Archive | fruits

Effortless Anytime Fruit Crumble

I wasn’t the type of person who kept frozen fruits in the freezer. A firm believer of eating everything fresh, I just bought what’s in season at the farmer’s markets. Shakes or smoothies weren’t my ‘thing’ either, preferring to masticate on my fruits and veggies to fill me up because I tend to snack throughout the day. It wasn’t until I lived with a smoothie-loving frozen fruit-stocking partner that I realized what I had been missing.

While I (still) rarely reach for a shock of cold fruit drink, except for two scorching-hot summer days every year, I appreciate those bags of frozen fruits now. They satisfy any last-minute cravings for fruit pies, especially for out-of-season fare. Whenever everyone in our household would have the patience to wait for a couple of hours, I would make pie–double crust and all– or tart, but a quicker substitute for our dessert-/sweets-loving family is this go-to simple crumble. This minimal-effort snack, dessert or breakfast treat requires only these 3 easy steps:

  1. Toss the fruits in sugar and flour. [I add a pinch of ground cinnamon and nutmeg sometimes.]
  2. Top with a layer of easy-mix crumble.
  3. Bake for half an hour or so. Do something else.

Then eat!

We love having this for dessert and I usually prepare this right after dinner. While it’s baking, the girls either do homework and we’ll catch up on some reading (or knitting) or we’ll play board game if it’s a non-school night. Easy peasy.

Berry Crumble

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Posted in baking, breakfast, brunch, dessert, fruits, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy4 Comments

Don’t Waste Those Bananas, Bake Banana Bundt Cake

I have this thing about bananas: I like to buy them. I anticipate that someone else would eat them if it’s available at home, but it’s really just me. I’ve been conservative with my banana purchases lately, but even so, I end up with 4 out of 5 bananas getting too ripe to fast before I can consume them. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m getting pretty tired of banana bread. Last week I looked for something else that’s fairly quick to make on a busy weeknight, because let’s face it–bananas won’t wait for you before they’re ready for the compost bin. And I really feel guilty throwing away food due to bad planning.

I turned to one of my go-to baking books, Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours, for inspiration. Sure enough, it saved the day (or evening) with an easy recipe for banana Bundt cake. It’s moist and light, almost like a teacake. The only ingredient change I made is with the sugar, decreasing it by a quarter of a cup. It was just the right sweetness for us.

Banana cake

All the ingredients for the recipe are readily available and you should be able to whip this up last minute. I used plain yogurt instead of sour cream (my preference of the two), which we almost always have except for that one evening. Oh, Murphy.

Making banana cake

If you are fast, you can get this in the oven in 15 minutes. I did it in 20, photography included.

Banana cake batter before baking

Once it’s done, the top will be shiny and moist, but a knife inserted in the middle of the cake would come out clean. Really try to control yourself from eating it right out of the oven.

Banana cake fresh out of the oven

We enjoyed this for breakfast, packed it for school and office snacks, nibbled on it while playing a board game and even gave a couple of slices to the out-laws. If you’re unsure of making this because of the size, I assure you, this will be gone in no time. Bring it to a party or to work and you will come home with an empty plate.

If you’re in Vancouver, baking this would be a great way to warm up the house and it’s a simple, yet delicious snack on this rainy weekend. I’d recommend it with a cup of tea and a good book.

Happy weekend!

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Posted in baking, cakes, fruits, quick & easy1 Comment

Flu-cation and Soggy Bottom-Free Blueberry Pie

It’s been an interesting week at home to say the least, with two kids suffering from stomach flu (three if you count the furry and whiskered middle child who had a couple of non-projectile episodes) and two adults fighting off something, including one who’s in varying degrees of undiagnosed pain at any one point (i.e. me). The girls’ virus is contagious and we are officially on flu-cation until we’re all symptom- and germ-free.

It’s a bummer to be stuck at home under these circumstances, but what can you do? I’ll just welcome the indoor time and go through my pile of unread magazines, continue knitting sock #1 of two, bake some bread and pie or tart, write letters with a pen and paper, edit photos from our cycling trips and post here some more.

Here’s another recipe I’d like to share with you and it’s a good one to try before the blueberry season comes to an end. It’s probably the quickest fruit pie I can make because there’s neither a need to peel and/or slice the berries or pre-cook them.

Blueberry Pie

It’s important to pick ripe and sweet blueberries so you don’t need that much sugar. If your berries are a bit tart, simply add more sugar (about 2 to to 4 tablespoons more).

