Its getting to be late summer/early fall and its ‘plum season’. Plums are easy to forget it seems. They’re not the most popular of summer fruits. Plums aren’t exotic as the fig or small and cute like blueberries. Plums are just plums and we should not overlook this humble fruit. They are actually quite special …. sweet & tart, not too big and not too small.
This particular dessert uses ‘plum butter’ which is simply a concentrated plum spread made by cooking plums down to a spreadable paste. These ‘cookies’ are using ready made puff pastry to keep life simple.
Puff pastry isn’t just for croissants. Arguably, its the foundation of many, many pastries as we know them today. Its a technique that lets you enjoy warm, flaky layers of dough instead of literally everything being a ‘biscuit’.
Using this spicy filling in the puff pastry dough really added a whole new dimension.
Plum Blossom Pastries
Spiced Plum Butter
In a large saucepan, combine juice & plums. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat & simmer 30 minutes or until tender. Place plum mixture in a food processor & process until smooth. Press pureed mixture through a fine sieve over a bowl; discard solids.
Combine plum mixture, sugar & spices in pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered until mixture becomes a thick paste. Cool. Any extra not used for these cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 months.
Assembly & Baking
Thaw pastry. Preheat oven to 400 F. From parchment paper, cut 9 pieces each about 4-inch square. In a small dish, whisk together egg & water to make egg wash.
Using a sharp knife, cut pastry into 9 squares. Taking one square at a time, place on parchment paper squares. Brush edges with egg wash.
Place about 1 tsp of the spiced plum butter in the middle of the pastry square. Bring the 4 corners together, then repeat for the sides.
Shape pastry into a ball then flip. Lightly press the ball with your fingers. With a sharp knife, cut each piece into 12 equal parts from the center towards the outside edge. Leave the center part intact. Each part will become a pedal. Twist petals 45 degrees, all to the same side. The filling should be showing.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until pastry is golden. Remove from oven & allow to cool. Dust with powdered sugar if you prefer.
- Making the plum butter ahead of time definitely speeds up the cookie prep.
- Alternately, you can probably find a nice jar of plum butter at a deli store & just add your own spices to it. Works too!
Although there are many variations of this dish, Austria’s apricot growing tradition has made apricot dumplings (marillenknodel) an emblematic dish of Austrian cuisine. Each spring, some 100,000 apricot trees transform Wachau Valley into a fragrant pink-white sea of blossoms.
There are two types of dough that can be used to make apricot dumplings …. potato dough (made with cooked & mashed potatoes) and cheese dough. Topfen is the Austrian cheese traditionally used as its ‘sour’ taste gives the dough a nice ‘tang’. Other alternatives would be either Quark or cream cheese.
To prepare the apricots you need to slice them in half and remove the pit, then place a cube of sugar in the cavity. A few other alternatives for the centers of the apricots would be chocolate or a nougat cube.
Once the dough has been chilled, it is divided into balls and stuffed with the filled apricots. These dumplings are then boiled in salted water and while they are still hot, coated in cinnamon-flavored, buttered breadcrumbs.
Apricot dumplings are most often served just sprinkled with powdered sugar. Soft apricots provide enough liquid so they don’t taste too dry. If you wish, you could serve them with: vanilla ice cream, apricot coulis, whipped cream, vanilla or chocolate sauce.
Austrian Apricot Dumplings
In a bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, vanilla & salt; add the egg & cheese & whisk until combined. Add flour; stir until combined. Don't overmix, the dough should be slightly sticky but not dry. Form into a disk & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Slice each apricot in half & remove the pit. Place a sugar cube in the cavity & press the two apricot halves together until the apricot closes. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine milk, sugar, salt, cornstarch & vanilla; stir well until combined. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly. Lower heat & continue to cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens & coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat; cover with plastic wrap & chill. When sauce is cool, whisk it until it becomes smooth.
