Tag Archives: Fruit

Sparkling Pomegranate Red Sangria *****

red-wine-sangria

Sangria is one of those drinks that reminds me of summer. It is a light and refreshing beverage to be enjoyed outside on a patio somewhere, and preferably with some good Mexican fare!

I tend to gravitate to red sangria over it’s fruitier white counterparts, because I am not the biggest fan of peach schnapps or flavored brandy. This being said, I also don’t like red sangria that tastes like spiked fruit juice (which is the case at 90% of the bars/restaurants I’ve ordered it from!). You end up drinking like 10 glasses of it in an effort to catch a buzz, only to get a sugar high that is generally followed by a massive migraine the following morning….not to mention the 800 calories you’ve also consumed. No thank you.

So tonight, I was on a mission to create my own unique sangria recipe that would taste delicious and also have my friends on their asses after only two glasses. I am proud to say “mission accomplished” with this one-of-a-kind sparkling pomegranate red sangria, which is without doubt the best sangria that I have ever tasted (my friends would second that statement too!).

The trick is to allow the flavors to develop overnight, by making the sangria ahead of time. I also like to use a merlot wine as the base of the sangria because it is a dry wine but has natural hints of berries, plums, and currants, which lend themselves well to the other fruity flavors, especially the pomegranate spritzer used to top off the beverage before serving!

 { Ingredients }

  • 1 L bottle of merlot wine
  • 1 cup of brandy
  • ½ cup of triple sec
  • 2 oranges, juiced
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1 orange, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped pineapple bits (I used fresh cut pineapple)
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries or blackberries
  • Sparkling Pomegranate Juice (I purchased mine from Trader Joes for $2.49)

{ To Make the Sangria }

In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped fruit, brandy, triple sec, and orange juice. Cover and allow to soak for 2 hours.

Add the wine to the mixture and allow to sit over night in the fridge. To serve, fill a glass with ice, fill ¾ with the sangria, and top off with a splash of sparkling pomegranate juice. Stir to combine.

 IMG_2047

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{ Triple Berry Lemon Curd Trifle }

I am always looking for an excuse to try out a new dessert recipe, and my parent’s garden party this past Sunday was a perfect occasion. The gathering was held in honor of my father’s boss, who will soon be retiring, and I was in charge of creating the sweet final note for the evening. Rather than go the cupcake route (which has become my signature), I decided to attempt my very first trifle. Given the beautiful summer weather, I figured I would keep the dessert light and do something with citrus flavors and fresh seasonal berries. I browsed the food network online, and was very drawn to Tyler Florence’s lemon curd trifle with fresh berries, however, there were an abundance of complaints with regards to the lemon curd recipe. So I took inspiration from his recipe, but tweaked it to my liking to produce this one! It might just become my new signature dessert because it is sinfully good. Everyone enjoyed it…including myself, which is rare. Most of the time once I see what goes into a dessert (i.e. a pound of butter, 3 cups of sugar, 2 cups of lard, ect..) I can’t enjoy eating it…some things are best not to know! This dessert isn’t exactly healthy either, but I couldn’t stop myself from devouring forkful upon forkful. It has the perfect balance of flavors and textures. The citrus from the lemon helps to cut the heaviness of the whipped cream, and the density of the pound cake is perfectly complimented by the fluffy lemon curd mousse. I used Paula Deen’s “Southwest Georgia Pound Cake” recipe, which I highly recommend. It has an awesome vanilla and almond flavor and it is strong enough to hold up the layers of the trifle.

Ingredients }

  • 5 extra large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of 3 lemons
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 stick of butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 pint of fresh strawberries
  • 1 pint of fresh raspberries
  • 1 pint of fresh blackberries and/or blueberries
  • 2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 prepared pound cake (I use Paula Deen’s “Southwest Georgia Pound Cake”)
  • ½ cup orange liquor (such as Grand Marnier)
  • Fresh mint leaves for garnish

Directions for lemon curd } Bring a shallow pot of water to a simmer over medium-low heat. Combine the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and zest in a metal or glass heat-resistant bowl and whisk until smooth. Set the bowl over the pot of simmering water, without letting the bottom rest in the water and continue to whisk (I use a double-boiler to do this, but it you don’t have one then you’ll have to devise a contraption to make do).

