Nut Crusted Fruit Tart Re-Visited

Nut Crusted Fruit Tart Re-Visited was in the make as we ate the first tart.

So delicious, we started talking how we could modify the recipe.

The second Nut Crusted Fruit Tart

The second Nut Crusted Fruit Tart

This is how we changed it.

For the Crust:

Keeping in mind the ratio is 1 cup dried fruit to 1 cup nuts, the possibilities are limitless!

This time we used:

  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup pistachios
  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 4 pitted prunes
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Look at that crust! I love how the cranberries and pistachios look!

Look at that crust! I love how the cranberries and pistachios look!

This made a beautiful crust! Just process it all in a food processor and press it into your pan. The consistency should hold together when your squeeze a bit of the mixture in your hand. If it doesn’t, add more dried fruit until it holds together.

Fruit Filling

This time we had a bit of each of these fruits on hand:

  • Mango
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Bananas

This time I photographed how to lay in the bananas.

Tyler asked if the bananas could be substituted but the role they play is to provide a nice base for the fruit to lay on also, to absorb some of the juices. The bananas also mimic the custard, pastry cream  or marzipan filling on traditional fruit tarts. Here’s how you lay the bananas in the pan.

Flatten the bananas into the pan, cut side down.

Flatten the bananas into the pan, cut side down.

We were short on strawberries for the puree, so we pureed a mango instead. I think kiwi puree would look amazing!

Place strawberries on top of the bananas

Place strawberries on top of the bananas

Add the puree the edge with raspberries and blackberries

Add the puree the edge with raspberries and blackberries

On top of the bananas, we placed sliced strawberries, then poured the mango puree over the top of the tart. Then we placed raspberries and blackberries around the edge, a ring of blueberries, then a ring of blackberries, leaving the center open to show the brilliant mango color in the center.

A nice slice!

A nice slice!

To maintain a healthy dish, instead of adding that tempting dollop of whipped cream, use Greek yogurt flavored with honey and vanilla instead. And if mint was growing outside now, I’d also add a mint leaf or two.A nice slice!

Here’s the thing about this tart:

No cooking! All you need to make this is a knife, cutting board, a food processor large or small, a tart or pie pan.

Since Tyler is moving back on campus next semester, he will use his Kitchenaid “Handy-Chopper” which is a nice small convenient unit.

Tyler has decided to use this as his signature go-to dish. I think his roommates will be impressed.

Nut crusted Fruit Tart with Mango Puree

Nut crusted Fruit Tart with Mango Puree

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Nut Crusted Fruit Tart

Nut Crusted Fresh Fruit Tart

Nut Crusted Fresh Fruit Tart

This Nut Crusted Fruit Tart was presented to me by my son who is home for the holidays; “Hey, Mom, I’d like to make this!”

“Did I mention I was dairy, fat, meat and caffeine-free in my diet now?” he asked. Alrighty now, time to adapt and modify the menus .

This is a tart he wanted to make for a while now, but lacking a food processor, he brought the recipe home so he could finally make it. Well actually, “we” made it. I helped with the crust and he did the rest.

It is quite simple and goes together rather quickly. It chills for at least an hour, overnight would be best. If you can wait that long.

We used a fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, but you can use a pie tin as well.

You will also need a food processor. There isn’t enough “stuff” for a blender to function properly, especially when pureeing the 4 ounces of strawberries.

Nut Crusted Fresh Fruit TartNut Crusted Fruit Tart

For the Crust:

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup cashews
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Filling:

  • 2-3 fresh bananas, sliced lengthwise
  • 8 – 10 ounces fresh strawberries:
    Puree 4 ounces; slice remaining strawberries. Set puree aside.
  • 1 – 11 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries, whole
  • 1 pint fresh blackberries, sliced in half lengthwise

Method:

Using a food processor, process the crust ingredients until chopped fine and sticky. After processing the crust, use the same bowl and blade to puree the strawberries. (Saves clean up!)

Press the crust into the pan, press firmly along edges and into the curve of the pan. Make sure the sides are thick enough to Nut Crusted Fresh Fruit Tartsupport themselves when removed from the pan.

Line the bottom of the crust with the bananas cut lengthwise, cut side down. Gently press the bananas into place along the edge and bottom.Nut Crusted Fresh Fruit Tart

Top bananas with sliced strawberries, then pour the strawberry puree over the top, filling in any spaces or gaps.

