Thursday, June 10, 2010

More Summer Fruit Ideas..... Yum!

Summer is in full swing and more and more, seasonal fruit is all around us. What a perfect addition to the hot weather! Sweet & juicy, it certainly adds a lighter and fresher touch to Summer, plus it's just the thing for lighter meals.

Sometimes I've found that letting the fruit rest for a day or two after bringing them from the market (less if you've purchased them from the Farmer's Market or your own orchard) to allow them to come to temperature slowly and get rid of the refrigerated time they're been through in order to keep them from ripening. This lets them develop the sugars that were "stunted" by the cold.... Sometimes though this doesn't work and the fruit just never gets sweet and is a sad, sad thing since you're anticipating your lovely fruit, but we do what we can, right? Place in a brown paper bag to ripen but keep checking them or they will get "over" ripe.... You can also "macerate" fruit in wine like Sherry as this adds another depth of flavor and then you can use them like this with the addition of whipped or ice cream..... just put them in a bowl, sprinkle some sugar and add the Sherry, allow to rest for 1-2 hours.....

Don't forget that almost any fruit makes great drinks too! Make the same as you would a limeade, orangeade with water and sugar (use a blender for easier assimilation all around), add ice and Voila! "Aguas Frescas" as we call them in Mexico. We regularly have them made from Jamaica (Hibiscus Flowers), Tamarind, Orchata (Rice Water), Pineapple, Melon, Cantaloupe, Banana, Orange, Persian Lemons, Watermelon, Mandarin, Strawberry, Watermelon, Coconut, Grape, you name it - we make it. You could also use these as a base for other "concoctions" which have liquor or wine added to them.... Just great! So go ahead and create your own- Hint: Try any ripe fruit. If it has seeds or skin, then just run through a sieve after blending and you're set! The possibilities are endless...... plus even when baking, the addition of sugar to the fruit makes them "riper"...... (is that even a word?)lol

You could say the same thing about desserts and sweets made with fruit, since you can vary the fruit to suit what you have on hand or your preference. Just because a recipe has "peaches" as the ingredient doesn't mean that you can't substitute another fruit for it. As long as it makes sense to you, it would probably work.... so get creative and whip up something wonderful!

Here are some classics that you can adapt to your family's tastes. They're all easy and will soon give you many, many options during the summer:

Lovely Plum Tart.- A classic English recipe for a most favored summer "stone fruit".

7 tbl chilled butter, cut into 1/2 cubes, plus more for pan
1 cup flour, plus more for baking dish
1/2 cup plus 4 tbl sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
6 tbl milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 lb plums or other firm plums, pitted and cut into eighths
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 9" x 12" baking dish with butter and dust with flour; set aside. Whisk together flour, 4 tbl sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add 4 tbl chilled butter and cut into flour mixture (with fork or pastry cutter) until pea-size pieces form. Mix together milk, vanilla, and egg in a small bowl; add to flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.

Transfer dough to prepared baking dish and spread over the bottom of dish; arrange plum slices in rows on top of dough. Combine remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over plums. Melt remaining butter and drizzle over plums. Bake until browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Berry Slump.- Another classic summer fruit sweet. Adapts easily to a variety of fruits!

2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbl butter, in 1/2" cubes, chilled, plus 8 tbl melted, more for greasing pan
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 to 1 cup dry white wine (to get a pourable batter)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 lb fresh or frozen thawed berries, like: blackberries, blueberries, gooseberries, etc.

To make crumb topping, combine 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and 2 tbl chilled and cubed butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until mixture takes on texture of coarse bread crumbs, about 10 seconds. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease eight 6oz ramekins with butter and dust with flour (I've also used a single baking dish); set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk remaining flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large measuring cup, whisk together melted butter and wine; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining sugar, vanilla, and eggs until pale and thick, about 2 minutes. Add wine mixture to eggs and whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide batter between ramekins (or dish) and top each with berries. Sprinkle reserved crumb topping evenly over berries. Put ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 20 minutes; serve with scoops of ice cream on top or whipped cream.

Pears in Port Wine.- One of the signature deserts of old, known for it's elegance and flair. Plus it looks just lovely....

1 cup port wine (I've used red wine and other kinds, like Sherry, just added more sugar)
3/4 cups sugar
3 2" strips orange peel
1 2" strip lemon peel
1 stick cinnamon
4 firm ripe Bosc pears, peeled but leave the stem on

Combine wine, sugar, orange peel, lemon peel, cinnamon, and 2 cups water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside

Cut 1/4" from pear bottoms to make a flat surface so they can stand. Peel pears and nestle them into bottom of pan containing wine mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until a knife slides into pears with ease, 50–60 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool. To serve, transfer pears and stand on plate, drizzle some of the sauce from the pan over pears. You can top with ice cream or whipped cream.

Lemon Curd.- Rich, tangy and smooth. Lemon (or lime) "pudding" that can be used "as is", as filling for pie or tarts, inside cakes or pastries or even on toast.

