Nectarine Bourbon Dessert Sauce

IMG_0357Slicing up a few pieces of summer fruit, dashing in some rich bourbon and a bit of sugar makes an amazing summer fruit sauce. Delicious with any dessert you want a bit of sauce with, a simple vanilla ice cream, or perhaps a delicate panna cotta, or a decadent slice of cheesecake. Continue reading

Mango & Ginger Compote

IMG_9079The first time we travelled as a family to Maui, we wanted to show the girls all the little experiences that can make a Hawaiian vacation an adventure.   Ready to explore those things that were different from home, we stopped at a VW bus parked at the side of the road with fruit for sale. The ancient hippy in his bleached-out tank top, led us into the back of his van to show us boxes of fruit. He took hold of my wrist, and placed two of his fingers on the top of my fore arm and gently pressed down, “this is how a ripe mango should feel, firm, but giving”. I’ve never forgotten that simple little lesson, and use it unconsciously when shopping.

During the same early March trip, we were buying fresh fish burritos for supper, and I asked the time of year that mangoes ripen. We were told that they usually started ripening in May. After just having bought some “local” ripe mangoes from our friendly neighbourhood hippy, I realized that he was just another huckster using a line for a sale. Although, the mangoes were delicious, and we ate them happily believing that they were handpicked from a tree somewhere in the jungle.

The burrito maker told us about a tree loaded with mangoes, which was going to be removed in a vacant lot. We headed out following the directions for the lot, with one daughter full of excitement, and the older one in disbelief that her parents were actually going to go pick mangoes in a vacant lot. She was old enough to continue on, while the three of us made good use of our climbing and reaching skills and picked many hard green mangoes.

Packing to return home, the mangoes were tucked in amongst our clothing to prevent bruising. Once home, they all eventually ripened, and were perfect. Just firm enough, yet giving, as I’d been taught.

Here’s a simple little compote to dollop on rice pudding, tapioca, custard, or Panna Cotta. Continue reading

Lemon Coconut Bars

IMG_8255Although Sheila’s Lemon Bars hold a very special place in the hearts of our family and friends, sometimes I want to create something just a bit more complex.   By adding coconut to the shortbread crust, it gives a lovely new quality to the original. Topped with an extra thick layer of the lemony custard, they become more of a dessert instead of a snack. Continue reading

Cranberry Almond Gratin

IMG_9201At a recent event, I wanted to serve something not too sweet for dessert. As we had to work feeding a large group from limited ovens, I thought that if I could pull the dessert out just before putting the meat into the oven, it would still be slightly warm for dessert. I decided to use the old standard, a gratin.

Using cranberries for the fruit, and a ground almond batter, made a tart & light dessert, which we topped with Orange Creme, a couple of pieces of Candied Orange Peel, and put a few pieces of segmented oranges alongside. Once the guests have gone through appetizers, salads, and a main buffet, I really like to give them a dessert that refreshes their taste buds, and isn’t overly huge, or heavy. This little gratin is a perfect ending for either a fancy dinner, or as a weekend treat for family & friends. Continue reading