Archive for the ‘Edibles-Fruit’ Category

Flavorella Plum Hand Pies
This summer’s favorite dish for the concerts in the park…was hands down the hand pies. Nectarine, plum, strawberry or a combination of all three.

The best of the lot was the elusive Flavorella plum pie, which I could only produce one time…I must have caught the tail end of the season for that tree. The ease of this dish is what makes it such a favorite of mine and the tangy deliciousness combined with puff pastry made it a real crowd pleaser.

Buy puff pastry sheets and let thaw in the fridge. Each box makes about 8 pretty good sized pies. I just lined the giant muffin tin with squares of parchment paper, then with the puff, then dollops of the fruit mixture, topped with tangy strawberry preserves. Pinch together and bake!

Fruit Filling-Cut up 8 plums and toss with a couple of tablespoons of flour and sugar. Strawberry preserves-made earlier in the summer, just mash up berries and cook down a bit with 1/4 (or less) the amount of sugar for jam…and lots of lemon juice. It won’t set up, but use as sauce…way tastier!


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7:July 1956

Monday, Monday, Monday. Means I get to pick a vintage mag issue to peruse and share. Tough choice…a picnic, a salmon mold, or blueberry pie and that’s without even going in to the stacks. July just says blueberries and that pie looks good! Well, on the East Coast July says blueberries, but from what I have been reading we should be picking a cup a day next April from our garden. I am looking forward to that!

Culinarily Speaking:

I thought the most amazing recipe for blueberry pie was from America’s Test Kitchen where they take half the required berries and crush them in a pot and simmer down a bit to thicken add a grated granny smith apple, the whole blueberries and two tablespoons of tapioca for a tangy, bright and well set filling. Then they add vodka to the crust! I guess this is called the Foolproof Pie Dough. The vodka cooks off, but makes a wetter dough which is easier to work with. Typically a wetter dough is tough, but the vodka does not allow the gluten strands to form. Ingenious.

Horticulturally Speaking:

I recently found out why a blueberry hedge seemed like such a novel idea in the So Cal garden. It’s because they only recently created a low-chill variety that does well in our zone. Choosing the right variety is the first step to growing good blueberries and then I found this article in Sunset…

“In California’s mildest climates, more and more gardeners are finding that ‘Sharpblue’–once thought to be a rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinum ashei) but now known to be a southern highbush type (V. corymbosum) with low chill requirements–outperforms all other varieties.

Although it’s self-fertile and so can be grown alone, ‘Sharpblue’ does better when cross-pollinated with other southern highbush varieties such as ‘Sunshineblue’. During peak harvest (in April and May), the ‘Sharpline’ shown above left yields a couple of cups of fruit every three days. Berries are large, sweet, and juicy. The plant bears occasional fruit most of the year, and in fall yields a small second harvest.

How to grow blueberries

In coastal areas, plant blueberries in full sun. Inland, plant where they’ll get some afternoon shade. Plants need consistent watering for good fruit production, and acid soil that drains well (Southern California’s soils are naturally alkaline).

To compensate, plant them in containers filled with 100 percent peat moss; or try one of the following recipes:

* The six-year-old in the barrel grows in a mix of 6 parts moistened peat moss, 3 parts azalea mix, and 1 part sand.

* The mix in the plastic cylinder is equal parts peat moss and azalea mix.

From January through September, feed blueberries every six weeks with an acid fertilizer. In November, work in about 1/4 cup of soil sulfur around base of plants.

Blueberries require little pruning. In winter, shape plants and restore vigor by cutting branches three years old or older back to the base. Remove only branches that are too tall or no longer bear fruit.

COPYRIGHT 1990 Sunset Publishing Corp.

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Every other plot at the community garden, has a stand of blackberries that makes me green with envy! I am going to satisfy my desire for berries however, with Marion Berries in my own back yard. Curling up yesterday with the 1956 issue of Gourmet and all it’s fruits of summer poetry, lore and ruminations, re-energized my quest. I found a great educational site at Oregon State, and who better than Oregon to tell me how to grow Marion Berries?

Trellis Diagram

I am getting the spot ready, ordering my plant, and will have to wait until next summer for my fruit. I will try to pass the time making jam, crisps, crumbles, bettys, soups and tarts with market berries until next summer…Now for the canning class! When I find one I’ll let you know…Chef Michael? Are you canning? Teaching?

In the aforementioned vintage magazine, there is a fascinatingly alluring article titled Strange Fruit and they had me at “gustatory versatility”. Any-hoo, it talks about the history of fruit soups among the ancient cuisines of the world. The Slavs are partial to berries, the Russians make a raspberry sour cream soup with mint and eat it with a slab of pumpernickel. The Norwegians wed cherries with a disproportionate amount of Sherry, the Danes love buttermilk and raisins, and the French glorify their cold fruit soups with good wine of the country, such as Blueberry Soup garnet in hue with Claret and topped with meringues. Okay, enough teasing. Here are a couple of recipes that didn’t sound too terribly bizarre…

Medley Fruit Soup
In a sauce pan combine the following fruits, all finely chopped: ½ cup of each fresh peaches, strawberries, rhubarb, oranges, and pineapple. Add ¾ cup granulated sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 whole cloves and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Add two quarts of water and bring slowly to a boil. Lower the heat and gently simmer for 15 minutes. Puree (I like the food mill) and chill thoroughly. Serve with crackers.

Culinary update: I would serve with La Brea Bakery fruit and nut bread and St. Andre Brie. Or better yet, bring on the whole cheese cart. Man, that sounds like the perfect dessert course!

