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Fruit Recipes II


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Index of Recipes

Desserts (continued)

Lemon Sorbet
Lemon Soufflé
Liberian Stewed Mangoes
Lime Mousse
Lime Sponge Pudding
Mango Mousse
Mango Sorbet
Middle Eastern Orange Custard
Middle Eastern Spiced Figs
Orange Compote
Pavlova
Peach Cobbler
Peach Parfait
Peach Trifle
Peaches with Blueberry Sauce
Pear Soufflé with Raspberry Coulis
Pears Stuffed with Gorgonzola Cheese
Pêches Ninon
Peppered Pineapple
Pineapple Bread Pudding
Poached Figs
Poached Oranges Melba
Quick Apple Crisp
Raspberry Bavarian Cream
Rhubarb Fool
Roasted Figs with Thyme and Honey
Russian Apricot Pudding
Sautéed Figs with Almonds
Spanish Peaches Poached in Wine
Spiced Melon
Spiced Stewed Peaches
Strawberry Mousse
Stuffed Dried Fruit
Stuffed Peaches Piedmont-Style
Summer Pudding
Tangerine Custard
Tropical Fruit Sundaes
Turkish Poached Stuffed Figs
Venezuelan Pineapple Custard

Breads and Pastries

Apple Galette
Apple Pie
Apple Strudel
Apricot Almond Bars
Austrian "Emperor's Nonsense"
Banana Cream Pie
Belgian Prune Tart
Berry Bundt Cake
Black Forest Cake
Chocolate Date Cake
Cranberry and Port Tart
Creamy Lemon Tart
Easy Lemon Pie
Fat-Free Banana Bread
French Raspberry and Custard Pie
Fresh Peach Pie
Fresh Strawberry Bread
Fresh Strawberry Pie
Herbed Plum Tart
Key Lime Pie
Kiwi Tart
Lemon Cheesecake
Lemon Pound Cake
Mango Upside-Down Cake
Nectarine Custard Pie
Orange Bread
Peach Upside-Down Cake
Plum Tart
Prune and Nut Loaf
Puerto Rican Guava Cake
Puerto Rican Lime Meringue Pie
Quick Fruit Pinwheels
Raspberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake
Sour Cream Strawberry Pie
Strawberry Shortcake
Tarte Tatin
Viennese Apricot Pie
Vietnamese Banana Cake with Cashews
Walnut and Orange Passover Cake

Breakfast and Brunch Dishes

Apple Cake
Apple Pecan Pancakes with Apple Spice Syrup
Baked Fruit Compote
Banana Cinnamon Pancakes
Blueberry Blintzes
Broiled Grapefruit with Sherry
Caramel Bananas
Carrot-Pineapple Juice
Dried Cherry Scones
Fat-Free Cantaloupe Smoothie
Fruit Gratin
Lemon Ginger Muffins
Lemon Pancakes
Low-Fat Blueberry Muffins
Open-Face Apricot Pie
Orange French Toast
Papaya Fritters
Peach and Cottage Cheese Toast
Peaches with Blueberry Compote
Pineapple Fritters
Potato Pancakes with Watermelon Relish
Pumpkin and Apricot Muffins
Raspberry Orange Smoothie
Sauteed Apples and Bacon
Sour Cream Blueberry Muffins
Spiced Fruit Compote
Stewed Prunes

Sauces and Condiments

Apple Butter
Applesauce
Citrus and Garlic Sauce
Cumberland Sauce
Date and Lemon Chutney
Fresh Mango Chutney with Coconut
Grapefruit Marmalade
Hollandaise Sauce
Kumquat Chutney
Lemon Confit
Lemon Marmalade
Mango Jam
Mango Preserve
Onion, Avocado, and Papaya Salsa
Orange Marmalade
Peach Honey
Peach Preserves
Pickled Watermelon Rind
Preserved Lemons
Raspberry Coulis
Spicy Fruit Chutney
Thai Lemon-Cilantro Sauce

< More fruit recipes



Desserts (continued)

The perfect dessert would be tasty and have absolutely no fat, just like this recipe. You can actually use any citrus fruit-try it with lime juice or pink grapefruit juice.

Lemon Sorbet

1/2 cup (125 ml) lemon juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) orange juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) finely chopped lemon zest
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
1 egg white

Note: This recipe calls for an uncooked egg white. If salmonella contamination is a concern to you, then it is best to skip this recipe.

Combine the lemon juice, orange juice, sugar, lemon zest, and water in a small bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Ice cream maker method: Cover the citrus mixture and refrigerate for 2 hours, until well chilled. In a separate bowl, beat the egg white until stiff and fold into the chilled citrus mixture. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. Food processor method: Pour the citrus mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. Place the frozen mixture in an electric food processor and add the beaten egg white. Process until smooth. Serves 4.

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Desserts just don't get much less expensive or more elegant than this.

Lemon Soufflé

5 egg yolks
3/4 cup (180 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) grated lemon rind
1/4 cup (60 ml) lemon juice
5 egg whites, beaten stiff

Beat the egg yolks until very light. Add the sugar a little at a time. Add the lemon rind and juice. Fold into the beaten egg whites. Pour into buttered and sugared 8-inch (20 cm) soufflé dish. Place in a pan of hot water and bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until firm. Serves 4.

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Mango recipes always seem to be popular with my readers. Here is a sweet treatment that I know will please you.

Liberian Stewed Mangoes

3-4 large mangoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 cup (250 ml) water
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
6 whole cloves

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over low heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve chilled. Serves 4 to 6.

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The sweet tartness of the limes and the buttery smoothness of the mousse make this one a genuine keeper.

Lime Mousse

8 Tbs (110 g) butter
5 eggs
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
3/4 cup (180 ml) lime juice
Grated zest of 5 limes
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream

Melt the butter in a pot set over, not in, simmering water. Beat the eggs and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Stir into the melted butter and cook gently, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to a custard consistency, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the lime juice and zest, and cool to room temperature. Whip the cream until it is very stiff (just before it turns to butter), and fold in the lime mixture. Pour into 6 to 8 serving cups (wine glasses are nice) or a serving bowl and chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

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Here is a quick, easy, and classic dessert. Similar recipes have been traced back to Sara Rutledge's 1847 The Carolina Housewife, and this modern version has the added virtue of taking under 10 minutes to get ready for the oven.

Lime Sponge Pudding

3 Tbs (45 ml) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (180 ml) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
1 cup (250 ml) milk
3 egg yolks
6 Tbs (90 ml) lime juice
2 Tbs (30 ml) grated lime zest
1 Tbs (15 ml) melted butter
2 egg whites

Stir together the flour, sugar and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl combine the lime juice, milk, egg yolks, and lime zest, stirring to combine thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to form a smooth, liquid batter. Stir in the melted butter. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into a buttered baking dish. Place this baking dish inside a larger baking dish, and add hot water to the larger dish until it reaches one inch (2.5 cm) up the side of the smaller baking dish. Bake in a pre-heated 350º F (180º C) oven for about 40 minutes, until the top has set and is golden brown. Serve hot, chilled, or at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6.

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I seem to get more requests for mango recipes during the summer than for any other type. Here is one for those of you with fruit-laden mango trees in the back yard.

Mango Mousse

1 ripe mango, peeled and pitted
1 envelope (1 Tbs, 15 ml) unflavored gelatin
1 Tbs (15 ml) cold water
Juice of 2 limes
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
1/4 tsp (1 ml) cream of tartar (optional)
1/3 cup (80 ml) sugar
Fresh berries of fruit for garnish

Note: This recipe calls for an uncooked egg white. If salmonella contamination is a concern to you, then it is best to skip this recipe.

Purée the mango in a food processor. Soak the gelatin in the cold water for 10 minutes. Heat the lime juice in a 1 quart (1 L) saucepan. When it is steaming add the gelatin and stir over low to moderate heat until dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the puréed mango. Combine the egg whites with the salt and cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and beat until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the fruit mixture. Spoon the mousse into a 2 cup (500 ml) mold that has been lightly greased. Chill for 4 hours and unmold. Serve with fresh berries or fruit. Serves 4 to 6.

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I love the flavor of mangoes because it is strong enough to stand up to a variety of treatments and is especially good in chilled and frozen preparations, like this one.

Mango Sorbet

2 cups (500 ml) fresh mango flesh
1 cup (250 ml) banana, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup (250 ml) pineapple, fresh or canned
1 Tbs (15 ml) fresh lemon or lime juice
1/4 tsp (1 ml) freshly ground black pepper

Freeze the fruits, reserving some for garnish. Process the frozen fruits, lemon or lime juice, and black pepper in a food processor to a sorbet (sherbet) consistency. Serve in bowls or wine glasses, garnishing with the reserved fruit. Serves 6.

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We in the US seem to overlook the humble orange at dessert time, but in the Middle East and the Mediterranean they have relished it at the end of meals for centuries.

Middle Eastern Orange Custard

1/2 cup (125 ml) brown sugar
1 Tbs (15 ml) hot water
2 oranges, peeled and sectioned, with membranes removed
6 eggs
3/4 cup (180 ml) white sugar
3 cups (750 ml) hot milk
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt

Butter a 2-quart (2 L) baking dish and set aside. Combine the brown sugar and the hot water in a sauce pan and cook over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Place the orange sections in the buttered baking dish and pour the melted sugar over them. In another bowl, beat the eggs and white sugar together until the sugar has dissolved. Gradually add the hot milk, stirring constantly, and the salt. Pour this mixture over the orange sections. Place the baking dish in a pan of water and bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for 50 to 60 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool, and serve chilled or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.

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Here is a dessert that will please any sweet tooth, but if you have young mouths to feed you might consider making a double batch and storing it in the refrigerator.

Middle Eastern Spiced Figs

4 cups (1 L) water
11/2 cups (375 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) powdered ginger
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon
1 lb (500 g) dried figs
1/4 cup (60 ml) orange juice
2 Tbs (30 ml) lemon juice
Pine nuts (pignoli) for garnish

Combine the water, sugar, and spices in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Add the figs and cook for 15 minutes, until the syrup has thickened. Stir in the fruit juices and remove from the heat. Chill for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. To serve, spoon into dessert dishes or serve over ice cream and sprinkle with pine nuts. Serves 4 to 6.

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This is as simple to prepare as any dessert you'll ever find, and keeping some on hand might motivate some of the youngsters in your house to eat more fruit.

Orange Compote

6 oranges, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup (125 ml) orange juice
3 Tbs (45 ml) light brown sugar
5 whole allspice
5 whole black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
3-4 Tbs (45-60 ml) orange-flavored liqueur (optional)

Place the orange slices in a non-reactive bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour the liquid over the orange slices and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Serves 6 to 8.

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This dish is the center of a rivalry between Australians and New Zealanders, both of whom claim to have originated it. They do agree that it was named after the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova during a visit to both of those countries in the late 1920s.

Pavlova

4 egg whites at room temperature
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) white vinegar
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream, whipped
Sliced fruit such as kiwis, strawberries, bananas for garnish

Beat the egg whites, sugar, vinegar, and vanilla together until very stiff, about 12 to 15 minutes. Place the mixture on a baking sheet lined with lightly oiled wax paper or aluminum foil, forming it into a slight mound. Bake in a preheated 300º F (150º C) oven for 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and place the meringue on a serving platter. Immediately before serving spread with the whipped cream and decorate with sliced fruit. Note: Individual servings may be made by making individual meringues. Serves 6 to 8.

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Just about any fruit can be baked in a cobbler, but I think that cobblers made with fresh ripe peaches are the best of all.

Peach Cobbler

11/2 lbs (675 g) ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into wedges
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
2 Tbs (30 ml) cornstarch (cornflour)
2 Tbs (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon
1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
1 Tbs (15 ml) vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (125 ml) milk

Combine the peaches, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and toss to thoroughly combine. Heap the peach mixture into an 8- or 9-inch (20-23 cm) baking disk or deep pie plate. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture with a fork until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the milk. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and spread over the mound of peaches. Cut two or three air vents in the crust, and seal the edges. Bake in a preheated 375º F (190º C) oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Serve warm, with ice cream if desired. Serves 6 to 8.

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At the risk of sounding repetitive, I wish more people would consider eating fresh fruit for dessert as they have been doing in France for centuries. This elegant method of serving makes it even more of a treat.

Peach Parfait

4 small peaches, thinly sliced
2 cups (500 ml) fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or combination of berries
2 cups (500 ml) sparkling white wine
1/4 cup (60 ml) Grand Marnier, crème de cassis, or fruit-flavored liqueur of your choice

Place the peaches and berries in alternating layers in 4 champagne flutes or wine glasses. Add the sparkling wine and top with the fruit-flavored liqueur. Serves 4.

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Here you have a recipe for a delicious peach trifle, perfect for a holiday table or family gathering.

Peach Trifle

A piece of homemade pound cake about 5 inches (12 cm) long, 4 inches (10 cm) wide and 3 inches (7 cm) high, or substitute a 12-ounce (330 g) packaged pound cake
4 Tbs (60 ml) peach preserves
1 cup (250 ml) blanched almonds, separated into halves
1 cup (250 ml) medium-dry sherry
1/4 (60 ml) cup brandy
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
2 Tbs (30 ml) superfine sugar
Custard sauce (see below), chilled until firm
2 cups (500 ml) fresh or frozen peaches, cut into slices

Cut the pound cake into 1-inch (2.5 cm) slices and coat them with the peach preserves. Place 2 or 3 of the cake slices, jam side up, in the bottom of a glass serving bowl about 8 inches (20 cm) across and 4 inches (10 cm) deep. Cut the remaining slices of cake into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes, scatter them over the slices, and sprinkle 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the almonds on top. Then pour in the sherry and brandy and let the mixture steep at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

In a large chilled bowl, whip the cream with a whisk or a rotary or electric beater until it thickens slightly. Add the sugar and continue to beat until the cream is stiff enough to form unwavering peaks on the beater when it is lifted out of the bowl. To assemble the trifle, set 5 of the best peach slices aside and scatter the rest over the cake. With a spatula spread the custard across the top. Then gently smooth half of the whipped cream over the surface of the custard. Using a pastry bag fitted with a large rose tip, pipe the remaining whipped cream decoratively around the edge. Garnish the cream with the 5 reserved peach slices and the remaining almonds. The trifle will be at its best served at once, but it may be refrigerated for an hour or two. Serves 6 to 8.