Blueberry pie

Dreading the soggy bottom crust, some cook the berries to reduce the liquid. I prefer baking them fresh and keeping the globules intact, which is why choosing the right ripeness is crucial. I also use equal amounts of flour and cornstarch as thickener and an egg yolk as a binder. Yolk. You read it correctly. It works.

Blueberry pie


Once cooled for serving, the pie filling stays intact. There’s no excess runny liquid and the fruits stay within the boundaries of the slice when cut.

Blueberry Pie

If you’re like me, sometimes craving overcomes reason. What waiting? I’ll slice the pie before it cools down. It’s great that there’s no excess liquid to soak up the crust. Goodbye soggy bottoms.

Blueberry Pie

I’ll make sure to bake another one or two of these before saying adieu to the blueberries this year. I hope you’ll do, too!

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Posted in baking, dessert, fruits0 Comments

Peaches with Goat Cheese and Honey

There’s no getting around the too-lazy-too-cook-for-oneself bug when you’re at home for lunch on a hot summer day, or any day for that matter. I’ve heard it many times from friends who live alone: how do you get motivated to prepare a healthy meal or snack? Look no further than your local grocery store or farmer’s market and get what’s in season. That is my dirty little secret. I can admit to eating bananas or ants on a log (i.e. celery with peanut butter and dried cranberries) when I’m really pressed for time and need sustenance.

I had this for lunch last week and I felt much better about eating it than reaching out for a bag of chips. Hey, it happens.

This is as simple as it gets:

  • Peel and slice fresh peaches (or just slice nectarines)
  • Crumbled creamy goat cheese over the quarter moon slices
  • Drizzle with a tiny bit of honey
  • Eat!

Peaches with Goat Cheese and Honey

Posted in breakfast, brunch, cheese, cooking for one, dairy, dessert, fruits, gluten-free, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, raw, snacks, vegetarian, wheat-free0 Comments

Greek Yogurt Chocolate Mousse

This dessert-turned-quick-experiment was brought to you by Jens’ chocolate mousse craving and his Greek yogurt substitution idea. I’m always happy to oblige his sweet tooth and even more so because we were both feeling under the weather, with him suffering most of the flu symptoms. After a trip out of town combined with the exhaustion from cycling over 100 kilometers, neither of us had any sense to check our dairy essentials for expiration dates. It turned out our heavy cream had gone bad, so he suggested using the only alternative we had left aside from milk: Greek yogurt. A quick online search proved that it was doable, so I trusted my kitchen instincts and went with it. Experience has shown that I do get good results when we collaborate on food this way, plus we had a chocolate bar on standby in case this produced an inedible pudding. I knew I had to add more sugar to counteract the sour yogurt, but when I tasted the whipped chocolate and yogurt mixture, it didn’t really need any more than a touch. An additional tablespoon was just the right amount of sweetness boost it needed.

As much as I love Greek yogurt, it doesn’t necessarily go with chocolate and I did cringe at the thought of combining them. Thankfully, my fears dissolved with my first spoonful of the mousse. It had a deep chocolate flavor with hint a of orange and vanilla. We couldn’t tell there was yogurt in it at all, unless we really tried to look for the taste. We shared the rest of it with his folks for dinner the following day and it tasted even better then!

Chocolate Mousse with Greek Yogurt

A rich chocolate mousse goes exceptionally well with sweet blueberries. We’re lucky to be able to enjoy fresh ones in the summer and we take advantage of that as much as we can. The ones I took home from a BC Blueberry Council event were ginormous and almost as big as quarters! Mmm…I love the pop of fruit with the decadent mousse.

Chocolate Mousse with Greek Yogurt

I was a tiny bit concerned that the thick yogurt would weigh down the mousse, but it didn’t affect its fluffiness at all. It was still light and smooth, and ridiculously good as can be. Here’s to another successful experiment and dessert–thanks to the beau for yet another wacky and awesome idea!

