Spiced Pineapple Puff Tart

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake is as classic as it comes but pineapple tart or pie, not so much. The original recipe appeared in a fund-raising cookbook in the USA around 1924. Later Gold Metal Flour came out with a full page ad in a women’s magazine in 1925.

Since then, there are many variations to this classic cake. The sweet-tart flavor of pineapple works beautifully alongside a wide range of companion flavors and ingredients as well as the gentle spices of ginger, cinnamon and vanilla to enhance it just a bit more.

Because this particular fruit doesn’t ripen further after being picked, its good to look for a pineapple that is heavy for its size, with a rich, sweet fragrance.

Pineapple pie is not the number one star among pies. In the fall and winter season, its probably apple and in spring and summer, strawberry or maybe blueberry. However, I thought I’d make a ‘hybrid’ version of the old classic. This pineapple tart looks beautiful presented as one large ring, although it could easily be made into individual tarts as well. Of course, don’t hesitate to top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped topping.

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Spiced Pineapple Puff Tart
Instructions
Spiced Syrup
  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter then add ginger, cinnamon & sugar; stir to dissolve. Add orange juice & bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat, add vanilla & allow to sit for at least 30 minutes to infuse flavors. Peel pineapple & cut into quarters. Remove the core, then slice into 1 cm chunks, then place them into a deep dish. Reheat the syrup; pour over pineapple & allow to marinate until ready to use.
Assembly
  1. Roll the pastry out on a piece of parchment paper to a thickness of 1/8-inch, then trim to make a large circle. Cut out about a 2-inch circle from the center to form a ring. Cut any pastry that has been trimmed off into pieces & place on top of circle giving it a second layer. Transfer to a baking sheet & place in fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  3. Strain the syrup from the pineapple into a small saucepan. Add cornstarch; place over a medium heat to thicken.
  4. Prick the pastry ring all over with a fork, then arrange the pineapple pieces in a fan around the ring.
  5. Dust the tart liberally with powdered sugar & bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is caramelized & golden brown. When ready to serve, drizzle with spiced syrup & top with a scoop of ice cream.

Stuffed Baked Jumbo Shrimp

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The word ‘new’ brings thoughts of hope and an opportunity to focus on new goals and challenges. Throughout the world, New Year’s Day is filled with traditions and symbolic ritual with many of the traditions revolving around food. Certain foods symbolize wealth, prosperity, health and good luck for the coming year. Fish are believed to be a lucky new year’s eve food because their scales resemble coins and they swim in schools which evokes the idea of abundance.

If you want to have seafood other than fish … shrimp, clams, mussels, squid and oysters are all thought to be good choices as new year’s ‘lucky foods’. It seems the start of a new year has a tendency to turn even non-believers a bit superstitious.

This shrimp dish can be used either as an appetizer or a main course. Brion & I love shrimp so we made it a full meal deal!

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Stuffed Baked Jumbo Shrimp
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Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine stuffing mix, mayonnaise, Old Bay seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, egg & water. Stir to combine & set aside to thicken slightly.
  2. Butterfly shrimp by making light incisions in the inner part of the shrimp starting from the tail down; remove veins trying not to slice too deep. Season shrimp lightly with sea salt.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease a baking dish. Divide filling between shrimp. Place stuffed shrimp into prepared baking dish. Drizzle with melted butter & bake for 20-25 minutes.

Shrimp, Mushroom & Artichoke Casseroles

The art of casserole creation is a blend of inspiration and what’s on hand. The word casserole is used to refer both to an ovenproof baking dish as well as the baked, savory food item baked in it.

In North America, the Campbell’s Soup Company started publishing casserole recipes in the 1940’s as a way to promote sales for their cream soups. Casserole cooking goes back to slow-cooking dishes in earthenware containers. The ingredients are usually bound with some kind of sauce and often they are leftovers from a previous meal. It can be layered or all ingredients might be mixed together.

The height of the casserole era was during the 1950’s & 1960’s. This style of cooking was popular because it didn’t require a lot of constant watching and was hailed as the way forward for busy, efficient homemakers. By the 1970’s, quiche came to look down on the humble casserole.

