Not Yo Mama’s Neapolitan

Nothing beats the summer heat like a Neapolitan frozen treat. Yonanas comes to the rescue with a healthy fruit “ice cream” which will also be kind to your bikini line.

It’s really summer and it is officially frozen dessert season here in the Northern Hemisphere. As you all know I am a huge fan of ice cream but I have been watching what I eat and when I look at the calorie count of ice cream…yikes. That does not mean I will completely deprive myself of ice cream pleasures but for everyday treats finding a healthier alternative is a huge step in the right direction.

Yonanas Neapolitan

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Homemade Condiments Cookbook Giveaway, Creamy Chicken Stuffed Shells, and Caramel Mock Apple Bites

Today is my group’s reveal day for the Secret Recipe Club. What is the SRC? Basically you are assigned a fellow participant’s blog by the organizer and then you pick a recipe of your choice from that blog and make your version of it. But it is a secret, you cannot reveal whom you picked and what you made until the established posting date and time. This month I made 2 secret recipes: Creamy Chicken Stuffed Shells and Caramel Mock Apple Bites.

And here is a third secret: I have a fabulous giveaway for you all today. I receive a complimentary copy of the Homemade Condiments cookbook and I was given an extra copy for a giveaway. That is right, one lucky reader will receive their very own copy of this essential book for your cookbook collection. Info at the bottom of the post.

caramel 4

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

IIP: Lebanese Fruit Cocktail Sundae

It’s that wonderful time once again for an International Incident Party hosted by the wonderful Penny at Jeroxie. This month the theme is Sundaes! Oh How I love Thee Ice Cream! Yep I do eat ice cream 12 months out of the year…but Penny, who is down under, is laying in the hot summer sun right now while I am knee deep in snow! Maybe not the best time of the year for me. I guess it is time to play reverse psychology with myself and turn a negative into a positive….my Sundae will call out for Spring to arrive asap!

But quickly before, the randomly picked winner of the What is your Color TEArapy Mood Contest is…drum roll please….Kate from DietHood.com. Congratulations!

About 10 years ago I discovered a place in Montreal – in a lost industrial corner of the city – called Cocktail Antabli, a place that specializes in exotic fruit cocktails and waffles. It is owned by a Lebanese family. After my first experience there it became a mandatory yearly pilgrimage at the very least once a year. The fruit cocktails are ginormous and filling….they are more then a meal on their own. But so good, especially the big gooey white topping with pistachios drizzled in honey. And I always picked one with the amazing avocado purée.

So for this challenge I decided to recreate my favorite fruit cocktail from this shop. Now a Sundae does require ice cream and there is none in the original version, so I decided to turn the avocado purée into avocado ice cream. My post may look daunting because there are several recipes…but they are all short and very quick. I highly recommend you make this treat. The secret is picking perfectly ripe and sweet fruits. Oh ad that gooey white stuff I found out is called Ashta. The trick when eating it is to go a bit under the ashta and only have a small portion of it with each spoonfull so you still have ashta left with your last bites. I was very pleased to find a recipe for it on one of my favorite blogs owned by Joumana, Taste of Beirut. OK here we go with the making of:

Lebanese Fruit Cocktail Sundae

Ingredients:
mango, strawberry, banana…sliced or cut
avocado ice cream (see below)
mango purée (see below)
strawberry coulis (see below)
ashta (see below)
pistachio
honey

Directions:

  1. In a very tall glass layer a bit of bananas and mangoes then cover with a bit of strawberry coulis.
  2. Next layer strawberries and cover with a bit of mango purée.
  3. Add a scoop of avocado ice cream.
  4. Repeat the 3 layers
  5. Top with a big scoop of ashta, crushes pistachio and a liberal drizzling of honey. Find a very long spoon!

Avocado Ice Cream Recipe

250ml heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
250ml milk
3 ripe avocados

Peel and seed the avocados, put into a blender with the milk and make a purée. Pour the purée into a mixing bowl, add the sugar, lemon juice and cream and beat until creamy. Transfer the mixture into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Mango Purée

flesh of 1/2 a mango
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar
Blend together to get a creamy purée.  If too thick, adjust consistency with water.

Strawberry Coulis

1 cup of strawberries, chopped
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar
Blend together to get a creamy coulis.  If too thick, adjust consistency with water.