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Posted in chocolate, dessert, experiments, fruits, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy3 Comments

Blueberry Smoothie Pops

When I’m not devouring fresh blueberries or baking them into pies to share, some of them make it into frozen treats like these. There’s nothing better on a hot summer day. Of course, there’s always the alternative of directly freezing fresh blueberries to pop into your mouth or crush into your favorite fizzy water or bubbly booze. ;-)

Blueberry Yogurt Pops

Blueberry Smoothie Pops
Recipe type: Dessert, Snacks
Serves: 10-12
  • 1½ cup to 2 cups fresh blueberries, washed (**use 2 cups if not adding jam)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt (2%)
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese (optional, adds smoothness)
  • ½ cup milk (2% or whole)
  • ½ cup blueberry jam (**optional)
  • ⅓ cup cold simple syrup, or more to taste (made by cooking 2 cups sugar in 1 cup water in medium heat until completely dissolved)
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss blueberries and sugar in a bowl, then transfer and spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet/pan lined with aluminum foil. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Pour back into the bowl after roasting and let it cool.
  2. Using your blender or blender stick with a bowl, pulse together yogurt and cream cheese until uniformly smooth. Add milk, blueberries and jam (if using) and blend. Taste the smoothie, and add simple syrup according to your preference. As a rule, make it a bit sweeter than you would like your drinking smoothie. Freezing tones down the sweetness.
  3. Pour smoothie into popsicle molds and freeze for 30 minutes before inserting popsicle sticks. Note: soak popsicle sticks in warm water for half an hour before using to keep them from floating in the mixture while it freezes.
You can also use this recipe for strawberries (add balsamic vinegar for more flavor), cherries, raspberries, peaches, nectarines, and other fruits that catch your fancy. Alternatively, you can just put raw blueberries/fruits in the smoothie -- the roasting step takes out the raw tartness from some fruits.

Posted in dessert, fruits, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, snacks1 Comment

Blueberry Lime Jam

July. Summer. Fruit Season. Blueberries… {swoon} As someone who didn’t grow up with access to fresh ones, I’m grateful that I’ve been able to enjoy them as much as I can want for the past decade, call me a late blue-mer, if you wish. I bought close to three kilos of these plump indigo-colored berries last week: I ate them, baked with them, made smoothie pops with them, and made jam. Nothing says ‘I love you, fruit!‘ than consuming them in different ways every single day.

Homemade Preserves and Jams

One thing I haven’t posted on this blog are jam recipes and I have no good explanation for this. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that I make them late at night when food lighting sucks (and I couldn’t be bothered to shoot photos by the stove with its incandescent lighting), or early in the morning right before breakfast and I simply have no time (or brain power) to think about photos. I know, it’s all about the photos for us food bloggers. And Instagram.

Today I have good reason to be talking about jam because I recently received a copy of Mary Tregellas’ new cookbook, Homemade Preserves & Jams: Over 90 Recipes for Luscious Jams, Tangy Marmalades, Crunchy Chutneys, and More. It’s a beautifully designed paperback that’s just the right size and weight for bringing everywhere (I do this with cookbooks) — like grabbing it last-minute before going to the farmer’s market to get some ideas. I’m thinking of packing this on our next island trip to make full use of the fresh fruits we find.

The recipes are very approachable, clear and concise. Each recipe is laid out in a single page, with often short ingredient list on the left and the step-by-step instructions to its right. Most are accompanied by photos. The book contains a primer on equipment, ingredient notes, and preserving tips, which are very helpful. I appreciate that it doesn’t inundate you with too much information, but has enough to get you started. As you can guess from the title, it does have more to offer: pesto, salads, scones, breads (yes, bread), tarts, and infused liqueurs. Recipes are grouped according to: Luscious, Juicy, Crunchy, Tangy, Tropical, Wholesome, Aromatic, Wild, Intoxicating and Daily Bread. That’s the most part if you would like to know what you can make with the produce you have on hand. Thankfully, the index does its job of pointing you in the right direction.

All in all, it’s a well-rounded book that’s best suited for beginners and preserving enthusiasts like me. This is the perfect gift for friends who are interested in making jams and preserves, but are too intimidated by the process and perceived “complicated know-how” — I know, because I used to be one of them. While it is not a comprehensive reference, this is a great Let’s-Make-Something-Now book, which to be honest, is what you want while the summer fruits and vegetables last.

Because I’m all about the blueberry right now, I made half the recipe for Blueberry Jam with a dash of lime. It made enough for us to last for a few weeks, plus a jar or two give away.

Blueberry Lime Jam

toast + butter + jam = Love

The hint of lime becomes more pronounced after a couple of days. Next time I would even add some finely chopped Moroccan mint for the jar that we’ll consume right away. The jam just has that kind of blueberry mojito character.

Blueberry Lime Jam

BC Blueberry Facts: 1. We have a BC Blueberry Council, which sounds like a cool company to work for, just because of the name. 2. British Columbia has over 800 blueberry growers. 3. BC is the number one highbush blueberry-growing region in the world.

