Category Archives: fruit

Luscious Vegan Chocolate Raspberry Mousse

Oh, you better believe I was skeptical about this one. I never pass on chocolate, but c’mon… chocolate tofu? Ew, I dunno. I’ve never been a big fan of tofu or soy products, but exploring Eastern cuisines helped me to accept it and occasionally enjoy it. Now, I’m learning to cook with it. Welcome to my kitchen, tofu.

vegan chocolate raspberry mousse dessert

There are no eggs, cream, or butter in this dessert, yet it is fluffy, creamy, and quite pleasant on the palate. Maple syrup is the primary sweetener (use the real thing), along with raspberry jam and some melted chocolate to make it extra rich. Seriously, if you don’t tellem it’s tofu no one will guess.

Vegan Chocolate Raspberry Mousse

  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 2 TBS Cocoa
  • 1/2 C (melted & cool) Chocolate Chips
  • Dash of Almond Extract
  • 2 300ml packs of SOFT TOFU (about a pound)
  • 3 TBS Raspberry Jam
  • 3-4 TBS Maple Syrup
  • Fresh Raspberries

Let the tofu come to room temperature. Gently melt the chocolate chips (use very low heat or microwave) then blend in the olive oil and cocoa powder. Set aside to cool.

Whip the tofu, raspberry jam, almond extract, and maple syrup until smooth and fluffy. Stir in the chocolate mixture and a big handful of fresh raspberries. Chill thoroughly before serving.

*NOTE: This makes yummy frozen popcicles!

Advertisements

Rainer Cherry Clafoutis

Clafoutis ~ I’ve heard the name tossed about on food TV frequently the past few days, and today it was all I could think about when I saw a stack of beautiful, blushy Rainer cherries at a Granville Island produce stand. This French dessert can be made with any stone fruit (think peaches, plums, apricots) or even with berries, but the classic version from the Limosin region of France uses black cherries.

Rainer Cherry Clafoutis with vanilla ice cream and cherry sauce.

Technically, a clafoutis using anything other than black cherries is a flaugnarde, so says the intertoobs, and in traditional recipies, cherry pits are not removed before baking. Leaving the pits is said to enhance flavour, but I didn’t want to have to pick around them, so I pitted my cherries.

Ingredients are simple: egg, milk, flour, flavour, a little butter or oil. Clafoutis batter is rather thin, like crepe batter, and is usually flavoured with almond or vanilla. It puffs up during baking and cuddles around the fruit as it sets. In fact, it’s very much like making a Dutch Baby pancake.

This was my first attempt at clafoutis, and it turned out quite well. Gingerman liked it, and we had the leftover portion for breakfast the next day. I half made up a recipe on the fly because I had only 2 eggs and a strangely shaped dish. A few more experiments, and I’ll come up with a reliable version of my own. Meanwhile, I found some inspiring recipes online and gathered a bit of clafoutis wisdom to share.

Baking Tips for Clafoutis:

  • Butter & Sugar the baking dish: Butter the bottom and sides of the dish, toss in a couple of tablespoons of sugar, and shake it around to coat the dish. Dump excess sugar that doesn’t stick.
  • Experiment with different fruits and flavour extracts or liquers.
  • Sift the flour to prevent clumps.
  • Bake individual clafoutis in muffin tins or ramekins.
  • Do not open the oven door until the end of baking time!

Recipes for Clafoutis:

Leaving a comment? I’m curious . . . how do you like to eat cherries?

Vancouver Farmers Market: Heirloom Tomatoes

I love buying tomatoes at the farmers market. Yeah, they sometimes cost more than tomatoes at the supermarket or local grocer, but not too much more. And these heirloom tomatoes are homegrown, with varieties of distinctive taste, texture, and colour that no storebought tomato can match.

~ lovely striped beauties fresh from the Vancouver Farmers Market ~

Homegrown Tomatoes by Guy Clark

Ain’t nothin’ in the world that I like better
than bacon and lettuce and homegrown tomatoes…

Plant ’em in the Spring, eat’em in the Summer
All Winter without ’em’s a culinary bummer…

Only two things that money can’t buy
that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.

Support Free Folk Music @ FolkAlley.com

There are tomatoes for every taste: dense flavourful plum tomatoes that are excellent for sauces, as well as big juicy red, yellow, orange tomatoes that make the perfect slice for a BLT. There are citrusy tomatoes that add zing to your salads, and tiny pop-em-in-your-mouth-like-candy  tomatoes that taste like sunshine.

Look for homegrown/heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market [Vancouver].
Better yet, grow your own: Heirloom Tomato Seeds from Victoria.

For more farmers market goodies, see also:

To Market and Home Again ~ Sunday Morning Market Fare ~ Farmers Market Feast

Leaving a comment? I’m curious… how do you like your tomatoes?

