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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: plums

Baby Back Ribs

2 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 rack pork baby back ribs
Plum Sauce reserved from the skirt steak dinner: link to the recipe

Directions

For the ribs:
In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, and paprika. Place the ribs in a baking dish large enough for the ribs to lay flat. Rub the ribs evenly on all sides with the sugar mixture. Cover the dish with foil and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Bake the ribs covered with foil until tender for 2 ½ hours.


Add 1-2 tablespoons of Sriracha (depending on how spicy you like your food) to the sauce and stir well. Remove the foil from the baking dish and spoon one-third of the sauce all over the ribs. Return the pan to the oven uncovered and bake for 20 minutes. Repeat the process another 2 times, until the coating on the ribs is thick and sticky.
Preheat the broiler to high heat or heat an outdoor grill.  Broil or grill the ribs for 5 minutes to crisp the ribs.

Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Ginger and Garlic

2 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
4 cups chopped fresh bok choy
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Salt and ground black pepper

Directions

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute. Add bok choy and soy sauce cook 3 to 5 minutes, until greens are wilted and stalks are crisp-tender. Season to taste, with salt and black pepper and serve with the ribs.

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I recently saw Katie Lee prepare this steak dish on an episode of “The Kitchen” and decided to adapt it for our dinner. The marinade gives the steak great flavor.

Skirt Steak with Plum Sauce

Ingredients

3 ripe plums, a combination of red and purple, diced
1 cup teriyaki sauce/marinade, homemade (see recipe) or store-bought
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sriracha
1 pound skirt steak
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Directions

Puree the chopped plums in a blender until smooth. Stir together the pureed plums with the teriyaki sauce, sesame oil, Dijon and sriracha in a large ziplock bag. Add the steak, tossing to coat in the marinade, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.


Preheat a grill pan to medium heat.

Remove the steak from the marinade letting most of it drip off the meat into the bag and pat dry on paper towels.
Pour the marinade in the bag into a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Salt and pepper each side of the steak and grill over medium heat on each side for 2 to 3 minutes. Once grilled on both sides, remove from the heat to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes.

Slice the skirt steak against the grain and brush some of the boiled marinade on it.
Save some of the marinade to serve with my baby back rib recipe that will be posted Monday.

Teriyaki Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup of water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons mirin
5 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove minced
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Directions

Combine all the ingredients except the cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until nearly heated through, about 1 minute.
Mix cornstarch and 1/4 cold water together in a cup; stir until dissolved. Add to the saucepan. Cook and stir sauce until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside.

Italian Pan-Fried Lemon Potatoes

Ingredients

1 pound whole small potatoes
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 lemon, cut in half
Kosher salt
Olive oil

Directions

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Add garlic, rosemary sprigs and one lemon half to the water and season well with salt. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain well and reserve the lemon half, garlic cloves and rosemary.

Let potatoes cool to room temperature and peel them. Cut potatoes in half. Place on a plate until ready to cook.
Zest the lemon half that was not cooked with the potatoes. Chop the reserved garlic and rosemary and mix together with the lemon zest. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the skillet and heat. Add the potatoes cut-side down to the skillet. Cook until the bottom of the potatoes are a deep golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a metal spatula, turn the potatoes and cook on the second side for an additional 3 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and drain well. Place the potatoes in a serving bowl. Squeeze both lemon halves (cooked and uncooked) over the potatoes and sprinkle with the garlic, rosemary reserved mixture.

Green Beans with Shallots and Almonds

Ingredients

Salt and black pepper to taste
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 cup almond slices, toasted

Directions

Bring a saucepan of salted water to boil. Add green beans and cook until just tender, 4-5 minutes. Drain in a colander. Set aside.
Heat the butter in the empty saucepan over medium heat. Add the sliced shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and light golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Return the drained beans to the saucepan and add parsley, almonds, and black pepper and toss gently. Transfer to a serving bowl.