Nevertheless, Brion and I really enjoy a casserole and this one ticks all the boxes for us.

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Shrimp, Mushroom & Artichoke Casseroles
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, Filipino
Servings
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Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, combine 1 cup salted water with 1/2 cup rice; cover & bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer gently for 12-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed & rice is tender. Fluff with fork & remove to a dish; set aside. Add 1 Tbsp butter to saucepan & saute sliced mushrooms.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Butter either 2-3 individual casserole dishes or a 9 x 9-inch baking dish. Set aside. Drain marinated artichoke hearts (reserving 2 Tbsp) & halve each piece. In a large bowl, whisk together soup, Alfredo sauce, Worcestershire, artichoke marinade, salt & pepper until combined. Gently stir in cooked rice, mushrooms, artichokes, shrimp (cut each in thirds) & parsley.
  3. Spoon mixture into prepared dishes. Combine Parmesan with buttered crumbs & sprinkle over casseroles. Bake until shrimp are cooked through, approximately 25 minutes.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Wedges

Despite originating in the rain forests of Queensland and New South Wales in eastern Australia, macadamia trees were first commercially grown in Hawaii. These slow growing, tropical evergreen trees flower differently from most other fruit and nut trees. The macadamia tree grows racemes; a flower cluster with separate flowers along the stalk at equal distances on a central stem. A 10 cm stalk can carry hundreds of tiny flowers. Each raceme spray of 40-50 flowers produces from 4-15 nutlets which ripen into macadamia nuts. These nuts are coveted for their sweet buttery flavor and creamy texture. It takes machinery to crack the shell, which may explain why they rank as the world’s most expensive nut.

We are fast approaching the Christmas season when all things ‘decadent‘ are up front and center in our dessert plans. Some years ago, I made a chocolate macadamia nut flan for a Christmas company gathering. I baked it in a large tart pan, cut it into eight slices, then cut each slice into four ‘wedges‘. It was a good way to serve such an elegant (& expensive) dessert at a stand-up event.

I was thinking of desserts that could be made and frozen ahead of all the hustle and bustle. So nice to pull such decadence out of the freezer and serve on short notice.

Macadamia nuts pair particularly well with coconut, chocolate and fish. They can be substituted for other nuts measure for measure in most recipes and visa versa without compromising the integrity of the original recipe. Some acceptable choices would be Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and cashews.

While this recipe is a bit time consuming, it is well worth the effort.

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Chocolate Macadamia Nut Wedges
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Ingredients
Crust
Filling
Servings
Ingredients
Crust
Filling
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Instructions
Crust
  1. In a food processor, combine flour, salt & butter. Using short pulses, process until the mixture resembles oatmeal. Add ice water & pulse quickly until the mixture begins to come together but don't let it actually form a ball. Transfer the mixture to a lightly floured surface & gather it into a ball with your hands. Gently flatten into a smooth disk about 1 1/2-inches thick & wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm enough to roll out, at least an hour.
  2. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 14-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Fit into an 11-inch round tart/flan pan with a re-movable bottom; trim dough flush with rim. Chill 30 minutes or overnight.
Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, sugar & liqueur until combined. Whisk in flour & salt then butter. Stir in chocolate until combined. Pour into chilled pastry shell. Arrange whole nuts on top.
  2. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. & continue baking until crust & filling are golden, about 35 minutes more. If tart is browning to quickly, tent with foil. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. To serve, cut tart into 8 slices then cut each slice into 4 'wedges'.
Recipe Notes
  • You'll notice the chocolate forms a layer on the bottom. If you want it to have a more decadent look, just drizzle a bit more chocolate on top after it's baked.

Easter ‘Ube’ Cheesecake Baskets

In my second blog for the month of November/2018, I had featured an article on ‘Ube’ Sweet Rolls. This was my first experience using this interesting Filipino purple yam. Since we had really enjoyed the flavor, why not take it further?!

First, I just wanted to talk a bit more about this tuber. Ube originated in the Philippines and refers to a bright purple sweet potato. Traditionally it is boiled and mashed with coconut milk and sweetened condensed milk to form essentially ‘dessert mashed potatoes’.  Unlike Matcha or Durian that have intense scents and flavors, ube doesn’t require a developed palate to enjoy.