Custard Sauce

3 cups (750 ml) milk
4 tsp (20 ml) cornstarch (cornflour)
2 Tbs (30 ml) sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract

In a heavy 2 quart (2 L) saucepan, combine 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the milk and the cornstarch, and stir with a whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add the remaining milk and the sugar, and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the sauce thickens and comes to a boil. In a small bowl break up the egg yolks with a fork and stir in 4 to 6 tablespoons (60 to 90 ml) of the sauce. Then whisk the mixture back into the remaining sauce. Bring to a boil again and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

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I think that my reputation for publishing recipes for healthful, fruit-based desserts is pretty well established. Here is a recipe that combines the antioxidant powers of blueberries with the protein and good-for-you unsaturated fats of almonds.

Peaches with Blueberry Sauce

2 cups (500 ml) fresh or thawed frozen blueberries
1 tsp (5 ml) grated lemon or orange zest
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground cinnamon
Sugar or honey to taste (optional)
4-6 large ripe peaches, peeled*, pitted, and sliced
1/2 cup (125 ml) slivered almonds, toasted

* To peel peaches, plunge them into boiling water for 10 to 15 seconds and cool under running water before slipping the skin off the flesh.

Combine the blueberries, lemon zest, cinnamon, and optional sugar and purée in an electric blender or food processor. Divide the sauce between 4 to 6 serving plates and arrange the sliced peaches on top. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Serves 4 to 6.

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When I aimed for elegant but light I really hit the mark with this dessert (all modesty aside). What could be more elegant than a soufflé for dessert? And talk about light! I'll get on with the recipe and finish patting myself on the back after I have sent it.

Pear Soufflé with Raspberry Coulis

2 tsp (10 ml) softened butter
1/3 cup (80 ml) plus 3 Tbs (45 ml) sugar
2 cans (15 oz., 425 g each) pear halves in heavy syrup, drained
1 Tbs (15 ml) lemon juice
2 tsp (10 ml) cornstarch (cornflour)
1/4 cup (60 ml) pear brandy, or spirit of your choice (optional)
8 egg whites
Pinch of salt
Raspberry coulis (see index)

Grease the bottom and sides of a 2 quart (2 L) soufflé dish with the butter. Sprinkle 2 Tbs (30 ml) of the sugar and roll it around the inside of the dish to coat it evenly. Pour out any excess. Cut 2 pear halves into 1/4-inch (5 mm) dice and set aside. Add the remaining pears to the jar of an electric blender or food processor, along with 1/3 cup (80 ml) of sugar, and purée until smooth. Pour the pear purée into a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes, until it has thickened and reduced to about 11/2 cups (375 ml). In a small bowl dissolve the cornstarch in the lemon juice and add it to the cooked pears. Continue to cook until the mixture boils and thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the optional pear liqueur. In a large, clean bowl beat the egg whites and salt until foamy. Add the remaining 1 Tbs (15 ml) sugar and continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form. Mix 1/4 of the egg whites with the cooked pear base to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining whites just until blended-do not over mix. Spoon half the soufflé mixture into the prepared soufflé dish and sprinkle with half the diced pears. Add the remaining soufflé mixture, and top with the remaining diced pears. Bake in a 425º F (220º C) oven for about 15 minutes, until well puffed and golden in color. Serve immediately, topped with raspberry coulis. Serves 6 to 8.

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A simple dessert of fresh ripe pears, a slab of Gorgonzola, and a few walnuts is hard to beat. So why try? Here is a dressed up version, suitable for guests as well as family.

Pears Stuffed with Gorgonzola Cheese

4 small firm ripe pears
1 lemon, cut in half
2 oz (50 g) imported Gorgonzola or other high quality blue cheese
2 Tbs soft unsalted butter
2 Tbs crushed walnuts, pistachio or pine nuts

Carefully peel the pears, leaving the stems attached. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, along with a scant tablespoon of pulp out of each half. Rub with the lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Cream the Gorgonzola and the butter together in a small bowl until they are soft and fluffy. Fill the hollows of the pear halves with the cheese mixture and carefully stick the two halves of the pears back together again. Roll the pears in the crushed nuts, and chill for 2 hours, until the cheese is firm. Serves 4.

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This is a creation of French master chef Escoffier. He would have served it highly decorated with candied violets, citron, chocolate leaves, or any variety of sweet garnishes. Feel free to let your creativity run wild when garnishing this dish.

Pêches Ninon (Poached Peaches with Vanilla Pudding)

For the pudding:
2 cups (500 ml) milk
1 vanilla bean, split
1 tsp (5 ml) grated lemon peel
1/4 cup (60 ml) farina or cream of rice
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
4 tsp (20 ml) unflavored gelatin
11/2 cups (375 ml) heavy cream, whipped until stiff with
2 Tbs (15 ml) confectioner's sugar

Bring the milk, vanilla bean, and lemon peel to a boil in a saucepan over moderate heat. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to steep for 15 minutes. Strain the milk through a fine sieve (set the vanilla bean aside) and return to the pan. Bring the milk to a simmer and slowly add the farina, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Beat together the egg yolks, sugar, and gelatin until the mixture forms a ribbon, about 4 minutes. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the milk mixture, stirring constantly. Bring the mixture to a simmer over low heat, but do not allow to boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Place the pan in a bowl of ice water and stir until the mixture is cool, about 5 minutes. Fold in the whipped cream and pour into a lightly grease 6-cup (1.5 L) ring mold. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours.

For the peaches:
8 cups (2 L) water
The peel of 2 lemons, cut into thin strips
8 ripe peaches

Combine the water, sugar, lemon peel, and the reserved vanilla bean in a large pot and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Add the peaches and simmer partially covered for 15 minutes. Let the peaches cool in the syrup, then peel them and return to the syrup. Chill until ready to serve.

For the sauce:
11/2 cups (375 ml) apricot jam
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
3 Tbs (45 ml) kirsch or brandy (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring constantly. To serve, run a knife around the sides of the mold and dip the bottom in warm water to loosen the pudding. Invert the mold onto a serving platter and gently rap the plate on the table until the pudding slides out. Drain the peaches and arrange them around the pudding. Pour the sauce around the pudding and serve immediately. Serves 8.

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The sweetness of the pineapple is magnified by the spiciness of the pepper in this simple recipe.

Peppered Pineapple

1 ripe pineapple, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices, or canned pineapple slices, drained
2 Tbs (30 ml) honey
2 tsp (10 ml) crushed green peppercorns

Drizzle the pineapple slices with the honey and sprinkle with the crushed peppercorns. Grill directly over hot coals for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Serves 4 to 6.

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This tropical bread pudding can be made in a slow cooker, or cooked by more traditional means in a regular old-fashioned oven.

Pineapple Bread Pudding

1 cup (250 ml) butter at room temperature
2 cups (500 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cinnamon
8 eggs
2 cans (14 oz, 392 g each) crushed pineapple, drained
5 cups (1.25 L) toasted bread cubes
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped pecans or walnuts
Whipped cream for garnish (optional)

Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and beat until thoroughly combined. Add the eggs and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Fold the drained pineapple and bread cubes into the egg mixture and pour into a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours. Sprinkle with chopped nuts immediately before serving. Serve warm, garnished with whipped cream if desired. Oven directions: Prepare as above and pour into a greased baking dish. Bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for 1 hour. Serves 8 to 12.

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These figs are great on their own or served with ice cream. For a more elegant presentation, try serving them with some good Stilton cheese and a vintage port.

Poached Figs

1 lb (900 g) dried figs, stems removed
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
2 Tbs (30 ml) lemon juice
2 Tbs (50 ml) dry sherry (optional)
1 tsp (5 ml) grated lemon rind
1 tsp (5 ml) fresh ginger, finely chopped
Water

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, add enough water to cover, and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Allow the figs to cool in the syrup. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.

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Here's a dessert as fresh, healthy, and flavorful as they come.

Poached Oranges Melba

Grated zest of 2 oranges
1 cup (250 ml) water
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
4-6 navel oranges
2 Tbs (30 ml) Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur (optional)
10-oz (280 g) package frozen raspberries, thawed

Combine the orange zest, water, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the optional liqueur. Peel the oranges over a bowl to collect the juice. Slice the oranges, place in a bowl, and pour the sugar syrup over them. Let sit at room temperature for at least 3 hours, or refrigerate overnight. Press the raspberries through a fine strainer and discard the seeds. Stir the reserved orange juice into the raspberry purée. Spoon half the raspberry sauce over the oranges and serve the remainder on the side. Serves to 6.

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Here's a quick dessert that's especially good with a scoop of ice cream.

Quick Apple Crisp

For the apples:
2 lbs (900 g) tart green apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 cup (125 ml) raisins
1/4 cup (60 ml) apple juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground cloves

For the topping:
3/4 cup (180 ml) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (80 ml) firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking powder
1/4 lb (110 g) butter, cut into small pieces

Combine the apple ingredients in a large saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Place the apples in a 9-inch (22 cm) pie dish. Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl and rub together with your fingers until the mixture begins to form small clumps. Sprinkle the topping over the apples and bake in a preheated 375º F (190º C) oven for 30 minutes. Serve warm, chilled, or at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6.

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Strawberries may be used instead of raspberries in this light-as-air dessert, and the Bavarian cream may also be used as pie filling.

Raspberry Bavarian Cream

4 cups (1 L) fresh or frozen (not in syrup) raspberries or strawberries
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
1 packet (1 Tbs, 15 ml) unflavored gelatin
3 Tbs (45 ml) cold water
3 Tbs (45 ml) boiling water
1 Tbs (15 ml) lemon juice
1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream

Thaw the berries if using frozen. Combine the berries and sugar in a bowl and mash the berries. Let stand 30 minutes. Soak the gelatin in the cold water for 10 minutes. Add the boiling water and stir to dissolve. Add the gelatin and lemon juice to the berry mixture. Whip the cream to the soft peak stage and gently fold into the berry mixture. Pour into a mold and chill at least 6 hours before unmolding. Alternately, the mixture may be placed in cooked pie shells and chilled. Serves 8 to 10.

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The English have been eating fools (strained fruit with whipped cream) since at least the 16th century, and rhubarb, one of only two perennial vegetables (the other being asparagus), is one of the first of spring's offerings to be harvested. This version of a classic English dessert is further enriched with the addition of eggs.

Rhubarb Fool

For the custard:
13/4 cups (450 ml) milk
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy cream, whipped

For the rhubarb:
2 lbs (900 g) rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) pieces
1 cup (250 ml) sugar

Bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan over moderate heat. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until smooth. Add a little of the hot milk to the egg yolk mixture, then whisk the egg mixture into the milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Do not boil. Refrigerate the custard until well chilled, at least 1 hour. Meanwhile, combine the rhubarb and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and cook covered for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Strain and discard the liquid. Mash the rhubarb with a fork and chill. Prior to serving, fold the whipped cream into the custard, and then fold in the rhubarb. Serve in stemmed wine glasses or parfait glasses. Serves 4 to 6.

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Fresh figs are one of nature's miracles; they're like candy that grows on trees. I love them as a dessert with a little Gorgonzola or goat cheese, and you can certainly serve these figs with your favorite cheese. Or you can use them to top ice cream.

Roasted Figs with Thyme and Honey

1 tsp (5 ml) butter or vegetable oil
8 large fresh figs, cut in half
3 Tbs (45 ml) honey
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry red wine (or orange juice for a non alcoholic version)
1/4 tsp (1 ml) dried thyme, or 4 sprigs fresh thyme

Grease the bottom of a baking dish with the butter. Place the figs, cut side down, in the bottom. Cover the figs with the honey and wine, and add the thyme on top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375º F (190º C) for 15 minutes. Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature. Serves 4.

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This traditional Russian dessert can be made with different fruits, and cranberries are especially popular. I happen to be partial to apricots, so this is how I'll make mine:

Russian Apricot Pudding (Kissel)

2 cups (500 ml) water
1 cup (250 ml) chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar
3 Tbs (45 ml) cornstarch (cornflour)
A pinch of salt
Heavy cream or sweetened whipped cream for garnish (optional)

Bring the water and apricots to a boil in a pot over moderate heat. Reduce the heat and simmer covered until the apricots are tender, about 20 minutes. Purée the apricots and 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the cooking liquid (reserve the remaining cooking liquid) in an electric blender or food processor, or press through a fine sieve. Combine the apricot purée, the remaining cooking liquid, and the remaining ingredients except for the cream in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour into a serving bowl or individual serving dishes. Serve chilled, warm, or at room temperature, topped with heavy cream or whipped cream if desired. Serves 4 to 6.

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I won't tell you how partial I am to fresh fruit as a dessert again because, frankly, even I am getting tired of hearing it. Here is a simple and easy dessert that everyone will love.

Sautéed Figs with Almonds

2 Tbs (30 ml) butter
12 ripe fresh figs, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup (60 ml) brown sugar
1 cup (250 ml) slivered blanched almonds, toasted
Heavy cream for garnish (optional)

Melt the butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add the fig halves and sprinkle with brown sugar. Sauté, turning the figs gently, until warmed through, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and garnish with heavy cream if desired. Serves 4 to 6.

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I know that I will probably be criticized for publishing another recipe for for fruit poached in wine, but can I help it if they're healthier than the sugar and fat-laden cakes and pies that other recipe ezines promote? I'm sticking to my guns, because this type of dessert is healthy, easy to prepare, and simply delectable. Here's how they do it in Spain.

Spanish Peaches Poached in Wine (Melocotones en Vino)

2 cups (500 ml) dry white wine
1 cup (250 ml) dry sherry
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
Rind of 1 lemon
2-inch (5 cm) piece of cinnamon stick
4-6 large, ripe peaches, peeled and pitted

Combine the wine, sherry, sugar, lemon rind, and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Place the peaches in a bowl and pour the hot wine mixture over them. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 days. Serve with a little of the syrup. Serves 4 to 6.

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Coriander and nutmeg give this dessert an exotic flair. Be sure to choose melons that smell sweet and "melony."

Spiced Melon

8 cups (2 L) melon balls* (your choice of varieties)
1/2 cup (125 ml) fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
2 Tbs (30 ml) fresh lime juice
2 Tbs (2 Tbs) honey
2 Tbs (30 ml) rum, peppermint schnapps, or melon liqueur (optional)
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground coriander

*If you don't have a melon baller then just cut the peeled melon into bite-size pieces.

