Posts Tagged With: fruit

potluck goodies – 7.4.12 – blueberry cherry clafoutis

Yes, this post about the 4th of July is long overdue.

But, like I said, July’s been busy. So I hope you’ll forgive me. 🙂

Three and a half weeks ago, we enjoyed a pretty awesome Independence Day celebration.

Jessica and Brent had us over for a cookout at their house, which is in the middle of nowhere. But, strangely enough, the little rural fire department just down the road from their neighborhood hosts an impressive fireworks show every July 4th, and this year, we were invited to set up our tailgate chairs in Jessica and Brent’s front yard, sip a cold beer or three, and enjoy the festivities!

The party itself was fantastic. Great company, of course (much of the same bunch we hung out with at the wedding a few months ago), but also, great food!

Brent made a spicy and delicious low country boil. We stuffed ourselves with salads and sausage balls, red-white-and-blue Rice Krispie treats and a crazy chocolaty layered dessert in a trifle dish, a loaf of my very first sourdough, and the blueberry cherry clafoutis that you see here:

full o’ fruit!

I was going for a red, white, and blue dessert with the cherries, blueberries, and custardy cake, but as you can see my dish turned out to be a little more like deep purple and warm, golden brown. Not that I’m complaining. 🙂

This sweet treat was inspired in part by an abundance of fruit in my refrigerator, but I doubt I would’ve thought of it on my own without some help from my blogging friends.

Daisy over at coolcookstyle posted her Cherry Clafoutis recipe (adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1) just a couple of weeks after Putney Farm posted their Cherry Clafoutis recipe (adapted from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook).

Unable to decide which recipe to follow, I combined the two.

Not willy-nilly, either–I actually made myself a little chart to compare techniques and quantities of ingredients between the two recipes, then merged them into one. (Yes, I’m a nerd.)

I loved that Putney Farm spiced their clafoutis up with lemon and cinnamon, but Daisy’s recipe proved easier to execute because it didn’t involve individual ramekins or cooking the cherries first.

And, of course, I made a few changes of my own, subbing blueberries for half of the cherries and Greek yogurt plus 2% milk for the whole milk/heavy cream.

Having not made or eaten a clafoutis before, I can’t tell you if mine turned out to be technically correct, but I can describe it for you: imagine a dessert that’s part-cake, part-custard, and bursting with fresh fruit–without being super-sweet. That’s exactly my kind of dessert, and if that strikes your fancy, I’ll bet you’d like a clafoutis, too!

What’s in it:

  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups cherries, halved and pitted
  • 1-1/2 cups blueberries
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • powdered sugar for dusting and/or vanilla ice cream for topping (both are optional but highly recommended :))

Step-by-step:

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter a 9″x13″ baking dish. (You could probably use a smaller dish instead for a thicker clafoutis, but you’ll probably want to adjust the baking time and/or temperature if you do.)
  • Spread the cherries and blueberries out evenly over the buttered pan.
  • In your blender, combine the rest of the ingredients except for the powdered sugar and blend for about 1 minute. Or, mix in a bowl with a stick blender, an electric hand mixer, or a whisk until thoroughly combined.
  • Pour the batter over the fruit. (Be gentle so you don’t shove the berries around too much in the dish.)
  • Bake for about 1 hour or until your clafoutis is puffy and golden brown. (Daisy notes in her recipe that the cake will sink a little, like a souffle or a frittata, after you take it out of the oven. So when this happens, don’t worry! It’s supposed to do that.)
  • After allowing your clafoutis to cool for 5 or 10 minutes, feel free to dust it with powdered sugar before cutting yourself a big wedge, which you are then welcome to top with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Now that I’ve made my first clafoutis, I’m interested in trying other variations.

First, I think next time I might reduce the amount of flour just a bit (and maybe also reduce the baking time or temperature) to see if I can achieve a more custardy, less cakey result.

And while clafoutis is traditionally made with cherries (which I adore), they’re not really suited to hot, humid Southern summers, so next time I’ll probably experiment with some local and seasonal fruits like figs or peaches, which grow all over around here (even in my yard, when the pesky squirrels don’t get them first!).

Of course, Wikipedia informs me that once you vary from cherries, your dessert is now properly called a flaugnarde…but please forgive me if I fudge a little and call mine clafoutis anyway. It sounds prettier. 🙂

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muffins for….uh, Thursday – 5.24.12 – Lilly’s strawberry nectarine

Who’s Lilly, you ask?

