{No Bake/Vegetarian Dessert} TROPICAL FRUIT VERRINES… Stoned this summer!

“Give me book, fruit, French wine, and fine weather and a little music out of doors played by someone I do not know”
John Keats
 


We’ve been stoned nice and proper this summer! No, no, it’s not what you think. It’s just that we’ve had a wonderful bounty of stone fruit, and just when I think it’s the end of the season, the vibrant bazaar and the vendor tempt me back with more fruit to offer! A few days ago, my favourite fruit-vendor promised me another week of peaches. Just when I heaved a sigh of relief that I still had time, and there was really no need for ‘fruit’ panic, he showed the most luscious peaches. I had walked into the trap!

Got back home with a kilo of the most gorgeous peaches, and had them peeled and pitted in next to no time. Had several thoughts of what to do with them. Then my Dad dropped by for lunch, so they were hurriedly chopped up and served with a lightly sweetened cream! Classic and so comforting in every spoonful, ‘Peaches and Cream‘ have to be the most simple yet luxurious dessert to serve in a jiffy!
Predictably, I was back to the shop that afternoon to get another kilo of peaches. I had Tropical Fruit Verrines from Tartlette on my mind, and this years bounty of stone fruit ensured that I could chase  this unfulfilled foodie dream! A bag of peaches, a fridge full of mangoes, kiwi fruit and a jar of preserved cherries. {I preserved those in May} were all singing to me. Could see a very happy family in the near future! Toyed with using just hung yogurt in the topping, but then in last minute decision thought that a little low fat cream wouldn’t do too much harm, so in it went. A scraped vanilla bean in the topping tied it all up deliciously!
The verrine originated from France, and is a dessert or appetizer made by layering different ingredients in a single serving glass. It can be either sweet or savoury, and makes an attractive presentation. I’ve never tried making a savoury one, but have heard of layered salads, appetizers etc which are becoming a culinary trend. They are a display of art, and often offer a fascinating blend of colours, textures and complimentary flavours! Another plus is that this one can be made in advance, and the flavours mature beautifully. It is entirely customizable to taste. It’s fun to play around with the layers and ingredients.
 
Found joy at many levels here. A light make ahead dessert, stone fruit based, seasonal, simple, vegetarian, low fat, healthy, colourfu,l and above all, glass scraping delicious! Try it before the stone fruit season disappears. Cherries have gone from the market here, but you can use burgundy brandied cherries or canned cherries instead, or even use plums! You have to try it, and I promise you won’t miss the heavy cream. The topping is luxurious and creamy.
I enjoyed the explosion of colours the fruit in the verrine offered. Sliced fresh peaches and cherries completed my colour palette … I loved making it and we all enjoyed devouring it!

Tropical Fruit Verrines
Recipe adapted minimally from Tartlette
Serves 6
2 mangoes, peeled, and pureed with lime juice
2 tbsp lime juice
1 cup drained preserved cherries, or fresh, or canned
2 kiwis, skinned and diced
3 peaches, skinned, stoned and diced
1 mango, peeled and diced
1/2 cup hung yogurt {should be very thick}
150ml low fat cream {25%}
1 vanilla bean scraped
2 tbsp powdered sugar

Method:
For the bottom layer, peel the mango and cut in rough chunks, run them through the food processor with the lime juice until you obtain a fine puree. Divide it evenly among glasses or dishes.
Mix the diced fruit and cherries to get a nice fruit salad, add a couple of tbsp of lime juice to prevent the fruits from turning brown if you want. Divide on top of the mango puree evenly among the glasses.
Mix the hung yogurt, cream, powdered sugar and scraped vanilla bean in a small bowl with a whisk until just well blended & smooth., and divide it between the glasses. Top with fresh sliced fruit. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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{Cooking} RICOTTA & CREAM CHEESE CHILI POPPERS with KIWI SALSA

