Posts Tagged 'dessert'

Plum Clafouti

We picked the rest of the plums, the ones that were too high in the tree to reach from the ground. Unfortunately, the little sugar bees had discovered the split plums and the tree was full of them.  In order to avoid getting stung, we whacked the tree with a stick and picked up the plums as they fell to the ground.  There are a lot of plums. Two buckets full.

plum bucket

While we were whacking the tree and causing plums to rain down, a mother deer and her still spotted fawn stood in the field about 200 feet away and watched us.  She knew exactly what we were doing. I expect she is the orphan fawn that lived in the brush beside the fruit trees last year.  She knows all about plums, since I always throw the bird pecked fruit on the ground..  When we walked away from the tree and stood a few feet away talking, mother and fawn crept up and began eating the leftover plums. My friend went back to get the stick he had used, and she ran off about 50 feet away and stood and screamed at him until we went inside.

I made this recipe not just to use up plums, but because I love the word clafouti.  A clafouti is a baked French dessert that is typically made by baking fresh fruit (traditionally cherries) and a batter in a baking dish.  Clafoutis are typically desserts, but I think you would need a sauce over them to make an interesting dessert. They are quite eggy, and I ate it as a breakfast dish  (egg batter and fruit, what could be nicer for breakfast.)  I actually think it would make a rather nice brunch dish.  This recipe was modified from a Cooking Light fig clafouti – after all I have plums to use up, not figs

Plum Clafouti

½ pound Italian plums, pitted and thinly sliced
Cooking spray
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1½ cups fat free milk
½ cup fat free half and half
½ teaspoon grated orange rind
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ cup egg substitute

Preheat oven to 375°. Coat a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate or a 7 ½ x 11 baking dish with cooking spray. Place plums in bottom of dish.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon, in a bowl. Gradually add half of milk, stirring with a whisk. Stir in remaining milk, fat free half and half, rind, egg and egg substitute. Pour batter over plums. Bake at 375° for 1 hour or until set; cool. This is one of those dishes that puffs up to the top of the dish, and then caves in as it cools.  This make 6 servings at one gram of fat/serving.

plum clafouti


Ported Plums

My plum tree is covered in plums!  Stanley (that’s the tree’s name. It’s a Stanly plum tree) has dark dusky plums hanging in clusters everywhere.

plum tree

Now Stanley was not always a prolific tree. In fact, for the first five years, he bore no fruit, despite the fact that he grew full and leafy and made delightful shade. Stanleys are self-pollinating, so I was rather disappointed in his lack of productivity. Then I bought a tall, elegant self-pollinating cherry tree that I planted next to Stanly. The very first summer, that tree produced a handful of sweet, succulent cherries. So I took the handful of cherries and held them out in front of Stanley. “This” I told him firmly, “is what you are supposed to do. If I don’t see plums next year, I’m going to chop you down and put in another cherry tree.”  Next summer, Stanley produced over 40 pounds of plums. Don’t tell me it’s because of the presence of a pollinating tree next to him. I don’t want to hear science. I want to think that my stern lecture worked. In subsequent years, he’s varied in production from 5 pounds to 30-40 pounds. Last year he sulked because I had him pruned. This is a 40 pound year, I’m sure.

I’ve been out in the cool of the morning picking plums. I picked about 5 pounds when they were really not at peak ripeness, but if I wait to pick them when they are all perfectly ripe, I’ll have 40 pounds of ripe plums to deal with.  Besides, I rather like the tart sweet flavor of the young plums. (Warning – these are sometimes called prune plums.  If you eat them by the handful – well, you know the result!) The plums are also great to cook with at this stage.  Then I picked all of the plums I could reach standing on the ground and bending down the branches. There are still a lot of plums up higher in the tree, which require a ladder to pick.

plum counter

One of my favorite things to do with Stanley plums is to poach them in port and top them with sour cream or whipped cream. (I think this would also be good with other sweet wines, such as sherry). This is really not a precise recipe.  Put plums (as many as you want to eat or serve) in a heavy pot. You can pit them if you want or cook them with the pits in.  Pour port wine into the pot about half way up the plums. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer, turning them over occasionally, until the plums are soft but still hold their shape. This is very sweet; you do’t need to add sugar. Serve warm, topped with non-fat sour cream.  This has essentially 0 grams of fat.

plum ported

For guests, you can also top them with a dollop of whipped cream.  Or cook them down so they are mushy and a spoon them over low fat ice cream – but be sure to count the fat grams in the whipped cream or ice cream.

Now excuse me while I dine on ported plums and a cup of hot tea and drift off for a nap.

