Wednesday, April 16, 2008

In the mood for fresh fruit

It seems like I always have a craving for fresh fruit right around this time of year. The casseroles and soups that I love in the cooler months seem a bit heavy; I am ready for crisp, light, refreshing spring and summer food. Fruit, especially.
I'm looking forward to my new kitchen. Every day, Hadleigh seems to say, "Let's make strawberry oatmeal our new kitchen. I can't wait to eat chicken our new kitchen. Let's make lemonade tea our new kitchen." (She's also very into creating new (and interesting) food items...because I have never actually made lemonade tea muffins, nor do I have a recipe for it. But I love hearing her creativity!)

As I was saying, I am very eager to cook once we get moved in...and these following recipes sound perfect for inviting new friends over for a "thank you for making my life easier these last few months" lunch and play date. Sounds like I've got a plan and a menu! Yay! (Wish I could invite all of you who are far away that have been SO very encouraging to me also. You know who you are...I appreciate you so much!) The recipes below are ones that I have not tried yet (with the exception of the chicken salad--yum!)...but come from some of my favorite recipe sources...Southern Living and Cooking Light.

So here's my menu, so far...

Blackberry Spritzer

fresh blackberries (or other berries of choice)
sparkling water (my favorites are Perrier and San Pellegrino)
corn syrup
grated lime rind
fresh mint
wooden skewers

1. Thread fresh blackberries on a 6-inch wooden skewer. Freeze one hour.
2. Pour a few tablespoons of corn syrup in a shallow dish and dip the rims of glasses in the syrup. Then roll the edge of each glass in the lime rind. Place one frozen skewers in each glass. Pour sparkling water over skewer and garnish with mint.

Fresh Fruit Salad with Nutmeg-Cinnamon Syrup
2 cups thinly sliced Granny Smith apples (about one large apple)
2 cups thinly sliced ripe pear (about one large pear)
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 cup orange sections (about one orange)
1/2 cup sliced banana (about one medium-sized banana)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; drizzle with lemon juice and toss gently.
2. Combine syrup, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon over fruit, and toss gently. Serve immediately.

Yields: 8 1/2 cup servings

Served on a bed of lettuce rather than sandwiches.
Ricotta Cheesecake with Fresh Berries


4 cups (2 pounds) Homemade Ricotta Cheese (recipe below)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon powdered sugar


2 cups quartered strawberries
1 pint fresh raspberries
1 pint fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Mint sprigs (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. To prepare cheesecake, place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 2 minutes or until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Pour batter into a 10-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until cheesecake center barely moves when pan is touched. Remove cheesecake from oven; run a knife around the outside edge of cheesecake. Cool slightly; remove outer ring from pan. Sprinkle cheesecake evenly with powdered sugar.
4. To prepare topping, combine berries, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and juice; toss gently to combine. Let stand 5 minutes.
5. Serve berry mixture with cheesecake. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

1 gallon 2% reduced-fat milk
5 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1. Line a large colander or sieve with 5 layers of dampened cheesecloth, allowing the cheesecloth to extend over outside edges of colander; place colander in a large bowl.
2. Combine milk and buttermilk in a large, heavy stockpot. Attach a candy thermometer to edge of pan so that thermometer extends at least 2 inches into milk mixture. Cook over medium-high heat until candy thermometer registers 170° (about 20 minutes), gently stirring occasionally. As soon as milk mixture reaches 170°, stop stirring (whey and curds will begin separating at this point). Continue to cook, without stirring, until the thermometer registers 190°. (Be sure not to stir, or curds that have formed will break apart.) Immediately remove pan from heat. (Bottom of pan may be slightly scorched.)
3. Using a slotted spoon, gently spoon curds into cheesecloth-lined colander; discard whey, or reserve it for another use. Drain over bowl for 5 minutes. Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely. Hang cheesecloth bundle from kitchen faucet; drain 15 minutes or until whey stops dripping. Scrape ricotta into a bowl. Sprinkle with salt; toss gently with a fork to combine. Cool to room temperature.
Note: Store in refrigerator up to 4 days.
Yields about 3 cups.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Your chicken salad is AWESOME! I remember enjoying it at your house with Rachel in the spring time. I have shared it with so many people since then. It is always a hit!! Hope you are in your new kitchen and cooking soon!


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