Category Archives: desserts

Wine Poached Apples with Honey Whipped Cream

Image by J. Pescatore. Licensed for commercial reuse under Creative Commons.

The inspiration for this unusual holiday dessert comes from La Cucina Naturale, a wonderful cooking blog that offers recipes made with whole, healthy foods. In her recipe, she poaches chopped apples in red wine and spices, with a touch of honey for sweetness. Our version keeps the apples and adds homemade hone whipped cream as a garnish.

Adding nuts, pumpkin pie spice, or rum would help add another layer of sophistication to our base recipe, but it tastes great as-is. If you can’t find organic or local apples, pears work well in this recipe, too.

Merlot Poached Apples with Honey Whipped Cream (serves 8 )
6-8 organic apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 1/2 cup organic Merlot or other full-bodied red wine
6 tablespoons honey, divided
1 1/2 cups whipping cream

Place the apple slices, wine, and three tablespoons of honey in a very small saucepan. The deeper the apples are submerged in the wine, the better. If your pot is too large for the apples to be completely submerged, add a little more wine. Bring the mixture to a boil slowly over medium low heat. Boil uncovered for about 30 minutes, until apples have softend and wine mixture has reduced.

Meanwhile, place whipping cream in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat the cream until it begins to stiffen and peaks are beginning to form. Continue to whip the cream, drizzling in three tablespoons of hone, until stiff peaks form.

Serve the poached apples along with some cooking liquid in wine glasses, topping generously with whipped cream.

This dish is part of our Organic Entertaining on a Budget series. A complete menu of recipes is available here.

Advertisements

Blueberry-Zucchini Bread

Photo from My Baking Addiction

I first came across the idea of blueberry zucchini bread a while back, but many of the recipes out there are surprisingly unhealthy, considering the star ingredients are a fruit and a veggie. So when I went looking for a lightened-up version, I turned to My Baking Addiction. I’ve said before that I don’t do a lot of baking, but when I do, I often visit this site. Her recipes are delicious and her photos are lovely, too (don’t you love the one I showcased above?).

This version of blueberry-zucchini bread was just what I was looking for. Not overly sweet, it only calls for 1 cup of sugar (half white, half brown), and uses half white, half whole wheat flour to add a little extra fiber. It’s a perfect way to use up a bounty of blueberries and zucchini as well as sneak veggies into a snack kids will love, but adults love it smeared with a little butter along with their morning coffee. Well, I do at least. I guess I can’t speak for the whole adult population, but I’m sure many of them would agree with me.

Blueberry-Zucchini Bread (from My Baking Addiction)

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar; lightly packed
1 cup shredded zucchini
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugars. Fold in the zucchini. Beat in the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Gently fold in the blueberries. Transfer to the prepared loaf pan.

Bake 55-65 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center of a loaf comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes in pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

– Stephanie

Fig-Almond Cookies

figcookies_t

So, the almond part of these cookies came about by accident. I knocked a bottle of vanilla off of the counter and was left wondering if I should just omit the extra flavoring, or find a substitute. I spotted a bottle of almond extract in the pantry and figured I’d give it a go. Happily, it worked! If I’d thought about it at the time, I would have stirred in some sliced almonds too, but I did not, so we’ll save that addition for another day.

I don’t do a ton of baking, but when I was getting started with these cookies Ryan asked if he could help, and I was reminded how fun it is for kids to help out in the kitchen. Sure, the process usually goes slower and you usually end up with flour in your hair, but hey, it’s all in a day’s work. Some things he was able to do:

  • Unwrap butter and put it in the mixing bowl
  • Pour sugar and flour into the bowl
  • Pour the cracked egg into the bowl
  • Turn on the mixer
  • Count out how many eggs, cups of flour, sugar, etc. we needed

The hard part for kids (at least, for mine) is waiting for the cookies to bake. Luckily these guys only take 10 minutes. They come out soft and delicious, just how a cookie should be.

Fig-Almond Cookies (adapted from Seasonal Chef)

1 cup chopped fresh figs
1/3 cup water
1 cup room-temperature butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375. Bring water and figs to a simmer in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened (about 5 minutes). Set aside to cool.