Raspberry and White Wine Soup
Cook 1 quart ripe raspberries and 1 cup dry white wine slowly for 15 minutes, until the fruit is tender. Strain fruit and juice through fine sieve (food mill), and return to the heat. Stir in paste (½ tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water) bring to boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes stirring and skimming. Season with white pepper, salt and sugar to taste. Add ½ cup orange juice and ½ cup white wine. Serve with pound cake.

Culinary update: for this raspberry soup I might just leave out the thickener, add a little grated granny smith apples to the cooking process, and reduce for the right consistency. Adding the juice and white wine 1 tablespoon at a time alternating and stop when it’s just right. I will test and repost.

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Gourmet June 1956

June is June, and what’s in season in June remains the same, which ever year. This issue is filled with articles debating the peach vs the nectarine. The gustatory versatility of fruit, followed by a history lesson and recipes for fruit soups. An article titled, Drink Yourself Cool: from a punch bowl or a pitcher. And sample menus for the wedding breakfast. I do love these old magazines and I will post recipes from this issue throughout the week…they are simply classic!

The cover of this issue of Gourmet, Volume XVI, Number 6. is illustrated by Hilary Knight, who went on to a project you have all seen…the Eloise books, posters, cards etc!

Here’s the recipe for the pitcher of refreshing beverage depicted in the cover art. Sounds yummy!

Kalte Ente-
Peel a lemon in a wide unbroken spiral strip, leaving one end of the spiral attached to the lemon. Make the peel quite thick and cut slightly into the fruit pulp. Put the lemon in a tall glass pitcher and hang the free end over the pitcher’s rim. Pour in to the pitcher 1 bottle of dry white wine and let the wine stand for 15 minutes. Add ice cubes, 1 more bottle of dry white wine and one bottle of chilled champagne. Stir the mixture gently and serve in punch cups.

I think I would be very cool with this on my patio table.

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Apricot Clafoutis

And when I say perfected, maybe I should clarify and call it Clafoutis Accepted.  Last night we made one with home strawberries that,  while amazingly delicious was not quite set up.  Maybe even a hot berry soup.  Todays version was adjusted, set up and just perfect!  I took the recipe from Eric Ripert, and instead of 1/2 & 1/2 which I never have I used 1/2 the amount of milk.  I also added an extra T of flour, and the sugar is raw and perfumed storage for my vanilla beans.  Maybe the strawberries are extra juicey too and you need that extra flour to compensate for their delicious juices!

1tablespoon butter

1/2 cup sugar + more for the ramekin

2 large eggs

5 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

7 tablespoons flour

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter the ramekins and dust with sugar.  Whisk eggs until very frothy, add sugar, milk and vanilla.  Add flour and whisk very well.  Put the fruit in the bowls or ramekins and pour the batter over.  Bake until set about 10-15 minutes.  Serve with ice cream, creme fraiche or whipped cream.  Or eat hot, bubbly and plain like we do!

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berry patch

Year after year we have a strawberry patch in pots. It works out well, they hang over the edge of the pots, clean and bug free. But after seeing all the dedicated strawberry fields out at the community garden, I knew we needed more, we needed the real deal, I wanted bowls of organic and delicious berries! There were bumps and starts. We planted early, in mounds of compost. Lesson #1, they dried out easily because there was not enough soil mixed in. Lesson #2, we used the organic looking burlap instead of plastic. But the burlap lets the rollie pollies come up and nibble half the berry right off…thousands of them!

Rollie Pollies

There are also quite elaborate enclosures with a lot of netting. That is not my favorite…but there is a lot of wildlife and berries are on the top of the list for many. I picture a little squirrel having a nice time on this berry. Or maybe a mouse. Sometimes they are plucked off and dropped a few feet away…such a waste! That is probably a crow. This one cracked me up, it’s like they are taking bites and looking back and forth, bits flying out the their mouth as they keep a look out for the hawk flying around…


The plants themselves, though look awesome. They are healthy and have lots of fruit on them. There are still quite a few sacrificed to various critters, though that seems to have slowed down a bit. The pea trellis was placed over the patch and that seems to help a little. Right now in the garden, there is plenty of ripe and perfect fruit to bring home a bowl full several times a week! And they are really sweet and perfect.

So Many Strawberries Coming

I have dug up several plants for the south facing wall of strawberries outside the kitchen. They transplant nicely and it’s great to have ripe fruit just steps from the cereal bowl. I am putting straw (hence the name) around the inside of the pot to support the berries to the edge and to keep them out of the dirt. Strawberries do not like hot roots, so it can be a challenge to keep them cool enough without water logging the fruit. We have experimented with one plant and over watered the heck out of it to taste the difference in the berry. The kids now understand that the plants can handle the stress of drying out a bit, and the end result is more tasty!

While our strawberry patch does not have the tallest and most robust foliage, or the biggest berries, it is deemed a huge success by our tasters!!  The plants I brought home needed to be rescued from the garden bed because of gophers. That’s a story in and of itself, which I’ll save for another day!

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Here is reason 1 (of 50) to grow borage lemon verbena and strawberries. They made a fine garnish for the birthday cupcakes! Although Griffin is a minimalist when it comes to cake…so the one below is more his style. Just enough frosting to glue on the strawberry. And the frosting was a simple stick of butter with 1 cup powdered sugar, vanilla and a couple drops of green food coloring. It’s his favorite…not to sweet!


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