Combine all the ingredients and chill at least 30 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

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You will be surprised what a little bit of cayenne pepper does to these stewed peaches. You might try spicing up some of your favorite jam and jelly recipes, too.

Spiced Stewed Peaches

2 cups (500 ml) sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) white vinegar
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
2 whole star anise (optional)
6 to 8 firm, ripe peaches, peeled and cut in half, stones removed

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over moderate heat and boil for 2 minutes. Add the peach halves and boil uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. Place the peaches in clean jars and bring the remaining syrup to a boil. Pour over the peaches and seal the jars. Will keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks. Makes about 6 cups (1.5 L).

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This dessert is remarkably easy to prepare, but be sure to use only fresh, sun-ripened strawberries for best results.

Strawberry Mousse

2 cups (500 ml) fresh ripe strawberries, hulled
3 Tbs (45 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs (30 ml) raspberry flavored liqueur (optional)
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy cream

Purée the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in an electric blender or food processor. Put in a small saucepan over low heat and reduce to 1/2 cup (125 ml), stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the optional liqueur. Whip the cream until it barely forms a mound and is thick but still quite liquid. Fold the strawberry purée into the whipped cream and pour into a serving bowl or individual serving dishes. Serve chilled. Serves 4 to 6.

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If there is one thing I would do to change the eating habits of the average American, I would insist on more fruits for dessert. Fruit, frequently accompanied by cheese, is the standard finish to a meal in much of the civilized world, and we Americans would do well to follow that lead rather than resort to our standard fat and sugar-laden fare. This recipe is designed to sneak some fruit in at the end of the meal without arousing suspicion.

Stuffed Dried Fruit

1 lb (500 g) dried apricots, figs, prunes, and/or dates

Suggested stuffings:
Ripe camembert or brie cheese
Chevre (goat cheese) or bleu cheese
Cream cheese
Whole blanched almonds
Pecan or walnut halves
Candied ginger
Chutney
Marshmallows

Optional coating:
Grated coconut

Steam the apricots, figs, and prunes over hot water for 20 minutes and allow to cool. Do not steam the dates. Fill the fruits with one or two of the suggested stuffings and roll in grated coconut if desired. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.

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If you've been with me for a while, you know of my fondness for desserts that feature fresh fruit. Fortunately the Italians share this fondness, as demonstrated by this classic recipe from the Piedmont region of northern Italy.

Stuffed Peaches Piedmont-Style (Pesche Ripiene alla Piemontese)

4-6 freestone peaches, halved and pitted
8-12 amaretti cookies, crumbled
3 Tbs (45 ml) blanched almonds, finely chopped
3 Tbs (45 ml) sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup (180 ml) Moscato or other sweet white wine
2-3 Tbs (30-45 ml) butter

Scoop out a little of the flesh from the center of the peach to make a larger hole. Chop the removed peach flesh and combine with the remaining ingredients except the butter. Place the peaches in a buttered baking dish and fill with the mixture. Dot with butter and bake in a preheated 400º F (200º C) for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6.

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This recipe gets extra points for being virtually fat-free (if you say "no" to the optional whipped cream) and because it isn't as cloyingly sweet as many English desserts tend to be.

Summer Pudding

8 cups (2 L) fresh raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, or combination of berries
11/4 cups (310 ml) sugar
10-12 slices sturdy, homemade-style white bread, crusts removed
1 cup heavy cream, whipped (optional)

Mix the berries and sugar in a large mixing bowl, stirring and tossing them gently until all the sugar is dissolved. Set aside. Cut a piece of bread to fit the bottom of a 2-quart (2 L) English pudding basin, mixing bowl, or charlotte mold and set it in place. Cut 6 or 7 pieces of bread into wedge-shaped pieces and line the sides of the bowl, overlapping the bread slightly. Spoon the berries into the bread lining and top with the remaining bread. Cover the bowl with a flat plate or pot lid, place a 4 to 5 pound (2 Kg) weight on top, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. To unmold, place a large platter upside down over the bowl and invert the two simultaneously-the pudding should slide out of the bowl easily. Serve with whipped cream if desired. Serves 6 to 8.

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We Americans call them tangerines, but most English speakers around the world know them as mandarin oranges, or simply mandarins. Regardless of what you call them, the fresh, bright flavor of these fruits provides an interesting variation on the lowly baked custard.

Tangerine Custard

2 eggs
11/4 cups (310 ml) milk or half-and-half
2 Tbs (30 ml) brown sugar
A pinch of salt
2 tangerines (mandarin oranges)

Combine the eggs, milk, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl and mix until thoroughly combined but not until it becomes foamy. Strain and set aside. Grate enough rind of the tangerines to make 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) and add it to the egg mixture. Peel the tangerines and separate the sections. Cut each section in half and arrange them in the bottoms of 4 custard cups or ramekins. Gently pour the egg mixture over the sections. Place the custard cups in a baking dish and add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the custard cups. Bake in preheated 350º F (180º C) until set, about 25 minutes. Remove from the water bath and cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Serves 4.

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If you're always looking for new ways to get healthy fresh fruit into your family's diet, here is one answer. You can make it even healthier by using frozen yogurt, ice milk, or fat-free ice cream.

Tropical Fruit Sundaes

3 oranges
1/2 cup (125 ml) packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp (2 ml) cinnamon
1 medium pineapple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 large mango, peeled, pitted, and diced
3 bananas, peeled and sliced
Vanilla ice cream, frozen yogurt, or ice milk

Peel the oranges and, working over a bowl to collect the juices, cut between the membranes to remove the sections. Squeeze the membranes to extract the remaining juice. Combine the orange juice, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the juice has thickened slightly. Let the syrup cool and add the orange sections, pineapple, mango, and bananas. Spoon the fruit and syrup over scoops of ice cream. Serves 4 to 6.

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The Turkish people are particularly fond of the combination of dried fruits and nuts, and Turkish children are often offered fruits and nuts as a special treat.

Turkish Poached Stuffed Figs

8-12 dried figs, stems removed
1/2-3/4 cup (125-180 ml) finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) lemon juice

Poach the figs in enough simmering water to cover for 30 minutes. Remove the figs, reserving the cooking liquid. Cut a slit in the figs and stuff with the chopped walnuts. Meanwhile, dissolve the sugar in the cooking liquid and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Pour the syrup over the figs and serve warm, chilled, or at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6.

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This Venezuelan dish is a sure crowd pleaser.

Venezuelan Pineapple Custard (Flan de Piña)

For the caramel:
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) water

For the custard:
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
15 oz (420 g) condensed milk
15 oz (420 g) canned pineapple juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar

To prepare the caramel, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, and cook until it is a rich, golden brown similar to strong tea. Carefully (it is very hot) pour into a 11/2- to 2-quart (1.5-2 L) ceramic baking dish. Tilt the baking dish to coat the bottom and sides with the caramel. Beat the eggs and yolks in a mixing bowl until they turn light yellow. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and pour into the baking dish. Place the baking dish in a large baking pan and fill with water halfway up the sides of the baking pan. Bake in a preheated 325º F (180º C) oven for about 1 hour, or until a knife inserted in the center of the custard comes out clean. Refrigerate the baking dish for at least 3 hours. To unmold, run a knife around the inside of the baking dish and top with a serving platter. Quickly invert both the baking dish and platter, shaking gently to release the custard if necessary. Pour any caramel remaining in the baking dish over the custard. Serves 6 to 8.

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Breads and Pastries

This French version of apple pie proves that we can eat light and healthy and still feel like we're splurging.

Apple Galette

1 tsp (5 ml) olive oil
4 Tbs (60 ml) chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
5 Tbs (75 ml) ice water
2 large baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced very thin
2 Tbs (30 ml) honey
1 Tbs (15 ml) lemon juice
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried thyme leaves

Brush the olive oil onto a cookie sheet with no sides, or on the bottom of a jelly roll pan. Combine the butter, flour, and salt in a food processor and pulse until a coarse meal is formed. Add the water and process until the dough forms a ball. Form the dough into a thick, flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough directly on the oiled cookie sheet, forming a circle about 14 inches (35 cm) in diameter. Combine the apples, honey, lemon juice, and thyme in a bowl and toss to combine well. Arrange the apple slices on the pastry, leaving a 1 to 2 inch (3 to 5 cm) border all around. Fold the border over the apples to form a rustic crust. Pour any remaining honey-lemon juice mixture over the apples. Bake in a preheated 400º F (200º C) oven for about 1 hour, until the crust is golden brown and the apples are tender. Serves 6 to 8.

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The quintessential American dessert is apple pie, although the dish didn't originate here but was brought by early British settlers. I remember when every road-side diner in the country offered a slice of Cheddar cheese with apple pie, and maybe some still do. The more ubiquitous à la mode version places a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Both ways are good, and both are as American as... well, you know.

Apple Pie

5 to 6 cups (1.25 to 1.5 L) apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar, or to taste
2 Tbs (30 ml) lemon juice
1/2 tsp (2 ml) cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 ml) nutmeg
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
2 Tbs (30 ml) butter
2 9 inch (22 cm) pastry pie shells
1 Tbs (15 ml) sugar mixed with
1/2 tsp (2 ml) cinnamon

Combine the apples, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a mixing bowl and toss to coat the apple slices. Line a pie plate with one of the pastry shells and transfer the apples to the shell. Dot the apples with the butter. Moisten the edge of the pastry and place the second pastry shell on top. Trim and crimp the edge, and make several slits in the top with a sharp knife. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture over the top. Bake in a preheated 450º F (230º C) oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350º F (180º C) and bake for an additional 25 to 40 minutes, depending on the type of apples used. The pie is done when the apples are tender and the crust is golden brown. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature. Makes one 9-inch (22 cm) pie.

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I have already received mail from Austrian readers explaining that apple strudel is not German, but rather Austrian. Let's just agree that the two countries share much in the way of food tradition.

Apple Strudel

6 cups (1.5 L) sliced tart apples
1/2 cup (125 ml) raisins
The zest of 1 lemon
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
2 tsp (30 ml) ground cinnamon
1 cup (250 ml) chopped almonds
10 leafs packaged phyllo dough
2 cups (500 ml) butter, melted
1 cup (250 ml) bread crumbs

Mix together the apples, raisins, lemon zest, sugar, cinnamon, and almonds and set aside. Place a phyllo leaf on a large kitchen towel and brush with butter. Place a second leaf on top of the first and brush with butter. Repeat three more times, making a stack of 5 leafs. Combine the bread crumbs with 1/4 cup (60 ml) butter in a small saucepan and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned. Sprinkle a little less than half the bread crumbs on the buttered phyllo. Place half the apple mixture in a strip about 3 inches (8 cm) wide along the narrow edge of the phyllo. Lift the towel, using it to roll the phyllo around the filling. Use the towel to place the strudel on a greased baking sheet. Brush with butter and sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of the crumbs. Repeat the entire procedure for the second strudel. Bake in a preheated 400º F (180º C) oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Makes 2 strudels to serve 10 to 12.

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These bars are sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of travel, and delicate enough to satisfy the most discriminating sweet lovers at your picnic.

Apricot Almond Bars

1 cup (250 ml) dried apricots
2 cups (500 ml) water
8 Tbs (120 ml) butter at room temperature
1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar
1 cup (250 ml) whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup (80 ml) plus 2 Tbs (30 ml) all-purpose flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup (180 ml) firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup (180 ml) sliced almonds
1/2 tsp (2 ml) almond extract
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking powder

Bring the apricots and water to a boil in a small pot over moderate heat. Remove from the heat and steep the apricots until plumped, about 15 minutes. Drain, chop finely, and set aside. Meanwhile, cream together the butter, sugar, whole-wheat flour, and 1/3 cup (80 ml) all-purpose flour. Press into the bottom of a greased 9-inch (23 cm) square baking pan and bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for 20 minutes. In a large bowl mix together the eggs, brown sugar, almonds, remaining all-purpose flour, almond extract, baking powder, and apricots. Spread the mixture on the crust and bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Cool in the pan on a wire rack and cut into squares or bars. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Serves 8 to 12.

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According to legend, a new cook in the Austrian Emperor's kitchen made a mistake and burned the dessert, causing someone to cry, "What a nonsense!" It was served to the Emperor anyway, and he loved it.

Austrian "Emperor's Nonsense" (Kaiserschmarren)

3 egg yolks
11/2 cups (375 ml) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 ml) milk
1/2 cup (125 ml) raisins
1 Tbs (15 ml) sugar, plus additional for topping
A pinch of salt
4 Tbs (60 ml) butter

In a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks, flour, milk, raisins, sugar, and salt to form a thin batter. Melt half the butter in a 10-inch (25 cm) skillet over moderate heat and add half the batter. Fry until golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining butter and batter. Shred the pancakes into small pieces using two forks. Sprinkle with sugar and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

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A good slice of banana cream pie has become something of a rarity these days owing to the widespread use of processed imitation ingredients. Banana cream pies made with instant pudding and artificial whipped topping are fine for those occasions when you are cooking for people you aren't particularly fond of, but please use this recipe at all other times.

Banana Cream Pie

A 9-inch (23 cm) pastry pie crust or Graham cracker crust
3/4 cup (180 ml) sugar
2 Tbs (30 ml) cornstarch
A pinch of salt
2 eggs
2 cups (500 ml) milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped, or 2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup (250 ml) thinly sliced bananas

For the topping:
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
2 Tbs powdered (confectioner's) sugar
1/2 tsp (2 ml) vanilla extract
1 Tbs (15 ml) rum or brandy (optional)

Pre-bake the pie crust by lining it with a piece of buttered aluminum foil, filling it with pie weights, beans, or rice, and baking it in a preheated 425º F (220º C) oven for 12 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350º F (180º C), carefully remove the foil and the weights, and bake until deep golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Note: Many prepared Graham cracker pie crusts are already pre-baked. Check the label before following the above directions.

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a pot. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and cream in a mixing bowl. Stir the milk mixture into the sugar mixture, add the vanilla, and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter until melted and thoroughly incorporated, and fold in the sliced bananas. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before pouring into the pre-baked pie shell. Cover with plastic wrap (press the plastic wrap directly onto the pudding mixture in order to prevent a skin from forming) and refrigerate until cool. Immediately before serving, combine the topping ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Serve pie topped with whipped cream. Serves 6 to 8.

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It is odd that prunes are considered primarily as a laxative in the United States, while in Belgium and the rest of Europe they are considered one of the finest of the dried fruits. Regardless of where you live and your thoughts about prunes, this tart elevates them to new heights.

