Tropical Fruit Salad

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My sister was looking for a new fruit salad recipe for a wedding she needed to cook for. I told her about this recipe and thought I hadn’t made it in awhile. My husband loves fruit salad. It is similar to Frog’s Eye Fruit salad in that you add a very small round pasta called Acini de Pepe or the star shaped Stelline pasta. It gives the consistency of tapioca.

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Tropical Fruit Salad

Serves at least 10-15

Ingredients:

2 cans chunk pineapple

2 cans Mandarin oranges

4 containers of Del Monte Diced Mango–yields about 2 cups

1 pint whipping cream

1/2 block of Cream cheese, softened

1/2- 1 cup sugar, as per taste

1 cup uncooked pasta- Stelline or Acina de Pepe

1/2-1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

3 tbs chopped nuts- walnuts/macadamia, hazelnuts–whatever you like

Handful marshmallows

Method:

In boiling water cook and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the reserved fruit juice and let sit in it for a few minutes until totally cool.

Take whipping cream and start whipping until it gets frothy. Add sugar gradually and then the very soft cream cheese. Whip until fluffy and thick. Combine all the drained canned fruits in a large bowl. Reserve some of the liquid.  Drain.

Combine the pasta to fruit and gently fold in the whipped cream to combine. Add coconut, nuts and marshmallows. Garnish with more nuts and refrigerate for an hour or 2 before serving.

Variations:

  • You can add mango pulp as you whip the  cream for added flavor.
  • May omit marshmallows if vegetarian.
  • Add fresh fruits if in season.
  • Delicious when topped on warm pound cake.
  • Layer with angel food cake for a light trifle.

* A Sweet Treat * Beet Root Halwa

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This is a recipe for my sister who liked it when she came over one day. It is quick and easy dessert. Halva or halwa is Arabic for sweet and served for special occasions. There are different types of halwa made from flour, dhals, some vegetables like carrot and bottle gourd. Some cities that specialize in a specific type of Halwa lend their names such as  Bombay Halwa, Kozhikode halwa etc.  Gajjar halwa or carrot halwa is fairly common and you can find this on most Indian restaurant buffets. The key for success in making these sweets are constant stirring to aid in evaporation of as much liquid as possible and lots of ghee. The sugar combined with the ghee produces a glistening texture to the sweet. Halwas are super sweet so a little goes a long way.

Beet Root Halwa has a rich color like no other and can be made with fresh beets. The drawbacks to using fresh beets are that they can taste muddy if not fresh, they are harder to grate and takes longer to cook. The canned beets work perfectly every time and are so easy to grate. This sweet tastes especially good when topped on plain vanilla ice cream when still a little warm. An impressive dessert for any guest!

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Beet Root Halwa

Serves 6-8 if serving by itself, serves 8-12 if topping ice cream

Ingredients:

A must—Plastic gloves

3 cans of Small Whole Beets ( 15 oz ea)

1 to 1 3/4 cup sugar (according to taste)

1/4 cup Ghee (clarified butter)

3/4 cup milk

1 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 cup dedicated coconut flakes (can use sweetened coconut but then reduce the amount of added sugar)

1-2 tablespoons cashews or slivered almonds

Method:

Drain the canned beets. Put on rubber gloves and grate medium fine. The gloves are a must as it will stain. Squeeze out any excess water. In a large frying pan add a tsp of ghee and toast the nuts until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

To the same pan add few tablespoons of ghee and add sauté the beets for a few minutes. Keep stirring until most all the water is absorbed. Then add the milk . Cook for a few minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Add sugar, and continue stirring. The liquid may increase so keep stirring until most has evaporated. Drizzle a little more ghee and add the coconut and cardamom powder. The coconut will absorb the rest of the liquid. The mixture should be somewhat dry and glistening. And the toasted nuts and remove from stove. Serve hot or cold, can also serve with ice cream.

Zeppole Di San Guiseppe- For Father’s Day

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Don’t get scared reading the title of today’s post. Zeppole is an Italian pastry and this specific zeppole is made on the Feast of St Joseph on March 19 which is also Father’s Day in Italy. So it being Father’s Day here in the US and Feast Day for my husband’s family namesake I am making Zeppole Di San Guiseppe.

I am partial to Italian pastries, especially growing up on the east coast. In the town where I grew up there is an excellent Italian bakery—Di Mare’s Pastry Shop. (www.dimarepastry.com) Any birthday without a Di Mare cake would not be a birthday. It has been there since we moved to Old Greenwich, CT in the 70’s. This bakery is still going strong and always a destination when we visit home. Sometimes my kids and niece and nephew would visit there everyday during our stay for some of their specialties- Tiramisu cake, strawberry shortcake, Italian butter cookies, sfogliatelle, napoleons, pastries, etc. We would even try to bring back a box of their delicacies.

