Archive for the 'fruit' Category

24
Jul
11

Watermelon Granita

Complain about the weather and watch me roll my eyes. But this summer, I get it. I am complaining, too. It’s been a million degrees every day this past month in St. Louis. When the sun isn’t blazing, rain is pouring. And before it got hot, we had tornadoes every other week.

Yes, I am tired of it.

How hot was it this week? I’ll spare you the triple-digit heat index. It was so hot that a colleague of mine baked two dozen cookies in her car outside the paper. It was so hot that the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market was packed before 8:30 a.m. It was so hot that Gabi hasn’t gotten to splash around in her wading pool since the beginning of July.

When it’s 100-plus degrees, it’s almost too hot for ice cream. Sorbet or granita is better. Both are lighter, cleaner, stronger. This weekend, watermelon granita fit the bill.

Granita is an Italian semi-frozen dessert made from water, sugar, and fruit. First you make a simple syrup. Then puree the fruit in a blender. Combine the two in a metal baking dish, freeze, stir with a fork after a few hours and sha-bam. You have granita. If you need to,  put it on the counter for a few minutes to thaw a bit before serving.

I love this recipe. If you love watermelon like my toddler and I do, then you will too.

For extra indulgence,  drizzle a half-teaspoon of Campari over your bowl of granita. The result is an adult icee that will make you feel better about the heat.

Watermelon Granita
adapted from Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups watermelon,  cut into 1-inch cubes
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 to 2 teaspoons Campari (optional)

Heat sugar and water in a heavy small saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Cool.

Puree the watermelon in a blender. Measure out two cups of puree. Stir in sugar syrups and lime juice. Pour into 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan. Freeze 2 hours. Stir with a fork, then freeze until solid, about 3 hours. Using for, scrape granita to form crystals. Spoon into bowls. Drizzle 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Campari over each.

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27
May
11

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

It’s Memorial Day weekend. We’ve had hints of summer –a few humid, hot days — but  it’s definitely still spring. Case in point: rhubarb abounds. And strawberries are at full tilt. They’re the best kind of strawberries, the ones that are so red you can taste the color. We’ve had two weeks of incredible strawberries in our Fair Shares CSA box, and we’ve needed them. They’ve been mood lifters. For those of you who haven’t heard, we’ve had some pretty crummy weather in the Midwest this spring. Tornadoes everywhere. The sirens go off almost weekly it seems.

Fortunately, strawberries and rhubarb provide comfort.

The most obvious combination is this simple crumble. The strawberries and rhubarb almost melt into each other. It’s a fusion of sweet and tart. I made this for the first time in 2008. It’s so amazingly delicious that it’s an annual ritual.

Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Divine.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
slightly adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

For filling:

2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved (quartered if strawberries are large), about 6 cups
1 1/2 pounds rhubarb stalks, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices, about 4 1/2 cups
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

For topping:

1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, slightly softened

Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 425° F.

Gently mix the ingredients for the filling in a large bowl. Spoon the mixture into a shallow 3-quart baking dish.

Stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Blend in butter with your fingers until mixture forms small clumps.

Crumble topping evenly over strawberries and rhubarb. Bake until fruit is bubbling and topping is golden, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool slightly on a rack and serve warm.

Serving suggestion: with vanilla ice cream.

Serves 8

30
Aug
10

Peach Riesling Sorbet

Two bags of fragrant peaches sat on my counter last weekend. They were too good to refrigerate, and too many to eat. They needed to be consumed ASAP or they were destined to wind up like too many peaches do in our house: mush. Icky, brown mush.

This peach sorbet was wonderful way to end the peach season. We may have another week of peaches left in St. Louis, if I’m lucky. If not, I’ll be at peace with it. It would be impossible to take a peach and top this, unless you simply take a bite of one, of course.

The explosion of peach, star anise and white wine is intense here. “Imagine the best white sangria you’ve ever had, and turn it into sorbet,” says the introduction in Gourmet Today. These final sweltering days of summer call for something cold, sweet and fruity. I just finished the last bowl of sorbet. I’m chalking this up as one of my favorite finds this year.

Peach Riesling Sorbet
Gourmet Today

1 pound peaches (3 large) peeled, halved, pitted, and cut into 1-inch-thick wedges [or use 1 pound frozen peach slices, not thawed]
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
scant 1/2 cup superfine sugar [this can be made by whizzing granulated sugar in a food processor]
1 whole star anise or 1 teaspoon star anise pieces
1 1/2 cups Riesling, Gewurztraminer, or other slightly sweet white wine
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Toss peaches with lemon juice in a 4-quart heavy pot. Stir in sugar, star anise, and 1 cup wine, bring to a simmer, and simmer, covered, until peaches are tender, about 5 minutes.