My smart, silly, beautiful six-year-old niece!

Lilly and I have a lot in common. We both love to read. We both love school. We’re both, well, not super coordinated. And we both like to cook!

So when my brother Dave asked if Lilly could hang out with me this morning for a couple of hours, of course that was fine by me.

For most of Lilly’s visit, I was a pretty boring hostess. I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher. I washed, dried, and folded two loads of clothes. I scooped out the litter box.

Lilly had more fun. She decorated a bookmark with scented markers (which I didn’t even know I had!), and she read a few chapters of Charlotte’s Web (one of my very favorite children’s books), and she snuck up on me a few times while I was working and yelled, “Boo!” This was funny while I was folding clothes. Less funny when I was hand-washing our three sharpest knives–but I didn’t get cut, so I guess it’s okay. 🙂

Anyway, the other thing I needed to get done today involved nectarines. Three pretty little nectarines from Daily Grocery that I saw the other day and couldn’t pass up. Three not-as-pretty little nectarines once they sat in the fridge for a week. (Yes, they got a little mushy, just like my bananas and pears seem to do most of the time.)

I showed Lilly the wrinkly nectarines. “These aren’t really good for snacking on anymore, but they’ll be great if we smoosh them up and put them in some muffins. Wanna help?”

Of course she did!

Once I cut the mushy fruit away from the pits, it was Lilly’s job to press the button on the food processor to whir those faded beauties (peel and all) into a red-flecked golden puree. Standing on a step-stool, of course.

“Can we have strawberries, too?” she asked.

So I cut up some strawberries while Lilly cracked two eggs into the fruit, then stirred it all up with some Greek yogurt.

While Lilly worked the wet ingredients (singing “Muffins, muffins, muffins” the whole time), I measured most of the dry stuff. Lilly did the salt, baking soda, and baking powder. (Her Granny, my mom, has taught her well–she knows to scoop with the measuring spoon, then level it off before adding it to the bowl.)

One of Lilly’s charming quirks is that she wants to taste everything, even stuff you wouldn’t think a kid would like. I’ve seen her grind fresh black pepper into her palm and lick it up, sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon directly onto her tongue, eat a piece of raw lemon (including the rind), and now–lick baking powder straight from a measuring spoon.

“It tastes salty,” she informed me.

“I’ll bet!” I said.

Lilly mixed all of the dry ingredients, dumped them into the bowl of wet ingredients, added the strawberries, then stirred it all together. (I helped with this because the batter was pretty thick.)

I started to let Lilly spoon the batter into the muffin tin, but since it was almost time for her dad to pick her up, I asked her if she would mind my doing it instead. (“That way, they’ll be ready before you leave!”) She agreed that this would be the best course of action. 🙂

The finished muffins were too hot for Lilly to eat one before she left, but I did send a few home with her so she could have one after it cooled.

I ate one just a few minutes ago, and it was fabulous.

of course I couldn’t resist brightening up the picture with a few of
the fresh strawberries (from a little farm stand near Anderson, SC)

What’s in it:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 ounces raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2-3 nectarines, pureed (with the peel is fine)
  • 3/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • about 3/4 cup diced fresh strawberries

Step-by-step:

  • Preheat your oven to 425°F and get a 12-cup muffin pan ready. (“Now you’ve got to use the non-stick spray,” Lilly told me. I showed her my rubbery red silicone muffin pan and told her it didn’t need any. “What if it was made of tin?” she asked. “Well,” I said, “then I guess I’d need some non-stick spray.”)
  • In a small bowl, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, sunflower seeds, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Let your niece lick the measuring spoon if she really wants to. 🙂
  • In a larger bowl, stir together the pureed nectarines, yogurt, and eggs.
  • Add the dry ingredients and strawberries to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Don’t forget to take turns!
  • Scoop the batter into the muffin cups, then bake for about 20 minutes. Visit the oven every few minutes to peek through the window and see how your muffins are doing. Comment on how good they smell!
  • Remove the muffins to a rack to cool.
  • Make sure you share these sweet treats with someone you really love. ♥

 

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muffins for Monday – 4.30.12 – pears galore!

Pears are tricky.

Like bananas, pears are at their best for a very specific window of time. Try to eat one before it’s ready, and your teeth and tongue will fight a losing battle against that tart, hard rock of a fruit.