It is easy to confuse ube with taro, but they are completely different foods. Taro is typically white on the inside and used in savory dishes, while ube is more commonly used in making sweets.

The violet purple color makes it highly photogenic, which gives it a natural marketing quality. The taste has been described as something similar to white chocolate with earthy nutty tones, gentle but not intense.

Fresh ube seems fairly difficult to find in North America but with a little persistence its possible. There are a few different forms it is sold in. Dehydrated powder, extract, ube halaya (or paste) or as a grated frozen product. Ube is not an exotic ingredient in the Philippines, but a common everyday staple that deserves a bit more respect and understanding.

When I saw a cheesecake recipe using ube, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect base for an Easter dessert. Creamy ube with the perfect note of tang and richness from the cream cheese.


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Easter 'Ube' Cheesecake Baskets

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Ingredients
Crumb Base

Ube Cheesecake Filling

Servings


Ingredients
Crumb Base

Ube Cheesecake Filling

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Instructions
Base
  1. Line 8-9 large muffin cups with large paper liners. In a bowl, combine melted butter & crumbs; stir until mixture looks like coarse meal & all of the crumbs are moistened with the butter. Divide crumbs between lined cups; set aside.

Filling
  1. Check for any hard particles in the thawed purple yam & discard them. Wrap purple yam (ube) in foil & steam for about 20-30 minutes or until very soft. Mash until creamy & let cool.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, beat cream cheese until soft & fluffy. Add sugar & salt beating until combined. Add the cooled 'ube' & beat until incorporated & smooth.

  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition then add vanilla. Pour into prepared 'cups'. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they test done when the tip of a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Lay a piece of paper towel over a wire cooling rack. Remove cheesecake cups from oven; cool for a few minutes then lift out onto paper lined rack. Cool, then chill in the fridge for at least 6-8 hours.

Decorating
  1. Place coconut in a zip lock baggie. Dissolve a few drops of food coloring in a teaspoon of water. Pour over coconut, seal & shake until it is the color you want.

  2. Hollow out a small circle in the top of each cheesecake. Divide the yogurt between cheesecakes, filling each little divot with some. Next, divide the tinted coconut between the cheesecakes, covering the yogurt, to make a 'nest'. Top each nest with 3 'robin egg' Easter candies.

Guava Cream Rolls

Today, March 28th, is my mother’s birth date. As we honor her beautiful memory, I’m sure each of my siblings will reflect on special times we shared with her. Forty-one years after her passing, I’m still doing many things in her likeness. Baking was a shared passion for my mother and I. We liked nothing better than to bake something together. After I moved from ‘home’ and would return for a visit, instead of having a coffee and visit we would get busy and bake something while we talked. Such great memories!

In honor of her fabulous kitchen skills, I decided to make some Guava Cream Rolls. If I have a little extra time when I grocery shop, I like to scan the import isles to see if there is something unique I can use in my baking. One of the items that caught my attention was guava paste. Also known as ‘guayabate’ or ‘goiabada’, guava paste is a very thick puree of the guava fruit cooked with sugar and often with added pectin.

Guava is very popular in Cuba, the Caribbean and Spain. This thick paste has a sweet, floral taste like a combination of pear and strawberry. It is often paired with cheese as an appetizer or in the filling of baked goods as well as in savory dishes.

For these rolls, I used a combination of sweet guava paste with savory cream cheese which gave this dessert a very distinct and tropical flavor.

