Category: desserts

French custard cream (or Creme Patisserie) with fruit.

Creme Patisseries with fresh fruit.

I know, they’re beautiful, right? I’m calling these little things French custards, but they’re really Creme Patisseries. It’s essentially just pastry cream, but it’s delicious. I think really it’s a dessert in it’s own right. Why hide it as a filling- it’s perfection on it’s own with some fresh fruit.

That’s probably not what most folks would do with it… but I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel. Most people fill cakes or cupcakes or eclairs with it, or Napoleons maybe. But why not just fill up a little dish with it and top with fruit?

I can’t think of a reason. I mean, it’s usually the creamy part of a fruit tart anyway. Just cut out the middle man!

Creme Patisserie (pastry cream) with fruit.

It’s also very simple to make, which is why I made these look extra fancy with some fruit and mint leaves.

See, I grow strawberries. And the strawberries that I grow are a very very old kind that was first grown in gardens in the 12th century. They’re known as Alpine strawberries. And not only are they a very old variety, but they’re quite unique. The ones pictured here are fully grown at just 3/4″ long. That’s right- they do not become those giant monstrosities you see in the supermarket. These are a “wild” berry, they do not send off runners either, they stay bushy and compact and adorable.

They also have a unique flavor; as ReneesGarden.com says:

[…] berries with an intensely concentrated flavor I can only describe as truly ambrosial. [And] their aroma and flavor are unmatched as garden berries.

And as written on this website:

Order strawberries in a deluxe Parisian restaurant and you’re likely to be served berries that are very small, very expensive, and also very delicious. Such fruits are not merely scaled-down or poorly grown versions of regular strawberries, but a completely different species—the near-wild alpine strawberry, Fragaria vesca.

Creme Patisserie with fresh fruit.

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Vanilla panna cotta with fresh cherry sauce.

Vanilla bean panna cotta with fresh sweet cherry sauce.

Don’t you just LOVE when desserts look like murder scenes?

Panna Cotta is one of the most perfect summertime desserts. Not only does it take about  5 ingredients, but it’s a dream to make, and you can make it ahead of time. Oh, and it requires only about 10 minutes on the stove! And it’s impressive to say. Panna cotta.

Panna cotta is kind of what would happen if Jell-O and vanilla pudding had a baby. It’s gelatinous, yet creamy. Almost flan-like. In Italian, “panna cotta” means “cooked cream,” and that’s essentially what it is. With sugar, vanilla, gelatin and yogurt. In Italy it’s traditionally eaten with chocolate sauce or fresh berries, or both. Some types of panna cotta can hold their shape when unmolded, this particular one is a crap shoot. If you leave it in longer than overnight, in a very cold spot in the fridge, you might be able to unmold it.

However- forget it if it’s a hot, humid day, or if your custard cups have an unusual shape. It ain’t gonna happen.

Vanilla bean panna cotta with fresh sweet cherry sauce.

The first time I made this recipe, my mother asked for it for her birthday. I made two types; the original Ina Garten recipe with balsamic strawberries, and some with just mini-chocolate chips mixed in before chilling it. Since then I’ve made it many times over- usually for her, since it’s one of her favorite things- and never really deviated from that.

But this year I made some fresh cherry sauce with all of those beautiful Rainier Fruit Company cherries I received, and I thought that would be a delicious variation to spoon on top.

And I was correct. And you should make it too, if you were smart like me and froze some of those gorgeous cherries.

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Another year older (and deeper in debt) …plus donuts.

Happy birthday to me! So, I am officially 34 years old! Holy balls. Time fucking flies, man. All you youngin’s out there, take heed. The years begin to move by so quickly you won’t have time to even comprehend it. Yes- another year has passed, and what a year it was! As the song says “Another year (day) older and deeper in debt…”

We faced illness and overcame it. We got married, and we bought a house. Here’s Lola (one of my favorite birthday gifts ever) at home, in her natural habitat: the kitchen.