Ashta, makes about 1 cup

2 slices of American-style white bread
500ml of half-and-half or 1/2 milk and 1/2 heavy cream
2  tablespoons   of cornstarch, diluted in a bit of water
1 Tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of orange blossom water, 1 teaspoon of rose water

  1. Start by cutting the edges off the bread. Cut the soft white part in dices.
  2. Pour the half-and-half or milk and cream mixture (or whole milk) in a heavy-bottomed saucepan; add the diced bread and let it soak in the milk mixture for as long as possible, a day if you can.
  3. Heat the milk and bread mixture, add the sugar; dilute the cornstarch in water; stir the milk mixture continuously until it starts to steam; add the cornstarch and keep stirring until the mixture thickens, making sure it does not burn (adjust the heat).
  4. Add the flavored waters if using, stir a few seconds more and remove from the heat. Pour into a bowl, let it cool and then cover with plastic and store in the fridge overnight to give the cream a chance to thicken.

International

 

Another Claudiadventure Jujube Style

Happy Chinese New Year and welcome to the rabbit!

On the Eve of Chinese New Year, supper is a feast with families. Food will include such items as pigs, ducks, chicken and sweet delicacies. The family will end the night with firecrackers. Early the next morning, children will greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes. The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone (wiki). The celebrations actually last 15 days which begin on the day of the New Moon.

The year of the rabbit, which starts Feb 3rd 2011, predicts a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves, a time to focus on home, family, friends and security. By surrounding yourself with a peaceful environment you will be able to deal calmly with issues or problems that may cross your path. Sounds good?

I am symbolically celebrating with friends in Chinatown this coming Saturday night. I can’t wait it should be a really fun night. Now for this post I wanted to stay with the theme and one of my ‘should have blogged a WAY long time ago’ ideas fits perfectly as I will introduce you to an exotic fruit which claims its origins in China: the Jujube.

I first discovered this fruit on a trip to Chinatown with my fellow food blogger and friend Claudia. I was the lead this time for our foodie day and I chose lunch and a bit of shopping in Chinatown to start. I took Claudia to Mon Nam for the 3 service duck special, then a bit of Chinese grocery shopping, followed by a trip to Monkland village for candies, cupcakes and the awesome Monkland Gourmet Cuisine cooking store. Please read Claudia’s post of our outing over at her blog Foodessa, she writes beautifully and I cannot top her description of our wonderful day.

But I digress, let’s get back to topic here, the Jujube. I love going to ethnic groceries store, buying an unknown produce and then researching it. The jujube was my victim this time around. I found them at this time in their fresh state but they go bad very quick unless you dry them properly. Fresh, the jujube has a bit of an apple look and taste, dried it resembles more a date. The jujube is actually nicknamed the Chinese Date and it is often marked as a date in the Asian grocery store.

Chinese traditional medicine claims this fruit has the power to alleviate stress and can help sore throats. As a food this fruit has been served as a sweet snack or in teas. Wine can even be made from jujubes. Finally jujubes is claimed to help people fall in love and is a sign of fertility.

The jujube originates from China and has been cultivated for over 4,000 years. Of course today it is grown in various parts of the world. When ripe the fruit is about the size of a plum and is yellowish green with mahogany spots. The pictures above indicate prime fresh ripeness, late summer to early fall. The flesh is crisp and white and tastes a little like an apple. In the middle you will mind a single hard stone. As mentioned before, they remains fresh a week max and then turn to mush.

In there dried state (see pics below) they will last indefinitely. I bought these again in Chinatown about a month later. You will find two forms or dried jujubes: dried on the tree or picked fresh and treated with sulfur as a preservative. Obviously this is not indicated when you buy it, but good to know. I did find a recipe here on how to dry them yourself naturally.

Since I had a bag full of these dried beauties I wanted to make them the star of a recipe…no small feat to find let me tell you. Finally I settled on this Jujube Cake recipe. A really easy and quick recipe to prepare, the result is a nice dense and chewy cake, like a date cake a bit, but lighter and fruitier.

Jujube Cake

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups dried, minced jujube
  • 1 cup water

Bring these to a boil then set aside to cool

  • 2 cups wheat flour (I used white AP flour)
  • 1 teaspoonful baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoonful salt

Sift these together then add to the above mixture. Bake at 325° F until toothpick comes out clean (sorry don’t remember how long it took, 20 ish min?)

Fall Day at the Market

We all get excited in the spring and summer to head out to the farmer’s market but we forget it can be just as fun and intriguing to go in the fall.

Enjoy the show from Jean-Talon Market!