I am fortunate to live near a farm that grows these beautiful, round Italian heirloom eggplants. This variety is a plump, tear-drop- shaped eggplant with rosy lavender skin and alabaster flesh. The meaty and firm yet tender flesh has a delicate mild flavor and a creamy consistency with no bitterness. Rosa Bianca has few seeds, making it the perfect variety for grilling and baking.

Baked Eggplant Stacks

Ingredients

1 Rosa Bianca Eggplant, about 1 ½ lb.
½ cup flour
3 egg whites beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
2 cups Italian seasoned Panko crumbs
1 large beefsteak or heirloom tomato, about 1 lb
6 Fresh Mozzarella slices
6 basil leaves
1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
¼ cup Extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Pour the ¼ cup olive oil into a large rimmed rectangular sheet pan.
Peel the eggplant and slice into six 1/2-inch-thick circles.
Dip the eggplant slices into the flour, then the egg white mixture and finally the crumbs, tossing around to make sure the crumbs adhere. Place the breaded eggplant on a plate and refrigerate for an hour or two.


Put the sheet pan with the oil in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven (with oven mitts) and arrange the eggplant on the hot pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the pieces over and bake another 10 minutes or until they’re golden on the other side.
Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Put a tomato slice on top of each eggplant slice, then a basil leaf on each and top each with a slice of mozzarella. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the cheese melts.

 

Tomatoes with Herbed Ricotta

Use beautiful heirloom tomatoes that are in season now along with lots of fresh herbs.

For two servings:

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 scallion, white and green parts, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced\
1 large heirloom tomato, about 1 lb
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnish
Fleur de sel

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, scallions, dill, chives, parsley, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Set aside for up to 30 minutes.
Slice the tomato into ¼ inch thick slices. You should get 4 slices. Place on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let drain for 30 minutes. When ready to serve, place the tomato slices on a serving plate. Drizzle with olive oil. Spread ¼ of the ricotta mixture over each tomato slice. Sprinkle with reserved basil and fleur de sel, and serve at room temperature.

Old Fashioned Vidalia Onion Pie

Vidalia onions are in season now. They are a sweet, mild onion grown in Georgia. Vidalias can be used in place of any yellow onion, but their flavor is so special that you can really let them be the star of the show, such as this Vidalia Onion tart.

One 9-inch pastry crust:
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons water

Directions

Whisk together flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. This can be done right in the pie pan if you like. Whisk together the oil and water, then pour over the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened. Pat the dough across the bottom of the pie pan and up the sides. A flat-bottomed measuring cup can help you make the bottom even. Press the dough up the sides of the pan with your fingers, and flute the top. Fill and bake.

Filling Ingredients:
2 large Vidalia onions, diced
1/4 cup butter
8 oz cheddar cheese, freshly grated
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 eggs, beaten well
1 cup whole milk

Directions

Saute the onions in butter over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until golden brown. This will take 40 to 45 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and cayenne pepper.

Preheat oven to 350°F Line a baking sheet and place the pastry-lined pie pan on the baking sheet to help with transferring in and out of the oven.

Spread half the cheddar cheese over the bottom crust and top the cheese with the cooked onions.
In a measuring cup, whisk the eggs together with the milk and ½ teaspoon of salt, then pour it over the onion mixture. Top with the remaining cheddar cheese.


Bake for 50 minutes, or until golden brown and set.

Plum Crostata

Plums are generally in season somewhere in the United States from the end of May all the way into October. Not only are they good for eating out of hand, but they are an excellent fruit for baking, such as this crostata recipe below. Crostata is the Italian term, and Galette is the French term for a rustic dessert that consists of a rolled out piece of pastry dough and the edges of the dough are folded in about an inch or so over the filling.

Ingredients

Pie pastry for one 9-inch pie
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
3 plums
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 tablespoon cream
2 tablespoons coarse sugar

Directions

Slice the plums into thin wedges.
Roll pie dough out to a 12-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper. Slide the parchment onto a sheet pan. Spread marmalade on the center of the tart; then fan around the wedges of plums, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold the pie crust dough edge over onto the plums.