For those of you who are still undecided whether jamming is something you’d like, just invest about half an hour of your time to try this out. It really doesn’t require much effort.

Blueberry Lime Jam

Cooking the blueberries until they soften.

Trust me, you’ll be happy you made it. It’s great on pancakes and waffles, PB&J sandwiches, muffins, rolls, biscuits, what have you. I even added it to blueberry smoothie popsicles!

Blueberry Lime Jam

Cooked blueberries with sugar and pectin added.

Blueberry Lime Jam
Recipe type: Jam
  • 1.5 pounds (680 grams) fresh blueberries
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • juice of ¼ lemon
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1.5 pounds (680 grams) white sugar
  • 5 tablespoons liquid pectin
  1. Mix the blueberries, lime juice and zest, lemon juice and water in a preserving/muslin pan or large heavy-based stainless steel pan. Cook over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, until the blueberries soften. Some will burst, while others will grow extra plump. Use a long wooden spoon to stir occasionally.
  2. Take the pan off the heat and stir in sugar until fully dissolved. Return the pan to the heat and boil. Allow to cook at full rolling boil for 4 minutes, then add pectin. Boil for another minute or two. Take the pan off the heat and proceed with testing for a set.
  3. Test for a set using the wrinkle test: Chill a saucer in the freezer for a few minutes. Place half a teaspoon of jam on the saucer and return to the freezer for a minute. Then push the jam with your finger -- it is set when it wrinkles. If it hasn't set, cook for a couple more minutes and redo the test.
  4. Ladle the hot jam into hot sterilized jars, filling them almost to the top. Screw the lid on tightly.
Makes 3 to 4 12-ounce jars of jam. Keeps for 12 months.

Posted in books and publications, fruits, quick & easy, reviews2 Comments

Shaker Lemon Pie for Pi Day

Pi Day. Pie Day. I don’t think there’s a better time to post about this Shaker Lemon Pie that we enjoyed plain and with vanilla ice cream. The pie crust (which I made with a healthy sprinkle of vodka) and the Meyer lemon custard filling were a welcome deviation from our never-ending winter of rain, as it’s always been.

It’s still Meyer lemon season and while my friends in California have had more than enough of it than all their cooking, baking, canning & preserving capacities can use up, here in Vancouver we get them mostly in pre-packaged Dandy-brand bags that remind us it’s the “The Chefs preference for desserts, beverages, main dishes and more!” I treasure every fruit because it’s not local to us. As much as I lean towards supporting local, Meyer lemons are imported treats I give myself permission to enjoy as much as I can.

I’ve made anywhere from lemon curd, lemon rolls, margarita, and putting lemon zest and juice in everything, but this Shaker Lemon Pie is the most special thing I’ve made from it this season. It makes me want winter to stay if only for the Meyer lemons.


The crust is money: flavorful, flaky and leaves you wanting more.

The lemon curd-like custard filling uses up the whole lemon (minus the seeds) and pleases the use-everything Asian in me. This pie is said to have originated from the Shaker community of Ohio, and because their lemons came from far away, they wanted to make sure they didn’t waste any part of it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

DSC_2384 copy

Armed with a good mandoline, this shaker lemon pie can be yours, easy peasy. If you don’t have one, a little patience and a sharp knife will pull you through.

What you’ll need for the crust: Foolproof Pie Dough (PDF) from a previous post

  • 2 1/2 cups (or 12.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 cup vodka, cold (no substitutes)
  • 1/4 cup water, cold
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (use for double crust pie)
  • egg white of 1 large egg, beaten

And the simplest of recipes for filling:

  • 2 Meyer lemons, very thinly sliced preferably with a mandoline, seeds removed (you can use regular lemons, but they will be tarter)
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • egg wash from a small amount of beaten whole egg with a few drops of water


1. Mix the thinly slices of Meyer lemons with sugar in a small bowl. Let it sit at room temperature for at least 6 hours. Ideally you’d want to leave it for 24 hours. I did mine for 36 — heavenly.

2. Follow the instructions for the pie dough in the recipe. Preheat oven to 425°F and place a rimmed baking sheet inside. Oven rack should be in the lower third level.

3. Beat the eggs and sugar, combine with the macerated lemons. Pour into the pie plate with crust and place the other crust from the fridge on top. Flute the edges or seal with the tines of a fork. Brush the top with egg wash and don’t forget to cut vent holes with a sharp knife — whatever pattern you like.

