Slicing 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
The 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
Even though today felt like spring, I know that winter is not yet half over… warm rich desserts still work this time of year. We may get a snowfall yet, but my cup is half full knowing that spring is almost here, or at least just around the corner. But, while the calendar still says winter, make a yummy mid-winter treat for your guests or family.
For a wedding between a British guy and an Indian girl last year, his request was to finish the meal with Sticky Toffee Pudding. We made a couple of changes to the traditional pudding after reading about the use of coffee for steeping the dates in BBC’s Good Food, and garnished it with gold leaf, bringing a little Bollywood to the dish (as remarked by a chef in the wedding party). For that event we topped it with a bit of whipped cream, but as shown here, a scoop of vanilla ice cream works beautifully as well. Continue reading
After getting all the remaining Transparent apples converted into pies, I started picking some of the abundant blackberries. Lainie, our 4-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog, grazes the lower 3 feet of the bushes, carefully pulling off the ones about to drop. She holds her lips back just a bit, and delicately holds the berry in her front teeth before pulling it off, by instinct or just clever? Anyhow, she makes for good company. I’m sure she doesn’t get as many thorns poking her shins and forearms like I do. Within several minutes of enjoying a late summer breeze while picking, I had enough to make the berry compote for an upcoming dessert, where they’ll be served with Glazed Polenta & Almond Cake.
This compote is best made with fresh berries, but no one will turn their noses up at it if you serve it mid-winter made from berries frozen the summer before. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, & Logan berries all work well in the recipe, whether they’re used solely or mixed with some of the other berries. Continue reading
Frozen nougat is a lovely way to end a meal. It is so light, and a half–cup serving is all that’s needed. If the dinner has been a full one, it’s nice to serve something light and cool for dessert. Remember that dessert is the last thing on your guests’ palates. It needs to be memorable, in a good way!
I’ve served this many times over the years, but in a very simple version. It was a bit of an epiphany for me to add in the espresso & bourbon, and switch the nuts to pistachio. When I was making this batch, I was making enough for twenty. After preparing the nuts (which I did the night before), it took me just over an hour to have all twenty covered and in the freezer, ready for a dinner in a couple of days’ time.
I served them with a tray of small mixed cookies, an easy but special finish to a great evening. Continue reading