April 16, 2013 § 3 Comments
A few days ago, I had an epiphany while I was hiking. I was thinking about food, as I often do, and was trying to decide what dessert to make that evening. I knew I wanted to use strawberries. I was thinking of staying simple, and doing strawberries and cream. Then I started thinking about how much I like lemon tarts and lemon curd. And then I realized, why not combine strawberries, lemon curd and whipped cream, and add shortcake to boot?!?
I thought I had come up with a completely original idea. When I got home, I took out my cookbooks to look up as many shortcake recipes as I could get my hands on, and low and behold, the first recipe I found “stole” my idea – they had their very own lemon curd shortcake recipe!
So there you have it. I may not have been the first to think of combining lemon curd, strawberries, cream and shortcake, but here is my take on it. And it was delightful, if I do say so myself.
April 1, 2013 § 1 Comment
Apples are (finally) out, and strawberries finally here.
Every fall I am thrilled to sink my teeth into my first crisp Pink Lady or Mutsu apple. I make apple sauce, apple cake and apple butter. I eat at least an apple a day, and I rave about my favorite apple varieties to anyone who will listen.
But by the time March rolls around, I am dreaming about the fruits of spring and summer, and can hardly stand the thought of one more mealy, late-season apple.
Well, mealy-apples will sustain me no more. Today, I opted for the glorious, if slightly under-ripe, strawberries at the farmers market. An entire half-flat of them!
They may not be perfectly sweet, but at the very least they represent the end of winter, and bring hope for the heaps of fruit that will soon overtake the farmers’ markets. In the coming months I will stuff myself with strawberries, stain my fingers with cherries, and eat more apricots, nectarines and plums than one woman is really entitled to. By the time fall rolls around again, I’m sure I will regain my appreciation of apples, but for now I will savor every berry I can get my hands on.
And if I don’t polish off my whole half-flat of strawberries by tomorrow, you can expect some strawberry-centered recipes later this week!
January 10, 2013 § Leave a comment
I’ve had a ton of citrus around the house lately. I got a bag of grapefruits as a holiday gift, impulse purchased a bag of tangerines that I couldn’t possibly finish myself, and my boyfriend has been on a lemon-orange juice kick lately. All this citrus reminded me of a risotto I made a few years back for my mom’s birthday, and I figured I might as well embrace the citrus trend while it lasted!
I understand, you might be skeptical about grapefruit risotto, but this recipe is lovely. The grapefruit and lemon give the risotto a light and fresh quality , and the avocado complements the citrus perfectly. I ate it as a main course, but it would also make a nice side dish.
One important note before you get going: taste your grapefruit before you add it to the risotto. I made this risotto twice this week because I failed to taste my grapefruit first. The grapefruits I used in the first batch happened to be extremely bitter, and the resulting risotto was unsalvagable. A normal amount of bitterness is fine, but if you wouldn’t eat your grapefruit raw, don’t put in the risotto! Just take a tiny taste fruit as you are removing it from the pulp, and hopefully you can avoid this predicament! « Read the rest of this entry »
December 29, 2012 § 2 Comments
If you are anything like me, you give yourself free reign to eat whatever desserts you please during the holidays. For me, this means cookies for breakfast, chocolates for snack, and some kind of treat with just about every meal. By the time Christmas is over, graham crackers and candied nuts are basically health food in my mind.
Once the holidays are over, I have to figure out strategy for cookie detox. At the same time, I never succeed in implementing a total ban on sweets, so I start with some semi-healthy cookie replacements.
If you find yourself in a similar predicament right around this time of year, and can still get your hands on some late-season persimmons, I cannot recommend this dessert enough. It is simple to make, and completely satisfying to eat. Though I’m still indulging in an excess of sweets at this point, this frozen persimmon delight has helped me to cut out at least a few daily chocolates.
October 25, 2012 § 2 Comments
In my family, we have a tradition of giving fruit trees as birthday gifts. I seem to be the most consistent participant in these exchanges. I’ve been on the receiving end of a an Asian pear tree and a pomegranate tree. My mom has a persimmon tree, and I just recently gave my dad an avocado tree – we have yet to see whether avocados can really thrive in the Bay Area.
I’m not sure how this tradition developed, or how I became one of the central participants. Neither of my sisters have been on the receiving end of a tree gift! Maybe I just loved fruit more than the average kid? I know that Asian pears and pomegranates were among my favorites from a young age. Or maybe it was because I used to spend a lot of time climbing fruit trees? When I was four and five, I would spend hours and hours perched in a fig tree in front of our house. The fig tree died a few years later – hopefully not as a result of my climbing – but I’ve never forgotten how much I loved that tree.
However the tradition began, it’s a great one. There aren’t that many presents that stick around year after yea! I guess if you weren’t a fruit lover, it would be an odd gift choice, but for me, I can’t think of anything better!
September 28, 2012 § 1 Comment
I never really fully appreciated apples until I lived on the east coast. You can definitely grow good apples in California, but they aren’t our very best fruit offering. When I moved to the east coast after college, my eyes were opened to all that apples could be. There were apple-picking excursions in upstate new york, and new apple varieties that were crisper than anything I’d had on the west coast. I remember when I first discovered what is now my all-time favorite apple, Mutsu. It literally blew my mind. I would sit on my couch marveling that an apple could be so crisp and tart and sweet all at once. I once texted a friend to brag about my apple. And for a while, I literally wanted Mutsus for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was out of control.
Even though I’m back in California now, my eyes are open to all that apples can be. And I’ve noticed that over the past few years, local markets and stores have begun to carry a wider range of apples, including Honey Crisp, Pink Pearl, and (finally!) my beloved Mutsu. As the days begin feeling more like fall, I’ve found myself craving apples once again, so I thought I’d start the season off on the right note with this simple and healthy apple butter. And, I suppose you should know that I actually made this apple butter with a future (considerably less healthy) recipe in mind. So get ready, apple butter will be making another appearance shortly! « Read the rest of this entry »
September 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
With my last two posts about watermelon, I finally feel like I’ve taken full advantage of summer and am ready for all of the incredible produce that comes with fall. To be honest, as much as I love the stone fruits, tomatoes and berries of summer, if we were talking favorite seasons, I’d probably have to go with autumn. There is something so crisp and lovely about the season.
My garden offers a particularly good illustration of seasonal transitions this year. Back in January, when it was time to get my seedlings going, I had surgery. This meant a late start on seedlings. Then, when it was time to transplant my seedlings into the garden in April, I was still on crutches (yes, I was on crutches for over 3 months). So I had to wait until late May! Given how late I was, it is really no surprise that I grew only one successful melon, that my tomatoes didn’t hit their full swing until mid-September, or my zucchini plants have just now stopped producing. I also have yet to see if any of my peppers or eggplants will ripen before the winter cold sets in, and today’s harvest included both a perfectly ripe melon and a deep orange winter squash!