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It is too bad furniture or kitchen shopping cannot be as easy and fun as fruits and veggies at the local farmer’s market. But but least there is ShopWiki.com to help in that department. This site lets you shop every single online store without trying to target you to a specific make or store. It is completely unbiased.

Whether you are looking for home accessories to add a little humph to your dining room, or a lamp to give a bit more light to the recipe book, and maybe a nice bed comforter that matches your brand new lazy morning breakfast in bed tray, Shopwiki will help you find the best deal while shopping in the comfort of you own home. But let’s go back to the market for now.

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Pics by Evelyne Budkewitsch and Susan Warford

Miracle Berry: Fruit Dropping Party

Hey, psst…wanna by some Miracle fruit tablets? Have you ever heard of the Miracle berry and the hallucinogenic games it can play in your mouth? This is the coolest thing! The Miracle berry is a fruit originally grown in West Africa and has been used for centuries but of course the word of mouth spread only after the European dropped in for a visit/invasion. This berry makes sour foods taste sweet.

The berries contains a glycoprotein molecule called miraculin which coats and binds to the tongue’s taste buds when eaten. Science has extracted this molecule and successfully created a edible tablet which does the same thing than eating the fruit. Scientists have made the tablet yet they still don’t know why the phenomenon occurs. The one thing they know for sure is that miraculin messes around with your taste bud receptors.

Ever since I read about the Miracle Berry I have been so eager to try it. After some online shopping I found miracle fruit tablets at a very reasonable price. Finally the packet arrived in the mail. Right away I sent out an email to invite a select group of friends to my Fruit Dropping Party.

Why is it called that? Best guess I have is you are meant to eat acidic food so I assume is is a play of dropping acid? Such parties are also nicknamed flavor tripping parties. Let me assure you miracle fruit tablets are not a drug and are perfectly legal. It is however a subject of controversy as well, see last paragraph.

We were a party of 8 guinea pigs for this tasting experiment. Everyone brought a food to contribute. We all took a tablet and let it dissolve in our mouth, making sure we swished it around the whole tongue. The tablet itself tasted quite sour ironically. Then we all felt a earthy/powdery residue on the tongue. Someone volunteered to take the first lemon bite. It worked! We all jumped on the acidic buffet. See Karyn here bite into a lemon…

It was the strangest food spread I had ever seen: oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruit, tamarind, unripe mango, tomatoes, strawberries, pickled vegetables, sourdough bread, goat cheese, sour cream, salt and vinegar chips, salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, a sour candy called Toxic Waste, red wine and Guiness.

Not everyone reacted the exact same way to all foods but all found foods unusually sweet. A lemon still tastes like a lemon…just really sweet. Same for all other citrus. Tomatoes and unripe mangoes were so sweet ans strawberries were almost to sugary. The sour cream, the bread and goat cheese only had a slight effect but there was an unusual sweetness to it. Vinegary foods were less tangy but still had a bit of kick to them. The toxic candies were still sour..perhaps because it is a chemical sourness? Guiness had a more chocolaty taste to it. Bit I think the biggest shock for all was red wine: it tasted like Kool-Aid made with 5 cups of sugar, it was unbelievable.

We just ate in amazement for about 40 min until we started noticing the effect of the tablets was slowly wearing off. The effects can last between 15 to 60 min. At this point some guest were really happy I had bought antacid tablets. You flavor perception made be different but your stomach sees no difference! Oh boy! Many had a slightly sensitive stomach the next day. But it is totally worth it once to try. We had such a blast.

I highly recommend this experience. It is not expensive so get some and have your own Fruit Dropping Party. Just make sure to supply a bottle of antacid tablets too!

By the way Miracle Fruit tablets are great for those lacking appetite due to the metallic taste resulting from chemotherapy. Diabetic patients and dieters can use it as a way to calm a sugar craving without the calories or playing with their sugar levels.

But the US government has put a stop to any such research. It is legal to grow,buy, sell and consume Miracle berries on their own. It cannot be added legally to foods though because the FDA suddenly decided to classify it as a possible food additive instead of a food (as first planned). Why? Well there are stories that the sugar industry was not to happy about the whole situation. All we do know for sure is that in 1974 the one company developing miraculin for the diabetic market had to close its doors when the FDA slapped the food additive label. Such a label involves years of research and a whole lot of money, more then the Miraculin Company could ever dream of having. Did I mention too that it is a fact the offices of the Miraculin Company were ransacked not log before the FDA stepped in? Hmm, make your own conclusions.