strawberry fool

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I’ve no idea why this dessert is called a fool. I only know that it’s deliciously creamy and light. I’ve been hunting up strawberry recipes because it’s strawberry season in Thailand. The season won’t last very much longer, but in the meantime, I’ve put strawberries into  a pie, preserves, coulis, garnish (for Ina Garten’s Chocolate Cassis Cake), and now a strawberry fool. This dessert is best eaten the day it is made.

Strawberry Fool (adapted from seriouseats)

24 ounces fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and chopped
7 tablespoons superfine sugar, divided, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup Greek-style yogurt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the compote. Put 12 ounces of strawberries into a medium saucepan with 3 tablespoons sugar. Cook over medium-low heat until the berries spring water and the syrup thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice. Taste, and if desired, add more sugar. Chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour.

Macerate the remaining strawberries. About half an hour after the compote is chilling in the refrigerator, put the remaining strawberries in a medium bowl with 3 tablespoons sugar. Mix to combine. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Make the whipped cream. Whip the whipping cream with 1 tablespoon sugar until soft peaks form. Gently fold in the yogurt and the vanilla. This results in a stiff cream. Fold in the compote.

Cook’s Note: This is where seriouseats was seriously negligent. Do you add the syrup to the cream too? I was afraid doing so would make the cream watery, so I strained the berries and reserved the syrup.

Add the reserved syrup to the macerated strawberries.

Assemble the fool. In a pretty stem glass, put 2 tablespoons macerated strawberries with syrup in the bottom of the glass. Top with 2-3 tablespoons cream mixture. Put 1 tablespoon macerated strawberries on top of the cream. Chill and serve.

almond cream with mandarin oranges

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This is one of the oldest recipes in my recipe collection. I bought Alison’s book when I was in graduate school, and I made this dessert for its cool refreshing quality after a spicy meal. This dessert and another one called Almond Lake, a rice pudding, were early favorites when company came over.

Almond Cream with Mandarin Oranges (Alison Burt)

Prep time: 20 minutes
Chill time: 2 1/2-3 1/2 hours

1 x 16 oz can mandarin oranges or chopped fresh fruit, such as kiwi, mango, dragon fruit, and tangerines, chilled
2 1/2 cups water
4 tablespoons gelatin powder (4 gelatin leaves = 1 tablespoon)
2 cups milk
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract

I made this with gelatin leaves. I put 16 leaves in a large bowl of cool water for 4 minutes or until softened.

In a medium sauce pan add the water, milk, and sugar, then heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Drain the gelatin and add drained gelatin to the milk mixture. Stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat source. Add the almond extract and stir. Let the mixture cool to room temperature about 30 minutes.

Pour into an ungreased glass dish about 9 inches square. Chill until set about 2 hours. Cut into small squares and pour into a large bowl. Add the mandarin oranges, syrup and all. Chill and serve in individual bowls.

apple snow

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The heat wave finally broke with the rain this week. Still, I’ve been looking for cold desserts like this apple snow. Most North Americans might say this is a dessert to be enjoyed in the fall, but to my mind, it’s a dessert for any season. It’s light, tart, and just sweet with a refreshing hint of  apple.

Apple Snow (adapted from the Telegraph)
Prep time: 30 minutes
Chill time: 1-2 hours

9 small apples, peeled, cored, and chopped coarsely
75g superfine or caster sugar
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 egg whites
250ml whipping cream

Place apples in a saucepan with 40g of the sugar, the zest and juice of the lemon. Cover and simmer on low heat 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the apples begin to soften. Transfer apples to a food processor and process until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

In a mixing bowl, make a meringue by whisking the eggs and the remaining 35g sugar until stiff and glossy. In another bowl, whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Fold the meringue and the whipped cream into the cooled apples. Chill and serve.

Serving suggestions: Canned fruits, chilled and drained, such as long-an and rambutan or fruit cocktail and mandarin orange segments; and wafer cookies. In the fall, substitute ginger cookies to add a little heat and spice.

arborio rice pudding with rambutan and toasted almonds

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I had half a cup of arborio rice left over. Not enough to make a risotto but enough to make rice pudding. Arborio rice cooks up quickly and has a delicious al dente quality that makes this dish appealing.  I like to serve this with mandarin oranges but the season is passed, so I used tinned rambutan instead. This dessert is cool and lightly sweet, with a toasty crunchy slightly bitter flavor from the almonds, perfect for another hot summer night.

Arborio Rice Pudding (adapted from Food Network)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Cooling time: 10-20 minutes
Refrigerating time: about 1 hour to cool and set

Yield: 4-6 servings

1 cup water
1/2 tablespoon butter
pinch of salt
1/2 cup Arborio rice
2 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
couple dashes of cinnamon for sprinkling

In a medium saucepan, heat water, butter and salt until it boils. Add the rice and bring it to a boil again. Reduce heat to the lowest setting. Shake the pan occasionally and cook until the water is absorbed, 10-15 minutes. The rice will be almost al dente.

