Luscious little, colorful orbs bursting with complex flavor, cherries are a versatile fruit in both sweet and savory dishes. Perfectly capable of shining all on their own, they can also stand up to a myriad of flavors. This easy-to-make, rustic dish is a classical pairing of Kirsch-kissed cherries with an almond topping, baked to crispy perfection….
My initial attraction to persimmons is always immediate, as I love their rich coral orange color. Although several varieties are widely available in most markets in the U.S from October through February, they are not used in baking nearly as much as many other winter fruits. They have a delightfully sweet and slightly astringent taste. We’ve added dates for some added sweetness and texture, along with fresh ginger and allspice to add a little complexity to the flavor. These bars are addictive, with a unique flavor that always leaves you wanting more….
Watermelon season is forever interlaced with my childhood and the excitement I always felt during the lazy days of summer. A couple of months off of school, hours of fun in the water (beach or poolside), cookouts, and the thrill of mischievous exploration and adventure. Many of my summers were spent visiting relatives whose farm house was surrounded by acres of farm land. Elated that one of these was a huge watermelon patch, I would ‘pass by’ daily on my bike, eagerly awaiting for them to ripen. It was in this small farming community that I was introduced to bartering and the art of the deal, as neighbors never seemed to pay cash for anything. Instead, there were always seasonal foods and services to be exchanged in this small community and bartering with neighbors and growers was considered the norm. My friends and I took great delight in wheeling and dealing with the local ‘watermelon man’ for our melons. Keenly aware that thievery was often an issue once the harvest began to ripen, we used a couple of hours of guarding the field each day as our bargaining chip for melons. I proudly shared my earned melons with family and friends, which always seemed to be bigger and taste better than any of the other watermelons we indulged in each summer.
Back in the day (and mine goes way back), there were no seedless, mini or specialty watermelons, only colossal, juicy melons with a myriad of big black seeds. Surprisingly, there are very few traditional recipes using this large and abundant fruit, other than in beverages, frozen treats or salads. This is what first attracted me to this Italian watermelon pudding. The added bonus is that it’s easy to make, refreshing and not too sweet….
When the cherry season rolls around, I never seem to tire of making this quintessential French dessert of cherries baked in a cream and egg base. Truth be told, I also make it with bottled or frozen cherries, plums and other stone fruits, but there is something reminiscent, something deja vu for me, when making it with fresh cherries. Ridiculously easy to prepare and very forgiving, a bonus for the inexperienced baker, clafoutis was one of my first forays into baking solo as a pre-teen. The resulting baked dish is a beautifully rustic yet notably elegant dessert, a feat the French seem to pull off so well. The perfect dinner party dessert, clafoutis is a win-win dish, leaving your guests gratified and duly impressed with your culinary prowess and you feeling accomplished and content. Older than you, me or any living person, it is as modern today as it was in Limousin, France some 200-300 years ago when it was first created. Truly a “keeper”, this is my “go to” recipe for seasonal stone fruits, a dinner party dessert or something quick and easy that is still special enough for guests. …
It isn’t too often that I use ‘pre-made’ ingredients in the desserts we make, as I like making most everything from scratch. This dessert includes not one, but two ‘pre-made’ ingredients, Nutella and Biscoff cookies, both delightfully delicious on their own. Paired with an espresso mousse, this dessert becomes shamefully sublime and a top contender in the surreptitious world of guilty pleasures….
The beauty of pavlova is that it is a dessert in contrasts – simple, yet dramatic, rustic, yet elegant and polished with a crispy melt in your mouth texture. As unique as this dessert is, so is the romantic tale behind its creation. Said to have been inspired by a costume of Russian prima ballerina, Anna Matveyevna Pavlova (1881-1931), while touring Australia and New Zealand in 1926. The meringue shell is symbolic of her tutu with the cream filling representing the mesh on her costume. I was smitten by the world of ballet as a child and any dish named after my childhood heroine made it an iconic superfood; any meringue resembling a Pavlova a suitable substitution. The fact that it was delectably sweet and creamy was an added bonus. …
The heat is on, as in blistering 90+ °F (32 °C) days, each bead of sweat resonating loud and clear that summer has arrived. We adore our quaint 90 year old house, the only drawback being that my favorite space, the kitchen, is not air-conditioned. During the weeks when the kitchen’s average temperature hovers in the 80’s at night, only to push into the high 90’s during the day, use of the oven transforms this beloved space into a blazing inferno, making it even more unbearable. Going without sweets is not an option in my household, so ice cream, frozen and unbaked desserts reign supreme during the summer months.
A family favorite, this custard base ice cream is deliriously rich from an abundance of egg yolks and has a smooth, creamy texture that is flavored with freshly scraped vanilla bean seeds. Topping it off is a chocolate magic shell coating, stirring up memories of soft serve cones dipped in a chocolate coating, that magically hardens upon contact….
What I love about this galette, besides its earthy, rustic appeal, is the kirsch laced frangipane filling that the cherries are nestled in. I grew up eating European pastries and baked goods as a child, favoring marzipan and anything with a hint of almond paste, over all other sweets. Although homemade caramel and good quality dark chocolate now share the front row of my adult favorites, I still get that hit of euphoria from the first scent of ground almonds. …