Continue to whisk the egg mixture until it firms up and just about doubles in volume. I find that this takes anywhere between 10-15 minutes so get ready for an arm workout! It is really important that the egg mixture does not come to a boil so be careful that the bowl does not sit directly in the water and don’t stop mixing!! The curd should look like this once it is done:

When it does, remove from the heat and whisk in the butter a couple of chucks at a time, until melted and combined. Then put the curd into the fridge until it is good and firm (about an hour), or until you are ready to use it.

Directions for the homemade whipped cream } Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add the vanilla extract and confectioner’s sugar until stiff peaks form, but be careful not to over beat the cream or it will become grainy.

To assemble the trifle } Gently fold the lemon curd into the whipped cream so that it becomes a mousse. Do not mix too hard though, or the whipped cream will loose volume and get become runny. Next line the bottom of the trifle bowl with ½ inch thick slices of pound cake, cut to fit. Drizzle or brush the cake layer with some of the orange liquor until it is slightly moist (not soggy!!). Spoon a layer of the lemon curd mousse over the cake and then top with a layer of fresh berries. Repeat the layers until all of the ingredients have been used up, trying to end on the whipped cream layer so that you can decorate the top with berries! Chill and then serve!

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{ Strawberry Shortcakes }

Strawberry Piking at Del Val Farm

I am fully aware that it is no longer strawberry-picking season (which seriously dates this blog post and/or showcases my aptitude for procrastination), but this recipe makes for a fabulous summer dessert and I figure that its only August, so better late than never! Anyways, the second largest BBQ celebration of the season (Labor Day) is just around the corner, and I know a lot of you are going to parties that will entail you to bring something…a dessert, perhaps?!

Rather than going the Betty Crocker brownie route or bringing the horrendously outdated and predictable pineapple upside-down cake, why not surprise everyone with these light and delicious strawberry shortcakes? I promise you that people WILL be relieved to see a desert that boasts fresh fruit, rather than miniature gems of unnaturally bright maraschino cherries. And I’ve never met anyone that doesn’t like shortcake. I’ve met people who love it and people who are indifferent to it, but its almost too cheerful of a desert to really hate. I mean its fresh fruit and whipped cream on a vanilla scented biscuit that’s composed of butter and sugar…what is there to dislike?

This recipe is very simple and especially perfect for a party because it can be made ahead of time. I usually make the shortcakes a day prior to serving them, using an airtight container for storage, and I also like to marinate the sliced strawberries in powdered sugar overnight so that they produce a naturally sweet syrup!

Depending on the number of people that you are serving, you can either allow guests to assemble their own shortcakes (using canned whipped cream or Cool Whip as a shortcut), or you can go for aesthetics, make homemade whipped cream, and put together the shortcakes for them with a lovely presentation. If you chose to go the latter route, then blackberries, raspberries, and mint leaves make for great plate garnishes (as well as a generous dusting of powdered sugar!).

Ingredients }

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 pints of fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • Powdered sugar
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream

To Make Shortcakes } Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking sheet (or line it with parchment paper as I do) and set aside. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to mix.

Add the butter cubes into the flour mixture, using your finger tips to crumble the mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. (You can also cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender, but I don’t have one yet :( )

Add the cream and stir to mix until the dough begins to come together. Be careful not to overwork the dough though, or the shortcakes will be tough!

Move the dough onto a lightly floured surface and work into a round shape. Roll the dough to a thickness of 1/2 – 3/4 inch. Then use a round cookie cutter (I used 3″ in diameter) to cut out small biscuit shapes. Remove the disks and place on prepared baking sheet, baking for 12-15 minutes (or until the tops are a golden brown). Place on baking rack to cool completely.

Shortcakes, before they're baked

Shortcakes, after they're baked!

To Make Homemade Whipped Cream } In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream using a whisk attachment, until soft peaks form. Gradually, add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Do not over beat though, or the mixture will become grainy. Refrigerate up to 6 hours, until ready to use!


