Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category

Favorite citrus vinaigrette

March 24, 2014


Favorite Citrus Vinaigrette

This vinaigrette is delicious with hot or cold food and it takes about 5 minutes to make. I have used it as a dressing for greens, chilled and hot asparagus; in sandwich wraps; and over hot salmon. It is very versatile.

2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed citrus juice

2 Tbsp. lemon-flavored olive oil

pinch granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. coarse-ground or Dijon mustard

Freshly ground pepper

pinch of salt

Pour citrus juice into a medium bowl anchored with a dish towl.  Begin whisking in the first tablespoon of olive oil by SLOWLY dripping it into the bowl.  If you see large pools of oil, stop pouring the oil until it has been incorporated into the juice.  The mixture should start to look slightly creamy.  Add the 2nd tablespoon in the same way.  Add the rest of the ingredients, tasting to make adjustments.  Whisk briskly until creamy.

Use immediately or transfer to a small container and store in the fridge.  Shake well before using.


August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Not Schweddy Balls

September 9, 2011


The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

When my husband asked me on Sunday if I was making Schweddy balls, we hadn’t even heard about the new Ben & Jerry’s Schweddy balls ice cream. But it’s always good for a laugh. And no, I wasn’t making Schweddy balls, I was making raspberry cream-filled chocolates.

Cream-filled chocolates have been a weakness of mine since I was a little girl. If you buy me a box of candy, skip the chocolate-covered nuts and caramels. I want the biggest box of buttercreams I can afford.

Another weakness of mine has been my fear of tempering chocolate. I couldn’t imagine success. So when I saw that this month’s challenge including tempering chocolate, I knew it meant it was time. I decided it didn’t matter if I failed or succeeded, but that I had to try. That I would make a buttercream was a given.

After dithering between making maple or raspberry creams, my son chose raspberry. I found a recipe on for a Raspberry fondant that included cream and fresh raspberries. The corn syrup and marshmallow creme would add a little insurance against crystalization.

I’m getting more comfortable with a candy thermometer but still feel some foreboding when I start making candy. Fortunately the weather had finally turned cooler and drier, so I felt as ready as I would ever be.

I’ve come a long way from my attempt to make caramel corn as a newlywed. I boiled the caramel on high for ten minutes, because anything that needs to boil should be cooked on high heat, shouldn’t it? I had a pot of tar at the end. I’m surprised I didn’t burn down the kitchen.

Making candy is a fascinating form of chemistry. I love to watch the changes as the syrup boils down. As the water boils out of the mixture the color changes, the syrup thickens, and the sound of the bubbles changes pitch. Cool stuff.

Here is the fondant at the beginning of the boil. Notice how light the color is and how foamy the bubbles look.


Here is the fondant as the temperature rises and the raspberries release their juices. It looks so pretty and smells divine. Notice the definition of the bubbles.


I worried about having too many seeds in my candy centers, but since the candy isn’t stirred while cooking, most of them settled to the bottom of the pan and I was careful to leave them there when I poured the syrup out.

Some candy recipes call for citric acid, to enhance fruit flavors. I knew I had some but I didn’t find my bag until I’d completely finished my candy. My grocery story didn’t have any either. So as a little cheat I bought a big bag of Sour Patch Kids. After rubbing the closed package between my hands, I had rubbed off more than enough citric acid for my recipe. Plus the bonus of having Sour Patch Kids to eat.


I felt success within my grasp. I poured the syrup onto a baking sheet to cool before I started kneading it. It was during the kneading that I started worrying this wasn’t going to turn out. I have carpal tunnel and I stirred and then kneaded that mixture for as long as I physically could, but it was becoming too painful. But the fondant was still shiny, with a texture like caramel. It definitely was not creamy like I needed.

I set down the fondant and walked away for some pouting on the couch. I tried to tell myself that raspberry caramels would still taste good. But then it hit me; if I can knead bread in the KitchenAid mixer, why couldn’t I knead fondant? It was worth a try.

I threw the fondant in the mixing bowl, attached the paddle (not the kneading attachment), turned it on and, once again, walked away. When I checked it after some time, I was amazed that the mixture was dull and creamy, just like it was supposed to be! I was ecstatic.

I rested the fondant overnight and then shaped the centers into bonbons.

After the drama with the fondant, tempering chocolate wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. It’s mainly about paying attention, and having a chocolate thermometer and a lot of patience. I have the chocolate thermometer. It’s the other two qualities I sometimes lack.

The big mystery, to me, about tempering chocolate has always been how to hold the chocolate at a steady temperature for dipping. It turns out the temperature doesn’t fluctuate as quickly as I thought it would. After reaching dipping temperature I kept the pan on a heating pad. When I needed to, I would put the chocolate back over hot water and stir for about 15-30 seconds to bring the temperature back up. Of course, the temperature will drop faster if you use chilled centers.


