Nectarines & peaches are both members of the stone fruit family and are so close, only one gene is responsible for their difference. This unique gene makes the peach fuzzy and the nectarine smooth. For most part, nectarines are sweeter and juicer — in essence more nectar.
Nectarines originated in China and spread across the continents until they landed in America. They thrive in warmer climates, as a result, many of the nectarines we see in the grocery stores here are unripe, hard and tough. They are often harvested too early and therefore do not develop the aroma they should have. Baking will concentrate their flavor, while lemon, almond and vanilla draw out their more elusive variations.
This dessert idea originated from Sweden. Quite similar to some of the other roasted fruit recipes I have posted except this dessert uses wine in the baking of it. If you don’t care for raspberries, blueberries or blackberries will work just as well.
Baked Nectarines & Raspberries with Almond & Honey
In a small dish, combine wine & honey; stir to dissolve. Halve & stone nectarines, place them flesh-side up in a glass baking dish. Crush amaretti biscuits, add cardamom & mix well; add beaten egg yolk, 2 Tbsp of wine mixture & toasted almonds. Combine & divide mixture between nectarines, spooning into 'pit' holes.
Sprinkle nectarines with brown sugar then top each with a bit of the butter. Pour remaining wine & honey AROUND but NOT over the fruit, add 1 Tbsp water & tuck in the vanilla pod.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake the nectarines for 30 minutes or until fruit is soft & the biscuit filling is crisp & golden. Remove vanilla pod. Carefully stir the raspberries through the pan juices. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, whip cream; when ready to serve dessert, top each with a dollop.
Root vegetable desserts aren’t exactly a new concept. Incorporating vegetables such as beets, asparagus, mushrooms and sweet potatoes can lend themselves to new creative dessert ideas if you start thinking ‘out of the box’.
Parsnips, traditionally used in savory dishes, can bring a subtle sweet tenderness to your baked goods. When roasted or sauteed, their sugars caramelize richly and are well complemented by a variety of seasonings such as orange or lemon zest, ginger and cardamom.
As the autumn weather turns cooler, root vegetables like carrots and parsnips convert their starch to sugar. After a few fall frosts, parsnips develop a higher sugar content than those harvested before the freeze.
My original idea was to make a loaf cake with shredded raw parsnips as you do with carrots when making a carrot cake. Knowing how sweet they become when roasted, I decided to do that first. If you have any roasted parsnips leftover from a previous meal they would work just great.
I realize parsnips are not for everyone. It probably seems a bit odd to make them the ‘star’ in dessert but I have to say we both loved this cake. The tart sticky lemon frosting was truly the ‘icing on the cake’.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Peel parsnips & quarter lengthwise; remove core. Chop into medium size pieces & place in a plastic bag. Add a little veg oil & shake to distribute evenly. Line a baking sheet with foil; place parsnips on it & sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool, then puree in food processor.
Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder & salt. Using a mixer, beat eggs & sugar together. Add parsnip puree, oil, sour cream, vanilla & spices. Fold in flour mixture, combining gently until well incorporated. Fold in walnuts & chocolate, creating a marble appearance ONLY.
Pour batter into loaf pan & bake for about 40 - 45 minutes or until it tests done. Remove from oven & cool slightly before topping with frosting.
While cake is baking, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest & extract in a small bowl. With hand mixer, beat until smooth. Frosting will be thick & sticky. Top loaf cake while it is still slightly warm. Slice when cool & serve.
I had personalized the spices in this cake but if my combination doesn't appeal to you, simply use 1/2 tsp each nutmeg & cloves with a teaspoon of cinnamon instead.
When purchasing parsnips, look for the small to medium size. Large parsnips are often bitter & have an undesirable woody quality.
You guessed it —- more roasted fruit! It seems to be my addiction this summer. This time its not that I had fruit on hand but instead some mascarpone cheese. Who would dream of letting that go to waste?? Sometimes called Italian Cream Cheese, mascarpone is believed to have originated in the Lombardy region of Italy. Mascarpone is used in both sweet and savory dishes to enhance the flavor without overwhelming the original taste. Lombardy has a rich agricultural and dairy heritage. Farms that produce the cheese provide their cows with special grasses that include fresh herbs and flowers. This in turn gives a unique taste to the milk and a creamy texture to the cheese.
Some years ago, Brion and I visited the Lombardy region of Italy. We have great memories of the wonderful food but probably even more so the beauty of the architecture and history. We spent a bit of time in Milan. While there we visited the world renowned ‘La Scala’ opera house and museum as well as the glass roofed shopping arcade and giant cathedral, the ‘Gothic Duomo’. I’ve included some of our photos from Milan for you to enjoy.