Belgian Prune Tart (Pruimentaart, Tarte aux Pruneaux)

1/2 lb (225 g) pitted prunes
3/4 cup (180 ml) water
1/2 cup (125 ml) plus 1 Tbs (15 ml) sugar
2 Tbs (30 ml) lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
A grating of fresh nutmeg
1 recipe Belgian yeast dough (see below)
2 Tbs (30 ml) Cognac or dark rum (optional)
Whipped cream for garnish (optional)

Combine the prunes, water, 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg in a pot and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, discard the cinnamon stick, and allow to cool.

Roll out the dough into a circle about 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick. Generously butter and flour a 12-inch (30 cm) or two 8-inch (20 cm) tart pans or pie pans. Press the dough into the bottom and sides of the prepared pan. Trim and crimp the edges as desired. Prick holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 20 minutes.

When the prunes have cooled to lukewarm, purée in an electric blender or food processor. Stir in the optional Cognac or rum. Spread the prune mixture over the dough and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of sugar. Bake in a preheated 325º F (160º C) oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is medium brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes one 12-inch tart or two 8-inch tarts, to serve 8 to 12.

Belgian Yeast Dough

1 packet (1 Tbs, 15 ml) active dry yeast
1/4 cup (60 ml) warm milk
11/2 cups (375 ml) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
A grating of fresh nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
3 Tbs (45 ml) unsalted butter, melted

Stir the yeast into the milk in a small bowl, and allow to proof for 5 minutes. Place dry ingredients in the bowl of an electric food processor and pulse a few times to combine. With the motor running, add the yeast mixture, egg, and melted butter. Remove the dough as soon as it forms a ball, and knead briefly on a floured surface, adding just enough flour so the dough does not stick to your fingers. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a dish cloth, and allow to rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

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Here's a cake that's so full of flavor that is doesn't need a frosting.

Berry Bundt Cake

5 eggs
12/3 cups (415 ml) sugar
11/4 cups (310 ml) butter at room temperature
2 Tbs (30 ml) kirsch, Grand Marnier, or water
21/2 cups (625 ml) all-purpose flour
3 cups (750 ml) mixed berries
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
Powdered (confectioner's) sugar for garnish

Blend the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the butter and liqueur and beat until light and fluffy. Toss the berries with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the flour to coat well. Add the remaining flour and baking powder to the egg mixture and beat until the batter is smooth. Fold in the berries and pour the batter into a greased and floured 9-inch (23 cm) Bundt or tube pan. Bake in a preheated 325º F (165º C) oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cool for 20 minutes before removing from the pan. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack and dust with powdered sugar immediately before serving. Serves 10 to 12.

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Long-time readers of the ezine know that I don't often publish cake recipes, preferring lighter and healthier desserts. This recipe is such a classic that I decided it's time for a sweet indulgence.

Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte)

For the cake:
10 Tbs (150 ml) unsalted butter
6 eggs
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/2 cup (125 ml) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (125 ml) unsweetened cocoa

Clarify the butter by melting it in a small saucepan over low heat. Skim off the foam and pour the clear liquid into a small bowl, discarding the solids in the bottom of the pan. Set aside. Beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine the flour and cocoa in a sifter and add to the egg mixture a little at a time, folding it in gently with each addition. Fold in the clarified butter about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) at a time, folding just enough to incorporate the butter. Pour the batter into three buttered and floured 7- to 8-inch (17-20 cm) round cake pans. Bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks for about 5 minutes, then run the blade of a small knife around the edges of the cakes and invert them onto wire racks to cool to room temperature.

For the syrup:
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
1/2 cup (125 ml) kirsch

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and boil uncovered over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and stir in the kirsch. Drizzle or brush the syrup over the cooled cakes.

For the topping:
3 cups (750 ml) heavy cream
1/2 cup (125 ml) powdered (confectioner's) sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) kirsch
1 cup canned sour cherries, rinsed and drained
Fresh sweet cherries with stems or maraschino cherries for garnish
Chocolate curls* for garnish

Beat the cream until it has thickened slightly. Add the powdered sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Beat in the kirsch.

To assemble, place one of the three layers on a serving platter. Spread about 1/4 of the whipped cream over the cake and scatter half the cherries on top. Gently place the second cake on top and repeat. Place the third cake on top and cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining whipped cream. Garnish with cherries and chocolate curls. Makes one cake to serve 8 to 10.

* To make chocolate curls, use a vegetable peeler to shave thin slices off an 8-ounce (225 g) block of semisweet chocolate that is at room temperature but still firm. Work directly over waxed paper and refrigerate or freeze the chocolate curls until needed, handling them as little as possible.

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This rich, moist cake was my father's choice for his birthday dinner for many years. It keeps well for up to a week, and is great served with a dollop of whipped cream, a sprinkle of powdered sugar, or all by itself.

Chocolate Date Cake

Step 1:
4 oz (110 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 egg yolk
1 cup (250 ml) chopped dates
1 cup (250 ml) chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup (250 ml) milk
2/3 cup (160 ml) sugar

Step 2:
2 cups (500 ml) sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) vegetable shortening or butter
1/2 cup (125 ml) milk mixed with
1 tsp (5 ml) lemon juice or distilled vinegar
1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
3 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Combine the ingredients in step 1 in a large saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is slightly thickened. Let cool. Stir in the remaining ingredients, folding in the beaten egg whites last. Pour into a greased 8-inch (20 cm) square cake pan and bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serves 8 to 12.

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This honey-sweet and cranberry-tart confection livens up the table with its bright red filling. This recipe also features what must be the easiest pie crust of them all.

Cranberry and Port Tart

For the dough:
13/4 cups (430 ml) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (180 ml) butter at room temperature
1/2 cup (125 ml) confectioner's sugar

For the filling:
1/4 cup (60 ml) apricot preserves
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped walnuts or pecans
1 envelope (1 Tbs, 15 ml) unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water
3 cups (750 ml) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup (250 ml) port wine or apple juice
1/2 cup (125 ml) honey
Whipped cream for garnish

Combine the ingredients for the dough in a bowl and mix to form a dough. Press the dough into a 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate, tart pan, or springform pan. Bake in a preheated 375º F (190º C) oven until set and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool 10 minutes. Spread the apricot preserves over the crust and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Dissolve the gelatin in the cold water in a medium-sized saucepan and let it stand for 5 minutes, until the gelatin has softened. Add the cranberries, wine, and honey and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Boil for 5 minutes and allow to cool to room temperature. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and refrigerate at least 3 hours, until the filling has set. Serve topped with whipped cream. Serves 6 to 8.

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My imaginary girlfriend Betty Lou knows I prefer desserts that feature fresh fruits, but she also knows that I'm a sucker for anything creamy and sweet and smooth. This is a recipe she picked up from an aunt who used to be an assistant pastry chef at a well known New York City restaurant. She calls it "Aunt Minnie's Lemon Pie," but I have re-christened it.

Creamy Lemon Tart

Pastry crust (purchased or your favorite recipe) for a 9-inch (23 cm) pie
3/4 cup (180 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
2 Tbs (30 ml) heavy cream
3 eggs
2 egg yolks

Line a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with the pastry dough and place in the freezer for 1 hour or overnight. Bake the chilled or frozen pie shell in a preheated 375º F (190º C) oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and leave the oven on. Whisk together the lemon juice and sugar, followed by the cream, eggs and egg yolks, until thoroughly combined. Pour into a saucepan and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until the filling thickens, about 5 minutes. Do not boil. Pour through a strainer into the pie shell and bake for 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and serve at room temperature or slightly chilled. Serves 6 to 8.

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Pies don't come much easier or tastier than this one, especially if you use a prepared pie shell.

Easy Lemon Pie

1 can (15 oz, 420 g) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs (15 ml) grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
1 9-inch (22 cm) baked or prepared pie shell
Whipped cream for garnish (optional)

Combine the sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, lemon rind, and salt in a bowl and stir until well combined and thickened. Pour into the pie crust and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Top with whipped cream if desired. Makes one 9-inch (22 cm) pie to serve 6 to 8.

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Everyone has a favorite banana bread recipe, but how many of them are fat-free and egg-free? This one is probably a little heavier than the recipe you use now, but it tastes great.

Fat-Free Banana Bread

6 ripe bananas (the riper the better)
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking soda
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup (250 ml) raisins (optional)

Mash the bananas and sugar together. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the banana mixture, the optional raisins, and vanilla, stirring until thoroughly blended. Pour into non-stick loaf pan and bake at 350º F (180º C) for 1 hour. Remove from pan while still warm, and allow to cool before slicing. Makes approximately 8 servings.

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I have published recipes for clafoutis in the past, but this one is simpler and easier than the classic version. Traditionally made with unpitted cherries, you can use virtually any fresh fruit or berry in place of the raspberries in this recipe.

French Raspberry and Custard Pie (Clafoutis aux Framboises)

3 Tbs (45 ml) butter
1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
11/2 tsp (7 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
3/4 cup (180 ml) milk
21/2 cups (625 ml) fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed if using frozen
Whipped cream for garnish (optional)

Place the butter in a deep 9-inch (23 cm) pie or cake pan and heat in a preheated 375º F (190º C) oven until the butter is melted. Meanwhile, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the milk until smooth. Pour the batter into the pie pan and pour the raspberries (including any juices) into the middle of the batter-do not stir. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the custard is set in the middle. Serve warm or cold, garnished with whipped cream if desired. Serves 6 to 8.

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This is my mother's recipe for fresh peach pie, and since some of the peaches aren't cooked at all, it really is important to use peaches that are as fresh and ripe as possible.

Fresh Peach Pie

4 cups (1 L) peeled, pitted, and sliced fresh peaches
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
3 Tbs (45 ml) cornstarch (cornflour)
A 9-inch (23 cm) Graham cracker or baked pastry pie shell

For the topping:
1 cup (250 ml) sour cream
1 Tbs (15 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
A generous grating of fresh nutmeg

Combine half the peaches with the sugar, water, and cornstarch in a saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Simmer until the mixture has thickened and the peaches are tender, about 20 minutes. Mash the peaches with a wooden spoon to form a coarse purée. Place the remaining peaches in the pie shell and pour the puréed peach mixture over them. Combine the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla, stirring to mix thoroughly. Pour over the peaches, top with the nutmeg, and bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours. Serves 6 to 8.

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This bread saves you the trouble of having to spread strawberry jam on your morning toast-the strawberries are baked in the bread. You can eat it plain, toasted, or "all dolled-up" as in my recipe.

Fresh Strawberry Bread

2 cups (500 ml) fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
13/4 cups (430 ml) bread or all purpose flour
1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking powder
3/4 cup (180 ml) sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) butter or other shortening
2 eggs
1/3 cup (80 ml) water
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped walnuts
Cream cheese, softened (optional)
Ground cinnamon (optional)

Crush enough of the strawberries to fill 1 cup (250 ml). Pour into a small saucepan and heat over a medium flame. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Slice the remaining strawberries and chill. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. In a large mixing bowl beat the sugar and butter together and then add the eggs and water, mixing until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing well to blend. Stir in the crushed strawberries and walnuts. Spoon the mixture into a greased 8x4x4 inch (approx. 20x10x10 cm) loaf pan. Bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. When the loaf has cooled in the pan for 10 minutes, turn onto a rack to cool. Cut into slices, spread with softened cream cheese, add a light dusting of cinnamon, and top with the reserved chilled strawberries. Makes one loaf.

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If you are asking yourself questions like "how can you improve on fresh strawberries?" and "why would you want to ruin them by baking them in a pie?" then this recipe is for you.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

6 cups (1.5 L) firm ripe strawberries
1 9-inch (20 to 25 cm) pastry pie crust, baked and cooled
1/2 cup (125 ml) plus 1 Tbs (15 ml) sugar
3 Tbs (45 ml) cornstarch (cornflour)
2 Tbs (30 ml) cold water
1 Tbs (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream

Pick over the berries carefully, removing the stems and hulls. Wash in a sieve or colander under cold running water and place on paper towels to drain. Pat the berries completely dry. Arrange half of them (the most perfect ones) in the pie shell and set aside. Coarsely chop the remaining berries and combine them with 1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar in a stainless steel saucepan. Bring the berries to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. In a small bowl mix the cornstarch, water, and lemon juice together to form a smooth paste. Pour the paste into the strawberry mixture, stirring constantly, and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Purée the strawberry mixture through a fine mesh sieve, pressing down hard with a wooden spoon or spatula to extract as much of the berries as possible before discarding the seeds. Taste the purée and add more lemon juice or sugar, as desired. Pour the purée over the berries and spread it evenly with a rubber spatula. Cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil or wax paper and refrigerate for at least two hours. Just before serving whip the cream and 1 Tbs (15 ml) sugar until it is stiff. Spread on top of the pie, making decorative swirls with the spatula, and serve immediately. Alternately, you may serve the whipped cream on the side and allow diners to help themselves. Serves 6 to 8.

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We have already discussed the popularity of mint with fruits, and thyme is another herb that pairs nicely with fruits of all kinds. Try adding a pinch to any fruit salad, compote, or fruit preserves.

Herbed Plum Tart

1 prepared 9-inch (23 cm) pastry shell or your favorite pastry recipe
11/2 lbs (675 g) ripe red plums, quartered and pitted
1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar
1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (60 ml) plum or red currant jelly
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

Press the pastry dough into a 9-inch (23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven until fully baked and golden brown. Cool the tart shell on a wire rack. Meanwhile, combine the quartered plums, sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl and toss to combine. Combine the jelly and thyme in a small saucepan and heat over low heat just until melted. Brush the inside of the baked shell with half the jelly. Arrange the plums skin side up in the tart shell, overlapping them slightly. Brush with the remaining jelly mixture. Cover the rim of the pastry with aluminum foil to prevent it from overcooking and bake an additional 30 minutes, until plums are tender. Cool on a wire rack and serve warm, chilled, or at room temperature. Makes one tart to serve 6 to 8.

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Key limes are not widely available, but bottled key lime juice isn't quite so hard to find. If the bottled juice is available in your supermarket, please leave it there and use the fresh juice of regular limes instead.