Sunday Morning Market Fare

Another glorious Sunday morning at the Farmers Markets in Vancouver. It was a quick trip this time, and I’d already had breakfast (french toast and bacon), so no Métis Special for me today (that’s a grilled buffalo-sausage on a bun with corn relish and grilled onions with some cinnamon-sugared bannock for dessert). Sigh, I love good food so much.

Farmers Market Haul

A bounty of delicious things from the Farmers Market.

I headed straight for the sourdough loaf (the starter grew up in the Napa Valley, so it’s just like San Francisco sourdough, which is utterly scrumptious). Next stop, heirloom tomatoes and basil. On a whim, I purchased an heirloom melon, which the vendor promised would be delicious (he did not lie). There was a duet playing Celtic music in the center aisle. I wandered the stalls to the sounds of singing accompanied by bodhran or guitar or fiddle or the stamping of feet.  Were I not in a civilized neighbourhood, I might have busted out in a jig. Had I been with my sisters, it likely would have happened anyway.

At one stall, I discovered some pretty crabapples in a box marked “samples,” so I snagged myself one and bit into it. I remember the hard green cherry-sized fruits that hung so temptingly close from our crabapple tree by the forbidden creek. It was planted in a low section of our yard that sometimes flooded during thunderstorms. As a result, the grass was moist and lush and a vibrant deep green. Crawdad holes poked up through the ground here and there, like tiny chimeys made of dabbled mud. If I was barefoot, they’d squish suddenly under my toes and make me shudder. It was important to watch where you were going in my yard. I always picked the fruit too soon, though, and became a sourpuss.

This crabapple was different. It was big, almost golf-ball sized, with skin partly green and partly rosy. The flesh was crisp and tart, but not sour. Altogether not a bad experience. Now that I think of it, I could have roasted them with the pork tenderloin in my freezer. Ah, well. Next time maybe. I decided to add some potatoes, bell peppers, and carrots to my bag. I tried some local canned tuna, which was really quite delicious, but at $5 a can, I just couldn’t do it. I’m completely in favour of supporting local growers and meat vendors, but sometimes it’s just too pricey for my wallet. Green onions for $2.50 when I can pay 89¢ at the produce store up the street? No thanks. And the lovely eggs from those happy chickens? About $3 more than “inhumane” eggs. I hope someday the extra few bucks won’t matter to me.

Altogether, it was a good haul, and Ginger Man and I had a light vegetarian lunch of  walnut-basil pesto, sliced tomato, and cheese on sourdough toast with scoops of sweet melon. So fresh! Such a delight to eat. Plus, I finally got a chance to use my melon baller. 8)

Strawberry Cornmeal Cupcakes with Prairie Berry Frosting

A while back, I joined up with Iron Cupcake Earth in the interest of stimulating my baking muse. Each month they challenge bakers to come up with creative ways to use a particular ingredient and make nommy cupcakes. Of course, there are PRIZES, too! I love prizes.

The Milwaukee Cupcake Queen’s decree for June: SUMMER BERRIES.

Sweet Summer Strawberries

Sweet Summer Strawberries by ellievanhoutte

So many possibilities! Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, snozzberries . . . and so many ways to use them. This weekend, the farmers market was full of fresh organic strawberries, and it was high time I took up the Queen’s challenge. This is my first attempt at an Iron Cupcake, and I’m pretty well satisfied with the results. Ginger Man ate three right off the bat! It was a tasty adventure, plus I got to use some of my favourite things:

  • Fresh Fraser Valley Strawberries
  • Citrus Salt by Maison Coté
  • Bonne Maman Prairie Berry Jam: a mixture of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Made in France.
  • Silicone Cupcake Liners: super-easy cleanup and no trash!

Strawberry Cornmeal Cupcakes with Prairie Berry Frosting

strawberrycckeThe addition of a little cornmeal to the batter enhances this cupcake’s texture without making it taste like cornbread. It’s a sweet cake, not savoury, and the baked tops have a pleasant toothsomeness.

Note: Mix the batter with a regular ol’ wooden spoon so the ingredients don’t get overmixed. For the frosting, use an electric mixer for best results.

Cook the strawberries:

In small saucepan, combine 1 pint fresh strawberries (quartered), 2 Tbs sugar, 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice, and a few grinds of Citrus Salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened and reduced by about half. Set aside to cool.

Mix the dry ingredients:

  • scant cup sugar (not quite a full cup)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Mix the wet ingredients:

  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs melted butter
  • 3/4 cup milk

Combine the mixtures:

  • Gently stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until just combined.
  • Do not overmix.
  • Fold the cooked strawberries into the cupcake batter.

Bake the cupcakes:

  • Divide batter among 12 lined muffin cups.
  • Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes.
  • Cool completely before frosting.

surprise inside*At the last minute, I decided to add a little surprise when the cupcakes came out of the oven. While the cakes were still warm, I scooped out the center of six cupcakes and filled them with a few mini chocolate chips. Strawberries love chocolate, and so do I. Covered with frosting, they all looked the same. The little extra chocolate boost was fun to find!

