Tag Archives: fruit

Watermelon, Feta and Bulgur Salad

Watermelon fetaPosted by Lynda Balslev

Watermelon is a staple in the heat of summer. Juicy, refreshing, nourishing and thirst quenching, it satisfies on many levels without filling you up. It’s served for breakfast in the Mediterranean climates and is a great addition to salads. It’s mellow sweetness is perfectly complemented by salty feta. This salad is a mini-meal with the addition of bulgur, and a perfect lunch stop on a hot summer day. It’s also a great addition to a barbecue.

Watermelon, Feta and Bulgur Salad
This recipe provides for a large salad. Feel free to halve the bulgur and use the extra ingredients to your taste. Serves 4

1 cup bulgur
Salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 small seedless watermelon, peeled, cut into 3/4 inch cubes, about 3 cups
2 handfuls sugar snap peas, stemmed, halved
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces feta, crumbled
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the bulgur in a bowl. Add 2 cups boiling water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and let stand until bulgur is tender, about 20 minutes. Drain any excess water and fluff with a fork.
Whisk the oil, lemon juice, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the dressing to the bulgur and stir to combine. Taste and add a little more dressing if desired (the rest will be drizzled over the salad).
Transfer the bulgur to a serving platter. Scatter the watermelon, snap peas and red onion over the bulgur. Top with the feta and parsley. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper.

Rhubarb Compote with Lemon and Sage

rhubarb sage tastefood

They say what grows together goes together and that certainly applies to this springtime compote. Green rhubarb stalks, flowering sage leaves and spring lemons comprised the latest bag of loot I came home with from the farmers’ market. The green rhubarb was stunning, it’s puckery astringency melding beautifully with bright citrus and, yes, sage leaves. Serve this compote straight as it is or add a drizzle of heavy cream. Vanilla ice cream wouldn’t be bad either.

Rhubarb Compote with Lemon and Sage

Serves – 2 to 3 (or never enough depending whom you ask)

1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup sugar
2 to 3 fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Finely grated lemon zest for garnish

Combine the rhubarb, sugar and sage in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover and simmer over low heat until rhubarb softens, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.. Remove from heat and discard the sage leaves. Stir in the lemon juice. Cool. Serve garnished with lemon zest.

 

Apple Raisin Pecan Crisp

apple raisin crisp tastefood

Apple Raisin Pecan Crisp with Calvados Cream ~ 

It’s October, and in my book, that means it’s time for apple crisp. When it comes to a good recipe, I follow the popular adage: If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it. A fruit crisp should contain seasonal fruit at it’s peak in flavor, enhanced with a dusting of sugar and spice. The topping should be crisp, crumbly and not cloyingly sweet, allowing the natural sugar of the fruit to shine through. As for the garnish, I prefer the lightness of whipped cream to rich ice cream. I barely sweeten it so it won’t compete with the crisp,  and I always fortify it with a nip of spirits dictated by the fruit of choice.

Apple Raisin Pecan Crisp with Calvados Cream

Serves 8

Topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut in pieces
1/2 cup pecans (optional)

Filling:
8 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut in 3/4-inch chunks
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Calvados Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Calvados Brandy

For the topping: Combine the flour, sugars, cinnamon, cardamom and salt in bowl of a food processor. Briefly pulse once or twice to combine. Add the pecans and pulse a few times to break them up in large pieces. Add the butter and pulse until the topping resembles coarse meal. (Topping may be made up to one day in advance. Cover and refrigerate until use).

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Combine the apples and raisins in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Transfer fruit to a 9-by-13 inch gratin dish or 8 (3/4 cup) ramekins.  Cover evenly with the topping. Bake in the oven until topping is golden brown and fruit is bubbling, about 50 minutes for 1 large dish or 40 minutes for ramekins. Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature with Calvados Cream.

For the Calvados Cream:
Beat cream in the bowl of electric mixer until whisk traces are visible in the cream. Add the sugar and Calvados. Continue to beat until soft peaks form.

Fig and Raspberry Cake

Fig cake tastefood

It’s a virtual baking weekend, since it’s simply too hot to turn on the oven.
Instead I’ll dream about this Fig and Raspberry Upside Down Cake and share the recipe with you from the TasteFood archives.

Upside-down baking is  irresistable to me, whether it’s in the form of a tarte tatin or a cake. The common denominator is a gorgeous, gooey caramelized bottom, which, once inverted, becomes the top. Nestled in the sticky caramel goodness are chunks of seasonal fruit, which release their juice and perfume the pastry, while studding the topping like jewels in a crown.

The other winning quality of upside-down desserts is that they are generously flexible with the seasons. In the fall, pears and apples are the fruit of choice. In the summer, stone fruit, figs and berries display their wonders. Mix and match to your taste. It’s impossible to go wrong.

Fig and Raspberry Upside-Down Cake

Semolina adds a beautiful golden hue and a little crumble to the cake.

