Tag Archives: compote

Blueberry Compote (with gin!)

1 Sep

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David Lebovitz said I should put gin in my blueberry compote. So I did.

In the headnote of his recipe, Lebovitz writes, “…Gin’s herbaceous flavor does indeed marry nicely with blueberries–it can hardly be tasted once cooked, but somehow it just rounds out the blueberry notes…”

I was immediately sold. I took out a saucepan, set it on the stove, and proceeded to make what is now my favorite fruit-based “condiment” of the summer (I imagine another similar summer berry, such as a blackberry, could be substituted for the blueberry).

Cooking the blueberries helped bring out that intense deep blue color and concentrated the flavor, giving off a quintessential blueberry smell. The texture of the berries changed, too, leaving the sometimes-mushy consistency of a fresh blueberry behind and highlighting a blueberry that bursts and oozes a juicy filling instead. Nature’s gushing candy!

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Toss blueberries in a pot with a little sugar and a little gin and cook the mix for just a few minutes until the blueberries soften and begin to release their juices. 

That’s the shorthand version of the recipe. 3 ingredients. 1 pot. 5 minutes.

Serve chilled, room temperature, or slightly warm. I have been enjoying the compote with a generous scoop of plain yogurt, and spooned atop pancakes. It would also pair well with: oatmeal, ice cream, cake, nut-butter toast.

Blueberry Compote (with gin!)

from David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert; makes about 2 cups

*When I made the compote, I had slightly under 2 cups of blueberries. I ended up eyeballing the sugar and gin to about 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 heaping spoon of gin. If you feel comfortable eyeballing to taste, go for it. The proportions listed below are the original ones used in Lebovitz’s book.

  • 2 1/2 cups (12 ounces/340g) fresh blueberries (or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) gin (I used Hendrick’s Gin)

Combine the blueberries, sugar, and gin in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries just begin to soften and release their juices. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered, and let cool to room temperature. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar, if desired.

Storage: This compote can be stored in a jar or tupperware the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  This compote is actually better when prepared a day in advance, which gives it time to thicken nicely.

Variation: If you do not want to use gin, you can substitute water and a good squeeze of lemon juice.

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Rhubarb Pudding Cake

12 Jun

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I moved from Northern California to New York City three years ago. Determined to find a full-time job in a restaurant kitchen, I spent my first few weeks “trailing” (a fancy term for trying out) at a handful of restaurants, mostly in pastry.

Typically at a trail, I got a quick tour of the restaurant, I was assigned some kitchen prep tasks, and eventually if all went well, I was allowed on the line during service to observe and help out with some small finishing touches on the dishes.

At one of the restaurants, my task was to peel rhubarb stalks. The peels were eventually going to get candied.

Rhubarb tends to have this “skin” that can be delicately peeled off into hot pink (and sometimes light green) strands. This is not an easy task when you have an entire box of rhubarb to peel and you haven’t eaten or peed for six hours and your hands are trembling with nerves (trembling because earlier that day I incorrectly measured out the dry ingredients for a giant batch of cookies). Nonetheless, I put on a smile, bit my lip, and persevered. Trying out for a new job, after all, is not an easy task.

*Side note, I met my friend Elizabeth at that trail. She was working the line and I was allowed to observe her. I was fresh in New York, and she was the coolest, funniest, nicest person I had met since moving (and still is!), and I knew I had to keep her close. Plus, she had experience in the kitchen and could offer me advice. I never ended up working at that restaurant and she left shortly thereafter, but Elizabeth and I became fast friends.  

My back-of-the-house restaurant life has been on hiatus for the last two years as I finish up graduate school and try to become a registered dietitian.

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While I feel somewhat nostalgic for candied rhubarb tendrils, in the comfort of my own home (if you call comfort a shared apartment with three dudes), I tend to crave a more rustic dessert.

Rhubarb pudding cake fits the bill. It’s a rhubarb compote plopped on top of cake batter and baked. The rhubarb gets chopped and simmered into a compote until just soft. Fast, easy, and absolutely delicious. I did pull out my KitchenAid mixer for the cake batter, but at least I didn’t have to deal with cleaning a giant hobart mixer.

The “pudding” in the cake is created by pouring a hot, vanilla-infused rhubarb compote over a thick sour-cream (or yogurt) batter.

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To memorable restaurant experiences, to good friends, and to pink vegetables that taste like fruit. Bon Appétit!

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

adapted from Vintage Cakes

makes 8-10 servings

1 pound rhubarb, trimmed of leaves and ends, diced (~4 cups)

1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthwise)

1/2 cup water

1 2/3 cup (8 1/3 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine Kosher salt

1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup (9 ounces) sour cream or plain yogurt, room temperature [I used a 6-oz container of low-fat Greek yogurt mixed with some milk to equal a cup]

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 or 9-inch round or square cake pan or a 2 1/2-quart baking dish with butter. (I lined mine with parchment paper, too).

Make a compote by tossing together the rhubarb and 1 cup of the sugar in a medium saucepan with a lid. Add the vanilla and water, cover, and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft but has not completely broken down, stirring occasionally. Take the compote off the heat but keep it covered so it says warm while you make the cake.

To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, then whisk the ingredients by hand to ensure they are well mixed.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar together on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. As you make the batter, stop the mixer frequently and scrape the paddle and the bowl with a rubber spatula. Blend in the eggs one at a time, adding the second egg as soon as the first one has disappeared into the batter, followed by the vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the sour cream in two parts, so that you begin and end with the flour mixture.