In a skillet, toast almonds until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a small roasting pan, toss together all prepared fruit, half of the sugar, the brandy & butter. Roast, stirring occasionally, until for tender, about 15-20 minutes.
While fruit is roasting, beat together mascarpone, remaining sugar, vanilla, ginger & cardamom until smooth. In a separate bowl, whip cream; fold into mascarpone mixture along with half of the almonds.
Divide mascarpone mixture into dessert dishes forming a mound in each. Spoon fruit & pan juices over top. Sprinkle with remaining almonds.
You can prepare the fruit & cream ahead. Just keep them in separate dishes; cover & refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
As a rule, when a person thinks of a ‘cobbler’ dessert, it means warm comfort food on a cool winter evening. But summer is here with all its fresh produce. There are dozens of simple variations on cobblers, and they are all based on fruits and berries, whatever is in season. The nice thing is, a cobbler relies more on the taste than fancy pastry preparation.
While they are not as show-stopping as a fresh fruit pizza, these easy desserts are perfect for summer barbecues. You can mix everything up, then pop it in the oven while everyone is eating barbecue outdoors. Dessert will be baked and ready for a big dollop of ice cream by the time everyone is finished eating. Fresh Pineapple Cobbler is the perfect ending to any spring-summer meal. Quick, easy and good!
In an 8 x 8 x 2-inch GLASS baking dish, melt butter, tilting dish to coat bottom. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon & salt. Add milk & extracts folding until smooth batter forms. Pour batter into baking dish over melted butter. DO NOT STIR BATTER INTO BUTTER. Distribute pineapple chunks evenly over the batter & sprinkle with brown sugar.
Bake for about 40-45 minutes in which time the fruit will sink to the bottom of the baking dish & the batter will bubble & bake up to the surface in random spots. When baked, the cobbler will be golden & will spring back slightly when touched in center. Serve warm with a dollop of ice cream!
With doughnuts, its all about the ‘hole’. No hole, no doughnut. That little circle means everything. The idea of frying a piece of dough is ancient. The Romans, Dutch, Spanish and Germans all did it. While we know who introduced the doughnut, the story behind the doughnut hole is a little less clear. The most likely explanation was that at some point, bakers started adding egg yolks to their recipes, which produced a richer dough. Of course, this meant the middle of the doughnut no longer cooked at the same rate as its edges, resulting in doughy, raw centers. They came to the conclusion, that if they removed the thick center, the doughnut would cook evenly throughout. It was also believed that the hole was formed to make it easy to ‘dunk’ the doughnut in coffee. However, as in all food history stories you will find various other versions that are more entertaining and whimsical.
In Canada, doughnut holes that are sold by the Tim Horton franchise, have become known as ‘Tim bits’. The name is a play on the word ‘tidbit’ (a delicate bit of food). They were introduced in April 1976 and are available in at least 20 flavors that differ from store to store.
I’m not big on deep fried things whether they are sweet or savory. These carrot cake doughnut holes are baked — no frying necessary. Dip them in a bit of cream cheese ‘glaze’, sprinkle with remaining chopped walnuts and enjoy!
Carrot Cake Doughnut Holes with Cream Cheese Glaze
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, finely grate carrots. Sift in flour then add brown sugar, soda & spices. Add egg & oil & beat until mixture is smooth. Fold in half of the chopped walnuts.
Butter & flour a cake pop pan. Divide batter between 14 holes. Secure top pan in place with rubber clamps. Bake for 10-12 minutes, testing with a toothpick at about 8 minutes. When baked, remove from oven & allow to cool before removing top pan.
In a small bowl, with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, margarine & milk. Gradually add sugar & vanilla beating to a glaze consistency.
Once doughnut holes are removed from pan & thoroughly cooled, dip in glaze, sprinkle with remaining walnuts. Allow to firm up in refrigerator before serving with forks.
Self-Rising Flour is made with 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt & enough all-purpose flour to measure 1 cup.
If you are not accustomed to using chutneys it is well worth revisiting the idea. Chutney is similar to salsa or a sweet ‘relish’. The perfect balance of sweet, sour and spicy are critical elements for most chutneys. The sweetness coming from fresh or dried fruits, the sour element from vinegar, lemon or lime and the spiciness from a variety of whole spices.
There is no right or wrong recipe, just a preferred flavor or two. They can be cooked or fresh and are made from a wide variety of ingredient combinations of fruits and/ or vegetables and spices. Ground spices tend to make chutney cloudy so it is best to use whole ones.
In the majority of chutney recipes one ingredient tends to dominate the flavor. The sweet and sour ones work well with beef, pork and chicken, whereas sweeter versions are great on cheese and crackers, bagels and toast.