Cook & Coat Dumplings
Cook dumplings in a large amount of salted water, half of them at a time. Cook for about 12 minutes from the moment you've put them in the water. Reduce the heat to medium-low as the water should only simmer. Do not allow the dumplings to stick to the bottom. Take cooked dumplings out of the water with a slotted spoon, drain well.
Place the hot dumplings in the breadcrumb topping. Roll the dumplings around to coat completely, the place on a platter.
At serving time you can place them atop some vanilla sauce or just simply sprinkle with powdered sugar (or any of the other suggestions listed in the main article).
- Other fruit alternatives for the dumplings would be: plums, cherries or strawberries.
In a time when people chatted over the fence rather than the internet, backyards had rhubarb patches. The big, old-fashioned plant with its huge ruffled green leaves is easy to grow and its extremely hardy. The same roots can produce rhubarb for up to 15 years. Pioneer women smuggled rhubarb cuttings across the plains, even though they were not supposed to take anything worth less than a dollar a pound because of the crowded covered wagon conditions.
Most often we cloak rhubarb in sugar for cake, cheesecake or pies. This recipe shifts rhubarb to the savory side, a chutney that is fabulous in pulled turkey pizza. This pizza concept changes up the usual tomato sauce base with a spiced rhubarb chutney. Chutney is good with pretty much everything and takes on unexpected flavors when paired with different foods.
This pizza was an experiment that turned out to be amazing with the combination of salty and sweet. The addition of a potato crust and some caramelized onions, what’s not to like?! Of course, you have to start with being a rhubarb lover.
Pulled Turkey Pizza w/ Rhubarb Chutney
- 250 gm pulled turkey Either slow roast some turkey thighs or pick up at a deli counter already cooked
In a large heavy pot, combine sugar, vinegar, ginger, cumin, cinnamon & pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb & onion; increase heat to medium high & cook until rhubarb is tender & mixture thickens. Cool completely. (I prefer to make this a day ahead).
In a skillet, heat oil until hot. Add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture has evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat; sprinkle with vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Add brown sugar, stirring until caramel brown in color. Remove from heat & cool. ( I prefer to make these a day ahead as well).
Potato Pizza Crust
Cook potato in microwave, peel, mash & cool.
Combine yeast with lukewarm water & allow to sit about 3 minutes until foamy. Add butter, salt, sour cream & potato; mix well.
Stir in flour until completely blended. Turn onto lightly floured work surface. Knead dough until elastic & smooth. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Turkey & Cheese
If you are slow roasting your turkey thighs its best to have done this a day ahead so you had ample time to 'pull' the meat. Shred the cheese & set aside.
On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll or press potato dough into a 16-inch circle. Transfer dough (& paper) to a 14-inch pizza pan.
Carefully spread 1 1/3 cups rhubarb chutney over bottom of pizza crust. Sprinkle with a bit of grated cheese.
Layer with the pulled turkey meat & caramelized onions. Top with remaining grated cheese & bake 15-20 minutes or until crust is baked & cheese is melted. Remove from oven; cool slightly & slice.
- When I slow roasted my turkey thighs for this pizza I used a covered roasting pan. To give them a nice flavor I poured a bottle of Zesty Italian Dressing over them. They were super tender & so flavorful, perfect for this pizza.
- Alternatively, you can purchase the meat (either turkey or pork) as well as a pre-made pizza crust if time is of the essence.
- We have also tried this pizza with pulled pork.
- Any extra rhubarb chutney will come in handy for another kind of meal.
CELEBRATING FATHER’S DAY!
Honoring your father on Father’s Day doesn’t require his physical presence. I feel what is more important, is just the act of doing it.
It seems as we get older, reminiscing becomes part of our lives. It is an important psychological process called ‘life cycle review’. Father’s Day, for Brion & I, is a day that brings back many fond memories. My father passed away in 2005 and Brion’s in 2011. There is never a week that goes by that we don’t reminisce about something we remember about one or the other. Both of our Dad’s loved to talk and tell you stories from their lives. I think back to when I was just a kid and my Dad would recount the same story more than once. At the time, it all seemed a bit boring but now I realize how the benefits of storytelling and review are greatly underestimated. I would give anything to retrace those years once again.
