fruit dessert

Wine-Poached Pears

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Purim is a loud, raucous, festive, hilarious holiday. Although its origins are somber - Haman’s attempt to annihilate the Jews of ancient Persia - it didn’t end so well for him. But it did for us and, in keeping with the victory we celebrate!

It’s been one of the traditions of Purim for adults to, let’s say, make merry by imbibing in more alcohol than usual. In fact, some say, we are told to become intoxicated with wine, based on a statement in the Talmud by Rava, a fourth century rabbi, who said:

”A person is obligated to become intoxicated with wine on Purim until he is so intoxicated that he does not know how to distinguish between cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordecai.”

And so, on Purim, count on the fact that wine will be on the menu somewhere.

This year I decided that wine would appear on my dessert menu. I’ll poach some seasonal pears (I prefer comice or bartlett) in a hearty, aromatic wine-based sauce. I’ve made this dessert many times (tastes different each time of course because I use a different wine).

You can make it a day or so ahead; store everything in the fridge. Serve it with the sauce, strained and boiled down to a velvety finish, and maybe a garnish of whipped cream, ice cream or sorbet. Or just by itself.

Wine- Poached Pears

  • 2-1/2 cups red wine

  • 1-1/2 cups water

  • 1 cup sugar

  • peel from one orange

  • 2 2-inch strips of lemon peel

  • 1 cinnamon stick, about 4" long

  • 12 whole allspice

  • 4 cardamom pods, slightly crushed (or use 2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger)

  • 3-4 pears, preferably comice or bartletts

  •  whipped cream, optional

  • crushed pistachio nuts for garnish (or use toasted coconut or fresh chopped mint), optional

Combine the wine, water, sugar, orange peel, lemon peel, cinnamon stick, allspice and cardamom pods in a stainless steel, pyrex, enamel or other non-reactive saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the ingredients for 5-6 minutes. While the sauce is cooking, peel the pears and cut them in half. Remove the core and seeds. When the sauce has simmered for 5 minutes, immerse the pear halves and cook them for about 4-5 minutes or until they are barely tender. Remove the pan from the heat; let the pears cool in the liquid. Remove the pears. Strain the poaching liquid and return the plain liquid to the saucepan. Boil the liquid over high heat for several minutes until it has reduced to a syrupy consistency.  Let the liquid cool. When ready to serve, spoon some of the syrup on dessert plates and top each with a pear half. Serve with whipped cream, if desired, and garnish with a sprinkle of crushed pistachio nuts.

Makes 6-8 servings

Peach (or Nectarine) Galette

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At the end of every September I buy a bushel of Rhode Island Greening apples and bake at least a dozen pies over the course of a few days. It's a ritual for me, as constant as making mujadarah for my annual break-the-fast or makfrying latkes on Hanukkah.

But right now, it's the height of stone-fruit season and I bought so many peaches and nectarines! Way too many to have just as a snack. So of course I could make pies.

But I don't feel like baking pies.

I might make a crisp or two. Or maybe some chutney or barbecue sauce. Maybe make a roasted dessert or soaked fruit for weekend company.

Or maybe a pie-like but much easier galette. Yep, that's it! 

Nectarine or Peach Galette

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 4 cups sliced nectarines or peeled peaches
  • 6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the crust: mix the flour, sugar, salt and lemon peel together in a bowl or food processor. Add the butter and shortening and cut the fat into the flour mixture with your hands or a pastry blender or by processing on pulse until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Add 5 tablespoons milk and mix to form a soft dough. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough on a lightly floured board into a circle about 14-inches in diameter (about 1/8-inch thick) and transfer the circle to the prepared baking sheet.

For the filling: slice the fruit into a large bowl. Add 6 tablespoons of the sugar, salt, lemon juice and flour and toss the ingredients to completely coat the fruit. Place the fruit on top of the dough circle, leaving a border of about 1-1/2-inches. Fold the dough over the fruit but not completely; leave a circle of fruit showing, about 7-8-inches. Pleat the dough to give it a rustic look. Brush the dough with the remaining tablespoon milk. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let cool for at least 15 minutes. Best when served warm.

Makes 8 servings

Pear and Ginger Crisp

I always buy bananas. They don't get eaten, so then I make a variety of banana breads.

Recently I have been buying pears. They don't get eaten, so I've been making sauce and baked pears and crisps.

What is this? Do Ed and I just not like fresh fruit?

I guess so, when, at night, I see that we are munching on popcorn and nuts instead.

But I keep trying. Meantime, the banana breads and the fruit crisps are very tasty. 