Place fresh raspberries along the entire outer rim of the tart; then place halved blackberries and mandarin oranges in a decorative manner.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour, preferably overnight, before slicing and serving.

This is fast, easy, delicious and makes an impressive dessert for anyone, even  vegans. It might work for those on a raw food diet as long as the friction from the food processor doesn’t count as “heat”. I don’t think it gets hot enough to qualify for that.

No added fat except what is naturally found in nuts, no added sugar, no baking! And it tastes delicious.

Try it, we hope you’ll like it!Nut Crusted Fresh Fruit Tart

Please let us know what you think.

Appetizing Cheese Board

Putting together an appetizing cheese board is one of my favorite things.

Cheese Platter

We gather each evening, sip wine, talk about our day, sharing the time with family and friends, often as the sun slowly sets.

A few easy elements will ensure your cheese boards are exciting, tasty and everyone will enjoy.

First, you need cheese! Pick something you like. If you have more than one cheese, choose different varieties; creamy like Camembert or Brie, sharp like cheddar or goat, or blue, aged like  Gouda or Parmesan Reggiano or Pecorino Romano. If you are unsure, ask someone at the cheese counter to help you select. Often you can taste the cheeses too so it is beneficial to talk to the cheese person at your store.

For our evening appetizer platter often I just put out one great piece of cheese. In a pinch, you can use cream cheese, just dress it up with the rest of the elements of a great cheese platter.

Next, after you have the cheese, select some fresh fruit.

Grapes, pears, apples, fresh figs, cherries, berries, you don’t need a lot, but some.

Next add some dried fruit: apricots, dried cranberries, or dates make great choices for this category. If you have enough fresh fruit, you don’t need dried fruit too. You decide.

Choose some nuts: Almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts (filberts), Brazil nuts, cashews are some suggestions.

This is my favorite part, selecting some “toppings” to compliment. Choose marmalade, whole fruit jams, pepper jelly, or honey. This is where I like to use the honey that comes in the comb; slice off a bit, place the cut comb on the platter and let the honey drizzle and ooze all over. Scoop it up with a spoon to drizzle it over the cheese.

Compotes on cheese platter

The flavors you choose here can really set your platters apart.

If you wanted to add olives, pickles or charcuterie meats to a cheese platter you can. That brings it into the entertaining and party realm and is still easy and goes a long way when entertaining.

Finally add some crackers, flat breads, lavash, toast points or bread to a bowl or basket on the side.

Now it’s time to get your wine and enjoy!

Refreshing Summer Beverage – Agua Fresca!

Ah, Summertime! Time for refreshing summer beverages and relaxation in the shade. This Summer, discover the simple pleasure of Agua Fresca.

Simple to make, tremendously refreshing, and limitless varieties.

Some varieties have pureed fruit such as cantaloupe, honeydew or watermelon, others feature berries and herbs while others call for cucumber or carrot slices.

My favorite flavor is citrus so to make it, use 1 lemon, 1 lime, 1 orange and 1 grapefruit if there is one on hand. Additionally I add herbs such as mint, basil or sage on occasion too.

This one is citrus with mint.IMG_5627

Slice the fruit into thick slices, remove any seeds and place the slices into a large pitcher.

Add the mint leaves and a small amount of sugar (or leave the sugar out entirely).

Use a wooden spoon or a muddler to gently crush the mint leaves and the fruit. All you want to do here is to start the release of juice and essential oils.

IMG_5622Fill the pitcher with water, fill another glass with ice and pour. Garnish with mint leaves and a citrus slice.IMG_5626

Prop your feet up and enjoy!

If by any odd chance you have any remaining at the end of the day, remove the fruit to store the beverage overnight. If the fruit is left in, the drink will turn quite bitter from the pith of the fruit. Sometimes you can get a second pitcher out of the fruit too.

I do hope you enjoy this version of agua fresca.IMG_5628

Snack Time!

When having fruit for a snack or any snack for that matter, be sure to present it nicely.

Apple Snack!

Apple Snack!

It makes such a difference!

This was just a half an apple, sliced and served with a small bit of vanilla Greek Yogurt.