Key Lime Pie

A 9-inch (23 cm) pastry or Graham cracker pie crust
4 eggs, separated
1 can (14 oz, 390 g) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup (80 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
A pinch of salt
A pinch of cream of tartar (tartaric acid)
1/4 cup (60 ml) powdered (confectioner's) sugar

Prebake the pie crust in a 350º F (180º C) oven until light golden brown. Remove the crust from the oven but leave the oven on. Beat the egg yolks slightly and beat in the condensed milk and the lime juice. Pour into the warm pie crust and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the filling is slightly firm. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar until foamy. Whisk in the sugar and continue whisking until the mixture is shiny and stiff peaks form. Cover the pie with the meringue, making sure the meringue touches the crust all around the edges. Bake until the meringue is lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and refrigerate. Serve chilled. Makes 1 pie to serve 6 to 8.

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If the truth be told, you can really top this tart with any fresh fruit. Kiwi fruit makes an attractive and colorful presentation, but so would sliced strawberries, plums, or peaches.

Kiwi Tart

A 9-inch (23 cm) pastry crust
1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar
2 Tbs (30 ml) cornstarch (cornflour)
11/4 cups (300 ml) milk
1 Tbs (15 ml) lemon juice
1 tsp (5 ml) grated lemon peel
1 egg, lightly beaten
5-6 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup (60 ml) apricot preserves, warmed (optional)

Line the pie crust with wax paper or aluminum foil, fill with weights (rice or dried beans), and bake in a preheated 425º F (220º C) oven until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Meanwhile, combine the sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Stir in the milk, lemon juice, lemon peel, and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring constantly. Stir several tablespoons of the milk mixture into the beaten egg, then stir the egg mixture into the custard. Stir constantly over low heat for 1 minute, until the custard thickens. Pour the hot custard into the pie shell and spread evenly. Cover the custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the custard sets, at least 2 hours. Arrange the kiwi slices on top of the custard and refrigerate until ready to serve. For a professional touch, brush the kiwi fruit with warm apricot preserves. Serves 6 to 8.

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Some people prefer their cheesecakes light and airy but I prefer mine rich and dense, as in this recipe.

Lemon Cheesecake

2 Tbs (30 ml) butter, melted
1/4 cup (60 ml) Graham cracker crumbs, or cookie crumbs of your choice
2 lbs (900 g) cream cheese
11/4 cups (310 ml) sugar
4 eggs
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
1/4 cup (60 ml) sour cream

Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan with the melted butter. Coat the bottom evenly with the crumbs and set aside. Beat the cream cheese with an electric beater until smooth. Add the sugar gradually, beating until dissolved. Continue beating while adding the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl before adding the next egg. Add the lemon zest, juice, and vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the heavy cream and sour cream. Pour the batter into the springform pan and bake in a preheated 500º F (260º C) for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 200º F (90º C), leaving the oven door open until the temperature is reduced. Bake about 1 hour, until the cheesecake is firm around the edges but still jiggles in the center when the pan is moved. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Serves 12 to 16.

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I like pound cakes not only for their texture and flavor, but for their versatility as well. Eat this all by itself, or toast it for a breakfast treat, or use it as a base for your favorite ice cream or sweet sauce.

Lemon Pound Cake

3/4 cup (180 ml) sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) butter, softened
1 cup (250 ml) sour cream
3 egg whites
1 Tbs (15 ml) lemon juice
Grated rind of 1 lemon
21/2 cups (675 ml) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
A grating of fresh nutmeg
1 recipe lemon syrup (see below)

Beat the sugar and bitter together until light and fluffy. Add the sour cream, egg whites, lemon juice, and lemon rind, and beat until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda, and nutmeg and beat until smooth. Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Spoon the warm lemon syrup over the cake, allowing it to soak in. Makes 1 cake to serve 8 to 12.

Lemon Syrup

1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) water

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cool slightly before pouring over cake. Makes about 3/4 cup (180 ml).

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This Virgin Islands variation on the upside-down cake takes advantage of the fresh mangoes that many of my readers around the world have in abundance.

Mango Upside-Down Cake

2 cups (500 ml) peeled and sliced ripe mangoes
2 Tbs (30 ml) lemon juice
1 Tbs (15 ml) plus 1/4 cup (60 ml) butter
1/3 cup (80 ml) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
1 egg
11/4 cups (310 ml) flour
1 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground ginger
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
1/2 cup (125 ml) milk

Combine the sliced mangoes and lemon juice in a non-reactive bowl and toss to coat the mangoes. Allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Melt the tablespoon (15 ml) of butter in an 8 inch (20 cm) cake pan or non-reactive casserole. Using an iron skillet will cause the mangoes to discolor. Add the brown sugar and arrange the mango slices in an attractive pattern. In a separate bowl, cream the remaining butter and sugar and beat in the egg. Add the remaining dry ingredients one third at a time, alternating with the milk, and beat until the batter is smooth. Pour over the mangoes. Bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.

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Who says there is no such thing as a recipe for nectarines? Actually, this was originally a recipe for a peach pie, which you may certainly use instead of nectarines.

Nectarine Custard Pie

3/4 cup (180 ml) sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground nutmeg
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream or half-and-half
4-5 nectarines, pitted and sliced into wedges
A 9-inch unbaked pastry shell

Combine the sugar, flour, and nutmeg in a mixing bowl, stirring to combine well. Stir in the cream to make a thin, smooth mixture. Arrange the nectarine slices attractively in the pastry shell and pour in the liquid mixture. Bake in a preheated 400º F (200º C) oven for 50 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350º F (180º C) and continue to bake until the custard has set, about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature and chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

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Here's an alternative to the banana breads, carrot cakes, and other yeastless sweet breads that seem to be everywhere.

Orange Bread

2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
2 Tbs (30 ml) butter
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup (60 ml) orange juice
3/4 cup (180 ml) hot water
The grated rind of 1 orange

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. In a separate bowl combine the orange juice, water, and orange rind. Add the dry and wet ingredients a little at a time to the butter mixture, alternating dry and wet, beating well after each addition. Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 5 x 3-inch (22 x 12 x 7 cm) loaf pan and bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Makes 1 loaf.

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This is a classic upside-down cake, and as such you will need a 10-inch (25 cm) cast iron skillet if you want to make it. You can use fresh plums, mangoes, and pineapple instead of peaches, so change this recipe with the seasons as different fruits become available.

Peach Upside-Down Cake

For the topping:
4 Tbs (60 ml) butter
3/4 cup (180 ml) brown sugar
4 peaches or nectarines, pitted and cut into thick wedges

For the cake:
11/2 cups (375 ml) all-purpose flour
11/2 tsp (7 ml) baking powder
3 Tbs (45 ml) cornmeal
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
8 Tbs (120 ml) butter
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
4 eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
2/3 cup (160 ml) milk

Heat the butter and brown sugar in a 10-inch (25 cm) cast iron skillet over moderate heat. Cook until foamy and pale, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and arrange the peaches attractively in the skillet. Set aside. Mix together the flour, baking powder, cornmeal, and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and milk gradually in 3 or 4 steps and beat just until the batter is smooth. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold about 1/4 of the whites into the batter, and then fold in the remaining whites until thoroughly incorporated. Gently pour that batter into the skillet, spreading it carefully to cover the peaches without disturbing them. Bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven until the top is golden brown and puffy and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake (not the topping) comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool the skillet on a wire rack for 2 minutes. Cut around the edge of the skillet with a paring knife to free the cake. Place a serving platter over the skillet and invert them both. Carefully remove the skillet. If any of the peaches stick to the skillet, replace them on top of the cake. Serve warm, chilled, or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.

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Every good cook knows that sometimes less is more, and this simple tart stands as proof to those who would doubt this wisdom.

Plum Tart

Pastry dough (frozen or your favorite recipe) for a 10-inch pie
1/2 cup (125 ml) cookie or Graham cracker crumbs
3 lbs (1350 g) ripe plums, halved lengthwise and pitted
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar mixed with
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon

Line a 10-inch pie or tart pan with the dough and prick it with a fork. Sprinkle with the cookie crumbs. Fill with the plum halves, packing them tightly and placing them so they are almost vertical and leaning against each other. Sprinkle with about 3/4 of the sugar mixture and bake in a preheated 375º F (190º C) oven for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture. Serve warm. Serves 6 to 8.

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This little loaf makes a wonderful low-fat accompaniment to a breakfast or brunch menu, and is great all by itself as a snack at any time of day. Try it toasted with a little bit of honey or your favorite preserves.

Prune and Nut Loaf

2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 ml) whole wheat flour
1/3 cup (80 ml) sugar
1 Tbs (15 ml) plus 1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
11/2 cups (375 ml) milk
1 egg
3 Tbs (45 ml) butter, melted
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
36 pitted prunes, chopped (about 3 cups)
30 whole shelled almonds, chopped

Combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine the milk, egg, butter and vanilla and beat slightly with a fork. Stir into the flour mixture until combined-do not over mix. Fold in prunes and almonds. Spoon into a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan that has been sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray. Bake at 325º F (160º C) for 45 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Makes 12 to 18 servings.

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The people of Puerto Rico are proud of the variety of desserts offered in homes and on restaurant menus, and this one demonstrates why.

Puerto Rican Guava Cake

10 Tbs (150 ml) butter
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
2 cups (500 ml) flour
1 Tbs (15 ml) baking powder
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cinnamon
1 tsp (5 ml) ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
2 eggs
1 lb (450 g) guava paste*, cut into 16 slices

* Available in finer supermarkets and Hispanic specialty shops.

Beat the butter an sugar together until light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt and add the butter mixture, mixing until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well. Spoon half the batter into a buttered 8x8x2 inch (20x20x5 cm) baking pan. Top with the sliced guava paste and cover with the remaining batter. Bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Serves 8 to 12.

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Everyone loves lemon meringue pie, and in Puerto Rico they take advantage of local limes to give it a tropical twist. Take this to your next pot-luck supper, and when people ask, tell them you got the recipe on your last trip to San Juan.

Puerto Rican Lime Meringue Pie (Pastel de Limón)

A 9-inch (22 cm) pie crust, your favorite recipe or packaged

For the filling:
3/4 cup (180 ml) cornstarch (cornflour)
4 egg yolks (reserve the white for the meringue)
21/2 cups (675 ml) water
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lime juice
2 cups (500 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
4 Tbs (60 ml) butter

For the meringue:
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking powder
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
1 Tbs (15 ml) fresh lime juice

Bake the pie crust in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for about 30 minutes, or according to the package directions, until light golden brown. Cool and set aside.

Combine the cornstarch and 1 cup (250 ml) of the water in a saucepan and whisk until combined. Add the remaining water and filling ingredients and whisk to combine. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thick and boiling. Pour into the baked pie shell.

Beat the egg whites until stiff. Add the remaining meringue ingredients, beating until thoroughly combined. Top the pie filling with the egg white mixture, spreading it just to the edge of the pie crust. Bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for about 15 minutes, until light golden brown. Overcooking will cause the meringue to crack when serving. Cool and refrigerate before serving. Makes one 9-inch pie to serve 6 to 8.

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In spite of being a quick and easy recipe, these cookies look so elegant that your guests will think you bought them at a bakery.

Quick Fruit Pinwheels

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (about 9 oz, 250 g), thawed
About 1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
About 1/2 cup (125 ml) jam or preserves of your choice

Roll the pastry out just enough to remove the creases. Brush with water, roll up like a jellyroll, and cut into 1/4-inch (5 mm) rounds. Place the sugar on a plate and press one side of the pastry rounds in the sugar. Arrange sugar side up on a baking sheet. Form a small hollow in the center of each round by pressing with a finger. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) of jam into each hollow and sprinkle with additional sugar. Bake in a preheated 400º F (200º C) oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

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I have to admit that when it comes to cheesecakes, I something of a purist. I think it's hard to beat the classic, unadorned New York-style cheesecake, but I'm also a sucker for anything with raspberries or white chocolate, so I am more than willing to bend my principles in order to enjoy this cheesecake.

Raspberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake

For the crust:
4 Tbs (60 ml) butter, melted
1 cup (250 ml) crushed ginger snaps or Graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped walnuts or pecans

For the filling:
11/2 cups (375 ml) mascarpone cheese
1 cup (250 ml) cream cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup (60 ml) confectioner's sugar
9 oz (9 squares, 250 g) white chocolate
11/2 cups (375 ml) fresh or frozen raspberries

For the topping:
1/2 cup (125 ml) mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup (80 ml) cream cheese
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
White chocolate curls and fresh raspberries for garnish (optional)

Mix together the ingredients for the crust and press into the bottom of a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan. To make the filling, combine the mascarpone, cream cheese, eggs, and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth and thoroughly combined. Melt the white chocolate in a pot set over hot water or in the microwave, then stir into the mascarpone mixture along with the raspberries. Pour the mixture into the springform pan and smooth with a spatula. Bake in a preheated 300º F (150º C) oven for 1 hour, until just set. Turn off the oven but do not remove the cake from the oven until completely cooled and set. Remove the sides of the pan and carefully transfer the cake to a serving plate. Combine the ingredients for the topping and beat until smooth and thoroughly combined. Spread onto the cake and top with white chocolate curls and fresh raspberries if desired. Serves 8 to 12.

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This recipe is so delicious, quick, and easy, that I guarantee if you make it once you'll make it more than once. Any fresh berries may be used, but I am especially fond of strawberries.

Sour Cream Strawberry Pie

3 eggs
3/4 cup (180 ml) sugar
3/4 cup (180 ml) sour cream
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 prepared Graham cracker or Zwieback 9-inch (23 cm) pie shell

Beat the eggs and the sugar together. Beat in the sour cream, and fold in the strawberries. Pour into the pie shell and bake in a preheated 325º F (160º C) oven until the custard is firm, about 1 hour. Serve warm or chilled. Make 1 pie to serve 6 to 8.

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The culinary term "short" refers to a pastry or dough that has a high ratio of fat to flour. Be sure to use real butter for this recipe; any substitution will be at the sacrifice of both flavor and texture.

Strawberry Shortcake

4 cups (1 L) fresh strawberries, hulled and cut in half
1 cup (250 ml) plus 2 Tbs (30 ml) sugar
2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour
3 Tbs (45 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
1/2 cup (125 ml) unsalted butter
1 cup (250 ml) milk
1/2 tsp (2 ml) vanilla extract
Whipped cream for garnish

Toss the strawberries with 1 cup (250 ml) sugar in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. In a separate bowl combine the 2 tablespoons sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend in the butter. Add the milk and vanilla and mix well. Grease two 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pans and divide the batter between them. Bake in a preheated 450º F (230º C) oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool. Place one cake upside-down on a serving platter and top with half the strawberries. Top with the remaining cake layer and the rest of the strawberries. Serve garnished with whipped cream. Serves 6 to 8.