Make the frosting:

  • Whip 1/4 cup softened butter until fluffy.
  • Gradually add 1 cup powdered sugar, beating well.
  • Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 Tbs milk. Beat well.
  • Stir in 2 Tbs Bonne Maman Prairie Berry Jam
  • Spread frosting on cooled cupcakes.
  • Garnish with berry of your choice.
Flickr Creative Commons Photo
by ellievanhoutte

Thanks for your votes! This month’s winning cup cake was:

Not-so-blue-berry Cupcakes from How To Eat A Cupcake

Mango-Avocado Salsa (no tomatoes)

When I think salsa, I automatically think about tomatoes and tortilla chips. But “salsa” is really just a word for “sauce.” They can be chunky or smooth, with or without heat, and use a variety of ingredients. This chunky salsa features mangoes and avocados. The flavour is fresh and bright, creamy and a little bit sweet. Chopped raw shallot adds a spicy little kick at the end. Super easy to make, very nutritious, and perfect for a summer picnic. Goes really well with pork or chicken, too.

Mango Avocado Salsa

  • mango salsa1 ripe mango, diced
  • 2 small avocados, diced
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • juice of one lemon
  • a little lemon zest
  • dash of garlic powder
  • S&P to taste
  • chopped fresh cilantro

Mix everything together in a bowl. Store leftovers covered in the fridge.

It’s My Breakfast: Mango Peach Cobbler

Mango Peach Cobbler with Milk

Mango Peach Cobbler with Milk

I can hear it now: “You can’t eat cobbler for breakfast!”

Oh yeah? Watch me.

Mangoes are bountiful and ripe in the local produce markets, and these are one of my favourite tropical treats. June is Mango Month, and there are tons of ways to play with this delicious and sexy fruit in your kitchen. The flesh is firm and juicy, with a subtle flavour and an aroma that has hints of nutmeg. Mangoes come in several varieties and are available year-round. If the mangoes at the store are rock hard, pop them in a paper bag and let them rest on the counter for a day or two. Ripe ones smell like. . . well, mangoes, and are very slightly soft.

The tropical and subtropical climates of the world are the best places to grow mangoes. India produces more than half of the world’s crop, but mangos found in most North American markets come from Mexico and South America. I purchased Atulfo mangoes: cute and yellow, a bit smaller than their cousins, but just as delicious. They’re also loaded with nutrients (lots of fiber and over 20 vitamins and minerals). Mangoes can be pickled, dried, pureed, juiced, canned, or frozen.  Keep mango chunks in your freezer (up to 6 months) to use in smoothies—they compliment just about any kind of fruit.

Mango Seed

In the center of the mango is a long flat hard seed covered in coarse fuzz (seen at left above). Stand the mango on its fat end and you’ll see it tapers toward the top on either side. Place the blade of your knife a bit off center and slice off one side, then the other.  You can feel a bit of resistance when you get too close to the seed. I use the tip of a knife to cut diagonal slashes in the flesh, then turn the mangoes out so the cubes of fruit stick up. It looks cool, and you get lovely chunks of mango easily. There’s more than one way to peel a mango. Watch this video from the National Mango Board to learn more.

Cutting Mangoes
I use chunky mango in salads, salsa, and stir-fry as well as desserts (or in this case, breakfast). Usually I make cobbler with berries, but I had this can of peaches layin’ around and figured maybe the peaches and mangoes might enjoy each other’s company.

Cobbler is an extremely versatile recipe, and so easy to throw together with just about any kind of fruit. This is a rustic and homey dessert. The topping falls somewhere between “cakey” and “cookie.” I like mine a bit coarse and packed with a lot of flavour.  Depending on the fruit I’m using, I’ll vary the ingredients a bit. You can find over 100 ways to use mangoes in recipes from the National Mango Board.

Mango-Peach Cobbler

Using fresh fruit is the best option, but frozen mango or peach is fine, and canned peaches will do well enough in a pinch. Unless you’re a purist (or lactose intolerant), please do enjoy a bit of milk, fresh cream, or ice cream with your dessert.

Prepare the Fruit

  • 2 ripe mangoes, diced
  • 1 can peach halves, drained and diced
  • 1/4 Cup sugar to sweeten if needed
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of fresh grated nutmeg
  • dash of salt

Mix the Cobble

  • 1 Cup flour
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 C ground walnuts
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • grated nutmeg (about 1/4 tsp)
  • dash of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbs melted butter

Mix with a fork until combined. Sprinkle over fruit in a 9×9 pan.

Bake at 375° for about 35 minutes until topping is golden. Serve with ice cream or a glass of cold milk.

Mango Facts and More Fun:
Plant Cultures: Mango

Mango.org