You know those tiny little jars of jam or preserves you see when traveling? Well, I have a confession… I like to pocket swipe them. I can’t help myself. We were on vacation eating breakfast and there they were on the table just taunting me. A cute little display caddy full of jam. Okay- for the record I only pocketed 3 of them. Not too bad, right?
“When you are paying for an expensive hotel and the breakfast is included in your price, you are allowed-you paid for it”.
[That's what The Husband said]
Just so you can get the full mental visual effect of what was going through my mind as I threw those puppies into my tote bag]. You know I’m a jam hoarder-I’ve talked about this before. It’s the perfect “crime” for me since living in Taipei the refrigerators here are very small and don’t allow me my full jam hoarding tendencies. There is no room in the fridge for such jam collecting.
For this recipe, pick your favorite preserve and use up the little bits of jam you have hanging out in the chill box. You know you have at least 2 of them in there right now with sad tiny bits in the bottom. Try to steer away from anything too sweet as the frangipane tastes best with something a little on the tart side. Sour cherry jam, red or black currant, apricot, or raspberry all work well. You can freeze any leftover frangipane filling. Frangipane tastes pretty darn good just right off the spoon too. I’m just sayin’…
Frangipane-Jam Mini Tarts
(makes about 2 cups of filling)
90 gm unsalted butter, softened
100 gm castor sugar
100 gm finely ground almonds (almond meal)
1 Lg. egg
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla or vanilla bean paste
1 tsp. orange zest
(sliced almonds for garnish)
Jam/Preserves of your choice (I used apricot and black currant)
1. Make the pastry ahead of time as per below. Prepare a mini muffin tin by placing a round of pastry into each well; crimp or mark the edges of pastry as desired.
2. Make filling: In a medium bowl combine the soft butter, sugar and ground almond meal. Add the egg, extract, vanilla and orange zest and beat with a spoon well to combine.
3. Fill your unbaked tart shells almost to the top and then top off with about 1/2 tsp. of jam or preserves. Sprinkle with a few sliced almonds. Bake at 350° F or 180° C for about 14 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely. Sprinkle with Icing sugar if desired.
Shortcrust Pastry Dough
4 oz. all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
2 oz. unsalted butter cubed small, kept cold
2-3 Tbsp. ice water (amt. as needed)
1. In a medium bowl combine the flour, salt and butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add in just enough water one tablespoon at a time by stirring with a rubber spatula until mixture comes together. Gather mixture together into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap for at least 15 minutes to chill before rolling out. Roll out pastry thinly and cut into rounds.
Hello cupcakes, sorry for being a bit absent of late. We have been traveling around Hong Kong and Macau while The Husband does some business. I thought I would share some of my photos with you until I get back to Taipei. All of these are taken with my trusty iPod, so excuse any lopsided shots.
St. Dominic’s church-Macau
Aberdeen Fishing Port-Aberdeen Hong Kong
Ruins of St. Paul-Macau
Seth admiring a beautiful slice…
I love the patterned paved streets of Macau
High tea at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong (I loved the rose petal jam)
High tea at the Mandarin Oriental hotel-Hong Kong
Let me tell you about “Pineapple Bob”.
Well, that’s my secret name for him. Surely he has some eloquent proper Chinese name (which most likely I can’t pronounce anyway) so he will be forever known as pineapple Bob to me. I see him about everyday as I pass by on the street. He sets up ‘shop’ 2 blocks from our apartment. He sells beautiful sweet pineapples. I’m sure his mother is proud. No, seriously. Do something, and do it well would be the motto here.
Bob does pineapple. Bob has a blue truck. That’s all you need to know. It’s a beautiful thing.
Oh–and one more thing–Bob has a seriously sharp knife. Ssshing! Jump back Loretta!
You want a ripe juicy, fragrant pineapple? Bob is your man. No stupid goofy smelling or sharp thorny crown pulling needed by you. Thank God, no pineapple stress!! You are not at the Piggly Wiggly here. Just pluck one from the truck, hand it to Bob and it is bound to be awWeSomme.. 🎶. With his trusty BAD ASS cleaver Bob strips the rind clean off the pineapple for you right there in about 3.2 seconds. Don’t EVEN think about blinking. No joke. It’s like weird performance art (in a good way). The pineapple is left with the core intact and he places the whole shebang in a little plastic bag for you. (Depending on the type- most of the cores of pineapples here in Taiwan are softer and you can eat the core). God has given you a bonus fiber boost, so eat it. Yes siree Bob.
Taiwan is known for its pineapples (I’m told there are several varieties-more than 16 even). Some of the types of pineapple here include: the atemoya ice-cream-tree pineapple, winter honey pineapple, ice cream pineapple, fragrant apple pineapple, and perfume pineapple.