{ To Make Strawberry Topping } Place the hulled and stemmed strawberries into a large glass bowl and top with a generous dusting of powdered sugar, mixing to combine (Remember: The more sugar, the more syrup!). Allow to sit for at least a few hours or overnight.

{ To Assemble Shortcakes } Cut the shortcakes in half using a serrated knife. Using an ice cream scooper, put a generous dollop of strawberries with their syrup onto the bottom cake. Using another ice cream scooper, put a heap of whipped cream onto of the strawberries. Gently press the top piece of shortcake back on top of the whipped cream and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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{ Food from Barcelona, Spain Pt. II }

Milk Bar

Gignas 21,
Barcelona, Spain 
{Metro strop: Jaume I}

(www.milkbarcelona.com)

By the time we got to Barcelona, Ariana and I were already two weeks into our trip and we were craving some sort of an American breakfast (especially after coming from Morocco where we had been on the Quaker granola bar diet for five days—the consequences of unsanitary water are far from desirable). We hadn’t seen eggs, bagels, or pancakes in forever, and we wanted to taste a little piece of home. I honestly can’t tell you what I would have done for a Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee, a veggie omelet, and a WWET bagel (whole wheat everything) toasted with cream cheese. But we were in Spain, and there are no Jewish deli’s or Jersey diners there, so we did the usual and turned to Google for help! The search returned: “MilkBar: Best recovery brunch in Barcelona.” Sounded American enough to me!

When we arrived at the café/bar, we were pleasantly surprised by the eclectic and vintage décor but disappointed to find out that they only served brunch Thurs-Sun from 10 am till 4 pm. It was Wednesday….sad face. Of course, we made the trek the following morning though.

I ordered the French Toast topped with Greek Yogurt and Fresh Berries and Ariana got the Ranchero Omelet with Spicy Chorizo, Chili, Mixed Peppers, Scallions, and Crème Fraiche. Certainly not the ideal “American breakfast” we had been yearning for, but we figured it was as close as we were going to get. The quality of the ingredients was excellent (one of the best Greek yogurts that I have ever tasted, and incredible chorizo in the eggs), but for some reason both dishes were slightly off and unsatisfying. It was odd that they smothered the warm French toast in chilled Greek yogurt because it made both elements of the dish room temperature. I like my food like my coffee…hot or cold, not lukewarm. And Ariana’s omelet had a nice spicy flavor, but it was drowning in crème fraiche. Too much crème fraiche is just never a good thing.

Although I wouldn’t recommend MilkBar for their recovery brunch, their lunch menu looked very appetizing and their nighttime bar scene looked very trendy and hip. I would go back to cozy up on the cool upholstered sofas and have a drink, but I would skip breakfast there.

Lesson learned: When in Spain, just stick to eating a traditional Spanish breakfast, which is a pastry or piece of bread with jam.

 La Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boquiera

Rambla, 91
Barcelona, Spain
{Metro Stop: Liceu}

(http://www.boqueria.info/)

Mercat de la Boqueria is  foodies Mecca. It is the end all, be all of gourmet food markets. In fact, it gives new meaning to the word food market. Upon entering, I experienced same overwhelming emotional feeling that I did when I first saw the Roman Coliseum—it was complete sensory overload. But after a few short minutes, I regained my sense of purpose and devised a plan of attack; heading first for the fresh squeezed fruit juices, and ending at the nuts and candy. I cannot really even put the experience into words, so just enjoy the photos!

Ohh, and just outside the mercat is a little pastry/chocolate shop called Escriba and they have incredible truffles, quiches, and coffee (photos are included at the end):

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{ Do It Yourself Sangria }

In the spirit of all this Spanish food blogging, I have decided to post a DYI Sangria recipe. This is NOT my own recipe, but I think it is better than any of the other ones that I have made in the past. Therefore, I will humble myself and post the better recipe for you, which was created by our family friend, Tara Green. The nice thing about this particular sangria recipe is that it isn’t too strong, so you can enjoy it throughout duration of the evening (without needing a foot on the floor at bedtime). After my recent trip to Barcelona, I am pretty cautious when it comes to the potency of Sangria–the bartender at Taller de Tapas had me singing “La Vida Loca” after just one glass!