Drizzle honey over plums, brush pie crust dough edge with cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 375 degrees F until fruit is tender and crust is cooked on the underside, about 25 to 30 minutes.


On these hot summer days, grilling your dinner outside instead of heating up your kitchen is a much better plan. To make a successful meal on the grill, I have a few tips that I have learned over the years that I can share with you. I can not speak about charcoal grilling – only gas grilling- because that is what I use. Be sure to purchase a grill with several different burners – mine has three. That way you can create direct and indirect cooking which will prevent overcooking or burning your food. Have a good meat thermometer handy, also. Another tool I have recently started using is a grill mat that can withstand very high temperatures and prevents your food from burning. What is amazing is that you still get grill marks. Use this mat to cook delicate foods, such as seafood or small vegetables that might fall through the grate. Just wipe clean with a wet paper towel and you are set for the next grilling session. It is called the Kona Mat and use this link to find out more.

Using the direct and indirect grilling technique is important in producing good tasting food. To cook indirectly: On a gas grill, leave one burner off and place the meat on the grate directly over the cool burner. For a charcoal grill: pile all the coals along the sides of the grill and place the food in the center, away from the hot coals. Place a metal drip pan beneath the grate where the food will sit, to collect juices as it cooks.

  Direct Heat Indirect Heat
Food placement Above flames or coals Adjacent to flames or coals
Temperature 500°F or higher 350°F to 400°F
Cooking Times 25 minutes or less More than 25 minutes
What to grill? Kabobs, tempeh, tofu, veggies, sausages, steaks, burgers and most seafood Whole chicken or turkey, ribs, roasts or leg of lamb
Bonus! Wood chips can be added to a charcoal grill for an extra smoky flavor

Often a combination of both methods is used. For example, a 1-1/2-inch-thick steak, or bone-in chicken parts can be seared or browned over direct heat for a short period of time and moved to the indirect heat area to continue cooking internally without excess browning.

For a majority of cooks, grilling means cooking a hamburger or steak. But did you know that seafood and vegetables are transformed on the grill into special meals?

Coriander-Rubbed Red Snapper with Grilled Fennel And Plums

In this recipe, I used the Kona Mat to cook delicate seafood and fruit.

For 2 servings

Ingredients
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey
12-13 oz red snapper fillet, skin removed
Vegetable oil
1 fennel bulb
2 medium plums

Dressing
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 scallion, finely minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fennel fronds

Directions

Preheat grill to medium-high with the BBQ mat on the grill.
Combine the spices in a small bowl and stir in the oil, honey, salt, and pepper.
Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Quarter the plums and slice half the fennel bulb into ½ inch slices, leaving the core on the bulb.
Drizzle the fennel slices and plum quarters with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Coat one side of the fish with half the coriander mixture and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Place the fish with the spice mixture side down and the fennel on the BBQ mat and grill for 5 minutes. Coat the fish with the spice mixture and turn it over. Turn the fennel over and place the plums on the mat. Grill for 5 minutes more. Place the grilled fennel and plums on a serving dish and drizzle the dressing over them. Serve the grilled salad on individual plates, cut the grilled fillet in half and place on top of the grilled fennel/plum mixture.


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Overeating or overindulging – especially over a few days – can make you feel sluggish. Eating and preparing all your meals and snacks at home for the next few weeks will help you get back to healthy eating.

Making meals at home gives you the freedom to add in lots of lean protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains without added salt or fat that can be found in restaurant meals.

In addition to cooking meals at home, use cooking techniques and methods that are lower calorie or lower fat. Cooking in a lot of oil or butter or using higher fat, higher calorie ingredients may only perpetuate your overindulgence.

To make home cooking easier, go to the grocery store and stock up on your favorite healthy foods. Try to purchase: lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Healthy choices will be in your refrigerator or pantry when you need them.