Originally, I was going to take all sorts of photos of different pineapples but I was starting to feel a bit like a fruit groupie with my camera, so I cut it down to A few. I’ve kind of become obsessed with scouting out all the different types of pineapples. In my travels I’ve seen short stubby types with really short crowns, mini pineapples, large pineapples with very long flexible soft crowns and everything in between.
I’m dedicating my post to the Taiwanese pineapple! and more importantly, to Bob. Rock on dude. Word.
Poached Vanilla Spiced Pineapple
recipe: John Barricelli (The Seasonal Baker)
2 Cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. whole white peppercorns
1 ripe pineapple
In a medium saucepan combine the sugar along with 2 cups water. Stir, then bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and add the vanilla bean paste, star anise, cinnamon and peppercorns. Let steep for one hour. Set a fine strainer over a large bowl and strain the syrup, reserving the spices (to add back later). Return the syrup to a clean saucepan.
2. Cut off the top and bottom of the pineapple. Quarter the pineapple lengthwise and remove core [unless you live in Taiwan ] Remove all outer prickly layer. Chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Add the pineapple to the syrup and simmer for 2-5 minutes until fruit is tender when pierced with a skewer. Pour the contents into a large bowl and allow contents to cool, about one hour. Add back in the spices for storage. Chill in the fridge for about 2-3 hours to become cold. Serve pineapple along side panna cotta, over ice cream or thick greek yogurt. BTW- A little bit of the syrup is amazing stirred into ice tea.
I apologize for the dark and a bit out of focus grainy photos below- I took them rather quickly flying by with my ipod as I was trying to be a bit inconspicuous…(I didn’t want Bob to think I was a weird pineapple nut job groupie).
“Pineapple Bob” getting ready to set up shop
This is another type of pineapple-(not from Bob’s truck) but notice how the crown looks different.
p.s. you might also like my recipe for Taiwanese Pineapple Cakes
Coconut panna cotta is what you are looking for when it’s hot and sticky and you want something cold and creamy but not necessarily ice cream. This is the perfect treat. Super creamy, smooth and cold it is a nice treat on an afternoon after running errands. At least that is my excuse and I’m sticking with it. This is also a great dessert for a summer dinner party since you can make it up ahead of time. Enjoy the summer.
Coconut Panna Cotta
recipe: Donna Hay
yield: 4 servings
2 tsp. warm water
1 tsp. powdered gelatin
2 Cups coconut cream
1/4 Cup castor sugar
2 tsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1. In a small bowl place warm water and sprinkle gelatin mixture over the water evenly. Set aside for 5 minutes to bloom. Brush 4 cups or containers lightly with vegetable oil.
2. In a small saucepan place coconut cream, sugar, lime juice and vanilla. Bring just to a boil. Add the bloomed gelatin and stir and heat gently over medium low heat until gelatin mixture is incorporated. Pour mixture into containers and place in the fridge to chill and become set.
3. When panna cotta is set, take them out from the fridge and using your index finger pull gently away from the side of the containers to release the air seal. Choose a plate you want to serve the panna cotta on and place over the container, then turn over to release the panna cotta onto the plate.
4. Serve panna cotta cold with tropical fruit such as mango or pineapple.
I’m very intrigued by lychees. They are what I call “ugly pretty”. Pretty but in an ugly sort of way. Rough and a bit prickly on the outside, but glossy translucent dreamy white on the inside. Truth be told if you buy them in the can they really are ugly, so try to find them in Asian markets if you are lucky enough to live near an Asian market so you can appreciate their true beauty. The smell is something that you can’t really begin to describe. You have to smell one once in your life to appreciate the fragrance. They smell very floral. When you peel back the leathery prickly skin they are so incredibly juicy that it is hard to peel one without getting juice all over you. This batter works well with very ripe bananas also, so if you can’t find lychees try the banana chunks. Either way they are delicious.
Lychee and Banana Fritters
1 Cup flour
1/2 Cup sugar + more for rolling
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil + more for frying
5 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 Lg. egg
1-2 very ripe bananas, cut into 1 inch chunks
10 lychees, peeled, pitted, and cut in half (fresh or canned)
1. In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients. In a liquid measuring cup whisk the wet ingredients; vegetable oil through the egg. Make a well and pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir with a fork to combine. Blot the lychees dry with paper towels. Drop both of the fruit pieces into the batter and stir to coat the fruit. Prepare a separate small bowl with granulated sugar to roll the fritters in once out of the fryer.
2. Heat 2 inches of oil in a deep saucepan to 340 degrees F. Using a tablespoon scoop batter covered fruit and carefully spoon into the oil (using another spoon to scrape off into oil works best). Note the batter will be very wet and it may seem like a lot of the batter drips off–that is fine–just do the best you can. You will have irregular shaped fritters. Fry the fritters for about 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from the oil and immediately roll in granulated sugar and let cool on paper towel lined plate.