This recipe is easy to make, but the key to making any sangria truly delicious is patience. The drink originated in coastal Spain centuries ago to make young and bitter wines more palatable. So the longer the wine soaks with the fruit and juice, the better the drink tastes (especially the case when using cheaper wines!!). If you’re making it for a party, then make it the day before so all of the flavors develop. Tara allows at least 8 hours for this recipe to sit in the refrigerator, but suggests 24 if you think far enough in advance. Also, remember that the fruit needs to soak in the rum in one container and the wine and fruit juice need to soak in another container before they are combined for serving!

{ Ingredients }

  • 2 bottles of red wine (Merlot or Cabernet)
  • 3 cups of peach/mango/orange juice divided
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of pineapple rum (or pineapple coconut – Malibu)
  • Diced fresh fruit; any combination of kiwi, pineapple, peach, pear, apple, orange, lemon, and strawberries

{ To Make SangriaCombine the wine with the 2 cups of the fruit juice and sugar. Cover and let refrigerate for a minimum of 8 hours, preferably 24.

Dice up the fruit and combine with the rum and remaining 1 cup of fruit juice. Cover and refrigerate minimum of 8 hours, preferably 24.

To serve, combine the fruit and rum mixture with the wine mixture and stir.

**If you want to make the sangria less intense, then you can strain and add the fruit, discarding the rum. On the other hand, if you want to give your Sangria an extra kick and a nice final note, you can top it off with a splash of club soda or sparkling wine (Cava is great!).

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{ Kendall’s Simple Baked Brie en Croute }

Baked Brie en Croute with Almonds and Raspberry Preserves

Baked brie is a great and easy appetizer to bring to any holiday party. I showed my roommate Ariana how to prepare it for our potluck Thanksgiving dinner, and since then I have received a lot of requests among my friends for the recipe (Ariana did a great job making it!). Instead of sending each of them an individual message, I have decided to just post it on my blog for all to view and enjoy!! Unfortunately, now I think everyone is going to offer to bring baked brie to my next potluck…but brie is delicious so I would be okay with that.

You can make this dish using either philo-dough or puff pastry. Philo-dough is flakier and a little bit more difficult to assemble because it is done in thin sheets one at a time. Therefore, I encourage using puff pastry dough if it is your first time making this dish! Also, feel free to substitute different nuts and flavors of fruit preserves, such as walnuts and/or Black Current preserves. Get creative!

{ Ingredients

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, pre-packaged (or philo-dough)
  • 2-3 tablespoons melted butter (or 1 egg beaten if using philo-dough)
  • 1 8 oz brie wheel
  • Apricot, Raspberry, or Strawberry preserves
  • ½ cup sliced almonds

{ To Make using Puff Pastry }

Preheat oven to 375.

Defrost puff pastry for about 15-20 minutes and then unfold. Place the wheel of brie in the middle of the pastry dough and top brie generously with fruit preserves and then nuts. Fold the puff pastry dough up over the toppings and wheel of the brie, gathering up the edges in center and gently squeezing together the excess dough at the top. Brush the sides and top of the puff pastry dough with the beaten egg using a silicon brush. Place the brie on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake for about 20 minutes, or until pastry dough is golden brown.

Allow to sit for 2-3 minutes and then serve with crackers and fresh fruit.

{ To Make using Philo-Dough }

Preheat oven to 375.

Defrost philo-dough for about 15-20 minutes and then unfold. Place the wheel of brie in the middle of the dough and top brie generously with fruit preserves and then nuts.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Fold the philo-dough up over the toppings and wheel of the brie one thin layer at a time. In between layers, brush butter onto dough (almost as an adhesive) using a silicon brush. Continue in layers until the brie is well covered, gathering up the edges in center and gently squeezing together the excess dough at the top. Brush the sides and top of the dough with butter one last time and then place the brie on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake for about 20 minutes, or until pastry dough is golden brown.

Allow to sit for 2-3 minutes and then serve with crackers and fresh fruit.

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