Archives for category: Fruits

Besides being a wonderful place to work (and *ahem* having a pretty darn beautiful pastry case if I do say so myself!), one of my absolute favorite things about the gourmet grocery store Central Market, is the produce department.  While you may have to pay a pretty penny, you will come home with (hopefully) multiple bags of high quality, high flavor, fruits and vegetables.

Central Market also offers an astounding variety of different produce and does a nice job of highlighting what is in season.  Come citrus or tomato season, you are bound to be blown away by the abundant and beautiful shrine honoring the prized produce and will likely learn a thing or two about varieties you never knew existed.

Being in Texas, we are fortunate enough to be knee deep in stone fruit season right now and once again the miraculous display stopped me in my tracks one morning while perusing the produce department for berries to top my fruit tarts (can you tell I am like a kid in a candy store every time I go to work?).

In my opinion, nothing is worse than a flavorless, mealy, out-of-season peach.  It’s just one of those things that should never be consumed anytime other than the short, summertime, window, when they are at their peak.   I always know it’s safe to dive in when you walk by a pile of peaches and their sweet smell overcomes you.

In addition to some amazing Texas peaches that I poached and paired with a wonderful tres leches cake, I wanted to share a few of the more unique and eye-catching varieties of stone fruit that we are carrying right now.  Hopefully you learn a little something and are lucky enough to try some yourself.

Texas Peaches. Smaller than the Georgia Peach, but still wonderfully plump and sweet.

Sugar Plums are not just for Christmas stories, these oval stone fruit have a nice bite and a subtle sweetness.

Petite Black Apricots, while dark and brooding on the outside, boast a bright, honeyed flesh.

Like their namesake, Mango Nectarines have a striking green skin and warm yellow meat, but the taste is all nectarine.

Saturn Peaches may look far out, but with their intense floral aroma and flavor each bite brings you back to their familiar cousin.  Interesting note: the skin of these peaches never blushes like a typical peach.

Tropical Plumana Plumcots with exotic leopard skin and sensual tropical taste make you wish you were relaxing on an equally exotic beach.

Black Plums.  Their vibrant red interior, flavor, and firm texture are reminiscent of bing cherries.

Tres Leches with Poached Peaches

Serves 8-10

Cake recipe adapted from May 2011 Saveur magazine.  Poached peaches adapted from September 2005 Gourmet magazine.

For poached peaches:

4 medium ripe peaches

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 cups water

1 (1-inch piece) vanilla

For tres leches:

Unsalted butter, for greasing pan

1 cup flour, plus more for pan

1 cup sugar

6 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons rum

1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 13.5-oz can coconut milk

1 12-oz can evaporated milk

Poach peaches: Cut a shallow X in bottom of each peach with a sharp paring knife and immerse fruit in a 4-quart heavy pot of boiling water 30 seconds, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. Transfer peaches to a cutting board and peel, starting with cut end, then cut in half, discarding pits.

Combine sugar and water in cleaned pot. Halve vanilla bean lengthwise with a paring knife and scrape seeds into pot, then add pod and bring mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add peaches, pitted sides down, to sugar syrup, then reduce heat and poach, covered, at a bare simmer 6 minutes. Turn peaches over and continue to poach, covered, until tender, 5 to 6 minutes more.  Cool peaches in poaching liquid in pot, uncovered, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Make cake: Heat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour a 9″ springform pan; set aside.  In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar and eggs on high speed until tripled in volume, pale, and thick, about 12 minutes.  Add vanilla extract until combined. Add flour and gently fold with a rubber spatula until just combined; pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  Let cool.

In a large pitcher, whisk together rum and condensed, coconut, and evaporated milks.  Pierce cake all over wit a toothpick and slowly drizzle milk mixture over top.  Chill until milks are completely absorbed, about 4 hours.  Slice into wedges and top with sliced poached peaches.

My husband and I just got done celebrating our third wedding anniversary.  Not a huge milestone, no, but we decided we are no longer newlyweds.

Considering we were 19 when we met, we have had to grow up together, jointly experiencing the evolution into adulthood – college, finances, careers, family – and the triumphs and bumps-in-the-road along the way.