Lola the mixer, at home.(Painting by the lovely and talented Mrs. Christine Comis-Villareal)

 

Lots of things can happen in one year, clearly. Lots of good, maybe some bad. But it all balances out in the end. I decided to skip the “Life List” this year, because honestly? After all the bullshit this year I’m just glad to be here- literally and figuratively. I’m thankful for so many things & people, thankful that I’m healthy and here to celebrate another birthday.

I’m also thankful for donuts.

Baked chocolate donuts with pink icing!

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Triple stone-fruit breakfast crisp.

What’s better than one type of stone fruit? Three.

Triple variety stone fruit breakfast crisp.

I know you all know that I’ve had cherries out the yin yang lately. You’re probably like “Enough with the cherries, biatch.” But dudes. I got so many from the Washington State Fruit Commission and Rainier Fruit Company, that after making green tea & jasmine cherry jam and cherries in syrup and even after making Pimm’s cherry pies and plain ol’ cherry sauce (that recipe is coming), I STILL had some left! I froze a bunch that were nearing death to use at a later date, and THEN I got a new shipment of peaches (& nectarines) from Washington State… and later that night I saw some beautiful Italian plums in the market, and I knew what their ultimate fate would be.

A fresh, bright stone fruit breakfast crisp. Oats & brown sugar & nutmeg, oh my.

Triple stone fruit breakfast crisp.

To be clear: it’s actually just a regular ol’ fruit crisp. I just decided since I had a whole lot of Chobani vanilla yogurt that it would make an excellent breakfast crisp. So I upped the oats a little. You know, oats. Oatmeal. Breakfast.

Whatever.

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Mini cherry Pimm’s pies.

Mini cherry pies with Pimm's liqueur.

I told you. I have had a lot of cherries. I received an amazingly large shipment of beautiful Northwest cherries from Rainier Fruit Co, and while I used most of them for canning and preserving, there were a decent amount that got too soft or weren’t right for that purpose. And that’s okay- it happens! They were excellent for eating fresh right out of the bag. But I needed to bake.

You know how that is. When you just have to bake something, even if it is 90º?

Well, yeah. That happens to me, anyway. So I decided to bake up some mini cherry pies… with a twist: I added some Pimm’s No. 1 Cup to them.

Pimm's cherry pies.

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If you like pina colada… cake.

Pina colada bundt cake!

And now for something completely different! Pina colada cake!

I know, random. I got tired of all the fruity stuff going on around here, guys. I needed to bake something that wasn’t a fruit tart. I’m serious. I love making jams and baking pies and tarts, but I’m really just biding my time waiting for #pickleseason and looking for opportunities to make cupcakes.

Or cakes.

So when my dad informed me he wasn’t going to pick a dessert for Father’s Day, he was going to leave it up to me, I immediately thought: cake. Then Jay came up with this genius idea. GENIUS. Totally genius. Except of course we were not the first ones to think of such a thing.

Pina colada bundt cake.

I found an excellent recipe and adapted it just a liiiiiittle teeny bit to suit me. And it was amazing. AMAZING. I even busted out my large Wilton bundt pan for this!

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Blueberry lemon lovin’.

This is a recipe I’ve made quite a few times, except I’ve never changed it up before. It’s actually a favorite of mine, especially in the summer. Lemon is super refreshing and summery tasting, and this is a pretty simple recipe to throw together quickly before a party/barbecue.

I found myself with a pint of blueberries & I thought, I should really use them for something before they go bad. I actually had no idea what that something would be until the very morning of a family get-together I was having. About 6 hours before our families were due to arrive, I just decided, hey! Lemon + blueberry. That works! And I pulled out this ol’ recipe.

Blueberry lemon cakes with lemon glaze!

It’s actually a Starbucks lemon loaf knockoff recipe I found ages ago on the internet. I’ve since made it so many times however it’s been maybe 6 years since I’ve had the Starbucks version. So long that I can’t really honestly remember if this one does indeed taste like the Starbucks one; but I said it did once so I believe it.

The best thing abut recipes like this- and I say this all the time- is that its totally customizable. Once you make it, you begin to think of what else you can do with it. This particular lemon-y flavor lends itself beautifully to fresh berries.

Which makes it great for summer!

Lemon cakes, with or without blueberries, with a lemon glaze.

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