Archives for category: Fruits

I thought to myself that I better get this post up before cherries go totally out of season and I will look like an idiot putting this post up in the dead of winter when cherries are hard to come by.  So here I am doing you all a favor by not taunting you with a cherry post in December.  Jokes aside, I love cherries and anything cherry flavored, including those artificial candies with not a lick of real cherry in them.  I’m ashamed of this but, cherry “flavored” food  and me go back a long way.  I remember being a big lover of cherry blowpops, gummy bears, if there was a candy I had to eat it was always the red one.  To this day, I have a secret addiction to all things gummy.  My husband’s niece has a big sweet tooth and whenever I go over to her place, I ask her to share some gummy-type candy with me from her stash and she never disappoints!

I was supposed to entice you all with a cherry custard pie and here I am talking about cherry-flavored candies – some food blogger I am.  Let me sidetrack a little more and tell you all how I am always reluctant to eat fresh cherries.  You see, whenever I eat fresh cherries, the next day I wake up with a sore throat.  This also happens to my sister so I am definitely not making it up as my husband thinks I do.  But this summer I have seen so many cherries in the markets that I had to try and make something with them.  If I got a sore throat then I would be off real cherries forever.  (Never the artificially-flavored gummy candies, mind you.)

I eagerly made this cherry custard pie.  I love fruit pies and tarts.  The flaky crust with a little custard or cream and some ripe fruit is an amazing combination.  And perfect for a summer day.

This cherry custard pie was a success and I steered clear from any signs of a sore throat so this will be part of my repertoire from now on.

(PS – I have two more posts photographed, so hopefully you’ll be seeing more of me on this space! 🙂 )

Cherry Custard Pie with a Corn Meal Crust

Serves 8

for the crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup corn meal

1 teaspoon salt

tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 sticks of butter, chilled and cut into small cubes

2-4 tablespoons ice water

for the custard:

1 cup mascarpone cheese

2 eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch of salt

10 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour.

1 cup pitted cherries

Method

To make the crust: In a food processor pulse together the flour, corn meal, salt, and sugar.  Next add in the chilled butter and pulse until combined.  Through the feed tube stream in the ice water tablespoon at a time until the dough just begins to come together.  Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it just comes together and wrap it in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.  After it is chilled, roll-out the dough so that it fits into a 10-inch pie dish and then blind-bake the crust in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  If the dough expands and rises just use a spoon to press it down.

To make the custard:  In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the mascarpone, and eggs on medium speed for 2 minutes until fluffy.  Next add in the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, and the pinch of salt.  Beat together for another minute and add in the 2 tablespoons of flour.  Mix until just combined.  Take the bowl off the mixer and fold in the pitted cherries.

At this point preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Next, pour the custard mixture into the baked pie crust and place the pie pan on the cookie sheet.  Bake the pie for 45-55 minutes, or until the custard is set.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

This cheesecake was the finale to my husband’s birthday dinner.  There were no surprises here, my husband has simple tastes and knows what he likes and for dessert it was this cheesecake.  The original version, or inspiration, for this cheesecake is from Pastiche’s Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with a Raspberry Coulis.  For years, everyone in my family has loved this cheesecake.  It’s so good that when you first take a bite of it you can’t think for a moment.  It is so lovely, whipped like clouds and so very smooth on your palate.  It is the ultimate form of decadence.  We arrive early to Pastiche, just so they don’t sell out of this incredible dessert. You chocolate lovers out there may not agree, but there’s enough love to go around.

Here I come along and try to mess with perfection.  I add lime zest, my ode to Miami and the amazing Key Lime Pie I had there and I changed the fruit around because the apricots at the market were so gorgeous, that I simply could not resist.  The color, oh my, too beautiful for words, light orange with a slight  blush developing on the sides.  I scooped those babies up and picked up a pint of strawberries, with the stems still attached.  I don’t know if I’m brainwashed, but I’m convinced that strawberries with stems taste better than ones without.

Since introducing my husband to Pastiche’s cheesecake, I have recreated it for him several times.  In all honesty, I think the base for the recipe came from the inside of a Philadelphia Cream Cheese Box.  Over the past few years I have adapted it and added my own flair to it.  I wish I had the patience to make homemade graham crackers for the base, but when you’re making cheesecake you’ve got to be totally crazy to make homemade graham crackers for the crust.  Totally crazy.  Instead, I use amaretti cookies and almonds, and they work together quite nicely.

My husband had the boys over for his birthday dessert.  My husband, becoming too macho in front of his friends, didn’t want me to put candles on his cake or have him cut it, as I had planned.  Perhaps, he should rethink his favorite dessert–Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, doesn’t sound that macho to me.