I have made numerous chutneys over the years. Some were served with warm Brie cheese but very often I’ve used mango chutney when cooking pork. This particular recipe can be made with either purchased chutney or just make a recipe of your own. It creates a unique flavor along with nice tender ribs.
In a saucepan, combine honey & vinegar, Bring to a boil & simmer until honey dissolves. Add remaining ingredients & simmer, uncovered until mixture becomes slightly thickened. Pour into a glass dish & set aside until needed. Refrigerate any remaining chutney that you don't use in making ribs.
Ribs / Sauce
In a saucepan, Brown ribs & set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Add all 'sauce' ingredients to saucepan except for the 1 fresh mango. Bring to a boil, cooking for about 15 minutes, gently mashing tomatoes with a fork, until sauce is reduced to about 1 1/4 cups.
Preheat oven to 300 F. Place ribs in a baking dish; pour sauce over ribs, cover & bake for about 1-1 1/2 hours until ribs are very tender. Serve with sauce & top with remaining diced fresh mango.
I realize raspberry season in our part of the country is still a number of months away. I still see nothing wrong with using some of those frozen ones from last years crop. If there’s one thing I love, its an easy dessert that is still totally delicious. Combining raspberries and cream cheese is a match made in heaven then add some oatmeal and it becomes amazing.
The cheesecake part of this recipe has been one of my ‘go to’ recipes when it comes to the base for any any number of variations. Since I had some frozen raspberries on hand I though they would give this dessert just what it needs. I have also used different pie fillings and preserves in it or just left it as a plain cheesecake bar — all are good. These bars freeze well so its great when you need a bit of dessert on short notice.
In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together 1 1/2 cups raspberries, sugar & water until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat & add vanilla. In a small dish, combine cornstarch & 2 Tbsp water; mix well. Add to boiling mixture, stirring over medium-low heat for about 4 minutes or until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat & allow to cool for 15 minutes, then fold in the last of the raspberries. Set aside.
In a bowl, combine flour & brown sugar; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in oatmeal. Reserving 1 1/2 cups; press remainder onto bottom of a 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan.
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese & sugar until fluffy. Add eggs; beat well. Add milk & vanilla then lemon juice & beat well.
Pour cream cheese mixture over crust evenly. Next, carefully pour raspberry filling over cheesecake evenly. Sprinkle top evenly with reserved crumb mixture. Bake 25 minutes or until tests down. Cool thoroughly & cut into bars or diamond shapes.
This recipe will divide easily into thirds for a smaller batch.
If you prefer the raspberries sweeter, add another 1/4 cup sugar.
Not a pie at all, traditional whoopie pies are two thin chocolate cakes sandwiched around a white frosting. The origin of the whoopie pie is somewhat controversial. Some people say they were invented in Medieval Germany and brought to the USA by immigrants. Women would bake cakes and use leftover batter and icing to make these special treats. The little cake sandwiches were placed in children’s lunch boxes, where upon discovering them, cries of ‘whoopie’ were shouted. From the basic chocolate and vanilla formula of the past, a whole host of varieties have since taken the stage.
I love the pastel shades of Spring and try to incorporate them into anything I can. When I was shopping the other day, I happened to see some little colorful French Macaron cookies in a bakery window. As great as they look, I personally have never cared for the ‘meringue’ type cookie. Nevertheless, it gave me some inspiration for some ‘spring’ whoopie pies. Adding a few new flavors to the chocolate and vanilla batters along with some flavored Mascarpone fillings takes whoopie pies (cookies) to a whole new level.
Preheat oven 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar & vanilla until light & fluffy. Beat in egg. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda & salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk.
In separate small bowls, divide vanilla batter into 4 equal portions. Leave one plain, to the second dish add pistachio nuts & a tiny bit of green food color gel. To the third dish add 2-3 Tbsp Chambord liqueur & red food coloring. To the fourth add lemon zest & yellow food color.
FOR CHOCOLATE BATTER: Follow directions in the first paragraph, adding cocoa along with flour mixture. Using a small scoop or heaped tablespoon, spoon mixtures onto baking sheet. Allow room for spreading. Bake for 10-12 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE. Remove from oven & transfer to wire rack.
While whoopies are baking prepare Mascarpone fillings. For every 60 grams of Mascarpone use 2-3 Tbsp of one of the preserve flavors.
When the whoopies are cold, match each with whoopie half with its closest partner size. Spread with a knife or use a piping bag to cover the flat side of one whoopie half of each pair generously with filling. Top each with its matching half, flat side down & gently press together.
