (about 12).  I bought that many, but only used about 3 ½ lbs (6 large apples).  I added a bit of sugar, 1/3 cup, to the apples with the cinnamon, but Martha didn’t.  You can leave the extra sugar out if you’d like.

Apple Pie Cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon (divided use)
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3-4 pounds (about 6) tart apples, such as Granny Smith
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • dash of nutmeg (optional, I added this, I love nutmeg…)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Using a food processor, electric mixer, or pastry cutter, cut in butter until the mixture forms pea-size pieces.
  3. Press 2/3 of the mixture onto bottom and 1 inch up the side of a 9-inch spring form pan.
  4. Peel apples, cut into thin slices, and place in a bowl. Pour off any accumulated liquid.  (I didn’t have any)
  5. Toss apple slices with remaining teaspoon cinnamon and lemon juice, and optional 1/3 cup granulated sugar.
  6. Place prepared apples over the “crust” in the prepared pan, pressing down gently as you pack them in.
  7. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture on top of the apples.
  8. Put the pan on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
  9. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and let the cake cool in the pan to set.
  10. Dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar. Remove the sides of the spring form pan and place on decorative plate to serve.
  11. Serve at room temperature.

I’ll be making this again on Monday night for my Dining For Women meeting.  I know the women will appreciate it.  I also think I will make this for Thanksgiving.  It’s so EASY, and delicious.  I hope  you try this recipe and like it as much as I do.  Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today…, and stop by my Pinterest pages, too!!

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