A father’s love and influence is never fully appreciated until he is no longer with you. It is so important to make the most of every day they are in your life.
For my Father’s Day blog recipe, I am doing a barbecue meal I think they both would have enjoyed.
Using apple butter not only in the turkey burgers but also in the caramelized onion is so unique tasting. Apple butter is in its own class of spreads, its not really a jam or jelly and it doesn’t have the thin texture of apple sauce. It is thicker, silkier and a highly concentrated paste produced by slow cooking. The apples caramelize turning the apple butter a deep brown.
Contrary to what the name suggests, there’s zero actual butter in apple butter. The name is derived from the fact that it is a dense spread.
These ‘gourmet’ burgers have a great apple butter flavor that pairs perfectly with smoked gouda cheese and caramelized onions. It seems apple butter, as ordinary as it is, cannot be found in every grocery store and when you find it, the price is amazingly high. I made a small batch from ‘scratch’ that worked out good in this recipe.
Apple Butter Onion Turkey Burgers
Preheat oven to 350 F. Peel, core & cut apples into wedges; place in a baking dish.
Cover the pan tightly & bake for 30-45 minutes or until apples are cooked & soft. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
Place the cooked apples to a food processor; add spices, honey & apple cider vinegar. Pulse until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan & simmer mixture over low heat to reduce down. Stir the mixture occasionally as it cooks. This process reduces the liquid in the apple butter & will take 30-90 minutes all depending on how much moisture was in the apples. When finished cooking, cool slightly before adding it to your burger mixture.
In a bowl, add ground turkey, panko crumbs, apple butter, cilantro, cumin, smoked paprika, salt & pepper. Combine well & shape into 6 slider or 4 full-size burgers. Set aside in fridge until onions are made.
Apple Butter Onions
Remove the papery skin from the onion & trim off top & bottom. Cut in half & thinly slice.
In a large skillet add olive oil & set over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add onions, salt & pepper. Cook for 20 minutes or until the onions are soft & caramelized. Add the apple butter & stir to combine. Keep warm while burgers cook.
Preheat barbecue grill to medium heat. Grill burgers 8-10 minutes depending on size. Top each burger with cheese & allow to melt. Toast buns if you wish, top with burgers, apple butter onions & tomatoes.
Bumbleberry…. an interesting word used to describe a Canadian mixed berry combination originating from the Maritime provinces. Since there is no such thing as a ‘bumbleberry’, as the name suggests, it is simply a mixture of berries that are in season (ones that you might ‘bumble’ upon).
Berries commonly used in this pie may include blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. Other choices often used are apples, rhubarb, cherries, plums or fresh cranberries.
The bumbleberry concept has been used in various recipes such as cakes, crisps, soufflés or even in tiramisu. The most well known being the bumbleberry pie.
To make use of some bumbleberry filling I had leftover from a previous dessert, I made some quick little puff pastries …. worked out good!
Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine fruit. In another bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cornstarch & cinnamon. Gently toss into fruit mixture along with lemon juice.
Cut thawed, cold puff pastry sheets into circles or squares (your choice). Put a spoonful of filling in the center of each & bring the corners together enclosing the filling. Place pastries on baking sheet & sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven & allow to cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
- This amount of filling is enough for a large deep dish 9-inch pie. It can be easily halved for a small amount of pastries if you wish.
The ultimate Easter bun! Who doesn’t love hot cross buns?! Given the baked good’s long history, legends and superstitions have had ample time to develop and grow around them.
Hot cross buns are inseparably linked to Easter and to Christianity. But in reality, they probably have pre-Christian origins. Cross buns were baked to celebrate ‘Eostre’, the Germanic Goddess after which the season of Easter is said to be named.