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This is a classic French dessert, their version of an upside-down apple pie.

Tarte Tatin

1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour
2 Tbs (30 ml) sugar
3 Tbs (45 ml) cold butter
2 to 3 Tbs (30 to 45 ml) ice water
21/2 lbs (1 Kg) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) slices
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
A grating of fresh nutmeg
1 Tbs (15 ml) lemon juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar
2 Tbs (30 ml) butter

Combine the flour and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) sugar in a bowl. Using a pair of knives, cut the 3 tablespoons (45 ml) butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork just until the dough holds together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a circle about 1 inch (2 cm) larger than the skillet you are going to use. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Combine the apples, 1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar, and the nutmeg in a bowl and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and set aside.

Place 1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar in the bottom of a heavy 10 or 11 inch (25 or 28 cm) skillet and cook over medium heat until the sugar melts and turns golden brown. Add the apple mixture and the 2 tablespoons butter and cook for 5 minutes, or until the apples are just tender. Remove from the heat. Arrange the apples so as to form a slight mound in the center of the skillet. Place the pastry on top of the apples and tuck in the edges. Cut two or three slits in the pastry to allow steam to escape. Bake at 425º F (210º C) for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. While still hot, turn the tarte out onto a serving platter so the crust is on the bottom. Serve war or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.

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This recipe can be made with dried peaches or any other dried fruit.

Viennese Apricot Pie

2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups (500 ml) sour cream
11/2 cups (375 ml) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 1/3 cup (80 ml) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
11/2 cups (375 ml) dried apricots, plumped in warm water, and cut into small pieces
1 unbaked 10 inch (25 cm) pie shell
1/2 cup (125 ml) brown sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) butter
Whipped cream (optional)

Combine the eggs, sour cream, sugar, 1/4 cup (60 ml) flour, salt, and almond extract, beating well. Stir in the apricots and pour into the prepared pie shell. Bake in a preheated 400º F (200º C) oven for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the 1/3 cup (80 ml) flour with the brown sugar. Mix well, then cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Remove the pie from the oven after 25 minutes and sprinkle with the brown sugar mixture. Return the pie to the oven and bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until the filling is set. Cool to room temperature or serve chilled, with whipped cream if desired. Serves 6 to 8.

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Pastries and baked goods are rare in most Asian countries, but Vietnam is an exception. In fact, some of the best French style breads available anywhere are baked in Vietnam as a legacy of the French colonial rule. Of course, this recipe is more on the sweet side.

Vietnamese Banana Cake with Cashews

3 eggs
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
3/4 cup (180 ml) cream
11/2 cups (375 ml) all-purpose flour, sifted
4 lbs (2 Kg) very ripe bananas, peeled and slightly mashed
11/2 cups (375 ml) coarsely chopped cashews
1 cup (250 ml) grated coconut
1 tsp (5 ml) Chinese five-spice powder

Beat the eggs and sugar together until thick and pale. Add the cream and stir to combine. Add the flour, bananas, cashews, coconut, and five-spice powder and stir just enough to combine the ingredients. Pour into two greased and floured 8 inch (20 cm) cake pans and bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for about 1 hour, until the top is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes two 8-inch (20 cm) cakes.

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In keeping with Jewish dietary laws, this is a flourless cake, with ground almonds forming the base of the batter. You can grind almonds in a food processor if you are not able to find commercially prepared ground almonds in your neighborhood. Just be careful not to over-process them, as this will result in an almond paste.

Walnut and Orange Passover Cake

6 eggs, separated
11/2 cups (375 ml) sugar
3/4 cup (180 ml) ground almonds
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
11/2 cups (375 ml) walnuts, chopped
Oil and matzo meal* for the cake pan

* Flour may be substituted for a non-kosher version

Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the almonds, orange rind and juice, and walnuts, mixing until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and fold into the nut mixture. Oil a 9 inch (23 cm) springform pan (non-stick if possible) and dust with matzo meal. Pour in the batter and bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for 11/2 hours, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Breakfast and Brunch Dishes

Here is a quick, easy, and delicious treat for your breakfast crowd.

Apple Cake

1 egg
2/3 cup (160 ml) milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) melted butter
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
2 cups (500 ml) flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
4 apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
2 tsp (10 ml) cinnamon mixed with 2 Tbs (30 ml) sugar

Mix the egg, milk, butter, and vanilla together in a small bowl. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and add the egg mixture. Mix with just a few strokes until combined. Pour into a greased 9-inch (23 cm) cake pan at least 2 inches (5 cm) deep. Arrange the apple slices on top of the batter and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Bake in a preheated 375º F (190º C) oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes on 9-inch (23 cm) cake to serve 6 to 8.

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These pancakes and the accompanying syrup will make you think you're having apple pie for breakfast.

Apple Pecan Pancakes with Apple Spice Syrup

1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour
2 Tbs (30 ml) brown sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (180 ml) plus 2 Tbs (30 ml) milk
2 eggs, separated, whites stiffly beaten
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/2 cup (125 ml) peeled and finely chopped apple
1/2 cup (125 ml) finely chopped pecans

Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Stir in the milk, egg yolks, and vanilla. Fold in the apple, pecans, and beaten egg whites. Using a 1/4-cup (60 ml) measure, drop onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or skillet. Turn when bubbles form on the surface and the edges are golden brown. Serve with apple spice syrup (see below). Makes 12 pancakes.

Apple Spice Syrup

1/4 cup (60 ml) packed brown sugar
2 Tbs (30 ml) cornstarch (cornflour)
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground allspice
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground nutmeg
2 cups (500 ml) apple juice or cider

Combine the brown sugar, cornstarch, and spices in a saucepan and mix well. Add the juice and stir over moderate heat until the syrup boils and is slightly thickened. Cool slightly before serving. Makes 2 cups (500 ml).

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Nothing beats fresh fruit for breakfast, and this dish can easily be assembled the night before and popped into the oven the next morning.

Baked Fruit Compote

8-12 small peaches, apples, or pears, peeled, cored, and quartered
2/3 cup (160 ml) red wine or water
2/3 cup (160 ml) sugar
1/2 lemon or lime, thinly sliced and seeded
1 stick cinnamon
3 whole cloves
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
1 star anise (optional)
6 whole black peppercorns (optional)

Place the fruit in a baking dish. Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved-do not boil. Pour the liquid over the fruit and bake covered in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven until the fruit is tender, 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Serve warm, chilled, or at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6.

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This recipe hails from Jamaica, as one might guess from the accompanying butter rum sauce. Consider serving this dish for dessert as well as at the breakfast table.

Banana Cinnamon Pancakes

1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour
11/ tsp (5 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
1 cup (250 ml) milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbs (30 ml) vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
2-3 bananas, peeled and mashed

Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the milk, sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla extract. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until almost smooth. Add the bananas, stirring to combine, and allow the batter to rest for 30 minutes. For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the batter onto a lightly greased non-stick skillet over moderate heat. Cook until small bubbles form on the surface, about 1 minute. Turn the pancakes and cook an additional 30 to 45 seconds, until golden brown. Serve with butter rum sauce (recipe below) or syrup of your choice. Makes about 12 pancakes, to serve 3 to 4.

Butter Rum Sauce

3/4 cup (180 ml) maple syrup
2 Tbs (30 ml) butter
2 Tbs (30 ml) dark rum

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over moderate heat until the butter has melted. Makes 1 cup (250 ml).

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This breakfast treat makes good use of my favorite berries.

Blueberry Blintzes

For the blintzes:
1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 cup (250 ml) milk
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
Butter for frying
For the filling:
11/2 cups (375 ml) cottage cheese or ricotta
1 cup (250 ml) fresh or thawed frozen blueberries (reserve about 1/4 cup (60 ml) for garnish)
2 Tbs (30 ml) bread crumbs
2 Tbs (30 ml) sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon

Powdered (confectioner's) sugar for garnish, optional

For the blintzes, combine the flour, eggs, milk, and salt in an electric blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Melt a small amount of butter in a crepe pan or 8-inch (20 cm) non-stick skillet over moderate heat. Pour in just enough batter to coat the bottom of the pan and cook on both sides until light golden brown. Turn onto a plate and repeat to make the remaining blintzes. Combine the filling ingredients and stir to mix thoroughly. Place a spoonful on each blintz, fold the ends towards the center and roll up. Melt a little butter in a saute pan and saute the blintzes until golden on both sides. Garnish with reserved blueberries and powdered sugar if desired. Serves 6 to 8.

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Here is an elegant way to dress up that old breakfast standby, the grapefruit. My mother used to serve this as the appetizer for fancy dinners, before the days when her budget would allow more pricey fare.

Broiled Grapefruit with Sherry

2-3 grapefruit, halved and sections loosened
4-6 Tbs (60-90 ml) brown sugar, or more to taste
4-6 Tbs (60-90 ml) dry sherry (optional)

Sprinkle a tablespoon (15 ml) of brown sugar or more to taste on each grapefruit half. Place under a preheated broiler and broil until the sugar bubbles, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of sherry to each half if desired. Serves 4 to 6.

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The flavor of bananas explodes when they're heated, and it's puzzling to me that we don't cook them more often.

Caramel Bananas

4 Tbs (60 ml) butter, melted
Juice of 1 lemon
4-6 ripe bananas, peeled
1/4 cup (60 ml) brown sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cinnamon
1 cup (250 ml) shredded coconut (optional)

Mix the melted butter and lemon juice together and pour them into a baking dish large enough to hold the bananas snugly in a single layer. Add the bananas and turn them to coat with the butter mixture. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle over the bananas. Bake in a preheated 400º F (200º C) oven until the butter begins to bubble, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the optional coconut over the bananas for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6.

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This refreshing drink has the added advantage of being healthful. If your children have a problem with carrot juice, just call it a "secret ingredient." What kid could resist that?

Carrot-Pineapple Juice

1 large carrot, shredded
1 cup (250 ml) water
1 can (8 oz., 227 g) crushed pineapple in juice
1/2 cup crushed ice

In a blender at medium speed blend carrots and water for about 1 minute. Strain through a fine sieve or clean kitchen towel and return liquid to blender. Add pineapple (along with juice) and ice and blend at medium speed until smooth. Serves 2.

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You'll enjoy these scones even if you can't get dried cherries in your part of the world; simply substitute raisins, currants, sultanas (golden raisins), dried cranberries, or any dried berry available to you.

Dried Cherry Scones

2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (80 ml) sugar
11/2 tsp (7 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking soda
6 Tbs (90 ml) chilled butter cut into small pieces
2/3 cup (160 ml) dried sour cherries
1/2 cup (125 ml) buttermilk
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 egg

Sift the dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or the tines of a fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the remaining ingredients to form a soft dough, mixing as little as possible. Pat the dough into an 8-inch (20 cm) circle on an ungreased baking sheet. Cut into 8 wedges using a serrated knife. Bake in a preheated 400º F (200º C) oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the scones comes out clean. Cool slightly before serving. Makes 8 scones.

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My family first discovered "smoothies" in Punta del Este, Uruguay in about 1967, where they were sold from a sidewalk cafe and called licuados. It only took about 30 years, but they have caught on in the US, no doubt because of their use of fresh fruit and other healthful ingredients. This version is made even more so by the use of non-fat dairy products.

Fat-Free Cantaloupe Smoothie

1/2 ripe cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 cup (250 ml) skim milk
1 cup (250 ml) unflavored or vanilla fat-free yogurt
1 cup (250 ml) crushed ice
2 Tbs (30 ml) sugar, or to taste

Combine all ingredients in an electric blender and process until smooth. Serves 2.

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Although I present this as a breakfast or brunch dish, it also serves as an economical, easy, and healthful dessert item. Use any fruit that is fresh and in season, and this will become a year-round family favorite.

Fruit Gratin

1 tsp (5 ml) butter
4 cups (1 L) thinly sliced peaches, pears, apples, nectarines, or plums, or mixed whole berries, or whole cherries, or any combination of fruits
1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar
2 Tbs (30 ml) butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped almonds, walnuts, pecans, or nut of your choice

Grease a 9-inch (25 cm) square baking pan with the teaspoon (5 ml) of butter. Place the fruit in the baking dish. In a small bowl combine the remaining ingredients with your fingers, tossing and pinching it until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit, pressing down gently. Bake in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the fruit, until the fruit is tender and the topping is golden and bubbling. Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6.

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Lemon and ginger make a great combination, and the food processor makes this recipe a snap to make.

Lemon Ginger Muffins

1 cup (250 ml) sugar
2 Tbs (30 ml) chopped fresh ginger
Zest from 1 lemon
8 Tbs (120 ml) butter
2 eggs
1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk or yogurt
2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour sifted with
1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda

Combine the sugar, ginger, and lemon zest in an electric food processor and process until the ginger and zest are finely ground. Add the butter and process until creamy and smooth. Add the eggs, process, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and process again until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the buttermilk and the flour mixture. Pour into greased and floured muffin pans and bake in a preheated 400º F (200º C) oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

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The bright flavor of lemons is a real eye-opener in the morning. Try these light, fluffy pancakes topped with fresh raspberries or strawberries.

Lemon Pancakes

3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup (60 ml) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (180 ml) cottage cheese or yogurt
4 Tbs (60 ml) butter, melted
3 Tbs (45 ml) sugar
A pinch of salt
The grated zest of 1 lemon

Beat the egg whites until stiff and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and remaining ingredients until thoroughly combined. Gently fold the egg whites into the flour mixture until it is uniform in color. Spoon about 3 tablespoons (45 ml) onto a lightly greased griddle over moderate heat and cook for about 11/2 minute. Turn and cook about 30 seconds. Serves 3 to 4.

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There seems to be no end to the requests I get for muffin recipes. Here is one that ought to satisfy those folks.

Low-Fat Blueberry Muffins

11/2 cups (375 ml) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup (125 ml) skim milk
2 Tbs (30 ml) vegetable oil
1/2 tsp (2 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup (250 ml) frozen blueberries, thawed and juices reserved

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, oil, vanilla, and about 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the reserved blueberry juice. Add this mixture along with the blueberries to the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. Fill muffin tins about 2/3 full with the batter and bake in a preheated 400º F (200º C) oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

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This Greek pie can be made with just about any fruit, either fresh or canned. In Greece, where fresh apricots are more plentiful than in most parts of the world, only fresh will do. I have modified the recipe for the benefit of those of us with easier access to canned apricots, but keep in mind that fresh peaches, cherries, apples, or strawberries could be substituted, along with an appropriate change of preserves.