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Guava Cream Rolls
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Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast & 1 tsp sugar in lukewarm milk. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup sugar, melted butter, sour cream & egg. Add yeast mixture, stirring to combine.
  2. In another bowl, combine flour & salt. Add flour mixture, 1 cup at a time, combining with wet mixture. Once all flour has been added, knead dough for about 2 minutes until smooth & elastic consistency, Place dough in a greased bowl & cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about an hour. While the dough is rising, beat together guava paste & softened cream cheese to make filling. Line a 10-inch spring form pan with parchment paper; set aside.
  3. Punch the risen dough down & transfer to a floured surface then divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Divide each of them again into 4 parts, so to have 8 pieces of dough altogether.
  4. Roll each piece of dough out into a roughly rectangular shape with a thickness of 1/4-inch. Spread guava/cream cheese over each piece. Place one piece of rectangular dough over another one & start to roll a cylinder. Do the same with the rest of the dough; you will end up with 4 cylinder rolls altogether.
  5. Cut each roll into three pieces. Slice both ends of the roll ( about 1 1/2-inch long piece from each end) & put these 2 pieces aside. Cut the middle part of each roll into 4 triangles. In the middle of spring form pan, arrange the cut ends of the rolls around each other to form a circle, placing the cut sides down. Arrange the cut triangles to completely surround the middle circle.
  6. Cover pan with a tea towel & allow to rise in a warm place for about 30-40 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat egg with water to make egg wash & carefully brush the top of rolls when they have risen enough. Bake rolls for 30-40 minutes or until baked & golden in color. Remove from oven & brush immediately with melted butter. Remove spring form pan & cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before serving.

‘Ube’ Sweet Rolls

I received an email from Pinterest the other day with some interesting recipe ideas. One was to do with Filipino breads. I noticed many centered around a purple yam. A very popular tuber in the Philippines, widely used in desserts and called ube ( pronounced ooo-bae). While purple yam is a relative of the sweet potato, they are not the same tuber. It is also not the same as taro root.

Just like any other tuber, purple yams can be boiled, steamed or baked. Once cooked, they don’t actually taste like much. It’s flavors are enhanced, when combined with sweeteners and liquids such as sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk. Ube adds an earthy, nuttiness to baking and is so visually striking with its vibrant purple color.

Swirl bread or rolls are made of a soft, yeasted, sweet dough filled with purple yam paste. Shredded Edam or queso de bola cheese is often sprinkled on top, giving it a sweet/salty flavor. I decided to try my luck at making some ‘ube rolls’. After scouring the usual grocery stores for purple yams with no luck, Brion and I found an Asian grocery store. They sold grated and frozen ube in 454 gram packages. Perfect! I looked at numerous recipes on the internet, then did my usual. Piece together a few different recipe ideas and ingredients that looked like it would work for me.

It just happens, Brion works with a Filipino lady by the name of Janice. I was hoping to share some of the finished product with her family to see if I had got the taste right. To my surprise, she said it was exactly how it was supposed to taste. Wow! Sometimes you get lucky.

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'Ube' Sweet Rolls
Votes: 6
Rating: 4.67
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, Filipino
Servings
Ingredients
Ube (Purple Yam) Filling
Sweet Roll Dough
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, Filipino
Servings
Ingredients
Ube (Purple Yam) Filling
Sweet Roll Dough
Votes: 6
Rating: 4.67
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Ube (Purple Yam) Filling
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add coconut & condensed milks; stir until heated. Add thawed, grated ube & stir everything together. This process takes about 40-50 minutes until the ube is cooked. The mixture will be thick & sticky. It is important to stir the mixture often during cooking to prevent it from forming a crust. Transfer the ube paste/jam to a container & set aside.
Cheese
  1. Grate cheese & set aside in refrigerator until needed.
Sweet Roll Dough
  1. In a small dish, heat milk to lukewarm. Add yeast & 1 tsp sugar; let sit for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup sugar, melted butter, sour cream & egg. Add yeast mixture & stir to combine.
  2. In another bowl, whisk flour & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture 1 cup at a time, combining after each addition. Once all flour has been added, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes.
  3. Lightly grease the large bowl, place dough in it & cover with plastic wrap & a tea towel. Allow to rest for at least one hour, in a draft free place until dough has doubled in volume.
  4. Punch dough down. Divide into 18 equal pieces. Roll each piece with a rolling pin. Spread the middle of each piece with ube filling & SOME of the grated cheese. Close up the piece over the filling like an envelope, pinch long edges together, & roll it with your fingers into a rod shape. Coil each rod into a rounded snail shape. Place in greased baking dish & cover with plastic wrap/towel. Allow to rise for an hour or until doubled in size.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake rolls about 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven; cool for just a few minutes then pat with butter. Sprinkle with sugar & more grated cheese.