Creamy Blueberry Torte

I still have at least a pound of blueberries to use – and I noticed they’re on sale again this week. You know I’m going to get more.  I can’t help myself. I need a berry intervention. This dessert tastes better than it looks. Mine came out kind of lumpy looking. It is sort of like a cheesecake with whole blueberries, but creamier.  It’s nice because it can be served warm or chilled, which means that you can make it ahead if you’re busy.  I think that the original recipe was from Cooking Light. I didn’t dust it with confectioner’s sugar to serve it, because I really don’t like things dusted with confectioner’s sugar.  It’s so messy and usually makes things too sweet.

Creamy Blueberry Torte

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup canola oil
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon melted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
¼ cup egg substitute
2/3 cup non-fat sweetened condensed milk
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1½ cups nonfat plain yogurt
grated zest of one lemon
3 cups blueberries
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Add oil, egg whites, butter, and one teaspoon vanilla. Mix with a fork or your fingers until well blended. Press evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg substitute, condensed milk, and cornstarch until smooth. Add yogurt and whisk until smooth. Stir in the lemon zest and remaining teaspoon of vanilla. Pour the mixture over the crust. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over the top. Bake the torte for 1¼ to 1½ hours or until the top is just set. Let cool in the pan on a rack. Loosen edges by sliding a knife around the torte, and remove the pan’s outer ring. Serve warm or chilled.  Makes 12 servings at about 6 grams of fat/serving.

creamy blueberry torte3

Blueberry Crisp

In my usual fervor to purchase fresh produce on sale, I bought four pounds of blueberries. Yes, you read correctly: four pounds. After all, summer is short, and soon blueberries will be sold in tiny containers for $4 a piece, making them a rare treat.  But four pounds is a lot of blueberries. I have had them on my morning cereal, sprinkled on cottage cheese, and mixed in fruit salad.  There are still a lot left. So when friends came by to help me load my little truck up with bookcases and the like to take to our garage sale, I knew what I had to do – blueberry crisp.  I bought 2 kinds of frozen yogurt to top the crisp: peach and lemon.  This recipe was originally for a cherry crisp, and it was posted by Veggie Belly. She made it in individual dishes, but I baked it in a pan.  I may make it again with cherries, since I bought too many of them as well.

I still have a lot of blueberries left. Be prepared for more blueberry recipes.

Blueberry Crisp

For blueberry mixture
2 cups fresh blueberries (I think frozen would work in this, too)
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 Tablespoons water (1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon corn starch

For streusel topping

3/4 cup flour
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons white sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Spray an 8” square baking dish with cooking spray

Place the blueberries and sugar in a saucepan. Cook on medium-high heat for about 4 minutes or untill the blueberries are lightly softened. Mix the corn starch and water together and add it to the blueberries. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring, or till the mixture thickens.

To make the streusel topping, combine the flour, brown and white sugars, cinnamon and salt together. Mix well. Then pour in the melted butter. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until it forms a crumbly mixture.  Spoon the blueberry mixture into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the topping has slightly browned. Make 6 small servings at 9 grams of fat/serving.  This is a little higher in fat than most of my desserts, so serve it with a light dinner.

blueberry crisp

Here it is topped with peach frozen yogurt.

Irish Whiskey Bread Pudding

The much prophesied 50 degree weather has not materialized.  It is still quite cold. And there is a hellish new form of precipitation pouring from the sky – grauple.  At least that’s what the weather people called it. Grauple is small, hard, icy snow pellets that can fall in a “shower” – it is snowflakes that have partially melted and refrozen. It hurts when it hits you, if you happen to have been innocently going to the bank when it began to grauple.

So there is a need for yet more comfort food.  I also needed to use up more leftovers, namely the Irish Soda Bread, which is now quite stale but still has almost half a bread left.

Irish Whiskey Bread Pudding

5 cups stale (or toasted) Irish soda bread or raisin bread
1  cup fat free milk
1 cup fat free half and half (or use 2 cups of fat free milk if you don’t have fat free half and half)
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup Irish whiskey
1½ teaspoons  vanilla extract
½ cup egg substitute
1/3 cup regular or golden raisins (optional)
Cooking spray

Cut bread into ½ inch squares. Combine skim milk, fat free half and half, brown sugar, whiskey, vanilla extract, and egg substitute in a large bowl; stir well. Add bread cubes and raisins; toss gently. Cover and chill 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Spoon mixture into a 9-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 25 minutes or until pudding is set.  Makes 6 servings with about 2.3 grams of fat/serving. This bread pudding was actually better than the bread.  It made me want to snuggle under the down blanket and forget about the weather, which I did.


And yes, that’s whipped cream on the bread pudding.  Remember, you can have whipped cream if you weigh it to count the fat grams.

Apple-Honey Fruit Pizza

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when Jews acknowledge their weaknesses, ask forgiveness, and vow to do better this year. Traditionally, people fast from sundown the night before to sundown on Yom Kippur day, and end the day with a break-the-fast feast.  Besides the feast, there are several things I love about this holiday:

  • You don’t just ask for forgiveness for sins against G-d, which you are granted, but for your transgressions against others, asking for them to forgive you also;
  • You read through a long list of sometimes humorous sins you might have committed, including being a zealot for bad causes (my favorite);
  • You ask to be forgiven for vows you have broken this past year, and, by the way, if you make vows this year and try as hard as you can and can’t fulfill them, then please forgive them too, in advance (I have a lawyer friend who says this is his favorite.);
  • You are asked not why you haven’t been as great as Moses, but why you haven’t been true to the best in yourself.