Another flavor you might enjoy is lemon curd which can be purchased in the preserve section of the grocery store.
For chocolate filling, add a little cocoa powder & powdered sugar to some Mascarpone.
For some of the vanilla whoopies, I made a Rosewater flavored filling with 1 tsp margarine, 60 gm Mascarpone, 3 Tbsp powdered sugar & 3/4 tsp rosewater.
Today, March 28th, marks the date of my mother’s birthday. She passed away in 1978 at the age of 60. No matter how many years go by she will always be the never ending song in my heart. She had such a wonderful ability to make the everyday things more enjoyable. I have so many great memories of those times that I just took for granted and now realize how special they were. Her courage and strength to endure the harshness that farm life sometimes throws at you was nothing short of amazing. As we honor my mother today, we hold on to those precious memories that will never fade from our minds.
As I have mentioned so many times before, my mother was exceptional in her ability to cook and bake. Regularly, when she baked bread, one of the extra treats was a pan of cinnamon rolls. This Kahlua Nut Roll seemed perfect for today’s blog recipe.
In 1986, a little recipe pamphlet was published by Maidstone Wine & Spirits Inc. using Kahlua liqueur. All you had to do was write to them and request as many copies as you wanted free of charge. It contained about 90 recipes all using Kahlua. What a great bit of ‘PR’ work!
The oldest proof of Kahlua’s date of origin is a bottle found by Maidstone. The bottle came from Mexico and was dated 1937. The word Kahlua was discovered to have ties to ancient Arabic languages and the old label, which bears similarity to the current label, shows a turbaned man smoking a pipe beneath a Moorish archway. The only obvious change in the current label is the man has become a sombrero wearing man, napping beneath the same Moorish archway and in some labels there is no man pictured at all.
My Kahlua Cinnamon Nut Roll was adapted from this great little recipe pamphlet.
In a small dish, add yeast to lukewarm water; set aside. In a large bowl, combine milk, shortening, sugar & salt. Add 1 cup of flour; beat well. Add egg, yeast mixture & remaining 1 1/4 cups flour.; beat to form moderately stiff dough. Turn out on a floured work surface. Knead gently until smooth & elastic. Lightly butter bowl, form dough into a disk & cover with clean tea towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 50-60 minutes.
Cream Cheese/Pecan Filling
In a bowl, combine cream cheese & butter until smooth. In another dish, combine pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon & salt. Set aside.
In a small sauce pan, melt butter; add brown sugar & Kahlua liqueur. Bring to a boil; simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; reserve 1/3 cup syrup. Pour remaining syrup into a 9-inch round cake pan.
When dough has risen, turn out on a lightly floured work surface & roll into a 14-inch square. Spread dough with cream cheese mixture & sprinkle sugar mixture on one half. Fold other half over sugar & press lightly to adhere.
Cut dough lengthwise into 5 strips. Beginning in the center of prepared pan, wrap strips in a spiral pattern, pinching ends together. Cover & let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake until golden & cooked through, about 25-30 minutes. Remove & let stand in pan 5 minutes. Invert onto serving plate; spoon reserved syrup over top.
As basic as it seems, oatmeal is like an artist’s canvas with unlimited ways to prepare, cook and bake it. During the economic depression of the 1930’s, everything was in short supply. Sometimes oatmeal was substituted for expensive pecans, resulting in a delicious oatmeal pie that tasted similar to a pecan pie. It also became known as ‘mock pecan pie’ or ‘poor man’s pecan pie’.
There are a great many recipes for oatmeal pie on the internet. Some use molasses, some brown sugar and others, a combination of the two. I’ve also seen the pie having coconut in it. For me, I’m not big on molasses or coconut so I decided to just go with the brown and white sugar version. For the pastry, it is one of my favorite single crust shells using a cornmeal/flour mix. Instead of making a single pie, I opted for tarts and served them with a bit of whip cream. Brion and I could really understand how this ‘mock’ oatmeal pie made a good substitute for a pecan pie.
In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a food processor, pulse cornmeal for a few seconds. Add flour, & salt; pulse just to combine. Empty mixture into a medium bowl; cut in butter until mixture resembles small peas. Add sour cream/ water mixture, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute & forms a dough. Wrap in plastic wrap & refrigerate until filling is ready.
In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, oatmeal, sugar & salt. Add milk, eggs, butter & vanilla; stir until fully combined.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place pie dough between two sheets of plastic wrap; roll it fit a 9-inch pie pan. Pour filling into pie shell & place in oven. Bake 45-50 minutes or until tests done. Centers will rise slightly when baked & become flat when cooled. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
If you can, allow the pastry to cool for a longer period of time.