fruit dessert

Gluten-Free Peach Crisp


Some summers the peaches are glorious.

And then there’s this year. I haven’t had an excellent peach or nectarine yet.

I bought a bunch a few times and they tasted ok, but not really flavorful. Some were cottony and mealy.

I used the cottony/mealy ones to make sauce — like applesauce only made with peaches (with a bit of cinnamon and a squirt of lemon juice). It was very good. We ate some and I used the rest for quickbread.

I used the sort-of-tasty ones for this peach crisp. This was perfect. Baking — plus some other stuff — brought out the best of the fruit.

And look how easy this dessert is!

Plus, it’s gluten-free, in case you need…

Gluten-Free Peach Crisp


  • 6 ripe medium peaches

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 tablespoons minute tapioca

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  • 1-1/2 cups quick cooking oats

  • 2/3 cup brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 6 tablespoons butter (margarine or solid coconut oil), cut into chunks

To make the filling: Lightly butter a baking dish. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the peaches and place the pieces in the baking dish. Add the sugar, tapioca and lemon juice, toss the ingredients and let rest for 15-20 minutes. 

To make the crust: Mix the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly. Place on top of the fruit. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Makes 6 servings



Blueberry Yogurt Torte


You know that famous Plum Torte so many of us bake for Rosh Hashanah? I decided to use it for a light, summery coffee cake.

Sort of. I replaced the plums (not yet available anyway) with fresh seasonal blueberries.

I gave it a bit of enrichment by adding some yogurt (dairy sour cream would be fine too) and a splash of orange (by way of peel) because the citrus pairs so well with blueberries.

Voila! A terrific, easy, more-appropriate-for-summer dessert. July 4th? Sure. Picnic? Sure. Any time at all.

Blueberry Yogurt Torte

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup plus one teaspoon sugar

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup unflavored yogurt

  • 1 pint blueberries

  • lemon juice (about one tablespoon)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and 1/2 cup sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes or until creamy and well blended. Mix the flour, orange peel, salt, baking powder and baking soda and mix briefly to blend ingredients. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat for a minute or two at medium speed until a thick batter has formed. Add the eggs and yogurt and beat at medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Spoon the batter into the prepared springform pan. Arrange the berries on top of the cake, pressing them slightly into the batter. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of sugar. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until browned, set and crispy. Let cool.

Makes 8 servings

Apple Streusel


My grandma made her own strudel dough. I remember how deftly she stretched and smoothed the paper-thin pastry over the kitchen table before filling it with all sorts of stuff: usually apples, tender and tart, but gently sweetened and seasoned with cinnamon. Sometimes she filled the dough with mashed potatoes bound with shmaltz-fried golden-brown onions. Like some giant knish!

Whatever was inside, those rolls baked to perfectly perfect crispy-crustedness and all was well with the world.

OY! Those were delicious days.

When she got older she bought packaged strudel dough at a Hungarian grocery near her house. She just couldn’t manage preparing this most delicate of doughs anymore.

I’ve looked for real Hungarian strudel dough but it’s difficult to find. So I made my own dough once. It was good, but not worth the work! So, when I make strudel now I use phyllo dough, which is not quite the same thing and is a terrific product, but not exactly right for strudel.

Anyway, I thought of all this because National Apple Strudel Day is Monday, June 17th. And I thought about making some, but decided to make Apple Streusel instead.

They sound almost the same, right?

And it tastes just perfectly perfect.

Apple Streusel

  • 5-6 baking type apples, peeled, cored and sliced

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • streusel


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup oats (any kind)

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the apple slices in a bowl. Add the flour, lemon juice, flour, cinnamon and sugar, toss the ingredients and set aside. Spoon the streusel mixture on top of the apples. Bake for 45 minutes or until crusty and golden brown.

Combine the flour, oats, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and work it into the flour mixture with fingers or a pastry blender, until the mixture resembles crumbs. (You can use a food processor: 24-30 short, quick pulses. If so, if you use quick oats, stir them in to the flour crumbs after pulsing.)

 Makes 8 servings




Wine-Poached Pears


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


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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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)


  • 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. 



·                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