After almost seven years of companionship, I think we have finally hit our groove.  It’s a blessing to still be in love.

Wooing with a fine dessert is one key to our relationship and few treats make my husband happier than this blueberry pie that will always remind me of our first summer living together.  If you are a blueberry fan, you will surely fall in love as well.

Blueberry Pie with Almond Crumble

Makes 8 servings

Adapted slightly from the July 2007 Bon Appetit

1 disk pie crust (your favorite recipe or this one)

Filling

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (or more) sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

7 cups fresh blueberries (32 ounces) or 32 ounces frozen blueberries (do not thaw)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Almond Crumble

1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour

4 ounces almond paste, broken into 1/3-inch pieces (about 3/4 cup loosely packed)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2  cup sliced almonds, divided

Roll out pie crust disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameterglass pie dish. Turn crust edges under and crimp decoratively, forming crust edge 1/4 inch above sides of pie dish. Refrigerate while preparing filling and topping.

For filling:
Whisk 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and cornstarch in heavy large saucepan to blend. Stir in blueberries and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens, frequently stirring gently, about 13 minutes. Chill filling until cool, about 1 hour. If more sweetness is desired, stir in sugar by tablespoonfuls.

For topping:
Combine first 4 ingredients in processor; blend until mixture begins to clump together.  Add 1/4 cup of sliced almonds and pulse for 10 seconds. Transfer to bowl and stir in remaining 1/4 cup almonds; chill 30 minutes. Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Spread blueberry filling evenly in unbaked crust. Sprinkle topping evenly over. Place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust and topping are golden and filling bubbles thickly, about 50 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

Berry season is in full swing!  I can never get enough of all the strawberries, blueberries, and especially raspberries.

The other day while I was making tiramisu at work, I thought it would be brilliant to combine this classic dessert’s silky, subtly sweet, mascarpone filling with my surplus of perfect summer berries.

Just a few tweaks here and there – nixing the coffee flavor in favor of refreshing raspberry via Framboise liqueur and replacing the usual garnish of cocoa powder for vibrant strawberries – resulted in a satisfying summer dessert highlighting the season’s finest.

Red, White, & Blue Tiramisu

Serves 6

Note:  To moisten the ladyfingers, you must make a simple syrup.  You will likely have some leftover and it can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one month.  This syrup would be great for brushing cake layers to add moisture and flavor.   There are two kinds of ladyfingers – hard and soft- for tiramisu you use the hard, oven baked, kind which can be found in the Italian or cookie sections of some grocery stores.

For syrup:

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped

2 tablespoons Framboise (raspberry liqueur)

For filling:

4 egg, yolks and whites separated

4 tablespoons sugar

8 oz mascarpone cheese

3/4 cup raspberries

3/4 cup blueberries

12-14 ladyfingers (see note)

10-12 sliced strawberries

Make syrup:  Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir until all the sugar is wet.  Add vanilla bean seeds and pod.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, swirling the pan around once or twice to help dissolve sugar.  Turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and let cook to room temperature.  Strain 1 cup of the syrup into a medium bowl and whisk in raspberry liqueur, set aside and save remaining syrup for a later use (see note).

Make filling:  In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of sugar until mixture thickens slightly and becomes light in color.  Add mascarpone cheese and continue to beat until well combined.  Remove mixture to a medium bowl and set aside.  In a clean bowl, using whip attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until they begin to get foamy.  With mixer still running, add remaining two tablespoons of sugar and beat until soft peaks form.  Add egg whites to mascarpone mixture and fold together until well incorporated.  Gently fold in raspberries and blueberries.

Assemble:  Dunk 6-7 ladyfinger into raspberry syrup until they soak up the syrup.  Arrange ladyfingers on the bottom of a 8 1/2- by – 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.  Top ladyfingers evenly with half of mascarpone filling.  Repeat with another layer of the remaining 6-7 ladyfingers soaked in syrup and  mascarpone filling.  Top with sliced strawberries.  Let dessert chill for at least 3 hours before serving.