Here are some healthy and lower calorie dinners to help you get started.

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Pork Cutlets in Mustard Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 thin boneless pork chops, 4-5 ounces each
  • 3 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
  • One 14 1/2 ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 pound small potatoes about 1 inch in diameter
  • 1 pound Japanese eggplant or zucchini, cut into 2 x 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound baby carrots
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place broth, smashed garlic and potatoes in a large pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered, 10 minutes.

Add eggplant or zucchini, carrots and the salt and pepper. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the vegetables are tender.

Coat a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine mustard, dill, minced garlic and olive oil.

Place pork chops in the prepared baking dish and spread tops with an equal amount of mustard and dill mixture. Sprinkle bread crumbs over each chop.

Bake for 15 minutes or until an internal temperature registers 145 degrees in the center of the pork. Place the baking dish under the broiler for 1 minute until the crumbs are brown.

Serve pork with the vegetables.

healthydinners3

Roasted Cod with Salsa

Choose any fruit in season or the kind of fruit you like.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 nectarines
  • 2 peaches
  • 2 plums
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 large green or yellow bell pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 1/4 pounds cod
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup brown rice or whole wheat couscous

Directions

Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Coat a glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Pit nectarines, peaches and plums; dice and place in medium-size bowl. Add onion, bell pepper, lemon juice, parsley, oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Gently stir; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

In a small bowl combine the lemon zest, black pepper, thyme and oregano.

Cook the brown rice or couscous following package directions. Stir in half the lemon zest mixture and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover and set aside.

Place cod in the prepared baking dish and season with the remaining half of the lemon zest mixture and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Place brown rice or couscous on a serving plate, top with the cod and fruit salsa.

healthydinners2

Pasta with Sausage and Peas

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces penne or small shell pasta, uncooked
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 links fully cooked Italian chicken sausage, sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boiling. Add pasta and cook al dente. Drain.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the sausage and cook 3 minutes, turning a few times, until browned. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the garlic. Cook 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and salt and cook 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, peas and browned sausage. Heat through.

Place cooked pasta in a large bowl. Add sausage mixture and half the Parmesan. Toss to combine. Top with remaining Parmesan and serve.

healthydinners4

Root Vegetable Chili

Corn muffins would go quite well with this dinner.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey, optional
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 pound parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • Two 14 1/2  ounce cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • One 15 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • One 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • Lime wedges for garnish

Directions

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ground turkey, if using, and cook until brown. Omit this step if you want a vegetarian meal.

Add butternut squash, parsnips, rutabaga and carrots. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add green pepper, tomatoes, chili powder, oregano and cumin. Simmer on medium heat, partially covered, for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans and heat through. Stir in the scallions. Serve lime wedges on the side.

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Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes and Mushrooms

Friday night can still be pizza night.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes
  • 6 ounces sliced Portobello mushrooms
  • 4 large scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  • One pound pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 6 ounces mozzarella or provolone cheese, diced

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Coat a large rimmed baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Place tomatoes, mushrooms and scallions in the prepared baking pan and toss with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and toss the vegetables with the basil and oregano.

Stretch the pizza dough out on a rectangular baking sheet. Spoon the vegetable mixture over the top. Bake for 10 minutes and remove the pan from the oven.

Scatter the diced cheese over the pizza and return the pan to the oven. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes more or until the pizza is crispy. Allow to cool slightly before slicing.


fruitdessertscover

Just because summer is over and the season for berries, peaches and melons has passed, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy fruit desserts. Fall brings us apples, plums, pears, figs, grapes and pumpkins. No matter which fruit you pick up at the market, there are so many delicious desserts that you can make. A warm apple pie, a sweet plum tart or a delicious pear crisp are all terrific to enjoy on a cool fall night.

Apple Bars

fruitdesserts1

Makes 20 bars

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped (3 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted or cinnamon chips
  • Whipped cream or frozen yogurt (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan; set aside.