Let your unyielding pear sit out on your counter for a few days to mellow, and mellow it will. If you catch that pear at the peak of its ripening, you’ll be rewarded with bite after juicy bite of pear perfection. Your hands and face will be rendered a moist mess with every nibble of that soft, sweet fruit, and you’ll gnaw away every little scrap of pear until all you have left in your hands is a sticky, skinny core.

Let that perfectly ripe pear sit out on your counter for a few more days, and….well, you’ll have a mess.

My pear problem started three weeks ago when the Athens Earth Fare emailed me a coupon for one free pound of organic red Bartlett pears with a five dollar purchase. I printed two, one for me and one for Micah, and our regular grocery trip later that week earned us two free pounds of rock-hard pears.

Another week passed, and those babies were perfect. I took some to school the next week, which made for a delicious (albeit sticky) addition to my lunchbox.

And then we were out of town all last weekend for Jessica’s wedding, so the last four pears sat on our kitchen counter for about a week longer than they really should’ve.

When we came home, one moldy pear got a one-way ticket to our compost pile. The other three were pretty mushy–too soft to pack in a lunchbox, or slice for a snack, or bake into a pie–but not quite rotten yet.

What to do with too-far-gone fruit? Make muffins, of course! (Good timing, too, since we were about to eat our last two crumbly granola bars. :))

pears + dates + oats + pecans + a touch of cinnamon = mmmm…..

What’s in it: 

  • For the muffins: 
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1 cup rolled oats
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 3 overripe pears, mashed
    • 3 dates, pitted and finely chopped
    • 2 eggs, lightly beaten (I actually used 5 egg whites that I had leftover from making pastry cream)
  • For the topping:
    • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
    • 3-4 tablespoons rolled oats (I tackled mine with the mini-chopper, just to make them a little finer)
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Step-by-step:

  • Preheat your oven to 425°F and get a 12-cup muffin pan ready with cooking spray or paper liners.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 1 cup oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and 1/4 cup brown sugar.
  • Add the pears, dates, and eggs. Stir until just combined.
  • Divide the batter among your 12 muffin cups.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the pecans, oats, and brown sugar for your topping.
  • Sprinkle the topping evenly over the muffins. You’ll probably have enough to pretty much completely cover each muffin. (At this point, I also lightly pressed the topping into the batter to hopefully prevent it from all falling off.)
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, then let cool.
  • Enjoy!

Not only are they extra moist and juicy from all that fruit, but because I mashed the pears instead of pureeing them, the muffins also have some nice chunks of fruit inside them. The cinnamon and dates give these sweet treats a warm, cozy flavor, and the oats and nuts in the topping are nice and toasty and crunchy.

This is definitely one of my favorite batches of muffins so far!

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supper tonight – 4.12.12 – an Ethiopian feast!

I mentioned a while back that I was reading the book Cutting for Stone (which, I’m ashamed to admit, I still haven’t finished–things really have been busy around here!).

Anyway, my book club meets monthly, and last Thursday it was my turn to host the group for dinner and conversation about the novel. The story is set mostly in Ethiopa, so I decided I would try cooking some native dishes for us to enjoy.

We have one vegetarian in our group, so my search centered around recipes that she could enjoy with us, and except for the chicken stew, the entire meal was not only vegetarian but also super-easy to veganize. Also, each individual recipe was quite easy, though cooking all of them in a few nights proved a bit of a challenge. 🙂

I quickly figured out that before you can cook Ethiopian food, you need two key ingredients:

  • Berbere: a spice mixture that combines the heat of dried chiles with the cozy warmth of all those great pumpkin pie spices (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice)…not to mention a couple of ingredients that I had to shop for (fenugreek, cardamom pods).
  • Nit’r qibe: a spiced butter that aromatics are usually cooked in before other ingredients are added.

So, my first task was making big batches of berbere and nit’r qibe, because almost every recipe I found called for one or both, and I figured they might be good things to have around the house for future cooking adventures. And let me tell you, I fully intend to keep both of these in stock at all times, because they’re really damn good.

I also went ahead and mixed up dough for injera, the traditional Ethiopian sourdough flatbread that customarily serves as both dish and eating utensil. I still planned to provide plates and forks to my guests, but thought the bread would be good for sopping up all the stews and veggies I was making. If I were Ethiopian (or had access to a really good African grocery), I would’ve used teff flour, but I had no idea where to find that, so I followed this recipe instead.