Discard star anise. Working in batches, transfer mixture to a blender and puree (use caution when blending hot liquids). Force puree through a medium-mesh sieve into a metal bowl, pressing hard on solids; discard solids. Stir in corn syrup and remaining 1/2 cup wine. Refrigerate, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 1 hour, then cover and refrigerate until very cold, 6 to 8 hours.

Freeze sorbet in ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden for at least 1 hour.

Sorbet keeps for up to one week.

12
Aug
10

Rustic Plum and Port Tart

When this came out of the oven I wondered if anyone would want to try it. I wasn’t thrilled by the fact that the crust was crumbly. Or that the port wine and plums had oozed onto the parchment paper. Or that it looked a little too much like stewed beets.

I let it cool while we had leftover Indian food. Then I sliced up a piece, put a dollop of ice cream beside it and tasted. Well? Yum. I loved the deep plum flavor. Port wine is reduced to a syrup and tossed with plums before they get piled onto the crust and into the oven. The result is a little rustic, and very sophisticated. And it uses these gorgeous plums.

Continue reading ‘Rustic Plum and Port Tart’

02
Aug
10

Peach-Vanilla Bean Cobbler

I’d been waiting for months to make this. I gobbled up the last bite last night, and now it’s time to share. You still have time to try it. Tables at the farmers market are nearly buckling from the weight of peaches. They’re at their prime. But in about two weeks, they’ll disappear for an entire year. Last summer I made a lattice peach pie that was amaaaaazing.  It deserved a repeat performance. But last weekend Jeff started itching for a cobbler.  I considered the options. Blackberries. Blueberries. Peaches. Nectarines.

I kept coming back to peaches.

This recipe comes from the Art and Soul of Baking, a terrific book I checked out from our library recently. I don’t want to part with it. The peach cobbler has convinced me that I need my own copy.

The peaches in this cobbler are mixed with sugar and a vanilla bean. Let me tell you, if you’ve never had peaches with a vanilla bean you’re missing out. It brings out the sweetness of the peaches like nothing else. The lattice is made with scone dough. It’s more foolproof than pie dough and arguably more delicious.  Atop sweet, warm, and summery peaches, it’s hard to beat. Serve warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche.

Continue reading ‘Peach-Vanilla Bean Cobbler’

26
Jul
10

Three Melon Smoothie

When it’s 80 degrees at 8 a.m., I need something cool and refreshing for breakfast. One of my favorite morning drinks is this frothy melon smoothie. It’s terrific after an early morning run, like the one I just went on. It’s one of the few, if only, smoothie recipes you’ll see on this site. Normally I throw whatever fresh or frozen fruit we have on hand into a blender, with yogurt or milk, some juice and puree.

But a few years ago my mom sent me the food section  from my hometown newspaper. It featured smoothies. This recipe has become one of my summertime favorites. It’s delicious and packs a nutritional whallop.

Melons are commanding entire tables at the farmers market right now. Feel free to be adventurous and try different types of melons here. You can’t go wrong.

Just chop up them up and store them in containers. For breakfast, scoop out the chopped melon with a measuring cup and blend with yogurt and orange juice.

Three Melon Smoothie
Adapted from St. Joseph News-Press, Summer 2004 (?)

1/2 cup chopped cantaloupe
1/2 cup chopped watermelon
1/2 cup chopped honeydew melon
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
3/4 cup orange juice

Put everything into a blender and puree for about 30 seconds.

15
Jun
10

Sour Cherry Ice Cream

Every so often the following happens at our house: Jeff accompanies me to the market. We pick out something that has just come into season. Then he comes up with an idea that I don’t quite go along with. We try it, and it rocks. This past week, it was sour cherry ice cream.

Don’t get me wrong. I love cherry ice cream. I could eat my weight in Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia if given the chance. But Bing cherries, not sour ones, are for ice cream, I thought. Tart cherries are better in pies and clafoutis.

Wrong!

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten this excited about ice cream that came out of our kitchen. (Later this summer I plan to experiment with sage and rosemary ice cream — hoping to recreate some I tasted in Santa Fe.) I took a recipe from Williams-Sonoma and merely used sour cherries in place of Bing. The tartness of the cherries are fabulous here. The cherries REALLY shine. Just look at them.

Also, this ice cream is ready to scoop the minute it’s removed from the freezer. It doesn’t freeze rock solid.

Continue reading ‘Sour Cherry Ice Cream’




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