Over the years, the bun has evolved and changed. Victorian recipes suggest various glazes to top the bun with after baking, including molasses or a honey/turmeric combo. The buns have become spicier too, with the addition of mace, caraway seeds and even coriander.
While some hot cross buns appear on grocery and bakery shelves as early as New Year’s Day, the sweet bun is usually associated with the end of Lent.
Every year I like to try and make a different version of these traditional, seasonal treats. This year I’m going with a ‘rum raisin‘ idea. Should be good!
Rum & Raisin Hot Cross Buns
Rum & Raisin Filling
In a bowl, combine raisins, warm rum & sugar. Cover with plastic wrap & allow to sit for at least 40 minutes. Strain, discarding liquid.
In a large bowl, combine lukewarm milk, yeast & 1/4 cup sugar. Let stand until mixture is frothy, about 10 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk together 5 1/3 cups flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg & allspice. When yeast mixture is ready, add half of the flour mixture to it, beating until just combined. Beat in melted butter, eggs & rum/raisin mixture. Gradually add remaining flour mixture, kneading until smooth dough forms. Add remaining 1/3 cup flour if needed as the dough should not be sticky.
Grease a large bowl, place the dough in it& turn to grease top. Loosely cover & allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Cream Cheese Filling (Balls)
In a shallow dish, combine sugar & cinnamon. Cut cream cheese into 12 cubes. Roll each into a ball shape then roll them in the cinnamon sugar, coating evenly. Divide dough into 12 pieces. Place a cream cheese ball in the center of each piece of dough, pinching to seal seam. Roll each piece of dough into a ball & place in PARCHMENT lined muffin cups. Cover & let stand in a warm, draft-free place for about 20 minutes.
In a small dish, whisk together egg & a Tbsp milk. When buns are ready to bake, brush with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. While the are baking prepare RUM GLAZE & CROSS PASTE.
Rum Glaze & Cross Paste
In a small saucepan, place water, spiced rum & sugar. Over medium heat, bring ingredients to a simmer & allow to bubble gently for 3-5 minutes. The volume of the mixture should drop by at least half. Remove from heat & set aside until ready to use.
In a small dish, whisk together cornstarch, flour, sugar & water until a thick paste forms. You want your paste to be stiff enough to be able to pipe in a clean line, but still manageable.
Brush warm rolls with rum glaze & allow to cool. Using a pastry bag fitted with a piping tip, pipe paste over top of buns to form a cross.
- If you prefer, don't hesitate to make these buns without the cream cheese inside. I'm sure they will be just as good --- they're hot cross buns!!
If you can’t have a tropical vacation at this time, why not enjoy some of the tropics in the form of dessert!
You may never have thought fruits were destined for you’re roasting pan. Although it does demand a bit of time and work, the return is worth it. Try it once and you will do it over and over again.
Fruit is a highly versatile item and its uses go far beyond a mere snack. During the summer months, grilled fruit is often a tasty end to a barbeque. Grilling caramelizes the fruits natural sugars and brings out the sweetness. During winter or colder months, continue the same process indoors by roasting and broiling fruit in the oven.
For the tarts on this blog, I roasted the fruit in the oven with a bit of extra butter and brown sugar as well as some spices to enhance the flavor. Another idea would be to arrange fruit slices on the filled tarts and sprinkle them with a bit of sugar. Then place tarts under the broiler until sugar bubbles and browns …. your choice!
Roasted Tropical Fruit Tarts
In a bowl combine butter & sugar, beat until light & fluffy. In another bowl whisk together flour & baking powder & add to butter/sugar mixture. Blend together.
Divide pastry between 6 individual tart pans. Using your fingertips, evenly press the dough into pans. Place on a baking sheet & blind bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven & prepare custard & fruit.
Vanilla Cream Custard
In a small saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. In a bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch & salt. Add egg; whisk until blended.
Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into egg mixture. Return to same saucepan; whisk over medium heat until sauce thickens & boils, about 5 minutes. Whisk in vanilla & remove from heat to cool.