These Zeppole pastries are really a fritter of Pate a choux dough (used to make cream puffs) topped with a vanilla bean and lemony custard. There is nothing like a custard made with real vanilla beans. Splurge and get some, they will keep in your pantry for a long time. Many of you may not attempt this recipe but save the recipe for the custard—it is great! This basic custard can be used for other purposes like fruit salad, as a cake filling etc. or just by itself.

Zeppole di San Guiseppe

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

4 tbs unsalted butter

3 tbs sugar

Pinch of salt

250 ml water

1 1/4 cup flour

6 eggs

Maraschino cherry- garnish

For the Lemon Vanilla Custard:

1 cup milk

1 cup cream

1 vanilla bean

Zest from one lemon

6 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour

Method:

Make Custard:

In a sauce pan combine milk, cream, split vanilla bean an lemon zest. Bring to a boil. Remove the vanilla beans and scrape all the seeds into the milk and discard the pod. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl until light and yellow. Add the flour and combine well. Take a cup of the hot milk mixture and whisk into egg mixture ( called tempering) then add all the egg mixture into the sauce pan with the milk. Return to stove and while continuously whisking, heat gently until thick. About 3-4 mts. Remove from heat and cover surface with plastic wrap so a skin doesn’t form and refrigerate.

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Now make the Dough:

Combine the Water, butter, sugar, salt in a sauce pan and allow to boil. Sprinkle in the flour and get ready to mix well until it forms a smooth ball and comes away from the pan.Remove from stove and with a hand or stand mixer, add one egg at a time incorporating into flour dough. Will be a thickish mixture. Ensure to beat out any lumps. Put into a piping bag and let sit for 15-2o mts.

Cut pieces of foil and grease lightly with oil. Using a star tip, pipe out circular mounds approximately 3-4 inches. Heat oil in a frying pan and when hot add the piped dough with the aluminum foil. Gently pull out the foil as it fries. Fry until golden and drain on a paper towel. Take this fritter and top with the cooled custard and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

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They look perfect!

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Heavenly Rose Phirni

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I must give some credit for this recipe to Asha at http://www.selfveda.com and another friend GB. Adding fruits comes from Asha as her post shows. And adding rose syrup comes from GB. She actually served this on top of vanilla ice cream. Thanks for the inspiration! Wish my kids were here to try it:(

The coarse grinding of the rice gives this a custardy pudding like consistency.
I made this for church and think everyone enjoyed it.Someone said this was a very girly dessert! This is perfect for a party.

Rose Phirni

Serves 6-8
1  cup  Basmati rice
4 cups milk
1 c sugar or to taste
1/4 tsp cardamom pdr
1-2 tbs rose syrup
Strawberry ice cream topping or mango pulp ( can also use fresh fruits)
Sweet coconut flakes
Chopped pistachios, optional
Saffron dissolved in a tablespoon of milk

Method:
Rinse rice well and soak for 4 hrs. Grind slightly in food processor until somewhat grainy.
Boil milk in a heavy sauce pan. Add ground rice and stir continuously to avoid lumps. Cook for 10-15 mts, stirring frequently. When rice is cooked add sugar, rose syrup, and cardamom pd and saffron milk. Top with fruit topping, garnish with coconut and pistachios. Serve chilled or room temperature.

Here are some pics of how the rice should look and the Phirni made in a larger quantity. ( Also made Vellayappam for church)

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Jhangri- An Indian Funnel cake

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There are two versions of this bright orange colored sweet found everywhere in India’s bakeries or made fresh street side. Jilebi and Jhangri that look similar in size, shape and color. But both are made with different ingredients. Jilebi is made with all purpose flour and requires some fermentation with the addition of yeast or yogurt. Jhangri is made with a dhal or lentil called Urad dhal.
Jhangri is also thicker in texture than Jilebi.
Here is my attempt at Jhangri… The shape may not be exact but came close enough.

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Ingredients:

1 cup Urad dhal
Pinch of salt
Orange food color
Water for grinding
For Sugar Syrup:
2 c sugar
1 c water
Few cardamom pods
Orange food color
A squeeze of lemon juice

Method:
Rinse and soak urad for at least 4 hrs.
Drain water and grind in food processor with water until a smooth batter is formed.Add salt and a few drops of orange color.
Prepare syrup by combining sugar, water, color until boiling and 1 thread consistency. Add a little lemon juice to prevent syrup from crystallizing.

Now heat oil in a shallow frying pan. Put batter in a ziplock bag and make a small hole so the batter will come out in a thin ribbon.

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Oil should not be too hot…. Pipe batter in a circular motion ( like a funnel cake)
Flip when puffed up and cooked. Immediately put into warm sugar syrup. Let soak for a minute or so and place on tray. Garnish with crushed nuts is wanted.

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