I just bought a lot of grapefruits. Let's see what happens.

Anyway, here's a recipe for a delightful pear crisp.

 

Pear and Ginger Crisp

filling:

  • 6 ripe pears
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt

crust:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cold margarine or firm coconut oil

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

To make the filling: peel, core and slice the pears and place them in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon, brown sugar, flour and salt. Toss the ingredients gently and place in a baking dish. Set aside.

To make the crust: combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the fat in chunks and work into the dry ingredients with hands or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Scatter over the pear mixture. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving. Best if served warm.

 Makes 6-8 servings

 

Roasted Pears with Orange Maple Sauce

Somehow, even after after a heavy meal, most of us still find room for dessert. Me included! But I don't like feeling overstuffed, so I prefer something lighter, made with fruit, rather than a hunk of cake or pie.

I made these roasted pears recently -- the recipe is very easy and only has a few ingredients. It's a perfect finale to a Hanukkah meal, which tends to include lots of rich dairy foods and fried everything. You can make the pears a day ahead and stuff the hollows with whipped cream or ice cream, just before serving.

For us, the big Hanukkah meal is always a roasted goose with all the trimmings -- braised red cabbage, potato latkes -- the works! Roasted pears for dessert, for sure! Plain. Maybe with sorbet.

Roasted Pears with Orange-Maple Sauce

  • 3 large ripe Bartlett pears
  • half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ice cream, whipped cream or sorbet

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the pears, cut them in half and remove the inner core and seeds. Rub the surface with the cut half of a lemon. Place the pear halves in a baking dish just large enough to hold them so they don’t tip over. Mix the juice, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla extract and spoon over the pears. Roast for about 25-30 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices, or until the pears are tender. Remove the pears and let them cool. Serve the pears with the pan juices and ice cream, whipped cream or sorbet if desired. (If the pan juices seem too thin, pour the liquid into a small saucepan, cook on high heat for a minute or so or until syrupy. Set aside to cool.)

Makes 6 servings

 

Remembering my Dad

I'm remembering my Dad today. Remembering the hugs and the "I love yous."

Missing him always but especially on this day, his 20th yahrzeit.

This was one of his favorite desserts.

william vail's favorite Apple Brown Betty

  •  4-5 pie apples such as Granny Smiths, Rhode Island Greenings or Golden Delicious
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 cups diced homestyle white bread
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel the apples and remove the cores. Cut the apples into bite sized pieces. Pour the lemon juice over the apples and place them in a baking dish. Combine the bread dice, brown sugar, melted butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. Toss the ingredients to distribute the ingredients evenly. Place the bread mixture on top of the apples. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crusty. Let cool slightly, but best when served warm.

Makes 4 servings

 

Nectarine or Peach Crisp

Peach Crisp

Peach Crisp

Autumn may be here, officially speaking. But I couldn't resist the gorgeous nectarines at a local market. I bought a dozen. Large. 

I let them ripen for two days on my counter and they had that end-of-summer ripe, sweet perfume. I couldn't wait to polish one off, anticipating the juicy flesh on my tongue, savoring the last essences of summer.

They were mealy. Dry. Huge disappointment.

But I hate to throw food out.

Ed wanted me to poach them. It seemed like a good idea because poaching not-so-good fruit can enhance their flavor.

They were so big that before poaching I decided to cut them in half, remove the pits and poach the halves. But when I cut them they were full of brown spots. Beyond poaching.

Huge disappointment. But I hate to throw food out.

So I cut around the brown spots and from 12 large nectarines had enough flesh to make a crisp for 6 people. 

Now, that was not at all disappointing. In fact it was just perfect. I added just a bit of honey and enough lemon juice to bring out the best of what was left of these nectarines.

Here's the recipe, for when you have not-so-good peaches or nectarines (you could make this crisp with pears too), and I bet it would be especially delicious if your fruit started out wonderful too.

Peach/Nectarine Crisp with Oat Crust

Crust:

  • 3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter (or substitute)

Filling:

  • 6 large peaches or nectarines
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly. Set aside. Peel the peaches and discard the pits. Slice the peaches into a bowl. Add the flour, honey and lemon juice and toss the ingredients. Place the mixture in the baking dish. Scatter the oat mixture on top of the fruit. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Makes 6 servings

 

 

Baked Marinated Pineapple with Meringue Top

Marinated Marinated Pineapple with Meringue

Marinated Marinated Pineapple with Meringue

After a big, heavy meal -- like the kind we usually eat for Rosh Hashanah or any other holiday (Thanksgiving, for example) -- I like to serve a fruit dessert. I'll also serve Honey Cake and Plum Torte but not everyone can stuff cake in right after dinner.

