Tag Archives: fruit

Basic Vanilla Cupcakes … Raspberry (and Blueberry) Cupcakes and Curd

Buying boxes of white or yellow cake mix is tempting, especially when they’re on sale.

It’s convenient and then you can dress up your cupcakes as you want. However, a basic vanilla cupcake batter can be whipped up fairly quickly, especially with a bit of planning. And, those boxes make enough batter for a two layer cake or two dozen medium cupcakes.

With this recipe, you only make enough batter for a single layer cake or, a dozen cupcakes. A lot less to find room for in your refrigerator freezer. And you’re not tempted to eat them all before they go bad when you’re on your own.

Blueberry cupcakes with lemon curd

Raspberry Vanilla Cupcakes – makes 1 dozen medium cupcakes

< 1/2 cup (100 g) butter, at room temperature, diced in 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour (or 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt)
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed (or blueberries, strawberries**, blackberries)

** If using strawberries, wash, hull and cut into 4 to 6 pieces depending on size.

Preheat oven to 350 deg F/ 170 deg C line 12 medium muffin tins with paper cases.

Using electric beaters, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Fold in half the flour, then all the milk, then the remaining flour, until just combined. Gently fold through the raspberries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 20 mins, or until the cakes are springy to a light touch. (A toothpick inserted in the center will come out cleanly. ) Leave the cupcakes in the muffin tin for 5 mins, then transfer the cupcakes onto a wire rack to cool.

When it came time to add the fruit, because I had bought both blueberries and raspberries, I decided to split my batter in half and add half the amount of fruit to each part. Now I have cupcakes with two different kinds of fruit.

The fruit was part of a sale of three 6 ounce packages for $5. The choices were blueberries, raspberries and strawberries but I passed on the latter and grabbed two packages of the raspberries so that I could make raspberry curd with one and still have some to eat straight or bake with.

Citrus curds are common, but you can use berries to make curds, as well, as long as you add some lemon juice.

Raspberry Curd Pavlova

Raspberry Curd – makes ~ 1 1/2 cup

6 oz/170 gm raspberries
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cups sugar
4 large egg yolks
2-3 tbsp unsalted butter

In a food processor or blender, whirl raspberries with lemon juice until pureed. Pour into a fine strainer set over a measuring cup. Stir with a spoon to force pulp through strainer; discard seeds. You should end up with a total of about 3/4 cups of lemon/raspberry juice.

In a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine juice, sugar and egg yolks.

Whisk the mixture and cook until thickened. (If you dip a wooden spoon into the mixture, you’ll be able to run a finger through the middle leaving a clean track on the back.) Strain to remove any cooked pieces of egg or missed seeds.

Refrigerate until cold and thick.

Basic Breakfast Quinoa and Nectarine Murabba/Compote

I don’t eat breakfast, as I generally don’t have time to do so, but this basic ‘porridge’ recipe inspired by Martha Stewart, featuring quinoa, might solve that problem in the future.

Basic Breakfast Quinoa

Basic Breakfast Quinoa – serves 4

1 cup quinoa
2 cups milk, whole or 2%
1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
pinch or two of ground cinnamon

Fruit Add-ins – amounts are rough estimates
1/4-1/3 cups dried fruits like apricots, cranberries, dates, raisins, prunes
1/3-1/2 cup fruit compote
1/2 cup fresh fruit like whole blueberries or diced firm fruit like apples, pears, peaches, nectarines

Soak quinoa for a half hour or rinse several times and then drain it well.

In a medium sized pan, bring the milk to a boil and stir in the prepared quinoa. Once the milk has returned to the boil, reduce the temperature to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar, salt and ground cinnamon, cover and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.

If using dried fruit, add it in with the brown sugar and cook for the additional 10 minutes. If using fresh fruit, add it in a few minutes before end of the final cooking period and cook for another 2-3 minutes. If using the fresh fruit compote, stir it in just before serving.

Additional add-ins: Roasted seeds like sunflower seeds may be added before serving or nuts like sliced almonds. For additional sweetness, a tablespoon or so of sweetened condensed milk may be poured over the quinoa.