Snack apples

The Gift of Pears

My crazy friend Joanie gave us a remarkable gift of pears. I was immediately struck at their shapes and colors. Since they were a bit firm, the pears were placed into a bowl to ripen.

While they were still firm, I shaved on onto a salad, as they ripened, they became more sliced. One of our favorite salads now days is pear, Roquefort and arugula salad, which is a post soon to follow this one.

We have enjoyed the pears, both as a centerpiece and as tasty delights. I’ll even wager there is a pear tart in the near future.

This is how we enjoy the pears in the early evening while we sip our wine and watch the sun go down.

Sliced pears, Roquefort, walnuts, cashews, local honey, cut from the comb and berries or dried fruits like apricots or cranberries.

Enjoy!

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Lemon Marmalade

Bitter Orange Marmalade made with Seville Oranges is one of life’s truly great pleasures. The intensity of the orange, the bitter-sweet finish that mixes with melted butter on good toast is something that could inspire sonnets.

Tempting Bite!

So humbly, I go into making a marmalade from the abundance of lemons in my kitchen. It is worth noticing that some recipes ask for the white pith to be removed, some include the entire lemon, some just peel and lots of interesting versions in between.

The main ratio you want to have for making a lovely marmalade is 1 part water: 1 part citrus fruit:  1 part sugar

All ingredients are equal parts and there are only three ingredients. Water, fruit and sugar. Simple recipe, right?

Armed with this knowledge, you can make as much or as little as you like. For me, I’ll make at least 4 pints and put it into 1/2 pint jars.

This makes a good gift and the holidays are just around the corner.

Lemon Marmalade

Remember the ratio

  • 1:1:1
  • Water
  • Lemons
  • Sugar

Wash and soak the lemons for at least 30 minutes. Scrub them gently.

Remove the zest using a 5-hole zester or a sharp knife. The best appearance comes from cutting thin strips of the peeling.

Peeled lemons. Sometime the citrus will have a thick pith between the zest and the fruit. Remove the peel, cut the pith away just as you would to remove the peeling for sectioning citrus. Refer to the “Related Article” below.

Pile the strips to cut into fine strips. Notice how much of the pith left on the peels. This will ensure a desirable bit of bitterness. This adds so much to the complexity of flavors involved in a great marmalade.

Cut the fruit into quarters; remove the core and slip out all the seeds. Reserve core and seeds in a bowl; chop the fruit and place it into another bowl. Try to reserve as much juice as you can.

Measure chopped fruit and sliced peel to determine how much water and sugar are needed. Remember equal parts of all three.

Here you have the chopped seedless fruit, the sliced zest and the trimmings from seed removal in separate bowls. Place all of the trimmings into a cheesecloth, tie it and put into the pot to cook with the fruit, water and sugar. You will want to remove it after cooking. Add the same amount of water, sugar. and the fruit and peel to a deep heavy bottomed pot.

Bring to a boil, stirring to prevent sticking and burning.

Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to an active simmer. Place your thermometer into the mixture and let it simmer until it reaches 220°F.

Remove from heat. Please be careful handling this as it is hot melted sugar and can really cause a nasty burn. Keep a small bowl of ice water near to dip your hand into just in case it splashes.

Fill sterilized jars with the hot marmalade, place the lids on and flip them upside down to cool. This will seal the jar.

Cooling jars upside down will seal them or you can use traditional canning methods.

I use small 1/2 pint jars so I can have extra to take along with me when ever I need a small gift. These are also great office gifts and hostess gifts too.

When the Keller family of  Dundee Scotland started making Bitter Orange Marmalade, they bought a lot of oranges from Spain they thought were sweet. Upon the discovery of the oranges being bitter, Mrs. Keller took them into her kitchen and boiled them with water and sugar to make what became the wildly popular “Bitter Orange Marmalade”.

In my opinion the best marmalade is full of fruit and peel with that lovely bitter element tucked into the sweet flavor.

California made marmalade is made with sweet oranges therefore does not have that bitter bite marmalade fans enjoy.

Lemon Marmalade

When buying or making marmalade you can get the fruit just the way you like it. I like it full of chunked fruit with lots of peel. You can make it (and buy it) with just peel too.

Making marmalade is easy as long as you have time and a candy thermometer. Besides, there is something quite satisfying to see a line of nice glistening jars all full of  lovely marmalade that you made.

It makes you feel as if you can do anything.