Serves 10-12

1/2 cup plus 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
8 large figs, halved lengthwise
3 ounces raspberries
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup semolina
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.)  Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter the parchment. Tightly wrap the bottom of the pan with foil.
Melt 1/2 cup butter and the light brown sugar together in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking to combine. Pour into the springform pan. Arrange the figs, cut side down in a circular pattern in the sugar. Fill in the gaps with the raspberries.
Beat 1 cup butter and the granulated sugar in a mixer with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the buttermilk, zest and vanilla. Whisk the flour, semolina, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add to the batter, mixing just to combine. Pour over the fruit and smooth with a spatula. Bake in the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto a plate. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Figs and Brie

fig cheese tastefood

Figgy cheese – or would that be cheesy figs?

Simplicity combined with fresh ingredients is the essence of great summer food. There need not be a lot of fuss when produce is at it’s peak in flavor. Keep it simple so that nature’s flavors shine through. I made these figs as an appetizer the other night with a minimum of ingredients in 10 minutes. You can too.

Oven Roasted Figs and Brie with Thyme

Drizzle a little honey over the figs after they roast, if desired. These figs were so sweet and sublime I chose not to add anymore sugar. These figs are also delicious on crostini.

Makes 12

6 large ripe fresh figs, halved lengthwise
4 ounces soft rind cheese, such as brie, camembert, reblechon
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh thyme sprigs

Heat the oven broiler. Place the figs in a cast iron pan or baking dish cut-side up. Slice the cheese and cut in squares no larger than the width of the figs. Lay the slices in the center of the figs. Broil until the cheese is melted and lightly golden. Remove from the oven and drizzle with a little olive oil. Lightly season with a few pinches of salt and a grinding or two of black pepper. Garnish with fresh thyme. Serve immediately.

More fig inspiration:
Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Goat Cheese and Rosemary from TasteFood
Grilled Figs with Honeyed Mascarpone from the Kitchn
Roasted Fig Flatbreads with Chevre and Greens from Annie Eats

Apple Cinnamon Cake with Raisins and Walnuts

apple cake tastefood

~ Apple Cinnamon Cake with Raisins and Walnuts ~

When things get busy and stressful, I head to the kitchen. Mind you, I’m normally in my kitchen anyway, developing and testing recipes, preparing meals for clients, and always making a dinner of some sort. But that’s not what I’m talking about. My to-do list is seemingly endless right now, and this weekend I needed a break. So I put aside my oil splotched recipe notes, shopping lists and white board (yes, I have a white board in my kitchen) and closed my laptop. I  asked my son what I should bake – something sweet, something frivolous, something unplanned. He instantly asked for an apple cinnamon cake I used to bake, and I knew exactly which one he meant. It’s a simple crusty-topped cake studded with fruit and nuts that my kids love and I used to make for afternoon coffee and tea – when I actually used to have afternoon coffee and tea in another life we lived in Europe.

The recipe I used back then was from an old Gourmet magazine and sadly long misplaced or packed. But I remembered seeing a recipe over at Food52 for a classic, popular cake they loved which closely resembled my memory of this cake. That I could find, and here it is:

Apple Cake with Raisins and Walnuts

adapted from Food52 and a distant family memory

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, such as grape seed
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tart apples, peeled, cored, cut in coarse chunks
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins

Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 by 12-inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment.
Beat the oil and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Add to the batter and mix to combine. Stir in the apples, walnuts and raisins. Pour into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes clean, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature. (The flavors will develop once the cake has cooled).
Cut in pieces and serve sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Homemade Granola

granola tastefood

~ Homemade Granola and Greek Yogurt with Plum Compote ~

Whenever I can I make my own granola – and you should too. It’s easy to prepare and you can mix and match your favorite grains, nuts and dried fruit to your taste, while avoiding excess sugars and additives. The only downside is that it never lasts long enough in our house before it’s gobbled up. So make a double – or triple – batch if you can.

Homemade Granola

Substitute other nuts and seeds such as walnuts, pecans, flax, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Other dried fruit such as cranberries, chopped apricots and blueberries may be substituted for the raisins. Add after baking so they won’t burn in the oven.

Makes about 4 cups

2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup chopped or sliced raw almonds or other nuts
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 300°F (160°C) Combine oats, nuts, coconut, wheat germ, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Whisk the sugar, syrup and vanilla in a small bowl until combined. Pour over the oats and stir to coat. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until golden brown, stirring once or twice, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Add the raisins. Store in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.

To prepare a yogurt parfait, layer granola with fresh fruit or fruit compote and greek-style yogurt.

 

Pear, Plum and Blueberry Crisp with Walnut Streusel

Plum Pear Blueberry Crisp

~
Nothing says summer better than a fruit crisp which effortlessly absorbs the season’s bounty. Let the market dictate your choice of fruit. Then fold the ripest gems – winey plums, tender pears, juicy blueberries – into your well loved and slightly worn ceramic dishes. Sprinkle with a little sugar and spice and crown it with a nutty streusel topping.