Open-Face Apricot Pie

1 pie crust, frozen or made from your favorite recipe
2 Lbs (1 Kg) fresh or canned apricot halves, drained
11/2 cups (375 ml) apricot jam or preserves
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
2 Tbs (30 ml) melted butter
1/2 cup (125 ml) hot water
1/2 cup (125 ml) cognac (optional, substitute water)

Bake the pie crust in a 9-inch (22 cm) pie pan for about 15 minutes in a preheated 350º F (180º C) oven, until it is about half baked. Spread about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the apricot jam over the bottom of the pie crust in a thin layer. Add the apricots and sprinkle them with the sugar and drizzle with the melted butter. Return to the oven for an additional 20 minutes. Dissolve the remaining jam in the hot water and add the cognac. Pour this mixture over the apricots as soon as the pie is removed from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before serving. Makes one 9-inch (22 cm) pie.

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If you are looking for a quick, easy, and unusual breakfast treat, then look no further. A couple of minutes of work assembling the dish the night before, and a couple of minutes in front of the stove in the morning will provide a memorable taste treat.

Orange French Toast

6 eggs, beaten
1 cup (250 ml) orange juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
1/4 tsp (1 ml) vanilla extract
The finely grated zest of 1 orange
A pinch of salt
12 thick slices of French bread
Butter or vegetable oil for frying

Combine the eggs, orange juice, milk, vanilla, orange zest, and salt in a mixing bowl and mix well. Dip the bread in the egg mixture and place in a container large enough to hold them in a single layer. Pour any remaining egg mixture over the bread and refrigerate tightly covered overnight. Fry in a little butter in a skillet or griddle over moderate heat until golden brown on both sides. Serves 4 to 6.

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This recipe can be made using ripe cantaloupe or honeydew melon, but papaya gives it a true taste of the tropics.

Papaya Fritters

1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (125 ml) milk
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbs (30 ml) sugar
A grating of fresh nutmeg
2 cups (500 ml) papaya, peeled and cubed
Oil for frying
Powdered (confectioner's) sugar

Combine the flour, milk, egg, sugar, and nutmeg and stir until smooth. Add the cubed papaya and toss to coat. Drop by spoonfuls into hot oil and cook until golden brown. Turn and brown the other side. Drain on paper towels and dust with powdered sugar. Serves 4 to 6.

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Who would have thought of putting cottage cheese on toast? One of my sources credits American cookbook author and teacher James Beard with this recipe, but if I were you I would take all the credit when your family asks where this fabulous recipe came from.

Peach and Cottage Cheese Toast

1 cup (250 ml) low-fat cottage cheese
4 slices bread, toasted
1 peach, pitted and cut into 8 wedges
2 tsp (10 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon

Spread the cottage cheese on the slices of toast. Place 2 wedges of peach on each and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Place under a preheated broiler until the topping bubbles, 1 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4.saucepan and cook over low heat for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. Makes about 2 cups (500 ml.) Reduce the heat to a slow boil and simmer uncovered until the fruit is translucent, at least 1 hour. Pour into sterilized glasses or jars. Makes about 4 cups (1 L).

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Here's an easy way to get one of those servings of fruit that the USDA is always reminding us to eat, and a delicious way to start the day.

Peaches with Blueberry Compote

1 pint (500 ml) fresh blueberries
2 Tbs (30 ml) sugar, or more to taste
1 Tbs (15 ml) lemon juice
4-6 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced

Rinse the blueberries and place them in a saucepan with the water that is clinging to them. Add the sugar and cook over moderate heat until the skins begin to burst, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Serve chilled or warm, spooned over sliced peaches. Serves 4 to 6.

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These quick and easy fritters are great with a slice of ham or all by themselves.

Pineapple Fritters

1/2 cup (125 ml) all-purpose flour
2 Tbs (30 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
1/2 tsp (2 ml) vanilla extract
1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced, or canned pineapple rings, drained and patted dry
1 Tbs (15 ml) butter
Powdered (confectioner's) sugar for garnish

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Combine the egg, milk, and vanilla in a separate bowl and stir quickly into the flour mixture to make a batter-do not over mix. Dip the pineapple slices in the batter and fry in the butter in a large skillet over moderate heat until golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

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The lowly potato pancake is elevated to new heights with this fresh and healthy watermelon relish. You can use any melon you like, but I think the unique flavor of watermelon makes this dish a standout.

Potato Pancakes with Watermelon Relish

For the relish:
2 cups diced, seeded watermelon
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh cilantro (coriander leaves)
1/4 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp (5 ml) chili powder
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the pancakes:
3 medium potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
1/4 medium onion, finely chopped
1 egg
2 Tbs (30 ml) all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Tbs (30 ml) butter or vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients for the relish in a small bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Combine the potatoes, onion, egg, flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl and stir to mix thoroughly. Heat the butter in a large skillet over moderate heat and add the potato mixture in 1/4-cup (60 ml) scoops. Fry until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and serve topped with the watermelon relish. Serves 4 to 6.

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To be honest, "low-fat muffin" has always been an oxymoron as far as I am concerned. "Small lumps of wet clay" is a better description for most I have tasted, but this one scores high on the taste-and-texture scale and is relatively low in fat as well.

Pumpkin and Apricot Muffins

13/4 cups (430 ml) all purpose white flour
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking soda
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground ginger
1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground allspice
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground cloves
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
3/4 cup (180 ml) canned pumpkin
1/4 cup (60 ml) canola or other low saturated fat oil
1/3 cup (80 ml) brown sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) non-fat milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) non-fat plain yogurt
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) dried apricots (about 6 to 8), finely chopped
2 Tbs (30 ml) chopped walnuts or almonds (optional)

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt into a large mixing bowl. In another bowl mix the egg whites, pumpkin, oil, brown sugar, milk, yogurt, vanilla, apricots, and optional nuts. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring as little as possible to incorporate. Divide the mixture among twelve muffins cups that have been greased or sprayed with a cooking spray. Bake in the middle of a preheated 400º F (200º C) oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top of the muffins spring back when pressed. Makes 12 muffins.

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This is a healthy and refreshing drink that will be especially popular with the younger people at your breakfast table.

Raspberry Orange Smoothie

2 cups (500 ml) milk
2 cups (500 ml) plain yogurt
2 cups (500 ml) fresh raspberries or other berries
1 cup (250 ml) frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup (250 ml) ice cubes
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in an electric blender and process until smooth. Serves 4 to 6.

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The next time your family wants something different for breakfast, try this dish. It's quick, easy, and they will love you even more for cooking it.

Sauteed Apples and Bacon

6 to 8 slices bacon
6 to 8 tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch (1 cm) cubes (should be about 4 cups (1 L))
3 Tbs (45 ml) brown sugar
A grating of fresh nutmeg

Fry the bacon until crisp. Keep it warm in the oven while the apples cook. Discard all but 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the bacon fat. Saute the apples uncovered in the remaining bacon fat over high heat for 6 to 8 minutes, until they become slightly translucent. Sprinkle with the sugar and nutmeg. Arrange the apples on a platter, surrounded by the bacon. Serves 4 to 6.

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It should come as no surprise that these light and fluffy muffins are best with fresh blueberries, but this recipe also works very well with frozen blueberries. Just add them to the batter while still frozen and add 5 to 8 minutes to the baking time.

Sour Cream Blueberry Muffins

2 eggs
1 cups (250 ml) sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
1 cup (125 ml) sour cream
1 cup (250 ml) fresh blueberries

Beat the eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla until well combined. Mix the dry ingredients together and add them to the egg mixture in two or three portions, alternating with the sour cream. Fold in the blueberries and spoon the batter into greased and floured muffin tins. Bake in a preheated 400º F (200º C) oven for 20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

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This compote is good all by itself, but you might also consider spooning some over yogurt, waffles, or hot cereal.

Spiced Fruit Compote

Spices:
20 whole black peppercorns
12 allspice berries
12 whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks, broken into small pieces
3-inch (8 cm) strip of orange peel
3-inch (8 cm) strip of lemon peel
1-inch (3 cm) piece of fresh ginger, chopped

4 cups (1 L) water
11/2 cups (375 ml) Port or Madeira wine
5 cups (1.25 L) dried fruits such as apricots, apples, pineapple, peaches, or prunes
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract

Place all the spices in the center of a square of cheesecloth (muslin) and tie the corners together to form a small bag. Combine the spice bag with the remaining ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes. Discard the spice bag before serving. Serve warm or chilled. May be stored tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to a week. Makes about 11/2 quarts (1.5 L).

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In addition to being eaten on their own, stewed prunes and other fruits are often spooned on porridge (oatmeal) as the first course of an English breakfast.

Stewed Prunes

1/2 lb (250 g) dried prunes
2 Tbs (30 ml) sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) dry sherry or port wine
1 tsp (5 ml) grated lemon peel

Place the prunes in a saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over moderate heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer 10 minutes. Serve chilled. Serves 4 to 6.

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Sauces and Condiments

If your grandmother made apple butter, she probably used a recipe very similar to this one.

Apple Butter

4 lbs (2 Kg) Jonathan, Winesap, or other full-flavored cooking apples
2 cups (500 ml) apple cider or water
6 cups (1.5 L) white or brown sugar, or more to taste
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground cloves
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground allspice
Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons

Remove the stems and cut apples in quarters. There is no need to peel or core the fruit. Combine the apples with the cider or water in a large pot and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Simmer covered for 30 minutes, or until the fruit is soft. Put the cooked apples through a food mill or fine strainer, discarding the seeds and skin. Add the remaining ingredients and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. Continue to cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until the butter forms a sheet when dropped from a spoon. To test for doneness, place a small quantity on a plate. If a small ring of liquid separates around the edge of the apple butter, continue cooking until no ring forms. Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal tightly. Makes about 10 cups (2.5 L).

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I have received many inquiries from overseas readers regarding this strange, foreign food item called applesauce. Here in the USA it is a commonly available item, found in every supermarket. It is often served with pork, and lately has come into vogue as a substitute for oil in low-fat baking.

Applesauce

2-3 lbs (1-1.5 Kg) tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into large pieces
Lemon juice (to taste)

Place the apples in a saucepan with enough water to half-cover them. Bring to a simmer and cook covered until tender. Drain the apples and puree with a food mill, potato ricer, or electric food processor or blender. Adjust the taste with lemon juice if necessary. Makes about 4 cups (1 L).

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Serve this quick and easy sauce over grilled chicken breasts, steamed fish fillets, or practically any vegetable. If you don't have one of the fruits on hand, simply substitute an equal amount of one of the others.

Citrus and Garlic Sauce

1 lemon
1 orange, peeled and cut into sections
1 grapefruit, peeled and cut into sections
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine
1 Tbs (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried thyme leaves, or 1 tsp (5 ml) fresh
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Peel the lemon (yellow part only) and chop finely. Peel the remaining white pith from the lemon and cut into sections. Combine the lemon sections with the orange and grapefruit sections and set aside. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, until reduced by half. Stir in the lemon zest and the citrus sections and stir just until heated through, about 30 seconds. Makes about 11/2 cups (375 ml) to serve 4 to 6.

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Serve this classic English sauce warm or cold with pâtés, cold meats, poultry, and game.

Cumberland Sauce

Grated rind of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
Grated rind of 1 orange
1 Tbs (15 ml) powdered sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) Dijon mustard
1/2 cup (125 ml) red currant jelly, melted
2 Tbs (30 ml) Port wine

Combine all ingredients and blend thoroughly. Makes about 3/4 cup (180 ml).

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Serve this sweet-and-sour condiment with any roasted meat or fowl.

Date and Lemon Chutney

8 ounces (250 g) pitted dates, cut into quarters
2 Tbs (30 ml) frozen or fresh grated coconut (unsweetened)
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs (30 ml) finely chopped fresh ginger root
1 Tbs (15 ml) finely chopped fresh cilantro (coriander leaves)
1/2 tsp (2 ml) fennel seeds
1/4 tsp (1 ml) cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 Tbs (30 ml) finely chopped onion
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Rub the fennel seeds briskly between the palms of your hands in order to bruise them and to release their aroma. Combine all ingredients in a serving bowl and mix to combine thoroughly. Serve at once or cover tightly and refrigerate for no longer than 2 or 3 days. Makes about 11/2 cups (375 ml).

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Chutneys are traditionally used as accompaniments to curry dishes, but you and your family will have fun eating these on crackers, or as a spread or dip.

Fresh Mango Chutney with Coconut

2 firm, slightly under ripe mangoes
2 Tbs (30 ml) frozen or fresh grated coconut (unsweetened)
2 Tbs (30 ml) finely chopped fresh cilantro (coriander leaves)
1 Tbs (15 ml) finely chopped fresh ginger root
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Peel the mangoes and remove the flesh from the seeds, discarding the seeds. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir gently to mix. Serve at once, or cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for no more than 8 hours. Makes about 11/2 cups (375 ml).

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This variation on the classic English marmalade is great on ice cream as well as toast.

Grapefruit Marmalade

3 large, ripe grapefruit
21/2 to 3 quarts (2.5 to 3 L) cold water
8 to 10 cups (2 to 2.5 L) sugar

Wash the grapefruit and dry with paper towels. With a knife or vegetable peeler remove the skins without cutting into the white pith. Cut the peel into strips about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and 1/8 inch (3 mm) wide. Cut away and discard the white outer pith. Cut the fruit in half crosswise and wrap the halves one at a time in a double thickness of damp cheesecloth and twist the cheesecloth to squeeze the juice into a bowl. Wrap the squeezed pulp in the cheesecloth and tie securely. Add enough cold water to the bowl to make 31/2 quarts (3.5 L) of liquid. Drop in the bag of pulp and the strips of peel. Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. Pour the entire contents of the bowl into an 8 to 10 quart (8 to 10 L) stainless steel or enameled pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and summer uncovered for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Discard the bag of pulp and measure the mixture. Add 1 cup (250 ml) of sugar for every cup of mixture, stir thoroughly, and bring to a boil over moderate heat. When the sugar has dissolved increase the heat to high and boil briskly, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes until the marmalade reaches the temperature of 220º F (104º C) or (or 8º F, 4º C above the boiling point of water in your area) on a jelly, candy, or frying thermometer. Remove from the heat and skim off the surface foam with a large spoon. Ladle the marmalade into sterilized jars or jelly glasses. To prevent the peel from floating to the top, gently shake the jars occasionally as they cool. Makes about 2 quarts (2 L).