Beat butter with sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and almond extract. Blend well. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix into the creamed mixture. Stir in the cooled figs. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto lightly greased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Wait a few minutes, then remove cookies and cool on wire racks.

– Stephanie

Basil Ice Cream with Strawberry Ripple


This dessert tastes like summer vacation to me.  Ice cream is the quintessential warm-weather indulgence, and the tart strawberry ripple undulating through this recipe’s sweet basil cream makes it the perfect poolside snack.

The inspiration for this sweet treat came from my sister in-law, Fatima. When I was visiting her last Christmas, she taught me to make mint chocolate chip ice cream from scratch using bunches of fresh spearmint to flavor the ice cream custard.  I used Fatima’s technique along with fresh basil from Pure Luck in Dripping Springs, Texas, to create this not-too-sweet basil ice cream.

When I was testing this recipe, I discovered that the earthy flavor of basil creates a very full-bodied ice cream. To punctuate and balance that richness I used some homemade strawberry jam to create a ripple: a thin layer of sauce that’s distributed throughout the ice cream.

Creating afruit ripple in home-churned ice cream is easy, and all you need is some jam, pie filling or sweetened fruit puree. As soon as the churned ice cream has been poured into a storage container, gently spread an even layer of jam or fruit puree across the top of the ice cream. Cover and freeze as usual, and when you serve the ice cream later a perfect ripple will appear automatically in each scoop.

If you’re out of fresh strawberry jam, peaches from Caskey Orchards in San Marcos or blackberries  would pair just as well with basil, and they’re in season now. To create a blackberry or peach ripple, you can macerate chopped fruit or whole berries in sugar and puree them, or you can use your favorite recipe for pie filling or freezer jam and puree the finished product. Whatever fruit, jam or pie filling you use, it’s important that the ripple be completely smooth since the high water content of whole berries or peach chunks turn them into ice cubes if they freeze.

Basil Ice Cream with Strawberry Ripple (yields 1.5 quarts)

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 pinch salt
1 bunch fresh basil
5 large egg yolks
3/4 cup strawberry jam

Before you begin, you’ll need some specific equipment for this recipe: a mesh strainer, a saucepan, a whisk, a few spoons, a 1.5 quart ice cream maker, and a few bowls: one large metal mixing bowl which will sit in an ice bath (use a bigger bowl or the sink for this) and a small mixing bowl. A kitchen thermometer isn’t absolutely necessary, but it is useful.

1. Wash and dry basil and tear it into several handfuls of loose leaves and stems. In a medium pan, warm milk, sugar, one cup heavy cream, salt, and basil. Stir occasionally. Once mixture is hot, about 150 degrees, remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes to infuse basil flavor.

2. Set a large metal bowl over an ice bath (a bunch of ice in your sink or in a larger bowl.) Pour the reserved cup of heavy cream into the bowl and set the mesh strainer on top. If you haven’t already separated your egg yolks, do that now, and set them aside until step 4.

3. Once 30 minutes has passed, remove the basil leaves and stems from the infused cream by pouring the mixture through a mesh strainer into a small bowl.  Use the back of a spoon to press down on the basil leaves, squeezing out any remaining liquid, then discard the basil.*  Return the infused cream mixture to the pan.

4.  Rewarm the infused cream mixture over medium low heat. In a separate bowl (the one you strained the cream into before is fine) whisk together the egg yolks. Temper the egg yolks by ladling the warm, infused cream into the egg yolks a little bit at a time, whisking constantly, until the egg yolks are warm.  Pour the warmed egg yolks into the pan with the rest of the infused cream.

5. Cook the custard, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of your spoon, or at about 170 degrees.

6. Immediately strain the custard into the big mixing bowl with the reserved cream. Stir together over the ice bath until cool. Transfer cooled custard to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Overnight is better.

7. Freeze the ice cream according to the directions that came with your ice cream maker.  When ice cream has reached soft serve consistency, transfer it to an airtight container and gently spread strawberry jam in an even layer over the top of the ice cream. Freeze for at least three hours before serving.

