Saturday, July 29, 2017

10 Favorite Summer Fruit Desserts

Desserts featuring summer fruits need very little promotion. Most of the ones I make allow the fruits to be the stars without an excess of additional flavorings or undue complexity. While there’s much more of this delicious seasonal world to explore and I don’t intend to stop, I’m also still happy with the good recipes I’ve already posted.

Here are my 10 favorite summer fruit desserts from The Messy Apron Archives. After laying out a list and paring it down to 10 (leaving out the rhubarb desserts, even though rhubarb is still very much “in season”), I found that these recipes fell into three rough categories: pies and tarts, cakes, and, well, everything else.

Cakes can be an easy place for fruits to star, especially if you use a simple batter and let the fruits do most of the flavoring. For quick simplicity and improvisational variety, I like this White Cake with Berries and Lemon Glaze.

This Cherry Almond Loaf Cake, which comes together in the food processor, is just as easy.

A little more effort can really feature some perfect plums in this Plum Upside-Down Yogurt Cake.

I all too often shy away from making my own pie crust (mostly out of laziness, but sometimes because I really don’t have the time.) These first two favorite pies can be made with store-bought pie crust dough, so you can get to the fruit filling faster.

Open Face Blueberry Pie is the best use I can think of for an abundance of fresh blueberries.

Plum and Grape Galette with Almonds is really great when made with the tiny, fabulously delicious grapes I can get in the late summer.

Part of the mixture used for the crust in both Apricot Raspberry Tart with Crumble Topping 

and Apricot Strawberry Tart is held aside to become a crumble topping. These tarts are quite similar, but both are delicious enough to be listed separately. Take your pick!

My “and the rest” category includes three quite different styles of dessert. Cherry Plum Crisp is ripe and delicious, fruit crisp at its finest. I think, however, that you could substitute other in-season stone fruits for the cherries and/or plums.

Cherry Clafouti (you might also see “Clafoutis”) is somewhat like a cherry-studded cake, but it’s also custard-like enough to keep it out of the cake category. You can also use the basic clafouti method with other fruits. (I’ve even made this savory version with the “fruits” of the tomato vine.)

Finally, Sweet Melon Soup with Mint and Midori is a chilled soup, sweet and refreshing. It’s the only recipe on this list that doesn’t require the use of an oven, perfect for too-hot-to-bake summer days. 

Of course, just biting into a perfect peach, or munching on a handful of berries or cherries while fanning yourself on the porch is dessert enough when the days are hot and the fruit is good. It’s the one time I can get on board with folks who are happy with “just a piece of fruit” for dessert. Until I find the next exciting recipe, that is!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Recipe Revisit: Cherry Plum Crisp

Even though I haven’t been posting here as often as often as I would like, I still love to try out new things in the kitchen. The curse that accompanies this passion is that I don’t find myself repeating good recipes as often as they deserve.

Take this lovely Cherry Plum Crisp, for example. I don’t remember that I ever made it again after I posted it (many years ago!). Even though the dessert was delicious, I wasn’t perfectly satisfied with it. I remember the fruit being a little undercooked for my taste, so when I revisited the recipe recently, it was with the very simple idea of baking it a little longer. (And possibly getting some better photos. These aren’t great, but they’ll do.)

I also didn’t have any whole wheat pastry flour, which was in the topping mixture in the originally posted recipe. I’ve been making some version of this topping for quite a while, however, (usually in this apple-cranberry version) and have come to the conclusion that just about any kind of flour will work. I’ve used unbleached all-purpose, whole wheat, whole wheat pastry, and oat flour with great success and very little difference in the results. The recipe below reflects that.

This dessert did come out a little better with the extended oven time. The chopped plums, which were small and sweet and juicy, broke down into an almost sauce-like consistency. The Bing cherries, which I pitted but left whole, stayed intact, plump bursts of fruitiness nestled in the stewy plums. I think you could use other stone fruits in this recipe, although you might want to adjust the sugar to taste.

I love this basic formula for fruit crisp topping. It’s nutty and sweet, and I like it best with some kind of whole grain flour. I really recommend almonds in the mix with stone fruits in the filling, although walnuts or pecans work well, too. I also love this fruit filling to topping ratio. The topping stays crunchy on top, but there’s a lovely zone in which it comes into contact with the filling. It’s a little gooey there, and the flavors of the bright summer fruits mixed with the oats and nuts and brown sugar…that’s what fruit crisp is all about! Add a dollop of vanilla ice cream, to a serving of warm Cherry Plum Crisp and summer is complete!

Cherry Plum Crisp

2 cups pitted dark sweet cherries
3 cups coarsely chopped pitted plums
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup rolled oats
½ cup flour, preferably whole wheat or oat flour
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup chopped almonds
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, combine the cherries and plums. Add the cornstarch, granulated sugar and almond extract. Gently stir together to combine well.

2. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray or grease it with oil or butter. Pour in the cherry and plum mixture. Set aside

3. In a medium-size bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar and almonds and stir to combine. Pour the melted butter over the mixture and stir together until the dry ingredients are well-moistened by the butter.

3. Cover the fruit filling mixture with the topping mixture, spreading it evenly over the top. Bake at 350 F for 45 to 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Cover the dish with foil if the topping is over-browning.

4. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack 20 minutes or more. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Makes about 6 servings.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Curry Lime Lentil Salad

Yikes! I just realized I was in danger of getting to the end of July without talking to you about anything new. I’ve been doing a lot of tossing fresh things together to make some pretty good dishes, but it’s been hard to quantify ingredients and turn things into recipes. Until I get some time to figure out how to narrate such things, I’ll tell you about a simple salad about which I actually wrote down some facts while I was working.

This was based on a really great looking recipe in Annie Somerville’s Fieldsof Greens, which has been around for a while, but has still been sadly under-explored by this particular home cook. Anyway, I didn’t have everything I needed to make this salad as published, and I had some other things that were more convenient (such as a commercial curry powder blend instead of a custom blend of spices).

This salad may be a bit homely to look at, but it’s packed with zesty flavor. I made mine a bit spicy with ¼ teaspoon of cayenne, but you can add or subtract making it as intense as you like. I loved the cooling yogurt and lime against the curry and cayenne, and, since the lentils are small, there was plenty of room for the dressing to coat them. I used a full-fat plain yogurt, but I think a reduced fat version might be okay too.

My own improvisation of this salad based on what was in my pantry and refrigerator is proof that there’s a lot of wiggle room when it comes to adding vegetables. Finely diced bell peppers would be great. Cucumbers might be good, too, as would green onions or chives. I even think that if you don’t groove on curry, you could come up with your own spice or herb combinations to suit your taste and make something great.

Lentil Salad with Curry Lime Yogurt Dressing
Based on a recipe in Fields of Greens by Annie Somerville

I used small green lentils to make this salad, which I recommend because they keep their shape well when cooked.

1 ½ cup dry lentils
1 medium-size carrot, peeled and shredded
½ cup finely chopped onion
¾ cup plain yogurt
Juice and zest of 1 medium-size lime
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 ½ teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Place the lentils in a saucepan and cover generously with cold water. Bring to a boil. Simmer until the lentils are tender. Drain and place the lentils in a large bowl and cool.

2. Add the carrot and onion to the lentils.

3. To make the dressing, combined the yogurt, lime juice and zest, salt, curry powder, and cayenne. Stir together.

4. Stir the dressing into the lentil mixture. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Another recipe like this one: Curry Chutney Egg Salad

One year ago: Gumdrop Cookies