Spread the batter into the prepared dish or pan and distribute the compote over the top. The compote will be quite runny, but don’t fear: all will be well once the cake has baked. Place the cake in the center of the oven and bake until the edges are firm and the center no longer jiggles, 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool for about 30 minutes, then invert it onto a serving plate and cut into slices, or spoon it right out of the pan.

This cake is best the day it is made, but well-wrapped it can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days. 

Earl Grey Spiced Fruit Compote + A Fun Compost Workshop With Seniors

22 Mar

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After months of planning and a handful of snow-day cancellations, this morning I helped Project Director Chris Pawelski, Ed.D conduct a “composting and healthy snacks” session for seniors with mild memory loss in conjunction with The Memory Tree Program, Teachers College, and the Morningside Gardens Co-op.

The Memory Tree is New York City’s first program devoted to people with mild memory loss, and their family and caregivers.

This morning’s session was the beginning of a series of “Going Greener” workshops, continuing a previous project about nutrition, cooking and farmer’s markets. “Going Greener” came about as a way to learn how to keep the world healthy, seeking out composting operations in the community.

In short, we kicked off the first session with the idea that if everyone could start saving just one thing, it would help reduce waste and contribute to the idea of composting and giving back to the earth. After watching a video of how a local family organizes their food waste, we were inspired to designate a special bin where everyone could drop their used tea bags. Throughout the next few weeks, we will document how many tea bags we collect altogether.

Sometimes just starting with one small change makes a big difference.

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I prepared a snack for the group to complement our “save your tea bags” theme: Ellie Krieger’s Earl Grey Spiced Fruit Compote. The recipe involves heating water with tea and honey, and adding in dried fruit, cinnamon, and a squeeze of lemon. A very simple recipe that requires little effort–just measure, dump, and simmer (need a knife just to cut a lemon wedge).

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Throughout the “Going Greener” journey, we will encourage the seniors to share and document their experiences through picture-taking and media, so we provided digital cameras today for them to take pictures of the recipe ingredients, the finished recipe, and each other! Can’t wait to upload all of their pictures, but for now I am sharing my pictures.

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Each participant received their own easy-to-follow copy of the recipe so they could see how it was made, and maybe even make it themselves at home.

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Who knew dried fruit could be so gorgeous?! Even though it is technically spring now, the New York fruit season is not quite ready. The markets are still heaping with end-of-season apples and there is not a berry in sight yet. Until the spring fruit arrives, this spiced fruit compote is a great way to pack it in.

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During today’s session, we served the compote with plain Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of granola. Water with lemon wedges for a refreshing beverage. I was impressed that everyone gobbled down the compote, and there were even requests for seconds!

Leftover compote is excellent atop pancakes, stirred into oatmeal, or spooned over a simple cake. Feel free to mix up the dried fruit, and add nuts or a splash of alcohol (rum, bourbon…) for a little kick.

Thanks again to Ellie Krieger for a great recipe.

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Krieger says, “Tea and dried fruits rank among the most powerful of beauty foods. They contain concentrated amounts of compounds that protect the skin from sun damage, and they are linked with less skin wrinkling as we age.”

Earl Grey Spiced Fruit Compote

adapted from Ellie Krieger’s Weeknight Wonders

serves 4

3 tablespoons honey

1 Earl Grey tea bag

1/2 cup dried apricots

1/2 cup pitted prunes

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 large lemon

1 cinnamon stick

optional: 4 whole cloves

Bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the honey, then immerse the tea bag in the water. Add the apricots, prunes, raisins, the juice from the lemon, the cinnamon stick, and if using, the cloves. Return to a boil.

Lower the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 4 minutes. Remove the tea bag, then continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens to a loose syrup, about 8 minutes more. Remove the cinnamon and cloves and discard (or compost!). Allow the compote to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Serve with toppings. I like a dollop of yogurt and granola, or instead of syrup atop pancakes!

The compote will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Nutrition per 1/3 cup serving (without toppings):

Calories 190; Total Fat 0g (Sat Fat 0g, Mono Fat 0.0g, Poly Fat 0.1g); Protein 2g; Carb 52g; Fiber 3g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 10mg

Good source of: Fiber, Potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin K

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote…featured on Lean Green Healthy Machine

28 May

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It’s strawberry rhubarb season! I’ve been eating my homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Compote with a cozy bowl of oatmeal, swirled into a creamy avocado-based smoothie, and spread on toast with some nut butter. A fruity sweet treat that is the epitome of spring.

To learn more about rhubarb’s health benefits and to get the recipe for my Strawberry Rhubarb Compote, head over to the blog Lean Green Healthy Machine. Lean Green Healthy Machine has some great tips for healthy eating, fitness, and living green. Alexandra is the chief nutrition editor for the website, and she is also a fellow nutrition  grad student with me.

Here is a blurb about the website:

Lean Green Healthy Machine strives to promote healthy, wholesome, and sustainable living to its readers, with a special focus on those living in the greater New York City area. We aim to empower the journey to wellness through frequent posts which center thematically on healthy nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle habits.”

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Smoothie with a Strawberry Rhubarb Swirl

(+ the jigsaw puzzle that I have been working on!)