Roasted Tropical Fruit
Preheat oven to 450 F. Peel & thinly slice fruit.
In a small saucepan, melt butter & add brown sugar, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom & vanilla; mix well.
Line a baking sheet with foil paper. Place sliced fruit on it & pour butter/sugar mixture over it. Gently turn fruit over to make sure all is evenly coated.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes, flipping over about half way through. The fruit is done when it turns a rich golden & begins to brown BEFORE it starts to blacken.
Place pastry shells on a serving platter. Divide vanilla custard between tart shells. Top with roasted tropical fruit & serve. Any extra fruit can be enjoyed just as a dish of fruit or with yogurt.
When I think of granola bars, the thin slabs of oats and honey of the 1970’s come to mind. What began as a ‘hippie’ craze gradually morphed into decadence with bars including chocolate chips, macadamia nuts, corn syrup and marshmallows. Great tasting but hardly healthy would you say!
The basic recipe often starts with old-fashioned rolled oats and a sweetener that acts as a binder. Honey seems to be a popular choice but other options include brown rice or maple syrup.
Flaked coconut is popular but not being a coconut lover, I opt for coconut oil instead. When it comes to nuts, along with nutrition they provide crunch. If you notice this recipe does not include them, its not for any other reason except that a nut allergy plaques me. Definitely add them if you can.
Customization comes to the forefront in your choice of dried or frozen fruit. Some choices might be dried dates, apricots, cranberries, pineapple or mango.
These bars make a nice breakfast treat or snack option, not to mention the word ‘healthy’.
Chewy Raspberry Apple Granola Bars
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat an 8-inch square baking pan with a nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, stir together the oil & applesauce until smooth. Mix in milk, honey & cinnamon until thoroughly combined. Stir in the oats until evenly coated with the applesauce mixture. Gently fold in the raspberries.
Press the oat mixture into the prepared pan & bake for 16-19 minutes. Cool completely to room temperature in the pan before slicing into 10 bars.
In a country where sugar has historically represented both the agricultural and industrial goals, desserts are found everywhere. Generally they are very simple, made mainly with fruit and sugar.
Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish, African and Caribbean cuisines. It differs from other Latin American cuisines and has almost nothing in common with Mexican cuisine. Cuban recipes tend to share spices and techniques with Spanish and African cooking with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor. A small, but noteworthy, Chinese influence can be accounted for, mainly in the Havana area.
The fact that most Cuban desserts are extremely sweet (usually fruits and sugar are in equal quantities) has inspired the custom of eating them along with salted or cream cheese to help offset the sweetness.
The use of the lime and rum flavor in these cookies makes their taste distinctly Cuban. Brings back memories from a past vacation we spent in Cuba.
Cuban Sugar Cookies w/ Guava & Lime
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon & salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter & sugar with a mixer until light. Beat in lime zest & egg followed by lime juice & rum. Gradually beat in the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you work, until it comes together.
Divide dough into three portions, wrapping 2 in plastic wrap & place in refrigerator while you are working on the first piece.
Place the first piece on a lightly floured surface & roll out to 1/3-inch thickness. Using a lightly floured 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles of the dough. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
Cut pieces of guava paste into dime-sized circles or squares ( depending on what shape your guava paste comes in), making each approximately 1/4-inch thick. Lightly press one piece into the top of each cookie.
Bake for 13-16 minutes, until cookies are light gold at the edges. Cool on the baking sheet for 4-5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. If you wish you can dust the cookies with powdered sugar.
- As an alternate idea, assemble them similar to a 'linzer' cookie. Roll half of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness; cut with a circular (more decorative) cookie cutter. Repeat with remaining dough but cut small circles in the center of these.
- On top of each plain cookie, place one with a hole in it. Press a guava 'circle' in the hole & sprinkle with a few chopped pistachios if you wish.
- I used this method for the blog picture. Same cookie just a bit fancier.