Here’s something tasty to eat while you’re awaiting the return of luscious summer fruit. We love our apples, pears and oranges, but somehow they just don’t inspire the way those buckets of cherries and perfect ripe-tart-juicy nectarines do. But then again these spiced, wine-poached pears are pretty great. They’re tender and sweet, with hints of clove and cinnamon, and exotic, earthy aromas provided by a bit of leftover wine. Glossy and gorgeous, this is an old-fashioned kind of dessert, the kind your grandmother might have made — especially if she was Italian. In fact making these always gets my hubby thinking about his Nonni.
Recently my littlest guy had a birthday and celebrating with his buddies meant figuring our some yummy treats that could be dairy and egg free. We ended up with two tasty desserts for two different celebrations and wanted to share them because it’s always good to have a few extra ideas up your sleeve when it comes to vegan desserts.
We really love this buckwheat crepe (galette) recipe from the always excellent David Lebovitz — it’s a little less eggy and a bit more crisp and delicate than other crepe recipes we have tried and we love the deep color and the nuttiness from the buckwheat. I’ve made this recipe so, so many times over the years, but realized that I have never shared it here on the blog. Now is the perfect time, with that foggy chill in the air and major cravings for cozy foods like cheese and chocolate setting in. Crepe season is here! Continue reading
This super traditional Spanish cake first caught my eye because of its short list of ingredients and the fact that it uses no flour, just finely ground almonds, as the base. Another example of how a couple of simple ingredients can transform themselves into something special. This cake is moist, deliciously not-too-sweet, delicate and crumbly which makes it great with a cup of coffee in the afternoon. Simran and I and our friend Rachel happy nibbled away on this during a recent afternoon of recipe testing… and the fact that I wasn’t nice enough to save any for my family to try will give you an idea of how much I liked it.
In addition to being a lovely accompaniment to afternoon coffee this is a cake also has a long history. It dates back to the 16th century where it has been enjoyed by Santiago locals and pilgrims making their way to the Cathedral of Santiago Compostel (the burial place of St. James, the patron saint of Spain.). This recipe also happens to be gluten-free which comes in handy as well. Continue reading
I have a little handwritten cookbook where I jot down recipes and details of tasty meals and if you were to flip through this little book you’d find that a contender for the most dog-eared page is the one that contains this biscotti recipe. I got the recipe from Tim’s grandmother who got it from her friend Ann, which means it has the “Italian nonna seal of approval” squared. I’ve made this recipe dozens and dozens of times and it has never failed to deliver perfect, dunkable biscotti which are wonderfully crisp but not so hard that you worry about breaking any teeth. They are great for little teethers, for grown up kids and especially for avid, obsessed coffee drinkers like myself. I love the classic anise flavor and never feel too compelled to experiment much beyond that, but it’s one of those recipes that can be a great canvas for improvisation which makes it a nice baking project for kids. Lend a hand with putting the basic dough together and then stand back and let the kids come up with their own creative (and hopefully delicious) dried fruit, nut and spice combinations…. I’m just guessing here, but I have a hunch Miss Ria’s biscotti concept would include a generous scattering of chocolate chips! Continue reading
The other day we picked up a few stalks of rhubarb because they looked kind of inviting… but they’ve been kind of lingering, waiting for some inspiration to hit. Last year we experimented with strawberry-rhubarb galettes which were pretty tasty, but we got to wondering what else we could do. A little research led us to Rhubarb Fool, a classic English dessert and this article from the Guardian UK. I’ll admit that my knowledge of classic English desserts is pretty remedial, so it was fun reading up on the history of this simple dessert. Fruit fools date back the to 1700’s and are typically a combination of a sweet-tart fruit compote or puree folded into a light cream of some sort.
The Guardian article turned out to be a great overview of some of the common variations (i.e. using whipped cream, yogurt, or custard — baked or stewed fruit) and even included a recipe for the “perfect rhubarb fool”. This is about as easy as it gets when it comes to making a homemade dessert from scratch and as you can see from the snapshots below, this summery, creamy, fruity, cool dessert made for some very happy campers.
(adapted from this recipe from the Guardian UK — serves 6)
We used rhubarb and garnished with strawberries, but you could really substitute your favorite summer fruit. Adjust the proportion of cream and fruit to suit your family’s preferences.
- Chop 4 stalks of rhubarb into medium dice and toss with 3 Tablespoons of sugar. Saute fruit and sugar until tender (taste for sweetness, adding more sugar as desired). Drain cooked fruit, reserving the juice to use as a sauce. Let the cooked fruit cool.
- Whip 3/4 cup cream and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. Then fold in 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt.
- Gently fold the cooled, cooked fruit into the cream and spoon into small cups. Chill until ready to serve.
- Spoon the reserved sauce over the top and garnish with fresh fresh fruit if you like.
It’s breakfast for dessert (sort of); it’s golden, caramelized bananas; it’s crunchy-sweet-salty nuggets of yum. That’s what happens when your sweet tooth kicks in and you have a bag of honey-caramel krispies staring back at you. Most of the krispies made it to an ice cream social at 18 Reasons as a BYOT (bring your own topping ), but we strategically made sure to keep some “leftovers” around. And what didn’t end up being eaten in sneaky handfuls by every member of my family, ended up on these totally accidental, breakfast-inspired sundaes. As for the bananas… my family lives by the rule that “everything is better with caramelized bananas”. I think we’ll put that one on a t-shirt!
In case you have any shred of doubt left, Luca’s happy face will tell you everything you need to know. Make this sundae!!
Honey-Caramel Rice Krispies
These will keep for a week in a tightly sealed container. In a pinch, I think you just might be able to get away with plain old rice krispies right out of the box in place of these fancy honey-caramel ones. Or you could break up up some rice krispy treats next time you have some at hand.
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 TBL unsalted butter
- 3 TBL honey
- big pinch of salt.
- 1 3/4 rice krispies
- In a pan, combine sugar, butter, honey and salt. Give it a stir and then turn on the heat to medium. The trick from here is to not give into the temptation to stir the caramel as it’s melting. You can swirl the pan, but don’t stir with a spoon or your caramel can sieze up and crystallize. Don’t stir!
- You’ll see the butter and sugar melt and then start to turn golden and eventually amber. It takes some time (~20 minutes) so be patient.
- When you’ve achieved a beautiful caramel color, immediately remove from heat and drizzle the caramel over the rice krispies. Toss well with a spoon (use caution, it will be very hot so this is not a good project for kids). Spread the caramel on the krispies on a lightly greased cookie sheet (or on top of a silicone baking mat). When cool break apart.
- Slice peeled bananas into quarters. Sprinkle the cut sides lightly with sugar.
- Lightly butter a skillet and add the sugared bananas, cut side down. On medium-high heat, cook the bananas to warm them and caramelize the bottoms This should take about 5 minutes. And there’s no need to flip the bananas at all, just cook on the cut side.
- The sugar can go from a lovely caramel to burned rather quickly, so check often by gently lifting a corner of a banana to see how they are coming along. They are perfect when their undersides turn a deep golden brown.
Clearly Luca is not the only ice cream fiend around here. Check out some of our other favorite ice cream delights: