Posts Tagged 'dessert'

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.

Fruit Pizza

Fruit pizza was one of my standard potluck bring along dishes. It tastes good, is relatively easy to make, and it has a real Wow factor – rings of ripe fruit arranged on a creamy filling, glistening under a sweet glaze. It’s one of those items that when you walk in carrying your offering, there are murmurs and exclamations of food lust as guests follow you to the serving area. But oh my, was it ever high fat – 2 tubes of those refrigerated sugar cookies, a pound of cream cheese – at least 25 grams of fat/slice. This flew in the face of two of my basic principles: never bring anything to a potluck that you can’t eat, and never bring anything that if there are leftovers, you can’t eat them at home. But it had such a Wow factor!

This weekend, the fabulous photographer who did my picture for this blog was having his annual party at his garden on the roof of his downtown office building. It’s a great setting, with luxuriant plants (I have pepper envy just looking at his pepper plants), live music, interesting people, and good potluck food. Definitely time for a Wow offering, especially with summer fruit still coming on strong. So I lightened up the old stalwart, and it came out just fantastic.

By the way, I didn’t have to be concerned about leftovers. The whole thing was gone in 15 minutes.

Fruit Pizza

The pizza is made in three steps: the crust that can be baked a day ahead if necessary, the cream cheese layer, and the fruit.

Crust ingredients
3 Tablespoons of butter
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 i/2 Tablespoons sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 ounces light (reduced fat) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg
3 Tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Cooking spray

Cream cheese layer ingredients
2 eight ounce packages of non fat cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons of non-fat sour cream
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Fruit (see fruit note below)
1 cup of apricot jam

To make the crust: This is a sugar cookie recipe from Have Your Cake and Eat it Too that I used to take the place of the refrigerated cookie dough. This crust was actually much better than the refrigerated dough – it was thinner and crisper and tasted less chemical and more home-baked. This sounds recipe complicated, but it is relatively easy to do, and the dough can be made ahead and frozen.

Melt the butter over medium heat and cook until the butter turns golden brown and fragrant. Be careful not to burn the butter (Browning the butter enhances the flavor, so that you can use less of it.) While the butter is melting, measure the sifted flour into a medium bowl.

Pour the browned butter into a small bowl and whisk in 2 tablespoons of the flour. Place the mixture in the freezer until it is solid, about 10-15 minutes. Add the baking powder, salt, and confectioners’ sugar to the remaining flour and whisk together. Using the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the granulated sugar and the cream cheese on medium speed. Add the egg, oil, vanilla, and almond extract to the cream cheese and beat well.

Scrape the frozen butter mixture into the flour mixture. With your fingertips, pinch the butter into the flour, creating coarse flakes. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat with the electric mixer until well-incorporated, scraping the bowl once or twice. If the dough is too sticky, gradually add 1-2 tablespoons of flour. Gather the dough into three balls, then roll each of them out into a log about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the dough logs tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for several hours. (You can freeze this dough for up to two months).

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a large pizza pan with cooking spray (my pizza pan is 15 inches in diameter. A somewhat smaller pan would work, but not one of those frozen pizza size pans. My pan is also old and a bit battered so I cover it with aluminum foil before I bake on it.) Taking one frozen dough log out of the freezer at a time, and using a very sharp knife, slice the logs into 1/8 inch thick slices. Starting at the outside of the pan, arrange the dough slices on the pan to cover the surface. Don’t overlap them. Don’t be concerned if there are holes in your crust, or if they don’t quite fill the entire pan. Once all the dough has been used, the dough on the pan will have defrosted and become pliable. Use your fingers to gently spread the dough toward the center of the pan and to fill in any gaps. The dough should be somewhat even throughout the pan. Don’t worry about it looking good, it will be completely covered when you assemble the fruit pizza.. Bake the crust in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, or until it turns golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack in the pan until it is completely cool. At this point, you can wrap the crust and keep it overnight if necessary.

To make the cream cheese layer: Beat all of the ingredients together with an electric mixer on medium speed. Scrape the bowl several times. Make sure that all the lumps are gone.

Fruit Note: It is hard to give an absolute measure for the fruit, because it depends on the size and type of fruit you use. I usually prepare quite a bit, and use what is necessary.

You can use any kind of soft, ripe fruit – I don’t think apples or pears would work unless they are cooked before hand. I have made this with alternating circles of red and green grapes, used peeled kiwi sliced and pitted halved cherries, and used canned pineapple pieces and mandarin oranges in the winter when fresh fruit and berries are scarce. The selection is up to you. Cut larger fruit, like nectarines or peaches thin, halve grapes and strawberries. This will make the pizza easier to slice.

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.

Using a spatula, spread the cream cheese mixture on the cooled crust, spreading it to the edges. Carefully arrange the fruit in concentric circles starting with the outside ring which should come right to the edge of the pizza. Fruit should touch the adjacent piece of fruit, so there is not much of the cream cheese layer showing. When the fruit is arranged, melt the apricot jam (or preserves) until it becomes liquid. Some people like to strain the jam to remove the larger pieces, but I usually don’t. Gently brush the jam over the entire pizza, forming a glaze on the fruit and filling in any gaps between the fruit. 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.


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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