This ‘porridge’ may be eaten warm or cold with additional milk poured over the top.

Breakfast quinoa with nectarine compote stirred in and more served on top

Dried cranberries and sweetened condensed milk … I didn’t have any oranges or I would have added some orange zest as well. Ready for cold milk to be poured over.

Another possible quick breakfast …

The inspiration for this fresh fruit compote recipe was found on “The Story of a Kitchen” blog

Nectarine Murabba/Compote served over drained yogurt

Nectarine Murabba/Compote – makes 2 cups

1 pound nectarines** (or apricots or peaches), peeled and diced into 1 inch pieces
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
4 cardamom pods, cracked
1/4 tsp rosewater
pinch of salt
juice of one lemon (use the juice of half a lemon if your fruit isn’t fully ripe)

** Free-stone fruit is preferred but cling-stone works too

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to the boil. Add the diced fruit, cardamom pods, rosewater, salt and the juice of half a lemon and stir through. Continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.

Taste one of the fruits and only add the rest of the lemon juice if it seems sweet enough.

Transfer the fruit to a 2 cup capacity glass canning jar. Pour over enough of the syrup to cover the fruit. Screw on the lid and let cool on the counter until it has reached room temperature and then refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Serve over drained yogurt for breakfast or as a dessert topping over ice cream or cake.

Pie … Sweet or Savoury

I haven’t made a pie in ages but the various flyer sales for stone fruits (nectarines, peaches and plums) tempted me and so I scoped out what was available. I ended up going to Food Basic and picking up a clamshell of nectarines cause I had a bad experience with last year’s basket of peaches. They were firm but not as sweet as I would have liked and I had to guess-timate how much sugar to add. I erred on the side of caution. With a scoop of ice cream the result was perfect but it was a bit tart on its own.

The next question was … which of several pie crust recipes should I use. I went with the one on the Crisco vegetable shortening package, though I replaced half the shortening with unsalted butter. The recipe makes enough pastry for a single double crust pie, but I made two minis in disposable aluminum pie tins instead.

Crisco Pie Crust Recipe – makes 1 double crust pastry, ~580 gm pastry, enough for 2 8″ bases, and 2 6 1/2″ tops, plus leftover pastry

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup vegetable shortening (or 1/2 cup unsalted butter, and 1/2 cup vegetable shortening)**
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg
2 tbsp ice cold water
1 tbsp vinegar

** What I used this time

 

Nectarine/Peach Mini Pie Filling Recipe – rough formula for filling

2 – 2 1/2 nectarines per mini pie shell
1 tbsp sugar per nectarine (if the fruit is fully sweet, reduce to 2 tbsp per each 3 nectarines)
1/2 tbsp cornstarch** per nectarine
pinch of salt

** If planning to freeze baked tart, use flour, otherwise, use cornstarch. For every 1 tbsp of cornstarch, you’ll need to use about 3 tbsp of flour. Also, cook whatever you’re thickening a few minutes longer to get rid of the raw flavor of the flour. Baking should take care of that issue. Plus, the filling will be more matte than glossy when using flour.

Preheat oven to 375 deg F.

Bake pies for 35-40 minutes on a baking sheet in case of overflow or melting of butter

The remaining pastry became a savoury tart with broccoli, Canadian (peameal) bacon and cheddar cheese. No waste at all. Though I still have five nectarines in the fridge to deal with.

NOTE: For a filling recipe, I used the same amounts and timing as in an earlier quiche recipe baked in the same ceramic pan. Pre-baking the crust is advised.

Happy Canada Day/ 4th of July Celebration!

Happy Canada Day!

and

Happy 4th of July!

 

I decided to combine the two celebrations, as they’re so close together, and make a nice meal for one (or two). A spatch-cocked little chicken was roasted and served with corn and spinach malfatti. Simple and tasty.