Vanilla Bean Lime Cheesecake with Stewed Strawberries and Apricots

Serves 8

Ingredients

Crust:

1 cup of amaretti cookie crumbs

3/4 cup ground almonds

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons raw sugar

5 tablespoons melted butter

a pinch of salt

Filling:

16 ounces of cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup sugar

4 eggs, at room temperature

2 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 vanilla bean, scraped

1/4 cup heavy cream

zest of 1 lime

Fruit topping:

10 apricots, pitted, peeled, and cut into segments

1 pint strawberries, stems removed and quartered

1/4 cup sugar (use less or more depending upon the sweetness of your fruit)

juice of 2 limes

Method

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Mix together all the ingredients for the crust in a bowl and press into a 9″ springform pan.  Bake the crust in the oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Prepare the filling by creaming together the cream cheese, ricotta, sour cream, and sugar with an electric mixer.  Beat in the eggs, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Fold in the flour, vanilla beans, and lime zest.  Pour the batter onto the cooled crust and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.  Remove from the oven and let it cool, then place the cheesecake in the fridge for 6-8 hours.

Prepare the fruit topping by combining the strawberries and apricots with the sugar and cooking them with the lime juice on medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the mixture resembles a loose jam.  I like to leave the chunks in, but you may puree and strain them out if you wish.  Serve the sauce chilled on the side with the cheesecake.  Dust some confections sugar and lime zest on top of the cheesecake as a garnish, and also a sprig of mint, if you’d like.

*don’t fret if your cheesecake cracks a little on top, it adds to the homemade feel!

Apricot

This recipe has been requested numerous times.  I did not intend on posting it, but I will since it had such rave reviews.  It is so simple to make and was the result of having nothing to eat on a weekend breakfast.  I am including the recipe that yields a serving of 4 slices of bread.  Just double or triple, etc if you need to make a larger quantity.

Ricotta and Raspberry Stuffed French Toast

Makes 4 slices

Ingredients

4 slices of bread, I only had farmer’s market whole wheat on hand, but the best choice would be Brioche or Challah

1 egg

3-4 tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

tiny pinch of nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or more if you want it more “cinnamony”)

1 tablespoons sugar

pinch of salt

vegetable oil or butter for frying

fresh berries, for garnish, optional

1 tablespoons toasted chopped walnut, for garnish, optional

1 tablespoon powdered sugar, for garnish, optional

some mint leaves for garnish, optional

maple syrup, optional

for the ricotta filling:

3/4 a cup part-skim ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 fresh raspberries

1 tablespoon toasted chopped walnuts, optional

Method

First make the ricotta filling.  Using an electric mixer beat all the filling ingredients together (except the almonds) on medium speed until it is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Next, mix in the nuts.  Set aside.

Heat a frying pan on medium heat with some oil or butter.  In a shallow bowl beat the egg with the milk, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt.  Dip the bread slices in this mixture.  and place about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture between 2 slices of bread, sort of like making a sandwich.  Fry the “sandwich” in the frying pan until golden brown on both sides.  Repeat until all your slices of bread are finished.  Garnish with any remaining ricotta mixture, berries, and powdered sugar.  Serve with maple syrup if you would like.

This weekend was the Muslim holiday of Eid-ul-Adha.  In celebration of this holiday my husband and I invited a few of our friends over for Eid dinner.  Even though I am from Pakistan, I am not incredibly fond of Pakistani desserts.  Hmm…don’t get me wrong I do like them, but give me cake, cupcakes, cheesecake, tarts, cookies, brownies over traditional Pakistani desserts any day (though I do love Pakistani main dishes and snacks etc).  I am feeling a little guilty to confess this-but, hey they’re MY taste buds right?!

Back to the Eid dinner, I made the traditional mutton dish of biryani, because this holiday is symbolizes the Hajj and the sacrifice of goats.  I also made other Pakistani main courses, which I will share photographs of with you.  But, nevermind them for now, for dessert I made fruit tart. 🙂  Anyone from Providence knows about Pastiche and their amazing fruit tart.  It’s a beautiful dessert with the light glaze on top giving the fruits an amazing jewel-tone.  I’m sure it’s their number one best-seller.  And no matter how many times I’ve eaten it, I still can’t get enough of it.

My love affair with the fruit tart probably started in my early teens when I first went to Pastiche.  In high school, my friend and I would try to make it in her kitchen using some recipe we found online.  How cool were we, baking in high school? 🙂

So, I did have a little experience making fruit tart (emphasis on a little).  But, as you recall I just made the quiche with a homemade crust, and not reading the recipe throughly, I did not notice that the recipe yielded two crusts.  So there I was, left with an extra crust.  What to do with it?  DESSERT!

I used the opportunity of having guests over to make the tart.  Otherwise, it would be quite possible that I would eat the whole thing myself.   Yes, it’s that good!  I referred back to my favorite, Ina Garten’s pastry cream recipe and added half a vanilla bean to it and it turned out delectable.  I don’t know if it’s as good as Pastiche’s fruit tart.  But, when there is no Pastiche around I think it hits the spot just fine.  🙂

Fresh Fruit Tart

Serves 6-8

I used a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  The recipe is here. I baked it in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.  I poked holes on the bottom of the crust with a fork and covered with foil and used dry beans as weights on top of the foil, so the crust would not expand.  (This is a double recipe so halve it if you only want one crust).