Well, my injera dough was nice and thin like crepe batter, just like the recipe said. My pan was nice and hot, a solid medium-high, just like the recipe said. My dough spread thin and got nice and bubbly on top, just like the recipe said.

But  (why is there always a “but”?) somehow, despite being less than tortilla-thick, my bread was sticky and doughy in the middle no matter how done the outside was.

So, I scrapped that kitchen disaster and got Micah to implement the back-up plan, a mixture of white and brown basmati in the rice cooker. Not the traditional starch for an Ethiopian meal, but it was perfectly fine.

What did we eat with our not-so-Ethiopian rice?

The finished feast:

clockwise from 9:00 - fosoleay, atar alecha,
doro wat with hard-boiled eggs, misr wat,
gomen wat (plus rice in the middle)

Not only was dinner delicious, but we enjoyed a yummy pre-dinner snackie called dabo kolo. These are spicy little peanut-sized nuggets, kind of like a cracker. They’re traditionally fried, but mine were baked per the recipe I used and still ridiculously addictive! In fact, we kind of ate them all before I could snap a photo. But this is what they look like:

well, okay, these are much prettier than mine turned out!
(image from abreadaday.com)

Finally, I was at first saddened to learn that Ethiopia doesn’t really have a traditional dessert. But I did read about a traditional layered fruit drink that sounded light, sweet, cool, and pretty much perfect for ending our hearty, spicy meal. So I made my own version with pureed honey-sweetened avocado, mango, and strawberries:

So thick, you have to eat it with a spoon. The avocado at the bottom was the best part!

Micah and I are still enjoying the leftovers from this delicious feast, though I’m sad to say we’ve already devoured the dabo kolo snackies as well as the entire batch of split peas, so I need to make more. Soon.

I knew nothing about Ethiopian food before last week, and I have no idea if my dishes would pass muster with the natives, but I do highly recommend all of these recipes if you’re eager for some culinary globe-trotting. 🙂

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happy pi day!

Click here (or on the photo) to read more about it and get the recipe for my bourbon thyme pear pie. 🙂

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muffins for Monday – base recipe #2 – sweet potato muffins

I baked these due to a crazy excess of sweet potatoes in my house last fall, but you could easily make some delicious substitutions.

What’s in it:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons room-temperature butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 2 pounds cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

Step-by-step:

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • Get 16 muffin cups ready (see my earlier muffin post about this).*
  • In one bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
  • In a bigger bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, then the yogurt, then the sweet potatoes, then the vanilla and orange juice.
  • Mix the wet and dry ingredients together.
  • Divide the batter into your 16 muffin cups.
  • Bake for about 20-25 minutes, cool, and enjoy!

This recipe tastes like Thanksgiving to me, but you could substitute other fruits/veggies and spices to make it taste like whatever holiday you like. 🙂

* My apologies for the strange 16-muffin yield of this recipe! The problem with winging it is that you don’t always end up with a “normal” number of servings.

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muffins for Monday – base recipe #1 – chocolate persimmon muffins

image courtesy indiebound.com

The first base recipe I use is adapted from Kim Boyce’s book Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours, and I discovered it after buying a bunch of persimmons from the farmer’s market and having no idea what to do with them! The recipe is for whole-wheat chocolate persimmon muffins, but I’ll bet you could substitute mashed bananas, applesauce, peaches, pumpkin–almost any sweet fruit/veggie puree–for the persimmon to get a moist, yummy, chocolaty breakfast muffin. 🙂

What’s in it:

  • 2-3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons room-temperature butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup pureed ripe persimmon
  • 1 10-ounce bar of dark chocolate, chopped

Step-by-step:

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • If you’re using metal muffin tins, lightly grease 18 cups or put some paper liners in there. I love my silicone muffin pans because I can usually make the muffins without cooking spray or liners and then pry them out with a silicon spatula (one of my other favorite kitchen tools.)
  • In one bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In another bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer. Once this stuff gets light and fluffy, beat in the eggs, then the yogurt, then the pureed persimmon.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet stuff without over-mixing, then fold in the chopped up chocolate chunks.
  • Divide into your 18 muffin cups.
  • Bake for about 30-35 minutes, cool, and enjoy!

These are pretty tasty and not super-sweet, but the chocolate chunks give them a little extra decadence that I really enjoy. (And if you’re filling your muffins with whole wheat and fresh fruits, why not have a little chocolate for breakfast?)

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