Dessert … well, I went a bit overboard there. I bought a 3 pack of fruit (2 blueberries and 1 raspberry for $5), mainly because I wanted to make blueberry muffins and came up with two fast and easy “red/white and blue” themed desserts.

French vanilla ice cream …

and

Vanilla bean panna cotta with blueberries and raspberries

Boring Friday

I’m bored again and in the mood to ramble. (Lucky you if you’re reading this.)

After a warmish week which culminated in a HOT Thursday, I woke up to rain and a much cooler Friday.

School/work is done as the last class was yesterday and the chance of getting a call during exam week is slim. Just got my VISA bill, and though expected, the hit is a bit of an ouchy due to the plumbing bill. At least now I can use the upstairs tub after a good snaking out and the downstairs tub won’t be dripping hot water … and money. It’s the last of the big bills (knock wood) til I get my 2nd set of city taxes. Still, it means I have to be very frugal until October when I would be getting my first paycheque of the new school year.

I need to go to the library and pick up a book that I’ve got on hold, but other than that, I have no reason to go out.

So, I guess I’ll do some cooking or rather, baking.

Speaking of … I’ve been scavenging through the fridge and freezer again for meals or components to go with recent purchases.

A bit under two pounds of fresh asparagus for $3.50. Enough for four servings with minimal wastage.

A tray of five boneless and skinless chicken breasts, picked up for 40% off, means I ended up with five top cutlets. One of the cutlets became an asparagus roll-up which was crumbed and baked, along with fifteen chicken tenders from the bottom of the breasts, for supper. The other four cutlets and ten of those tenders went into the freezer. Pretty good for $10. The KFC flyer has a bucket of 8 chicken tenders (ok, they’re bigger pieces) for $10. I laughed.

PS: The bread crumbs used for the cutlet and tenders were made with my own sourdough bread.

The combo pack of six pork chops for under $10 gave me two great comfort meals of pan fried pork chops, baked asparagus, mashed potatoes and pan gravy and there are four more chops for the freezer.

With a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream, my fudgy chocolate cupcakes made for a great fast dessert.

The scraps of pasta from my ravioli became tagliatelle and were combined with beef stroganoff from the freezer. Enough for three meals. I’m glad I didn’t throw away those scraps. And, a beautiful fresh mango became a mango lassi when combined with milk, sugar and some yogurt.

I HAVE baked … a tray of sourdough cinnamon rolls, most of which are looking for a good home.

It’s been a productive week in spite of not working at all.

Happy Mother’s Day (2017) … Fudgy Chocolate Cake

In many households, dads barbecue to save mom from having to cook on this, their special day. Which you might think is a very considerate thing to do.

My question is … who does the dishes and cleanup, let alone did the shopping, for what gets bbq’d?

Dad?

I DON’T think so. 🙂

For all the mothers (step-mothers, foster mothers, grandmothers etc) out there, I hope you had a great day surrounded by your loved ones. Who show their appreciation to you for all you do, year round.

I made a fudgy chocolate cake yesterday which many mothers would appreciate. Instead of a cake however, I made a dozen cupcakes and two mini cakes that would serve two people. They were frosted very simply with a ganache (whipping cream and chocolate) and there’s a pretty strawberry sauce to go with it.

Strawberry Sauce – makes about a cup of sauce

3 tbsp water
2 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 cup thinly sliced strawberries
3 tbsp granulated sugar
a squeeze of lemon juice (it’ll liven up the flavour of the sauce)

Stir together the water and cornstarch in a small bowl until combined.

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, stir together the cornstarch mixture, sliced strawberries, lemon juice and sugar.

Bring mixture to a simmer, whisking frequently and cook for a minute or two. Cool for 5 minutes.

Puree in a food processor.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl.

I bbq’d a sirloin steak, a large pork chop, several pork souvlaki skewers for the rest of the week and some pineapple rings. The steak was served with a baked potato (cooked in the microwave and finished on the bbq), sauteed white mushrooms and a simple salad.

 

Cupcakes and frosting

 

Sweets to the …

… well, ME.

A change up from the endless bread posts.