In a very large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

In a medium bowl combine eggs, oil, and vanilla. Stir in apples and nuts. Add egg mixture in the well in flour mixture, stirring just until moistened (batter will be thick). Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 1 hour to serve slightly warm, or cool completely. If desired, top each serving with whipped cream or frozen yogurt

Plum Galettes

fruitdesserts2

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces light cream cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons low-sugar orange marmalade
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 recipe Galette Pastry, recipe below
  • 4 medium plums, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons almonds or walnuts, chopped
  • Milk, for brushing the pastry
  • 4 teaspoons honey

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a medium bowl beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium to high-speed. Beat in egg yolk, orange marmalade and ginger.

Prepare pastry:

Divide the pastry dough into four portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough portion into a 7-inch circle. Spread each portion with one-fourth of the cream cheese mixture, leaving a 1-inch border. Top with plum slices and almonds. Fold border up over the filling, pleating pastry as necessary to fit.

Place galettes on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops and sides of the crust with milk.

Bake about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Serve warm. Cut each in half and drizzle with honey.

Galette Pastry

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

Directions

In a small saucepan heat and stir 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat until light brown; set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl stir together all-purpose flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the 2 remaining tablespoons of butter and the browned butter until the mixture resembles crumbs.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cold water over part of the mixture; toss gently with a fork. Push moistened dough to the side of bowl. Repeat moistening flour mixture, using 1 tablespoon cold water at a time, until all of the flour mixture is moistened (2 to 3 tablespoons total). Form dough into a ball.

Pumpkin  Cream Cheese Cupcakes

fruitdesserts3

24 cupcakes

Ingredients

Cake Batter

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree, not pie mix
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling

  • 1 package (8 oz.) light cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place paper liners in 24 muffin cups.

For the filling:

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.

Add the egg and beat on low just until combined.

For the cupcakes:

In a large bowl, beat the pumpkin, sugar, oil and the 4 eggs until well blended.

In small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Gradually beat into the pumpkin mixture until blended.

Fill the muffin cups one-third full with batter.

Drop a tablespoonful of filling into the center of each cupcake and then cover with the remaining batter.

Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the pumpkin portion comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Store cupcakes in the refrigerator.

Pear Crisp

fruitdesserts4

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 5 cups thinly sliced pears
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Topping

  • 1/2 cup regular rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 2-quart square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Mix the sliced fruit with the granulated sugar and place in the prepared baking dish.

For the topping:

In a medium bowl stir together the oats, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the nuts.

Sprinkle topping evenly over the fruit.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the fruit is tender and the topping is golden. If desired, serve warm with frozen yogurt.

Grape Cake with Wine Sauce

fruitdessert5

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup fine grind, yellow cornmeal, plus extra for dusting the pan
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 cups red and green seedless grapes

Wine Sauce

  • 4 cups fruity white wine, such as Riesling

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9-inch round baking pan with cooking spray and dust with the extra cornmeal. Shake the pan to evenly coat all sides and the bottom and tap out the excess.

Stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

Place eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Turn mixer to low-speed and slowly add in the olive oil.

Beat in the milk, vanilla extract and orange zest until well incorporated, about 1 minute.

Slowly incorporate the flour mixture into the wet mixture, a half cup at a time, while mixing on low-speed until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Using a spatula, transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan. Disperse the grapes evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean and the cake is golden brown.

Remove the pan from oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 5–10 minutes. Turn pan over and remove the cake. Let the cake cool completely, grape side up, on the wire rack.

Place the wine in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and allow the wine to simmer until it has reduced by half, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and keep warm until ready to serve.

To serve, slice the cake and drizzle the wine reduction over the cake.


 

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This is definitely pie baking for those who are intimidated by making traditional pies. Think rustic tarts — they don’t even require a pie plate. First, you roll out just one sheet of dough (since there’s no top) as perfectly or imperfectly as you like. Then you add the fruit filling in the center and fold over the edges of the dough. There you are – ready to bake.