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The magic of sauces is one of the things that first attracted me to cooking; they transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. In the French cooking tradition Hollandaise sauce is one of the "mother" sauces, upon which many other sauces are based. Poached eggs on toast becomes Eggs Benedict with this sauce (plus a couple of other ingredients), and tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and artichokes are raised to new heights with the addition of this basic sauce. Use it on fish, poultry, beef, and veal as well. Here I have outlined the classic approach as well as a modern "quick and easy" method, along with some variations that will elevate almost any meal.

Hollandaise Sauce

Hollandaise Sauces I

8 Tbs (1 stick, 110 g) butter, melted and warm (not hot)
2 Tbs (30 ml) lemon juice
3 egg yolks
4 Tbs (60 ml) boiling water
Salt and white pepper to taste

Heat the lemon juice in a small saucepan held over-not in-a larger pot of boiling water. Add the three egg yolks, beating constantly with a wire whisk. Add the boiling water, one tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly until the mixture is slightly thickened. Continue to beat while adding the warm butter slowly, a tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is thick and creamy. Do not over heat or the eggs will curdle. Season to taste with the salt and white pepper. Makes about 1 cup (250 ml).

Hollandaise Sauce II

Note: This recipe does not multiply well. If you need more than 1 cup make two separate batches rather than one double batch.

8 Tbs (1 stick, 110 g) butter
3 egg yolks
2 Tbs (30 ml) lemon juice
Salt and white pepper to taste

Melt the butter over a low flame until it begins to bubble. Remove from heat. Put the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and white pepper in the container of an electric blender. Cover and blend on high speed for about 5 seconds. Remove the cover and add the butter in a slow stream, blending at high speed for approximately 30 seconds more. The sauce should be smooth with no traces of unincorporated butter. If it is not, replace the cover and continue blending until the butter is completely incorporated, scraping the sides of the blender (with the motor off) if necessary. Makes about 1 cup (250 ml).

Béarnaise Sauce

A classic on beef. Heat 4 Tbs of red wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp dried tarragon (or 1 tsp fresh), and 1 Tbs finely chopped shallots or chives until reduced by half and use in place of the lemon juice.

Mousseline Sauce

Great on vegetables and fish. Fold 1/4 cup of heavy cream, lightly whipped, into 1 cup of Hollandaise just before serving.

Choron Sauce

Excellent on fish, poultry, and eggs. Add 1 Tbs tomato paste to 1 cup Hollandaise.

Maltaise Sauce

Great on fish and vegetables. Substitute orange juice for the lemon juice, and add 1 tsp (5 ml) grated orange zest.

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Make up a batch of this spicy condiment and keep it on hand to liven up your table. It goes well with chicken, pork, lamb, and curry.

Kumquat Chutney

6 navel oranges
12 fresh kumquats or a 10-oz (280 g) jar preserved kumquats
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 cup (250 ml) raisins
2 cups (500 ml) cider vinegar
2 cups (500 ml) packed brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
2 Tbs (30 ml) finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 tsp (2 ml) cayenne pepper, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut the unpeeled oranges into 1/4-inch (5 mm) slices, and cut the slices into 6 or 8 pieces. Cut the kumquats into 1/4-inch (5 mm) slices. Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Ladle into clean jars and seal. Will keep refrigerated for up to 4 weeks. Makes about 5 cups (1.25 L).

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This is a delicious condiment that goes great with seafood, lamb, poultry, and just about everything else. Use it as you would a chutney or relish. It's also good with many vegetables and in salads.

Lemon Confit

4 large lemons
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar

Boil the whole lemons in enough water to cover for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. In a small stainless steel saucepan combine the sugar and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure all the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes. Cut each lemon into 8 wedges and add to the syrup. Simmer about 15 minutes, until the lemon skin is tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 1 hour. Place the lemon wedges and syrup in a covered container. They will keep refrigerated for several weeks. Allow two wedges per serving.

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This marmalade not only tastes great on toast, but you might want to try serving a little of it with roast chicken, like you would a chutney. Think about making it as a holiday gift as well.

Lemon Marmalade

3 lbs (1.5 Kg) lemons
8 to 10 cups (2-2.5 L) granulated sugar

Slice the lemons as thin as possible and discard the ends. Remove all the seeds and tie them in a square of doubled cheesecloth. Place in a nonreactive bowl with enough water to cover and let stand overnight. Measure the lemons and water into a wide, shallow, nonreactive pan. Add an equal volume of sugar and cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently and skimming off the foam as it rises, until temperature reaches 220º F (105º C), about 1/2 hour. Remove marmalade from heat. To test for consistency, drop a little marmalade on a saucer and put the saucer into the freezer until marmalade is cold, about 5 minutes. Tip the saucer: the marmalade should just barely run. If too thin, return the marmalade to medium-high heat and cook, testing often, until it has reached the right consistency. Put marmalade into hot, sterilized pint or half-pint jars. Store in refrigerator up to 1 month or, for longer storage, seal according to reliable canning instructions. Makes about 4 pints (2 L).

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This easy to prepare jam makes a tasty treat.

Mango Jam

6 cups (1.5 L) semi-ripe or ripe mango slices
2 cups (500 ml) water
3 cups (750 ml) sugar
1 Tbs (15 ml) vanilla extract

Combine the mango slices and water in a saucepan and boil over moderate heat for 15 minutes, until the mangoes are tender. Press this mixture through a sieve, or process in and electric blender or food processor until smooth. Return to the saucepan and add the sugar and vanilla extract. Boil for 30 to 40 minutes, until thick and the proper consistency for a jam. Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal. Makes about 2 quarts (2 L).

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In the Caribbean, ripe mangos can be seen hanging from trees at the sides of the roads. For those of us who aren't lucky enough to be able to pick our own, this recipe works just as well with store-bought fruits although it won't be as much fun to make.

Mango Preserve

6 mangoes, peeled
4 cups (1 L) water
4 cups (1 L) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract

Combine the mangoes and water in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the mangoes and measure 4 cups (1 L) of the liquid, discarding the rest. Combine mangoes, the liquid, the sugar, and the vanilla in the same pot and boil over moderate heat until the syrup thickens (222º F, 110º C on a candy thermometer). Allow to cool and serve chilled or at room temperature. Will keep for 1 week refrigerated. Serves 6.

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I offer up this delicious and unexpected combination of fresh, raw ingredients that can be used either as a condiment or side dish and goes great with seafood, poultry, and roast pork.

Onion, Avocado, and Papaya Salsa

1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 ripe papaya (about 3/4 lb, 350 g), peeled, seeded, and diced
1 large avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
The zest of 1 lime, grated
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lime juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) rice vinegar
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped cilantro (coriander leaves)
1 tsp (5 ml) sugar
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss gently. If preparing in advance, add the avocado at the last minute. Makes about 3 cups (750 ml).

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This recipe for my favorite fruit preserve calls for the standard sweet Valencia orange that is available to most American cooks, but if you can get bitter Seville oranges, please use them instead.

Orange Marmalade

3 lbs (1.5 Kg) Valencia oranges
8 to 10 cups (2-2.5 L) granulated sugar

Slice the oranges as thinly as possible and discard the ends. Remove all the seeds and tie the orange pieces in a square of doubled cheesecloth. Place in a nonreactive bowl with enough water to cover and let stand overnight. Measure the oranges and water into a wide, shallow, nonreactive pan. Add an equal volume of sugar and cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently and skimming off the foam as it rises, until temperature reaches 220º F (105º C), about 1/2 hour. Remove marmalade from heat. To test for consistency, drop a little marmalade on a saucer and put the saucer into the freezer until marmalade is cold, about 5 minutes. Tip the saucer: the marmalade should just barely run. If too thin, return the marmalade to medium-high heat and cook, testing often, until it has reached the right consistency. Put marmalade into hot, sterilized pint or half-pint jars. Store in refrigerator up to 1 month or, for longer storage, seal according to reliable canning instructions. Makes about 4 pints (2 L).

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This Native American recipe is one everyone in the family will love. It doesn't produce a jelly, but rather a thick syrup that you can use on bread, waffles, or pancakes.

Peach Honey

11/2 lb (400 g) fresh or frozen peaches
2 cups (500 ml) sugar

If using fresh peaches, cut into pieces and remove the pits. If using frozen, allow to thaw completely. Process in an electric blender or food processor until pureed. Combine with the sugar in a saucepan and cook over low heat for 21/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. Makes about 2 cups (500 ml.)

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Nectarines or apricots may be used in this recipe, but regardless of the fruit used you will get better results if it is firm and slightly under ripe.

Peach Preserves

4 cups (1 L) peeled, pitted, and sliced peaches
3 cups (750 ml) sugar
2 Tbs (30 ml) lemon juice

Combine the sliced peaches, sugar, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl and allow to stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Pour into a large saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce the heat to a slow boil and simmer uncovered until the fruit is translucent, at least 1 hour. Pour into sterilized glasses or jars. Makes about 4 cups (1 L).

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I have received many requests for this old-fashioned recipe. Serve it as an accompaniment to meat dishes, as you would with chutney or other sweet relishes.

Pickled Watermelon Rind

3 lbs (1.5 Kg) peeled watermelon rind, white part only
4 cups (1 L) plus 1 cup (250 ml) water
2 Tbs (30 ml) salt
3 cups (750 ml) sugar
2 cups (500 ml) cider vinegar
1 Tbs (15 ml) whole allspice
1 Tbs (15 ml) coriander seed
1 Tbs (15 ml) whole cloves
2 2-inch pieces of cinnamon stick
1 lemon, sliced

In a large bowl dissolve the salt in 4 cups (1 L) water. Add the rind, making sure it is completely covered, and refrigerate for 24 hours. Drain the rind and discard the brine. Place the rind in a large saucepan and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil over moderate heat and cook for 10 minutes. Drain the rind and set aside. Combine the sugar, vinegar, and 1 cup (250 ml) water in a large saucepan and heat over moderate heat until the sugar is dissolved. Wrap the allspice, coriander, cloves, and lemon slices in a cheesecloth bag and add to the water mixture. Add the rind and simmer covered over low heat for 45 minutes, or until the rind is translucent. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Makes 6 cups (3 pints, 1.5 L).

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Although they're usually considered a Moroccan concoction, preserved lemons are found all over North Africa and the Middle East where they are used to liven up lamb, fish, and poultry dishes. You can use them whenever you want to ad an exotic yet familiar flavor to your favorite meat dishes and casseroles, or simply serve them as a relish on the side of roast meats, fish, or poultry.

Preserved Lemons

1/2 cup (125 ml) kosher or sea salt
8 to 12 small to medium lemons, thoroughly washed
You will probably need additional lemons for:
1 to 2 cups (250 to 500 ml) fresh lemon juice (do not use bottled lemon juice)

Optional seasonings (use any or all of the following):
1 cinnamon stick
3 to 6 whole cloves
6 to 10 coriander seeds
6 to 10 whole black peppercorns, slightly crushed
2 bay (laurel) leaves

Slice the lemons into quarters to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) from the stem end of the lemon, so the quarters are still connected. Squeeze as much juice from the lemons as you can, collecting it in a small bowl. Place 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of salt in the bottom of each of two 1-quart (1 L) canning jars, or other glass jars with tight-fitting lids. Divide the lemons between the two jars and using a wooden spoon, pack them into the bottom of the jars in order to extract more juice. Add the remaining salt and optional seasonings, divided between the two jars, and fill with lemon juice to within 1/2 to 1 inch (1 to 2 cm) of the top of the jars. Cover tightly and allow the jars to rest, un-refrigerated, for 3 weeks, turning the jars every three to four days, after which time the lemons can be kept refrigerated for up to one year. After the 3 weeks the rinds should be thickened and soft. Scrape out and discard the pulp before using. Makes about 2 quarts (2 L).

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This classic sauce can be spooned over fresh fruit, pound cake, ice cream, or just about anything that would benefit from the fresh sweet taste of raspberries.

Raspberry Coulis

1 package (10 oz, 280 g) frozen raspberries in syrup, thawed, juices reserved
1 Tbs (15 ml) lemon juice

Purée the raspberries and the lemon juice in a food processor or electric blender. Press through a fine strainer. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Makes about 1 cup (250 ml).

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This spicy, sweet-and-sour chutney will keep up to a month refrigerated, so consider making a double or even triple batch.

Spicy Fruit Chutney

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 cup (250 ml) diced dried fruits, such as apricots, peaches, prunes, pears, etc. 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped (add more or less, to taste)
1/4 cup (60 ml) balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 Tbs (15 ml) sugar
1 Tbs (15 ml) salt
2 tsp (10 ml) ground cinnamon
2 tsp (10 ml) ground coriander
1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, covered, over moderate heat. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Store covered and refrigerated for up to 1 month. Makes about 2 cups (500 ml).

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Make this sauce as spicy as you like, or omit the red pepper flakes entirely. It tastes great on seafood, poultry, or pork, and will liven up cold cuts, pasta, and salads.

Thai Lemon-Cilantro Sauce

1 red bell pepper (capsicum), seeded and finely chopped
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
3-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped fresh cilantro (coriander leaves)
1/2 cup (125 ml) soy sauce
1/2 cup (125 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) unsalted roasted peanuts, very finely chopped
2 Tbs (30 ml) peanut or vegetable oil
2 Tbs (30 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) sesame oil
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste (optional)

Combine all ingredients and allow to rest for 30 to 60 minutes before use. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Makes about 3 cups (750 ml).

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About "The Chef"
Joe BarksonJoe Barkson has been writing and publishing under the pen name "The Chef at Worldwide Recipes" since 1998. He came to food writing late in life following checkered careers in computer marketing, graphic design, and teaching high school Spanish. A lifelong interest in food and cooking ("I've been eating since I was a baby," he is fond of saying) was nurtured by extensive international travel during his formative years, and this accounts for the emphasis on world cuisine in his choice of recipes and themes. Twice married and currently happily single, he lives in rural Georgia with a hyperkinetic schipperke that answers to Cooky when the mood strikes him.

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