I tried out a recipe for red velvet cake for the first time by making a half batch and baking cupcakes. Next time … do NOT double the cocoa cause the liquid red food colouring ended up sort of garnet instead of the ‘red’ that the person who posted/rec’d the recipe had. Since the cupcakes went into the freezer, I didn’t make a frosting but the cream cheese/butter combo is probably warranted.

And I made a batch of date oatmeal turnovers using a tried and true recipe. I made a few changes to switch things up like NOT pulsing the oatmeal flakes a bit in the food processor, which was a mistake. There’s a bit too much texture/roughage for my taste. And, I decided to try the egg glaze to see if I liked the shiny look … meh!! (I don’t think the look is worth using up a perfectly good egg especially as I ended up throwing away the rest.) For serving, I’d make up an icing sugar/butter glaze and drizzle it over the turnovers.

A few other things I’ve made include a batch of Nutella panna cotta

ETA (04/12/2017): I decided to add the recipe in case anyone is interested.

Nutella Panna Cotta – makes ~1 3/4 cups, serves 4-6

1 cup/250ml whipping cream (**1/2 cup 2% milk and 1/2 cup whipping cream)
25g/2 tbsp sugar (**reduce to 1 tbsp next time)
1 tsp gelatine (**used 1 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 tbsp cold water
1/2 cup Nutella
**pinch of salt (optional)

** Adjustments made

In a small bowl, add the gelatine and sprinkle the water over the top. Allow to bloom.

Scald the cream in a saucepan on the stove, or in a microwave safe bowl, and stir (or whisk) in the sugar and salt. Add a bit of the warmed cream to the gelatine mixture and stir until the gelatine is dissolved. Stir the Nutella into the warm cream until it’s thoroughly dissolved. Add the gelatine mixture and stir. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a measuring cup. Portion the panna cotta mixture evenly into 4-6 containers.

Let set in the fridge for at least 2 hrs. Four is preferable if you can wait that long. There’s no need to turn out the panna cotta. Eating it out of a pretty glass or other serving dish is fine.

.. and a quick sundae with the last of the French vanilla ice cream in my freezer and some sea salt caramel sauce.

Fruit/Herb “Shrubs” or Drinking Vinegar … Blueberry-Ginger Shrub

If you buy flavoured sparkling water or those flavour crystal packets, this alternative is cheaper and probably healthier.

“Shrubs” are fruit and/or herb and spice sugar syrups with a vinegar base. A simple 1:1:1 ratio of the fruit, sugar and vinegar is used. In the ‘cold method’ the cleaned and diced fruit is macerated with sugar, strained and then the syrup is mixed with the vinegar. In the ‘hot method’, vinegar is brought just to or under the boiling point, before it’s poured over the fruit and allowed to macerate overnight or up to several days. Then, the fruit is strained and the liquid is mixed with sugar. In both cases, the resulting liquid is stored in sterilized bottles under refrigeration.

I used an alternative to the cold method which I found posted here.

Blueberry-Ginger Shrub

1 cup blueberries (any berry may be used though cherries, peaches, plums and pears are good too)
3/4 – 1 cup white sugar (you may choose to use the lower quantity of sugar)
1 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar**
1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated

In a large jar, combine blueberries and sugar and macerate with a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon. Pour the vinegar over fruit and grate the ginger on top. Stir, cover with a lid and place into the fridge for 2-3 days until all sugar is dissolved.

Sieve the liquid through a fine mesh sieve, cheesecloth or coffee filter. (Don’t discard the spent fruit. It can be served over drained yogurt or added to smoothies or muffins.)

Place the sieved liquid into a fresh, sterilized jar and return to the fridge.

To serve, mix 1  tablespoon of the shrub syrup into a glass of still or sparkling water. Taste and add more syrup, if desired. Shrub syrups may also be used as cocktail mixers, in salad dressings, and more.