A crostata is an Italian baked tart or pie, also known as coppi in Naples and sfogliate in Lombardy. The earliest known use of crostata in its modern sense can be traced to the cookbooks Libro de Arte Coquinaria (Art of Cooking) by Martino da Como, published circa 1465, and Cuoco napoletano (Neapolitan recipes), published in the late 1400s containing a recipe (number 94) titled “Crostata de Caso, Pane,” etc. The French version is called a Galette.

A modern crostata is a “rustic free-form version of an open fruit tart that may also be baked in a pie plate. Crostatas have a status as being one of the premiere Italian pastries. A crostata can be made with just about any type of fruit filling, the pastry can be prepared with fruit that is in season, as well as any range of home canned preserves and even with canned fruits and jams that are purchased in the supermarket. The fact that the crostata may be prepared as an open-faced dessert or be covered with a top crust allow this Italian pastry to easily adapt to all sorts of occasions.

Since peaches looked absolutely beautiful this week, I bought some for eating and some for baking. So I am making a peach crostata for you here and recipes for other types of fruit fillings follow. Just follow the directions for the peach crostata for the other fruit fillings. Take your pick. Not only is this dessert easy to prepare but if you serve it to guests, they will think you are a pastry chef.

The traditional pastry in Italy is pasta frolla but you can also use 1 large sheet of defrosted puff pastry or 1 refrigerated round pie crust dough. The traditional pastry recipe is below, if you would like to use it. I keep it simple and use the refrigerated store-bought pastry crust. I don’t peel the peaches either.

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Peach Crostata

I like to brush the bottom of the crust with a little jam or marmalade to keep the crust from getting soggy and to add an additional layer of flavor. Traditional recipes do not call for this step.

Ingredients

  • One refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons apricot or peach preserves or orange marmalade
  • 3 large peaches, sliced ½ inch thick
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour, cornstarch or tapioca flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • Water or cream
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sugar

Directions

Heat the oven to 425°F. Remove the pie crust dough from the paper pouch and place flat on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the crust with the preserves.

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In medium bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar and salt. Add the peaches and vanilla. Mix well.

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Rather than spooning the fruit mixture onto the center of the crust, I prefer to arrange the fruit in a decorative pattern to within 1 1/2 inches of the edge. Use tongs to arrange the fruit and pour any juice left in the bowl over the arranged fruit. If there are any slices that don’t fit just arrange them in the center on top of the first layer, as I did for this crostata. Dot with the butter.

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Fold the crust edge over the filling to form a border, pleating the crust as necessary. Refrigerate the tart until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Brush the crust edge with water or cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is tender. Serve warm. This dessert is sometimes served with sweetened mascarpone cheese or whipped cream.

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Pasta Frolla (Italian Sweet Pastry Dough)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1 cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Finely grated zest of 1 small orange
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks

Directions

Put the flour, sugar, salt, lemon and orange zest in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse briefly to combine the ingredients. Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the egg and egg yolks and process until the dough just begins to come together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it together. Knead it briefly and shape it into a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until well chilled (overnight is fine). Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit for 30 to 45 minutes, or until it is just pliable enough to roll, but not too soft to work with. Roll out into an 11 inch circle.

Blueberry Crostata

  • 18 oz blueberries
  • 1 heaping tablespoon flour
  • 1 heaping tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Blackberry Crostata

  • 12 ounces blackberries
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Plum Crostata

Note: For this recipe you want firm but slightly ripe plums, and preferably freestone, such as the Italian prune plums.

  • 2 pounds firm ripe Italian prune plums, cut into sixths or eighths
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Cognac or other flavored liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Fig Crostata

Use fig jam for the crust, if you can.

  • 1/2 lb of ripe figs
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Apricot Crostata

  • 1 1/2 lbs of fresh ripe apricots
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • Coarse sugar

Cinnamon Apple Crostata

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups thinly sliced, peeled cooking apples or 3 large apples
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans or walnuts

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