In another saucepan, bring milk, sugar and vanilla to a boil. Add the cooked rice and simmer over medium-low heat until rice absorbs most of the milk. The mixture will start to look thick and silky, about 15-20 minutes.

Transfer pudding to individual serving dishes and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until cold and set. Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on top. Serve with cold fruit like rambutan or mandarin oranges. For convenience’s sake, I used tinned rambutan in syrup. Put a spoonful or two of the syrup on top of the rice and fruit. Sprinkle toasted sliced almonds overall.

pineapple whip

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PIneapple Whip with Longans, Toasted Almonds, and Wafer Cookie

It’s been just too hot to cook or even bake. It’s been so hot I haven’t needed to bring butter to room temperature for creaming. I just put it straight from the fridge in the mixing bowl and let Gracie (my Kitchenaid mixer has a nickname) aerate the butter! The temperatures here in Thailand have been in the 40s as mid-summer scorches on. We’re in the middle of a drought, too.

So when I came across this recipe in Detoxinista for whipped pineapple, it sounded so cool and refreshing, and since fresh pineapple is no trouble at all here–I decided to give it a try. All you need is one whole fresh pineapple, cored and chopped. Freeze the pineapple. Put frozen pineapple with a cup of whole milk (you can substitute non-dairy milk), and honey to taste in a food processor. Process the ingredients until smooth and eat at once. I liked it with little bits of pineapple still in it. It didn’t come out as yellow as Detoxinista’s, probably because of the whole milk (and it’s melting already!) but it had a wonderful sweet-tart flavor of fresh pineapple.

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secret ingredient chocolate truffles

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I love avocados but it is difficult to assess their ripeness. I’ve slit into an avocado only to discover it was either under-ripe or over-ripe. I have discovered that the under-ripe ones hold up well in stews and ratatouilles. The over-ripe ones I usually make into an avocado spread or guacamole. But this came as a revelation to me: to use an avocado to make chocolate truffles (recipe adapted from Christine@Apple of My Eye). The delicate flavor of avocado is overpowered by the chocolate, so its only purpose is to add moisture to the truffle balls. I call the recipe the

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Truffles
Makes 18-20 one-inch diameter truffles

1 over ripe avocado (save the best ones for salads and sandwiches!)
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, recommended (I used semi-sweet baking chocolate and chocolate chips)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, divided.

In a heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate over boiling water. Alternatively, melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30-40 second increments, stirring after each increment. Cool slightly.

Process the avocado until it’s a smooth paste in a food processor. Scrape the avocado paste into the melted chocolate along with the sugar, salt, vanilla, and 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder. Refrigerate or freeze the chocolate mixture until it is firm–about 1-2 hours.

Remove from the fridge or freezer. Using 2 teaspoons, shape the chocolate mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Roll each chocolate ball in the remaining tablespoon of chocolate powder. Freeze or refrigerate until firm.

Baker’s Note: Though this simple recipe requires no baking, it does need to be thoroughly chilled before rolling in the cocoa powder. And when it is warm, as it is here in Bangkok, the truffle returns to room temperature rather quickly, and the cocoa powder will be absorbed. My sister-in-law who is an expert in all things chocolate, recommends freezing the truffles before rolling them in the cocoa powder. It worked beautifully. Thanks, Mimi!

vodka pie crust apple galette with spiced sugar

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This is a delicious crust, but it’s hard to manage. It sticks to the board, the rolling pin, and it’s very hard to roll up and move to the baking tray. For the galette, it is best to roll it out on the silicone mat. I wanted to make an apple galette–I made two, actually, because this recipe makes a double crust. The crust really did come out flaky and tender, just as America’s Test Kitchen had promised.

Apple Galette
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into sixteenths

Spiced Sugar
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind (1 small lime)

Vodka Pie Crust (America’s Test Kitchen)
Ingredients
2 1/2 cups (313g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (170g) cold unsalted butter cut into 1/4 inch cubes, chilled
1/2 cup (95g) cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces, chilled
1/4 cup chilled vodka
1/4 cup cold water
milk for brushing
demerara or turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Procedure

1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses.

2. Scatter butter and shortening on top and process until incorporated and dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds. Dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour.

3. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough as been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

4. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together.

5. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 2 days. Let dough sit on the counter 10 minutes before rolling it out.

Cake Baker’s Note: I wrapped and froze the dough for a week then thawed it for several hours in the refrigerator.

6. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 425˚F or 220˚C. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll onto a silicone mat. Alternatively, roll it out onto a floured silicone mat. I had to scrape it off the pastry board with a bench scraper and pancake turner. I just don’t know if it’s supposed to be that sticky.

7. Mound half the apples in the center of the dough circle. Sprinkle generously with the spiced sugar. Use a bench scraper to fold up the sides. Fold the corners. Brush the dough with milk and sprinkle with demerara or turbinado sugar. Place the mat on the baking sheet and bake 45-55 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Repeat #6 and #7 for the second dough circle.