Plums Market

For this fruit crisp, I let the St. Helena farmers’ market do the talking.

Pears market

and ended up with this:

Pear, Plum and Blueberry Crisp with Walnut Streusel
and Armagnac Whipped Cream 

Serves 8 to 10

Streusel:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped

Armagnac Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Armagnac

Filling:
1 pint blueberries, divided
6 ripe but not too soft pears, such as Bartlett or Anjou, cut in 1-inch chunks
6 plums, pitted, cut in 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Prepare the streusel:
In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except the butter and walnuts. Add butter and work into the topping with your fingertips until the it resembles coarse meal. Stir in the walnuts. Cover and refrigerate until use.

Prepare the whipped cream:
Beat cream in bowl of electric mixer with a wire whisk until thickened. Add sugar and armagnac. Continue to beat until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until use. (May be made up to 4 hours in advance.)

Prepare the crumble:
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.
Place half of the blueberries and the remaining filling ingredients in a large bowl. Gently stir to combine. Pour into the baking dish. Scatter the remaining blueberries over the filling. Spoon the streusel evenly over the top. Bake in the oven until the crisp is bubbly, the pears are soft, and the topping is golden brown, about 50 minutes. Remove and cool slightly. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

Plum Galette

plum crostata tastefood

When life hands you plums, make a galette

I am the queen of imperfect desserts. When I feel nonchalant I call them “rustic” but frankly they can look like a mess. The good news is that there is plenty of room for imperfect, rustic and messy desserts in our repertoire. In fact most cuisines tout their own version of bubbly, squidgy desserts cobbled together with crumpled and crinkled borders oozing juices like a ruptured pipe. They’re supposed to do that, and more importantly, they taste really good. And when one lacks a certain gene for patience (moi) these desserts are just right. They relieve all pressure to be exacting, methodical and, well, perfect. Once that pressure’s removed there is plenty of space to simply relax, bake and eat. Just be sure to pass the napkins.

Plums

Plum Galette

If you’re feeling Italian, you can call this a crostata. Serves 6.

Pastry:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, cut in pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Filling:
8 large plums, halved, pitted and sliced or 12 small plums, halved, pitted
6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon flour
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
Pinch of salt

Prepare the pastry:
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and work into flour with your fingertips until the dough resembles coarse meal. Add enough water to bind the dough. Form the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk, then wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour.

Prepare the galette:
Heat oven to 375°F. Toss the plums in a large bowl with 4 tablespoons sugar, flour, lemon zest, cinnamon, cardamom and salt.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface or on parchment paper into a 12-inch circle. Sprinkle 1 tablepoon sugar in the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Mound the plums over the sugar. Sprinkle the plums with 1 tablespoon sugar. Fold the border of the dough up and around the plums. The center of the galette will be exposed. Bake until the fruit is bubbly and the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.
Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Plum Compote with Rosemary
Blood Orange Crostata with Salted Caramel Sauce
Apricot Brulee with Greek Yogurt and Lemon

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

strawberry cake plate tf

~ Simple Strawberry Buttermilk Cake ~

More strawberries, you say? You bet. I become greedy at this time of year when spring produce is cluttering up the market shelves. A rotation of asparagus, peas and strawberries passes through our kitchen to the table on a daily basis. You would think we would tire of all of this goodness, but it never seems the case. It also helps to have a variety of recipes to choose from to change things up a bit. While nothing beats fresh strawberries with a little cream, put a few aside to make this simple cake. It’s light, gently sweetened, and generously studded with more strawberries than you know what to do with. Actually, I don’t mean that – we all know what to do with strawberries. Just be sure to save some to make this cake.

strawberry cake tastefood

Strawberry Cake

I halved my jumbo sized strawberries in the pictured cake, but recommend quartering them if very large, so they will begin to break down while baking, making a luscious juicy mess.  Adapted from Martha Stewart.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, divided
1 pound strawberries, halved – or quartered if very large

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Butter a 10-inch (25 cm)  pie or tart pan (I used a 9 inch extra-deep pie pan). Butter the pan.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. Combine butter and 3/4 cup sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, buttermilk, vanilla and 1 teaspoon lemon zest on medium speed. Add flour and mix to combine without over-mixing. Spread batter in the prepared dish. Arrange strawberries, cut-side down, on top of the batter, gently pressing to partially submerge. Squeeze in as many strawberries as possible. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake in oven until top is light golden and a knife inserted in the cake comes clean, about 1 hour. Cool in plate on a rack. Before serving, sprinkle 1 teaspoon lemon zest over the cake. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Accompany with whipped cream.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Strawberry Oatmeal Bars from My Baking Addiction
Strawberry Lemonade from Laylita’s Recipes
Strawberries and Cream Quinoa Breakfast from Family Fresh Cooking