“Fresh fruits are so untainted. We don’t process them, cook them or package them. There are some fruits out there that are packed with natural energy that kids like, like kiwi fruit, … Kiwis are part of the super fruit category. One kiwi has all the vitamin C you need for the day.”
Robert Stanley
I’ve had a busy few days, and then to add to the mid summer madness, the folk from Perfect Relations were wonderful enough to invite me to a couple of foodie events this past month. There were 2 invites to EAT {European Art of Taste}, a program supported by the European Union and the Italian Government that aims to present the best of Food and Wine from Europe. I made it to one, and wasn’t able to attend the other. Did however manage to make it to the Zespri Kiwi Fruit Launch hosted by  HE Mr Rupert Holborow, the New Zealand High Commissioner to India, at his residence. The largest sole exporter of Kiwifruit in the world, ZESPRI International, entered the Indian market on that day, May26th, 2010, and the launch was held amidst much green kiwifruit glory in the presence of  Mr. Cliff Fuller, New Zealand Trade Commissioner & Mr. Daniel Matheison, Zespri Regional Market Manager, Southeast/South Asia.
Considered to be the best in the world, ZESPRI® Kiwifruit can be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere, anytime as it is naturally fresh, full of flavour, safe and good for your health. ZESPRI offers an innovative range of premium quality kiwifruit products: ZESPRI® GREEN, ZESPRI® GOLD and ZESPRI® ORGANIC Kiwifruit. The fruit pack a natural protection punch, with a combination of beneficial nutrients which is more concentrated than many other fruits. ZESPRI® GREEN and GOLD Kiwifruit are great sources of dietary fibre, vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, vitamin E, carotenoids and other antioxidants. They also have a low glycaemic index (GI) and are low in fat – so they’re perfect to eat every day to assist with natural protection.
At the High Commissioners residence, there was a mind boggling array of kiwi  fruit delectables  doing the rounds. Since it was an evening launch party, on offer were finger foods like ‘herb chicken and kiwi vol au vents‘,  ‘tomato and kiwi bruschetta‘, ‘cheese and jalapeño poppers with kiwi salsa to name a few. The bar also offered a wide variety of mocktails and cocktails kiwi fruit based and otherwise! It was an eye opener to see the kiwi creativity on display, and that’s how I came up with inspiration for these poppers today.
Left over mania! It was time to clear the fridge as we are off on a small vacation to Gangtok, a town nestled within higher peaks of the Himalayas at a height of 4715ft. These poppers are a tribute to the ever versatile and the nutrient packed kiwi, a fruit that contains so many vitamins and minerals, it’s truly bursting with goodness. Zespri is the brand of choice available at most outlets around where we live, so I bought a couple the other day. The last remaining one went into this salsa, and was kept good company by 2 apricots that were left over as well.
The poppers were darned delicious little bites. They got created in an attempt to use up some left over home made ricotta that I had made for roasted bell peppers and ricotta bruschetta 2 days ago. I eye balled the ingredients, and have to say these little poppers were wonderful. {For those who don’t like the eggy smell in food, the egg in here didn’t add any eggy flavours}. Be cautious while dealing with hot oil, and keep the poppers small / teaspoon sized batter drops, else they tend to spread and flatten. To check if the batter consistency is alright, I drop a little bit into a small bowl of water. If it rises immediately and floats, I am good to go. If it sinks or disintegrates, I add a little more flour, to bind it and test again!
The poppers made for fun snacks, and are pretty nice at room temperature too, only not as crisp as when hot. For more recipes, you can check out the Zespri site, which I just discovered. There’s plenty of fun kiwi based recipes there!

Ricotta and Cream Cheese Chili Poppers with Kiwi Salsa
250gms ricotta, well drained {home made recipe here}
3-4 tbsps cream cheese {I used Brittania cheese spread}
1 egg
4 tbsps plain flour
1-2 fresh green chillies, {or jalapeños}
1/2 tsp salt {cream cheese has salt of its own}
1/4 tsp baking soda
Method:

Whiz the ricotta, cream cheese and egg in a processor until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and process for a minute till uniformly mixed.
Heat about 4 inches of oil in a heavy bottom pan. Drop tea spoonfuls of batter into hot oil, and cook until both sides evenly browned. {Make sure the oil isn’t too hot, or they will over-brown and might remain uncooked within. Also don’t overcrowd the pan, else they might stick to each other}
Drain from oil onto paper napkins to absorb extra oil. Serve hot / warm with kiwi salsa! POP… they’re YUM!!
Kiwi Salsa
1 ripe, firm kiwi fruit, peeled
2 ripe apricots, halved and pitted
1/2-1 tsp sugar
A pinch of salt
Method:
Whir all ingredients in processor until blended. Taste and season. Chill for 30 minutes to allow flavours to blend. {You can add a dash of lime if it isn’t tangy. My kiwi fruit was very sweet yet tangy}
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FAREWELL TO 2008 WITH A FRESH FRUIT CAKE