1 1⁄3 cups sugar
1⁄4 cup lemon zest
8 egg yolks
6 eggs
1 1⁄2 cups fresh lemon juice
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2" pieces and chilled

Whisk together the sugar, lemon zest, egg yolks, and eggs in a saucepan. Whisk in the lemon juice and cook, stirring, over medium heat, until the mixture begins to simmer and thicken. Remove from heat; whisk in the butter 1 piece at a time until incorporated. Strain the curd through a sieve set over a large bowl; press plastic wrap onto surface. Chill before using. MAKES ABOUT 4 CUPS.

Blueberry Crisp.- Another recipe for any kind of berry..... just great! With the addition of oats and nuts gives you added nutrition and fiber too!

6 tbl plus 1/2 cup sugar
6 tbl flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp lemon zest plus 2 tsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbl unsalted butter, softened
4 cups huckleberries, blueberries or your choice
2 tbl cornstarch
2 tsp brandy (optional but nice....)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place four 6oz ramekins on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, combine 6 tbl sugar, flour, oats, brown sugar, walnuts, lemon zest, 1/4 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp salt, and cinnamon. Using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly; transfer topping to freezer to let chill for 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, stir together the remaining sugar and salt, lemon juice, and remaining vanilla, along with the berries, cornstarch, and brandy; divide berry mixture between the ramekins. Mound some of the topping over each ramekin. Bake until the berries are bubbly and the topping is browned, 35–40 minutes. Top each crisp with a dollop of crème fraîche, whipped cream or ice cream.

Cool Grapefruit Cake.- A Texas summer staple! This cake is chilled and makes a wonderful addition to your summer meal.....

3 pink grapefruits
2/3 cup butter, softened, plus more
3 cups cake flour, plus more
1 tbl baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tbl vanilla extract
2 pkg cream cheese (16oz), softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Zest 1 grapefruit to make 2 tsp zest; set aside. Peel and segment grapefruits (make supremes); set aside. Squeeze juice from remaining pulp, reserving 1/2 cup plus 1 tbl; set aside.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9" x 13" baking dish; set aside. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Into a large bowl, beat remaining butter and sugar with mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved juice, milk, and vanilla; stir. Add flour mixture; stir until combined. Line bottom of pan with half the reserved grapefruit; add batter; smooth top with a spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, 40–45 minutes; let cool.

In a large bowl, beat reserved zest, remaining juice, and cream cheese until fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar 1/2 cup at a time; beat until smooth. Spread frosting over cake; top with the remaining grapefruit segments. Chill.

Colonial Fresh Lime Soda.- Fresh lime soda was known as "the supreme quencher of colonial thirst" in India during the British Colonial period. We love it "virgin" but sometimes use it as a base for Vodka or Gin cocktails during the summer..... Cheers!

2 tbl simple syrup (first boil equal parts sugar and water, then let it cool)
1 1⁄2 tbl freshly squeezed lime juice (Persian limes—are the best ones to use)
3⁄4 cup soda water
Lime slice

Fill a glass with ice cubes, then add simple syrup and lime juice. Add soda water. Stir well, then serve garnished with a lime slice, if you like.
NOTE: You could also add cherries, strawberries to this..... simple syrup can be used for many other drinks and dishes as well.....

Jal Jeera.- Cumin Laced Tamarind and Mint Water.... Does this sound exotic or what? "Jal jeera" in Hindi means cumin water. Amid the street-food carnival that is Mumbai, this sweet, sour, and spicy drink provides cooling salvation for residents of the notoriously hot city.

1/4 lb tamarind pulp
2 tbl sugar
1/2 tbl toasted cumin seeds
1 tsp black salt (see note below to use kosher or sea salt)
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp red chile powder
1/8 tsp garam masala
10 large fresh mint leaves

Put tamarind pulp and 5 cups hot water into a bowl; let soak for 30 minutes, periodically mashing the tamarind with your fingers and freeing as much of the pulp as possible from the fiber and seeds. Working in batches, pour mixture into a strainer over a bowl. Press down on mixture until nothing but seeds and fiber are left in strainer. Discard solids.

To strained liquid, add sugar, cumin seeds, salt, lime juice, chile powder, garam masala, and mint leaves; stir to combine. Purée in a blender until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a pitcher and chill. Serve over crushed ice.
NOTE: Kala Namak "black salt" is considered a cooling spice in ayurvedic medicine and is used as a laxative and digestive aid. It is also believed to relieve intestinal gas and heartburn. It is used in Jammu to cure goiters. Use kosher or sea salt instead.

Hope these give you some ideas for some summer sweets. I try to always have a pitcher of "agua fresca" in the fridge, it's better than soda and gives you so much more! (and not just flavor...). My guys are used to having something "sweet" around the house to lift your spirits in the middle of the afternoon (we call it "sweetening up your mood") or a little something after dinner while we sit and enjoy the cooler time of the day; always a nice touch that gives us the perfect opportunity for time together to relax and share our day..... Lovely summer nights..... Ciao!

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