“Pineapple Bob” and Poached Pineapple in Vanilla Spiced Syrup

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.. ūüé∂. 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.

spiced poached pineapple

spiced pineapple

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 ūüôā ] 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).

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“Pineapple Bob” getting ready to set up shop

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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

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Lychee and Banana Fritters

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 Fritters 2

Lychee Fritter 1

lychee unpeeled

lychee peeled

Lychees on plate

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.


Churnless Banana-Mango Frozen Yogurt

First of all, I want to thank all my readers for coming back each week to read my blog. Second, I want to inform my wonderful blog family that I¬†¬† (We- The Husband, Son and thee) have moved. MOVED as in FAR AWAY from California. We moved to the “beautiful island” of¬† Formosa known as Taiwan.

Taiwan is my husband’s¬†birthplace-just so you know I’m not totally crazy¬† baked moving to a foreign country (only half crazy baked). ¬†I will continue to post my treats and you might notice a slight tropical or Asian flare sometimes with the choices I bring to my recipes, but American style treats¬†will continue to be a large presence on my blog.

By request from my friends and family-I am also going to try to post more pictures (other than just food porn), so you can enjoy my discovery of Taipei/Taiwan along with me. I am having such a blast discovering all the amazing food and especially the fruit here in Taiwan. I cannot get enough of the fruit. To kick off my most recent fascination of mangos, I chose this recipe from Donna Hay.

Last week I bought some ripe mangos at the out-door market here in my neighborhood and they were so amazingly sweet I had to go back for more this week. Did I mention I love the fruit here?!  I keep telling my friends back in the States that the fruit here in Taiwan is so freaking amazing, and I have to admit I never had a mango that tasted so good until I moved here. The mangos here have a flesh that is soft and silky and not fibrous at all. The bananas in this recipe are there more for the creamy texture that they bring to the party rather than the taste, so restrain yourself from using bananas that are overripe as that is not what is required in this recipe.

banana mango frozen yogurt

cut mango

UbikesBiking around Taipei is easy and convenient thanks to the Ubike system. Notice how clean the streets and sidewalks are. No grafitti.

Bullish in the parkIsn’t he cute? spotted him in the park while walking back to the Taipei City Hall metro stop.

Banana-Mango Frozen Yogurt

recipe: Donna Hay

yield: 4-6 servings

1 Cup thick plain yogurt, cold

2 ripe (not overipe) bananas

3 ripe mangos

1. Cut the bananas and mangos and place in ziplock bags. Freeze until firm-about 3 hours.

2. Place the yogurt first in a Vitamix or blender. Top with the frozen fruit and process until smooth. You may serve at that point which will give you a more soft serve texture. To continue until firm, place the finished frozen yogurt in an air-tight freezer safe container and freeze until firm.


Pineapple Mint Ice Pops

Before you know it, the dog days of summer will be here, (WOOF!) and everything will seem unbearably hot. In the next instantРyou will be scratching your head wondering where the summer went as you cover your plants to prevent frost. Does it not happen that fast?

The day the mercury reaches 90 is when you realize you do not have a tank top (silly you for waiting until July) and you will head to the mall to find winter coats on display. What- you were not aware you passed into that parallel universe of seasons?

Sitting on the porch, with your heels kicked up, the music playing a soft Marvin Gaye in the background…The kids are at the movie theatre with their friends, the husband is out playing golf and it’s just you and the dog staring at each other. Woof.

Yes, I hate to tell you, but you¬†are panting just like the dog. Woof. That’s why he’s staring…

Pull this ice pop out of the freezer, kick back, close your eyes and enjoy the solitude,¬†and try to forget you were too late in buying a tank top, ’cause it doesn’t really matter…relaxing is what matters.

Tank top be damned.

Pineapple Mint Ice Pops

Pineapple Mint Ice Pops 2

Pineapple Mint Ice Pops

yield: ~ 6-9 pops (depending on size of molds)

one pineapple (rind removed, cored) cut into chunks + it’s own juice OR one 20 oz. can chunk pineapple packed in juice

Sugar (to taste-1/4 Cup to 1/3 Cup)

8-10 mint leaves, washed

In a blender place the pineapple including all the juice, and the sugar and blend until smooth.  Add the mint and pulse the blender until mint is the size of very small flecks (about 3 pulses). Let the mixture sit about 10 minutes (bubbles will float to the surface). Pour the mixture into popsicle molds and tap the molds on the counter to release any bubbles. Freeze for 40 minutes and insert wooden popsicle sticks. Continue to freeze until firm.


Tangerine Mini Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream and Candied Kumquats

Being a foodie, I like to be intrigued by trying foods I’ve never had before. The kumquat suddenly¬†intrigued me. For years I had always walked by that little mysterious orange fruit and never paid it any attention. This year though something happened that was unexpected. It was kind of whispering my name from afar. Just me and the little fruit in the produce aisle. Beckoning me to come over and say hi. A slight flirt and tease-as to say, well hello there-why have you not noticed me before? Kind of like the¬†quirky¬†guy in chemistry class who you suddenly notice one day is kind of cute and a lot less quirky¬†and lo¬†and behold he was there all along. You just never noticed before because you were too busy with your bunsen burner. Sorry for the ninth grade flashback. Anywho~ the kumquat. It was daring me to buy it and take it home and make something yummy with it. So I did. It was cute and quirky, but very tasty.

kumquats clustered 2

Candied Kumquats 2

                           Candied Kumquats

Tangerine Cupcakes 5

Tangerine Cupcakes 3

Tangerine

Tangerine Mini Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream & Candied Kumquats

Candied Kumquats

1 pint kumquats, washed, stems removed

1/3 Cup water

1 Cup granulated sugar

2 Tbsp. corn syrup

Slice the washed kumquats into thin slices; about 3-4 slices for each kumquat, being careful to discard all seeds. In a heavy saucepan combine the water, sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil and add in the sliced kumquats. Reduce to simmer and simmer for about 5 minutes until the slices are translucent. Turn off the heat and remove from the heat and allow the kumquats to cool in the syrup. Store kumquats in the syrup in a glass jar in the refrigerator. They will keep for several weeks. (The citrus syrup is great over crepes or drizzled over a warm biscuit with butter).

Cupcakes

(yield: ~ 36 mini cupcakes)

1  1/2 Cups cake flour

1  1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2  Cup unsalted butter, softened

1  1/4 Cup granulated sugar

2 Lg eggs

zest of one tangerine

3 Tbsp. fresh squeezed tangerine juice

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp. vanilla will do)

1/3 Cup milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a mini muffin tin(s) with paper liners or use a silicon pan if you can.

2. Sift (or whisk) together the dry ingredients and set aside.

3. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy on medium high speed until fluffy; about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Stop the mixer from time to time to scrape the bowl as needed. Add in the zest, orange juice and vanilla and beat to combine. Reduce the speed to low and add in the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in two additions; ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.

4. Fill each cupcake well to 3/4 full and bake for 18-20 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for about 7 minutes then remove to a wire rack to continue cooling. Frost with buttercream when cooled and garnish with a slice of candied kumquat.

Vanilla Buttercream

2 Lg. egg whites

1/2 Cup sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 tsp. vanilla

orange gel food coloring paste (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine egg whites and sugar. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl and place on mixer and beat until stiff meringue forms and bottom of mixer bowl is cool to touch; about 5 minutes. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Add vanilla,  then beat until smooth. Add the optional orange food gel paste if using, stir to combine.