So, fruit.

This is a pretty way to serve fresh fruit, festive enough for any holiday table. You can use any cut up fruit you like in addition to the pineapple. 

 

BAKED MARINATED PINEAPPLE WITH MERINGUE TOP

·                1 large pineapple

·                1 cup berries and/or grapes or cut up peach/plum/apricot

·                1/3 cup confectioner's sugar

·                3 tablespoons rum or orange juice

·                3 tablespoons brandy or orange juice

·                4 large egg whites

·                1 cup sugar

·                1/2 cup melted apricot preserves

 

Cut the pineapple in half, keeping the leaves intact. Cut out the flesh (use a spoon to scoop portions you don't reach with the knife). Reserve the pineapple shells. Cut away and discard the hard core in the center of the flesh. Cut the pineapple into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl. Add the berries, confectioner's sugar, rum and brandy. Toss the fruit and let rest for at least one hour in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating constantly until the whites stand in stiff, glossy peaks. Place the fruit and accumulated juices back into the reserved pineapple shells. Spoon the meringue on top, spreading it to the sides, making sure to seal the edges. Place the pineapple halves on a cookie sheet. Cover the leaves with aluminum foil. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned. Remove the foil from the leaves. Drizzle the melted apricot preserves on on a serving platter and place the pineapple on top or serve the sauce separately.

Makes 6 servings

 

 

You can never have too many Baked Apple recipes.

Baked Apples with Dried Fruit and Jam

On days like this when it can't decide whether it is snowing or raining freezing rain and it's dark and you have to wear 10 pounds of clothing to keep warm if you're going out and you think the weather will never be better, it's nice to know that in other parts of the world it is sunny and wonderful.

It's summertime in Buenos Aires, where my brother lives. 

It's sunny and warm in Johannesburg where my friend Sharon Lurie lives.

In Israel, the first of the fruit trees are beginning to bud, the first hopeful sign of the renewal of the life cycle. Soon everything will be in full bloom. This is worth celebrating and, in fact, that is what the Jewish holiday of Tu B'shevat is all about. Celebrating a new year of trees, plant life, fruits and vegetables, the earth in all its bounty. It starts at sundown on February 3rd this year.

On Tu B'shevat it is traditional to eat fruits, vegetables and grains.

For those of us in places like Connecticut, where I live, and where it's cold and gloomy and the only thing blooming are the orchids on my kitchen windowsill, I'm thinking about celebrating with Baked Apples. To me, this is a celebratory dish because it is so easy to cook, so comforting and so tasty.

Here's one of my latest recipes:

Baked Apples with Dried Fruit and JaM

  • 4 large baking apples
  • half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry or strawberry jam
  • cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil, optional
  • 1 cup mango juice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash the apples and remove the core with an apple corer or small knife, leaving about 1/2” of the core on the bottom. Peel the apples halfway down from the top and rub the peeled surfaces with the cut side of the lemon. Put the apples in a baking dish. Mix the dates, cranberries and jam. Stuff this mixture into the apple hollows. Sprinkle the apples with cinnamon. Dot the tops of the apples with equal amounts of coconut oil. Bake for 20 minutes. Pour the juice over the apples. Bake for another 35-40 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices, or until the apples are tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Makes 4 servings

Baked Pound Sweet Apples

I discovered a new apple. New for me anyway. It’s called Pound Sweet (a/k/a Pumpkin Sweet) and it’s actually a very old heritage apple first known in Connecticut in the early 1800s.  I’d never heard of this one, but at  Clarkdale Fruit Farm  in Deerfield, Massachusetts, where I drove recently to buy my yearly supply of Rhode Island Greening apples for pies (my Connecticut source didn’t have any this year) they pointed them out and so I bought a bagful.  Turns out (as they told me at the farm) that Pound Sweet are not the best eating-out-of-hand apple — they’re mild tasting and not especially tart/acidic — but they are terrific for baking.  So I baked some. They certainly hold their shape very well and don’t become as mushy as some apple varieties. I found that baking them also took slightly longer than the more usual Romes and Cortlands do.  But the result was really good. If you can find a bunch of Pound Sweets, wonderful, but of course this recipe will be fine when made with any baking apple (if you use other varieties, do not cover and bake for the 10 minutes suggested).   Baked Pound Sweet Apples      4 large Pound Sweet baking apples (or use any baking apple)  half a lemon  1/3 cup raisins  1/3 cup dried cranberries  3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar  2 teaspoons coconut oil  1 cup mango juice   Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash the apples and remove the core with an apple corer or small knife, leaving about 1/2” of the core on the bottom. Peel the apples halfway down from the top and rub the peeled surfaces with the cut side of the lemon. Put the apples in a baking dish.  Mix the raisins and cranberries and stuff them into the apple hollows. Sprinkle the apples with the cinnamon sugar. Place 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil on each apple top. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes. Pour the juice over the apples. Bake for another 40-45 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices, or until the apples are tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.     Makes 4 servings      

I discovered a new apple. New for me anyway. It’s called Pound Sweet (a/k/a Pumpkin Sweet) and it’s actually a very old heritage apple first known in Connecticut in the early 1800s.