** According to on line sources (uncredited):  Any vinegar may be used, as long as it is labeled as having at least 5 % acidity. Distilled white vinegar has a clear, sharp flavour but may be too acrid for most people’s tastes; apple cider vinegar tends to be milder with a fruity flavour; and wine/champagne vinegars, while more expensive, often provide a superior smooth flavor. Balsamic vinegar is delicious with cherries and strawberries.

Sweets to the Sweet … Raspberry Jello Mini Meringues

NOTE: I’ve made all three desserts (citrus curd, madeleines and meringues) before. However, there’s a new TWIST for the meringue recipe.

Although not having a huge sweet tooth, I recently developed a lemon craving and decided to make lemon curd with the two lemons in my fridge. I had enough citrus juice for my recipe as I was able to supplement the shortage with lime juice, but ran short of zest for my second planned dessert … madeleines. I was sure I had some lemon zest in the freezer but I was wrong and ended up using orange zest instead. I love that citrus varieties are mostly interchangeable in cooking.

After making a batch of lemon curd, I ended up with extra egg whites.

Now, I’ve tossed more than my share of egg whites down the drain, in my time,  as I can only eat so many meringues and pavlovas and my single attempt at sponge cake was met with disaster. However, these bright coloured mini meringues caught my eye while web surfing. They get their colour and flavour from something that many of us have in our pantries … a package of Jello. You’ll notice that the vibrant colour of the mixture pales dramatically as the whites are being beaten so, if you want something brighter, you’ll  have to add gel paste to boost the colour of the final product.

Raspberry Jello mini meringues – You can find the recipe for these meringues on line here.

I decided to pipe these mini meringues as I was hoping for lovely ridges on the final product but I had problems getting stiff peaks, and the ridges softened by the time I got the entire tray piped and into the oven. Of course, you can spoon out larger mounds and and serve them as colourful pavlovas topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits.

Orange poppy seed madeleines – Madeleine pans will give your little cakes the classic design when presented bottom side up, but if you don’t have any, you can certainly bake the little butter cakes in mini muffin tins.

Danish Pastry Creations … something old, something new

Some time ago, I used an easy danish recipe (no knead) found on my friend Zsuzsa‘s blog to make a cherry braid. I made the braid again recently, but with a frangipane (sugar, softened butter and ground almond meal) base for the home made cherry filling, rather than the previous cream cheese.

I’m especially proud to say that both these pastries were made with items already in my fridge and freezer and nothing was bought specifically for them. Now what do I do with all the stuff in my pantry?

Cherry-Frangipane Braid

The braid ended up looking pretty good, but then it WAS my second one and I learned a few things.

 

Once the glaze is set, I’ll wrap it up for gift giving. Though I may trim off the top and bottom to square if off. (And so I can taste it.)

Frangipane Filling

4 tbsp/1/4 cup granulated white sugar
3 tbsp ground almonds
2 tbsp (25g or 1oz) butter, softened to room temperature

Combine sugar, ground almonds and softened butter, and beat together with a wooden spoon until soft and creamy.

And for something new … I adapted a sticky lemon curd roll with a cream cheese glaze recipe I found on line to use the mixed citrus curd I had in my fridge.

Sticky Lemon Curd Rolls

The pastry is not kneaded, just mixed together and then refrigerated until the next day when it will be firm enough to be rolled out. Flour the pastry and your working surface well and if it softens too much while shaping, return to the refrigerator for a  half hour or so. After rolling the pastry out and trimming it to the correct size, a lemon-butter filling is spread on the pastry and then lemon curd is spread over the top. I had a mixed citrus curd in the fridge so that’s what I used.

The rolls were placed in a buttered baking dish, covered and allowed to rise for about an hour in a warm place until doubled and then baked.

Instead of using the cream cheese glaze for the rolls, I went with a simple, tangy lemon (lime, in this case) butter version

Lemon-Butter Glaze

1 cup icing sugar
1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 tbsp lemon juice

Combine the above in a small bowl until smooth, and then add water, about a tsp at a time  (~1 tbsp or so needed) to thin the glaze enough to drizzle over.

NOTE: I poured the glaze into a small freezer bag, cut off the corner and squeezed it over the top.