I dipped all the chocolates without getting more chocolate on my kitchen than on my fondant centers, and I didn’t get any my pink t-shirt! I guess I really didn’t have anything to worry about. My big worry now is how many buttercream chocolates I’ll be eating now that I can make them myself!

The Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Vanilla Panna Cotta with Fruit Gelée and Florentine Cookies

February 27, 2011

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

PDF of the recipes provided for the challenge.

Is there a good way to brighten your day when it seems like it will never stop snowing? I mean, I love a good snow storm more than almost anyone I know, but in the end (and sometimes the beginning and middle), you still have to go out and shovel. I was also going to have a tooth pulled mid-week, so I wanted something soft and sweet in the refrigerator.


I was happy to have a slightly simpler Daring Bakers’ challenge to whip up this month in between trying to keep up with the snow.

The milk chocolate Florentine cookies were easy and fun to make, with that lacy, caramelized texture that looks like it should be hard to make. I left some of the cookies flat, and as an experiment, rolled some around forms to make them curvy, which was pretty.


I had never made panna cotta before and I have to admit that I’m afraid of working with gelatin the way some people are afraid of working with yeast. I had little faith that either my panna cotta or gelée would work, but they did!
vanilla and cookie
I added a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste to the panna cotta. And to add a little sunshine, I made a mango-cinnamon gelée, using sweetened mango purée and a teaspoon of cinnamon.

mango panna cotta

The panna cotta has been delicious and soothing to my sore mouth. I’ve snuck a couple of the cookies too, but eaten them VERY carefully.

Daring Baker Challenge: Crostata

November 27, 2010


The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Download a pdf of the challenge.

I’m not feeling any words this month so I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. In the end my flavor choice was a little bland. Next time I’ll zip it up with something tangy added.

pear crostata

Pears, pear and hazelnut jam and pastry cream.


Gravity defying crème patisserie.


Pears on the mandoline.


Pear and hazelnut crostata ready for the oven.

Daring Baker’s Challenge: Pretty in Pink Grapefruit Tian

March 27, 2010

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

I usually consider March the low point of winter and this year has been no exception. I have been sick the entire month so far. So what could be better when you’re feeling unhealthy than to make a dessert rich in vitamin C. Since I favor grapefruit over orange, I chose to make a Pink Grapefruit Tian.

There are a few recipes and steps to making this dessert, which actually worked in my favor. Since I wasn’t feeling well I could make the dessert one step at a time and spread it out over a few days.


I decided to take a different approach to the marmalade than the recipe provided. Instead of using the whole peel, I cut off as much of the pith as I could. I sliced the fruit and set it aside. I didn’t want to blanch the pulp with the peel.

I was worried that the marmalade wasn’t going to set up, but after chilling in the refrigerator overnight, it thickened nicely.

I’m not a big marmalade fan because I don’t like citrus peel a whole lot.  But in the end it was pretty tasty.  I’m thinking of serving some this weekend with a lemon-ginger cheddar cheese I’ve been saving.

Pate Sablee

We had the option of choosing our own recipe for Pate Sablee.  I used the recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

I had also decided to make one large tian, rather than individual desserts. I rolled the dough and patted it into the bottom of a 9″ springform pan. I removed the pastry circle from the pan after baking to cool and crisp up on a cooling rack.

I wasn’t thrilled with the way my Pate Sablee turned out. Julia’s recipe gave a range for the amount of sugar to add, and I don’t use enough to my taste. I would have liked the end result to be sweeter.

Caramel Sauce

Maybe it’s cheating, but I add a little water to the sugar when I make caramel. It’s a little insurance to keep the sugar from seizing on me. I thought the recipe given was too vague. Although it was called a caramel sauce, the recipe gave no instructions for cooking the sugar to any color, merely indicating to add the grapefruit juice when the melted sugar started to bubble (which would still have little or no color), at which point the caramelization process would stop.  In the end I decided for less caramelization to let the grapefruit flavor shine through.


I decided to line the springform pan with plastic wrap to protect the metal of the pan and the acidic grapefruit from each other. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about what a stunning color pink grapefruit has until I looked at these photos.  Be sure and save the juice from the grapefruit sections.  It’s great mixed with some mineral water.

The whipped cream was a straight forward gelatine-stabilized whipped cream with some of the marmlade folded in.  This was spread over the grapefruit.

I spread marmalade onto one side of the Pate Sablee disk.  It was a bit of a trick for me to flip it and fit it into the pan.  I’m notoriously clumsy when I do things like that.  I only broke a little piece of the edge.

Following a short rest in the freezer to set, I unmolded it to a place, sliced, sauced, and served.

Here is the pdf of Chocolate Shaving’s version of the recipe.