And now for the feast.  Our congregation has a potluck, and they assign either sweets or salads and side dishes by last name in the alphabet.  I got desserts, and decided to make a fruit pizza with honey and apples, traditional foods for this holiday. Remember the Wow factor of fruit pizza. (I am sure that food vanity, as well as food lust, is one of my weaknesses.) I know I said earlier that you probably couldn’t use hard fruit like apples on a fruit pizza, but I hadn’t thought of cooked apples – a revelation.

Apple-Honey Fruit Pizza

Cookie dough crust

I made the cookie dough crust the same way as before, with two exceptions: I left out the almond extract, and instead, when I mixed the dry ingredients, (flour, etc.,) I added 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg.  This made a nice, autumn-tasting cookie crust.

I also tried a new technique.  I cut a big circle of parchment paper and sprayed the bottom of the pan with cooking spray to hold it down.  Then I sprayed the top of the parchment paper with cooking spray before I put down the crust.  This solved a big problem for me, which is that my pizza pans are old and reprehensible looking, and must be covered with aluminum foil.  But the cookie crust always stuck to the aluminum foil when you cut up the fruit pizza.  This way, the crust lifted fight off the parchment and cooled on a rack.  I could freshly cover the pizza pan with foil to make it publicly acceptable, and plunk the crust on it to assemble.  Parchment paper is my friend.

Cream cheese layer:  I made this the same way as usual.

Apple-honey topping

Apples, peeled and cored
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup of honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Use firm apples that won’t turn to mush when you cook them.  I used Jonagold, but there are lots of good cooking apples this time of year. I needed 6 apples.  It’s going to depend on the size of your apples.  I would cook extra (you can always eat them).  Cut the apples lengthwise in about 1/2 inch wide slices. I cut mine into quarters and then each quarter into 5-6 pieces. Again, this depends on the size of your apples.  Put the apples in a large pan with the water and sugar.  Cover and cook over a low heat until they are tender, stirring gently occasionally so they cook evenly.  Watch them carefully. You don’t want them to turn into apple mush – you want them in distinct pieces.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the apples from the pan and spread on a flat surface (like a cookie sheet) to cool.

To make the honey glaze, heat the honey and cinnamon in a small bowl, stirring to incorporate the cinnamon (I didn’t stir it in well enough, and had to remove a couple of globs of cinnamon, which you can see in the photo.)  I heated the honey in the microwave. Allow to cool slightly.

Assembly: The fruit pizza can be assembled a couple of hours before you serve it, but it doesn’t hold for a long time, because the crust will get soggy. To assemble, spread the cream cheese topping over the cooled cookie crust. Gently place the apple slices in concentric rings on top of the filling.  Be careful not to squish the apples when you are handling them.  Once the apples are in place, gently spoon the honey-cinnamon glaze over the fruit pizza. Refrigerate the pizza, uncovered, for 20 minutes to allow the glaze to set. This is especially important if you are going to wrap it to take somewhere. Slice with a pizza cutter or a sharp knife. 12 servings with 6 grams of fat/serving, or 16 servings at 4.4 grams of fat/serving.

In this next year, may you be true to the best in yourself.

Saffron Yogurt Dessert (Shrikand)

In Mumbai, where I lived back when it was called Bombay, this simple dessert showed up at festive occasions.  Weddings, naming ceremonies, and other happy family occasions were sweetened with small servings of shrikand. It’s easy to make, requires no cooking, and keeps well when refrigerated.  It also looks very exotic with its deep yellow color and saffron scent.

Saffron Yogurt Dessert (Shrikand)

2 Tablespoons of hot milk
1/4 teaspoon crushed saffron
2 cups of non-fat yogurt
1 cup of non-fat sour cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/3 cup golden raisins

Sprinkle saffron over 2 tablespoons of very hot milk for 20 minutes.  Soak raisins in warm water for 20 minutes.  Mix yogurt and sour cream (plain American non-fat yogurt is much tarter than Indian yogurt, and doesn’t have the right texture). Beat in sugar, cardamom, and the saffron with its milk. Drain raisins and add to the mixture.  This makes 6 servings, with virtually no fat/serving.

Variation: This dish is often served with pistachio nuts mixed in. Kesar pista (saffron pistachio) is a very popular flavor in western India.  You can add a quarter of a cup of chopped unsalted toasted pistachios to the mix (or sprinkle them on top of each serving).This will make your servings about 3 grams of fat.

Variation 2: Instead of the cardamom, add a tablespoon of rose water.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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