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”
Oprah Winfrey
Like all good things in life come to an end, 2008 has come to an end too. It’s been a good year in blogland, filled with loads of new friends, food & a whole lot of fun. It’s had its low moments too, where we sadly lost some good blogger friends like Bri to cancer, & Sherry who suffered a fatal heart attack. Low again because world peace got shattered often, & the same old helpless feeling crept into our lives again. High because we now know that we can make a difference, however small, & we are willing to unite to fight for a cause! Because we can say, ‘YES WE CAN’!!!
For me, it’s a moment to think back & look at all the good that has come into my life with a year of blogging. Thank you all of you for being part of my life. I’ve discovered a bunch of great new friends, most virtual yet quite a few within arms reach, I’ve discovered cuisines I never thought I’d ever encounter, I’ve really enjoyed being a Daring Baker, I’ve wept over weeping meringues on shoulders generously offered, I’ve lent my shoulder to be cried upon, I’ve shared joys & sorrows with people I’ve never met…& above all I’m glad I became a foodie blogger. I have no resolutions for the new year, but I know there are people far braver than me, who make resolutions & try & meet them too! Good for you guys!!!
I have a few thank yous lined up to end my year…The first one goes out for Donna of Spatulas, Corkscrews & Suitcases who sent me this wonderful book because the RIG finally chose me. Thank you for this most wonderful cupcake book which I just received. It’s absolutely delightful & has the most novel ideas for cupcakes, each one cuter than the next!!!
To my sis in Houston who sent me a package of baking delights, amongst other things, some pumpkin spice, a very precious roll of parchment paper (it’s unheard of here), & a set of Wilton offset spatulas. O boy … they work like magic, thank you!! Well, all these years I’ve only frosted & leveled my cakes with butter knives & regular spatulas, & life was fine. Then along comes a thing called offset spatula’, & suddenly, I’m living a baking luxury! The ease & fun of frosting with this new instrument had me dancing with joy. Earlier my dear sis had sent me the microplane zester which is an indispensable part of my daily existence…& now it’s this. Thank you …
And the next ‘thank you’ is for daughter dearest who went off shopping for Christmas gifts on her own, & bought me this refreshing Ice Cream book. She went & bought gifts for each one of us with her pocket money, neatly wrapped them, hung hand-made cards on each, & couldn’t wait for morning to come! For the first time ever, there was a a gift for me under the tree!! YAY…it’s a gorgeous book, with fab ideas. Summer, here I come.
And last but not the least, my dear friend from Ukraine is here again, & as usual, comes as Santa in disguise. Dutch cheese, Stroop waffles, loads of vanilla sugar sachets, chocolates, & hand painted wooden flat spoons from Kiev!
Life is good & looking up. Thank you all of you. Here’s a cake I made with fresh fruits-kiwis & oranges, fresh whipped cream & almonds, to inaugurate the offset spatula. The kids really love this cake, so do we. I’ve posted the recipe before, but am re posting it because I made a few small changes.FRESH FRUIT CREAM CAKE…with kiwis, oranges & almonds
My own recipe
Ingredients for sponge:
Eggs – 5 (250gms)
Flour – 125 gms (half the weight of the eggs)
Baking powder – 1tsp
Salt – 1 pinch
Powdered sugar – 100gms ( less than half the weight of the eggs)
Vanilla Essence – 1 tsp
Zest of 1 orange
Orange extract – 1tsp
Filling/Topping
Cream – 400ml (whipping/35% fat)
Icing Sugar – 3-4 Tbsp
Almond Essence – 1 tsp
Kiwi-fruit – 2-3/depending on size
Marmalade – 4 tbsp/heated well with 3 tbsp of water
Almonds – 2 tbsp/ground with skin
White and dark chocolate for drizzling

Method:
For the sponge
Preheat oven to 190deg C , reduce to 180deg C after 10 mins of putting the cake in.
Grease and line a 9″ring tin; A springform cake tin is always better.
Sift the flour + baking powder + salt 3 times.
Beat the eggs and sugar well with beater till very thick ribbon falls and holds in place for at least 5 seconds (beat for approx 10mins)
Add vanilla essence + orange extract & beat for 1 min.
Gently fold in the sifted flour; mix lightly so that air doesn’t escape.
Turn gently into tin and bake for 30-35mins till done.
Once done, remove from tin after 5 mins and leave on rack to cool completely. Cut horizontally into 3-4 layers.
Filling:
Peel and chop 2 kiwi-fruit into tiny pieces,and slice 1 for the top.
Whip 400ml whipping cream with 4tbs pwdrd sugar +1 tsp almond essence until thick and holds peaks.
Reserve 1/2 for frosting the top. Place the bottom most layer of the sponge on your serving platter, spread half the marmalade across it. Spread it fast, or else it’ll seep into just one area. Add a dollop of cream, top with fienly chopped kiwi fruit & sprinkled with ground almonds. Repeat & use the remaining cream, chooped fruit & almonds.

Topping:
Microwave the dark chocolate in 2a zip bag for 1-2 mins to melt it.
Spread the remaining almond cream over the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle with flaked almonds on the edges.
At this point, I sometimes cut the cake into 12 equal portions, to make serving simpler.
Now place a slice of kiwi fruit at equal intervals, drizzle with dark chocolate, sprinkle with ground almonds if you like, and chill well before serving.

Thanks to all you wonderful folk out there…hope 2009 makes all your dreams come true!

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