4. Bake the pie on the rimmed baking sheet for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 375°F and bake for another 20-25 minutes (check at 20 minutes for doneness). The pie is ready when an inserted knife comes out clean.

It’s less tart and more custard-y after a day or two and it gets better after a day. Re-heat for a few minutes at 350°F.

Posted in baking, dessert, fruits7 Comments

Fuss-Free Fridays: You Say Guacamole, I say Dessert!

Some of you might find the concept of eating avocado outside the constricts of a vegetable salad or a Mexican dip bizarre. On the contrary, when I moved to North America in the late ’90s, I had a mental gag when I discovered that my beloved avocado was made into anything other than a dessert — fresh spooned out of the skin, as an ice cream or a filling shake. Worse, it was sometimes being touted as something really fattening. Yikes.

This is my all-time favorite way of eating avocados: sprinkled with sugar and powdered milk (preferably Nido) and straight into my mouth. Creamy, dreamy dessert!

I'll eat you without dieter's remorse.

Have you tried this before? What other food do you eat differently than others do?

On a sweet avocado related note, I was more than thrilled to learn that avocado can be used as the chocolate fudge cake icing in a raw diet. It does taste so rich and good as a ganache!

Sorry Fuss-Free Friday was late. I have to admit that the day just crept up on me this afternoon. If you have other fuss-free recipes to share, please leave the link in the comments section. Thanks and enjoy your weekend!

Posted in dairy, Filipino dishes, fruits, Fuss Free Fridays, quick & easy7 Comments

Recipes Lost in Notation and Other Recipe Testing Fails

It’s funny how when I get my writing mojo back, I can’t seem to lay off of it. [This is a Leo thing, right Tracy?] So here I am, burning the midnight New Moon oil with a lot of things swirling in my head. I still have two or more IFBC posts, but I’m giving it a break or you might think I’m utterly stuck waxing poetic about food blogging conferences and friends.

I’m sure you other food bloggers will agree that not everything we prepare in the kitchen makes it on our respective blogs. In my case, about half of what I cook and bake never gets featured here because they:

  1. taste meh, bad, or just okay,
  2. look gross,
  3. accidentally fell on the floor or disintegrated before taking photos,
  4. were not photographed,
  5. were badly photographed,
  6. inedible,
  7. or most likely: lost in notation

I had this Filipino dish to have you try, called Tortang Talong (Filipino Eggplant Omelette), but it had a case of #7. It’s super simple, but my limited short-term memory didn’t retain the oven setting and time. It’s easy enough to search online on how others do it, but I just don’t include a method, technique, or other parts of a recipe if I didn’t test it myself. So this will have to wait until I buy more eggplants and oven-roast them again. On the other hand, more eggplant goodness for my belly.

Still on a Southeast Asian Motherland kick, I’ve been wanting to share the  Filipino Chicken Empanada recipe that I learned while observing relatives of relatives on the East Coast. BUT. Guess what? #7.

If this keeps going on, I don’t think I’d even get to my golden years!

Tonight I wasn’t particularly keen on cooking. I began reviewing a friend’s book draft (I’m not a professional, but she asked me to check it out…as a friend) after a 4-hour meeting the previous night, and now with 3 hours of sleep. Long story short, this Energizer bunny needs to rest. All my residual charge could muster up to do was boil, peel, and slice beets. And then I decided they need some other color, like pluots. And then I wanted something salty and creamy, there goes the feta.

A light drizzle of blood orange olive oil later…

Beets with pluot and feta cheese

Beets with pluot and feta cheese

…an excited first bite was superseded by great disappointment. That’ll be number 1 and 7.

However, all is not lost as I discovered that pluots and feta party together. I mean, Hi, let’s go on another date tomorrow! I’m feeling creamy feta-pluot in my next 24-hour future. What it would end up as, I’m not sure, but I’m getting them a room already. Hopefully it works out.

Have you put together something that seemed brilliant in your head and ended up in a pile of disappointment, beside newly delivered pizza? Or maybe, you have recipe testing fails to share? Do tell!

If you have other pluot-feta recipes, I’m yours. Oh, just remember I have 1/8 cup of butter left. That’s all I can use for now. It’s ghastly to have less than 4 sticks of butter available. That’s just not right.

Energizer bunny out.

Posted in cheese, experiments, fruits, vegetables, vegetarian8 Comments