Pastry Cream

adapted from Ina Garten’s pastry cream

Ingredients

4 large egg yolks (room temperature)

6 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup light cream or milk (I only had light cream on hand or skim milk and skim milk was not gong to cut it)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 a vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Glazed with 1 tablespoon strawberry jam diluted with 2 tablespoons boiling water

Method

Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (I used my hand mixer with the beater attachment) cream together the egg yolks and sugar for about 3-4 minutes on high speed until the mixture forms a ribbon when you lift it from a spoon.  Next, add in the half of the scraped vanilla bean, and corn starch on low speed.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan bring the light cream to a low boil.  Next, stream the milk into the egg mixture whole the mixer is on low.  Pour the contents back into the sauce pan and whisk constantly for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken.  Mine was ready in 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract, butter, and heavy cream.  Strain through a sieve then put the contents into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, directly on the pastry cream.  Refrigerate until cold.

To assemble the tart:  Fill the cooled pastry cream into the baked tart shell.  Garnish with fruits of your choice, I used blackberries and raspberries for the darker more autumn tones.  Then brush on the diluted jam so that the fruits glisten.  Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Apple crisp has to be an autumnal favorite of mine.  More than the apples I love the crunchy sweet oatmeal crisp layer.  But, I stumbled upon a variety of apples I had never heard of before, “honeycrisp.”  These apples are true to their name, sweet like honey and very crisp.  I loved the flavors of the apples so much that I took more apples than the crisp, which has never been the case.

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This has the same flavors of apple pie without the crust.  Though it is nice to put a little elbow grease in and come out with a nice apple pie.  I will make one soon *fingers crossed.*  The problem with desserts is that there are only two of us and you can’t make a pie or cake for two.  Wait, did I just say “problem” with desserts.  I must have been delusional for a second there.  There is no “problem” with desserts…bring on the sweet goodness!

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Apple Crisp

Adpated from Ina Garten’s recipe (I halved most of the amounts and reduced the citrus because I find too much citrus in apple desserts gives a Pinesol taste, not that I’ve tasted Pinesol, hehe)

Serves 4

Ingredients

Apple component:

3 Honeycrisp apples, 1 Gala, 1 Golden Delicious (or whatever you prefer, and the Honeycrisps are large apples so take that into account if using a smaller variety)

1/4 cup sugar

pinch of nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

juice of half an orange

1/4 teaspoon of lemon zest

Crisp component:

3/4 cup quick oats

3/4 cup flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick of butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter your baking dish.  I used an 8 by 8 square dish.  Combine all the apple components together in a bowl and pour into the baking dish.  I used my mini food processor and pulsed all the crisp ingredients together until it formed a crumbly mixture (break the butter into chunks so it will combine better).  Pour on top of the apples evenly.  Bake in the oven at 350 for 1 hour but check it at 45 minutes to make sure the crisp is not burning.  Serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream. (Neither of which I had).

*An extra bonus would be a drizzle of caramel similar to the recipe here.

juice

My parents threw a big party for their friends in July.  I was near my parent’s house this summer.  Therefore, I was able to fully participate in the party planning–a task I love!  Out of all the things I helped with,  the fresh juice punches I prepared were the item most loved and remembered by all.  It figures, my husband and I spent 2 days making homemade chocolate truffles and no one gave them half the importance to them as they did the juices.  Anyway, such is life :).  These juices are so easy to make and give that wow factor to a gathering.  Sure, we could have served soft drinks and so on but this little extra effort gives a party a different and personalized flair.  Plus, the colors of the juices are so vibrant and cheery that they will put everyone in the mood to have a great time.  This is a summertime drink, but in this November weather we all need a little reminder of summer.

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Fruit Punch

Makes about 1 large pitcher (maybe a little more)

Ingredients

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

2 cup strawberries

1 cup raspberries

1 cup peaches, chunked and peeled _MG_6093

1 cup mango, chunked and peeled

4 limes, juiced

2 lemons juiced

1 bottle sparkling water

2 cups Sprite or 7up

extra fruits and lemon/lime slices for garnish

mint leaves, for garnish

ice cubes

*Note:  These fruits are at their peak in summer.  Since they are no longer in season you may want to use frozen fruits and thaw them out.  Or use what is fresh and in season.

Method:

Prepare a simple syrup by dissolving the sugar and water in a small saucepan on medium low heat.  Cool in the refrigerator.  Puree all the fruits separately in a blender.  Strain out any seeds or chunked that were not properly blended.  Take a big pitcher and add the fruit purees into the bottom and mix them with the simple syrup.  Add the lemon and lime juices.  Top off with one bottle of sparkling water and the Sprite or 7up.  Add some ice cubes, if desired.  Garnish with sliced lemons, limes, mint leaves, and whole berries or sliced fruits.

*A citrus blend can be made using the same method as above by adding in some fresh orange juice and combining it with lemon lime juice.

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*Note:  These photographs were not taken by me (as you can probably tell ;)).  The first three were taken by the wonderful photographer at my parent’s party, Andre Blais.  His website is here. The last one was taken by a friend, Geetika Bhandari.  🙂