I’d never heard of this one, but at Clarkdale Fruit Farm in Deerfield, Massachusetts, where I drove recently to buy my yearly supply of Rhode Island Greening apples for pies (my Connecticut source didn’t have any this year) they pointed them out and so I bought a bagful.

Turns out (as they told me at the farm) that Pound Sweet are not the best eating-out-of-hand apple — they’re mild tasting and not especially tart/acidic — but they are terrific for baking.

So I baked some. They certainly hold their shape very well and don’t become as mushy as some apple varieties. I found that baking them also took slightly longer than the more usual Romes and Cortlands do.

But the result was really good. If you can find a bunch of Pound Sweets, wonderful, but of course this recipe will be fine when made with any baking apple (if you use other varieties, do not cover and bake for the 10 minutes suggested).

Baked Pound Sweet Apples

 

4 large Pound Sweet baking apples (or use any baking apple)

half a lemon

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup dried cranberries

3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar

2 teaspoons coconut oil

1 cup mango juice 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash the apples and remove the core with an apple corer or small knife, leaving about 1/2” of the core on the bottom. Peel the apples halfway down from the top and rub the peeled surfaces with the cut side of the lemon. Put the apples in a baking dish.  Mix the raisins and cranberries and stuff them into the apple hollows. Sprinkle the apples with the cinnamon sugar. Place 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil on each apple top. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes. Pour the juice over the apples. Bake for another 40-45 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices, or until the apples are tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Makes 4 servings

 

 

Plum Crumble with Coconut and Bread Crumb Crust

I saw the most beautiful Empress plums at Fairway supermarket and couldn’t resist them. Empress are the ones that look like giant Italian prune plums and they’re sometimes called President plums. In my opinion they are the best variety for pies and crisps.  I bought several pounds because they have a short season and frankly I was surprised there were any left.   Got my freezer packed with a plum pie and a plum cake plus a couple of plum crumble/crisps, including this one:   Plum Crumble with Coconut and Bread Crumb Crust      Filling:     2-1/2 pounds Empress plums or Italian prune plums  1/3 cup sugar  1/2 teaspoon cinnamon  1 tablespoon lemon juice  2 tablespoons all-purpose flour     Topping:  6 tablespoons unsalted butter  2 cups fresh bread crumbs  1/2 cup grated coconut  1/3 cup brown sugar  1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon  1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg  pinch of salt        Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash and halve the plums and remove the pits. Cut the plums into pieces. Combine the plums with the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and lemon juice and mix well. Stir in the flour and place the fruit mixture into a baking dish. Set aside. Make the topping: Melt the butter and set it aside in a bowl. Place the bread crumbs in a bowl. Add the coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and toss ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour in the melted butter. Mix to coat the crumbs. Sprinkle over the plums. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crusty. Serve warm or at room temperature.     Makes 8 servings      

I saw the most beautiful Empress plums at Fairway supermarket and couldn’t resist them. Empress are the ones that look like giant Italian prune plums and they’re sometimes called President plums. In my opinion they are the best variety for pies and crisps.

I bought several pounds because they have a short season and frankly I was surprised there were any left. 

Got my freezer packed with a plum pie and a plum cake plus a couple of plum crumble/crisps, including this one:

Plum Crumble with Coconut and Bread Crumb Crust

 

Filling:

 

2-1/2 pounds Empress plums or Italian prune plums

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

 

Topping:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups fresh bread crumbs

1/2 cup grated coconut

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

pinch of salt

 

 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash and halve the plums and remove the pits. Cut the plums into pieces. Combine the plums with the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and lemon juice and mix well. Stir in the flour and place the fruit mixture into a baking dish. Set aside. Make the topping: Melt the butter and set it aside in a bowl. Place the bread crumbs in a bowl. Add the coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and toss ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour in the melted butter. Mix to coat the crumbs. Sprinkle over the plums. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crusty. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Makes 8 servings