*I saved the basil leaves in a Tupperware in the fridge and used them to sweeten tea throughout the week. This was a real treat and much less indulgent than the ice cream!

Peach & Blackberry Compote w/ Basil Syrup

Peach & Blackberry Compote with Basil Syrup

Peach & Blackberry Compote with Basil Syrup

Recipe from Eating Well

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 3 sprigs fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 2-1/2-inch strips orange zest
  • 3 cups sliced peeled peaches (3-4 medium) –see Tip below
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions:

Combine sugar and wine in small saucepan; bring to a simmer. Remove from heat. Add 3 basil sprigs and orange zest; stir to immerse. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes.

Strain syrup into a small bowl, pressing on basil and zest to release maximum flavor.

Shortly before serving, combine peaches, blackberries, lemon juice and basil-infused syrup in a serving bowl; toss gently to coat. Serve garnished with basil sprigs.

TIPS & NOTES

Tip: To peel peaches, dip in boiling water for 30 or 40 seconds to loosen their skins. Let cool slightly, then slip off skins with a paring knife.

Vegan Greenling: Chard Pizza; Strawberry Muffins

Super delish recipes this week!
http://ow.ly/4B9C4

Strawberry Preserves and Hand Pies

I think it’s nearly impossible to walk past fresh strawberries at the farmer’s market without buying a pint. (Or four.) So between our Greenling Local Box and two trips to the farmer’s market last week, I had six pints of local strawberries in the fridge on Saturday morning. Two pints were from Gundermann Acres in Wharton, two were from Naegelin Farms in Lytle, and two pints were from Two Happy Children Farm in Taylor, Texas.

So many strawberries won’t keep more than a few days, so I decided to make some jam to use up my haul of berries. I am an inexperienced canner, so Michael Chiarello’s recipe for strawberry preserves seemed like a great place to start: not-to-sweet, and no added pectin. His recipe calls for a lot of berries, some citrus, and a pinch of rosemary and black pepper. I made it my own by substituting oranges for the lemon, omitting the salt, increasing the rosemary and pepper, and cutting the sugar down a bit. The rosemary I used is from Pure Luck in Dripping Springs, and the oranges are from G&S Groves down in McAllen, Texas.

Here’s my version of the recipe, scaled down for just one pint of strawberries.

Strawberry Preserves (Each pint of strawberries will yield about 1 cup of jam)
Adapted from Michael Chiarello’s recipe for strawberry preserves
1 pint strawberries, cleaned, hulled and chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
pinch black pepper
juice of 1/2 an orange, about 1 tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

In a saucepan with high sides, mix all ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat. Keep close watch on the pan with a spoon at the ready– strawberries will foam up if you’re not careful! Once the mixture comes to a rolling boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until jam is thick and syrupy. Around the half-hour mark, the consistency of the jam will be thick and the mixture will look glossy. You can test the consistency of the finished jam by spooning a blob onto a very cold plate. Wait a minute, then draw your finger through the jam. If the jam stays separated on the plate, it’s ready! If the jam runs back together, keep cooking. Once the jam is set to your standards, transfer it to a bowl to cool to room temperature. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator and use it up within the week.

My six pints of berries made a huge batch of the jam, and while it’s not as good as Confituras‘ I am really pleased with my first-ever attempt at strawberry preserves.

You can see that the preserves have a lovely texture: soft, chopped pieces of berries are suspended in a thick syrup. Homemade jam usually has a softer set than store-bought, and this is wonderful to spread on muffins, toast, or swirled atop oatmeal. Next time I make it I am going to experiment with increasing the sugar and using lemon juice to try to get a brighter flavor from the berries.

Tonight I used some leftover pie crust and 1/4 cup of the preserves to make these pretty hand pies. They’re kind of like strawberry Pop-Tarts, only they taste like real strawberries and there’s no red food coloring.

The finished hand pies were lovely, except for one that I overfilled. A whole chunk of strawberry spurted out of the side of the pie while it was in the oven.

I giggled when I saw it because it looked like it was blowing me a big raspberry! Er, strawberry!