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mango-nutella dessert or another way to eat a mango

 

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These coconut wafer cookies by Pattaraporn are Andy’s favorites. Light and crispy, they make a great snack. Crumbled over ice cream and mango and drizzled with nutella, these cookies complement the other tastes and textures of this dessert. This dessert needs no recipe, just a little imagination.

Mango-Nutella Dessert

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Servings: 2

What you’ll need:
1 large ripe mango cut into cubes
2 scoops ice cream, any flavor (I used Été banana almond and cookies and cream)
4 coconut wafer cookies, crumbled  (or any flavor)
2 tablespoons nutella, liquefied

How to assemble the dessert:
Divide the mango cubes between two small bowls. Add the ice cream to the top of the mangoes. Using your fingers, crumble 2 cookies over each scoop of ice cream. Heat the Nutella in the microwave for about 15 seconds to liquefy it. Drizzle over the ice cream. Eat!

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banana-coconut bread

DSC03474Today we ate lunch at Miyazaki, a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant in Seacon Square, where the meal is cooked hot and fresh in front of you on a griddle. There are two cooks for each customer: one to cook the vegetables the other to cook the meat. Each new order is announced by the cook, and that announcement is greeted with a loud chorus of “Hai!” Amen. Yes. The precision of lunch was quirky and earnestly militaristic,  but the meal still managed to be delicious. And reasonably so. Less than Baht 600 (about US$19.00) for two.

The nice thing about Bangkok is we have no shortage of food to please every foodie’s palate. Soi Thong Lo is our equivalent of Restaurant Row in New York (46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues). Thong Lo offers Korean, Japanese, Australian (burgers and steaks), Mexican, Chinese, American, and Thai food from Sukhumvit to Petchburi.

The rainy season is previewing in Bangkok. We have started to get the odd shower, which cools the heat to a dull steam that threatens to overwhelm the senses and makes everyone retreat to the coolness of air conditioned malls and restaurants. Before the heat had reached its apogee I bought some young coconut jelly in coconut juice at the market outside Suan Luang. I decided to tinker with a sturdy favorite, Banana Tea Bread, and came up with this Banana-Coconut Bread. It has a crunchy coating because of the turbinado sugar baked on top, and the coconut is chewy; it held its texture and flavor. I doubled the recipe to give me 4 mini-loaves. I gave away two to my sisters-in-law, and I will leave one in Bangkok for Andy and take the other with me to Salaya.

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Banana-Coconut Bread
Here I have given the measurements for 1 loaf of banana-coconut bread. I doubled the recipe to make four mini-loaves.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chopped fresh young coconut jelly
1 teaspoon rum, vanilla, or coconut extract
1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup superfine sugar or 1/3 cup superfine sugar and 1/3 cup sifted brown sugar
2 large eggs

Topping
1/4 cup demerara or turbinado sugar (I used turbinado)
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

Heat the oven to 350˚F. Spray the inside of 2×7 inch mini loaf pans or 1×8″1/2 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, put the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Stir with a whisk to combine.

In a medium bowl, mash the banana. Add the chopped coconut jelly, and the extract. Blend well.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine. Add half the banana mixture. Add half of the remaining flour and mix until just combined. Add the remaining banana mixture and combine. Add the remaining flour. Scrape down the bowl after each addition.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans. Tap the pan(s) gently on the counter-top to eliminate any air bubbles. Sprinkle the top of the loaf/loaves with the demerara or turbinado sugar. Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top.

Bake 40 minutes or until golden brown or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven to wire cooling racks. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan before unmolding. Run a knife blade around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread. Gently remove from the pan. Cool thoroughly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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lemonade jelly with basil

lemonade jelly with basil

This dessert/snack from epicurious.com is delightfully refreshing. It has a mild herbal flavor from the basil and a tart tangy taste from the lemons.

Prep time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients

juice of 4 lemons (3/4 cup juice), strained
3/4 cup white superfine sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup orange juice, strained

In a small bowl, roughly tear the basil leaves and set aside.

In a small saucepan, put the lemon juice and sugar. Warm it over a low flame until it begins to boil, about 10-15 minutes. Pour the lemon juice mixture over the basil leaves and let it steep for at least 15 minutes.

In the saucepan, add the orange juice and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let the gelatin bloom for 5 minutes. It will clump but don’t worry about that. Warm the pan over medium heat and stir constantly to dissolve the clumps. Remove from heat. Strain the lemon juice-basil mixture into the orange-gelatin mixture, and discard the basil leaves. Whisk vigorously to combine.

Pour lemonade jelly mixture into 6 individual cups or into one 8 inch square pan. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. When the pan jelly is firm, cut it into 16 squares. If desired, serve jelly with sweetened whipped cream topping.

Epicurious.com Appetizer Serving Suggestion:

  • Double the amount of gelatin (think: Knox Blox) then cut the jelly  into circles or squares. Thread 2 jellies on a toothpick or skewer along with basil leaf.