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Posts from the ‘Fruit’ Category

creamy carrot soup & preserved lemons

On a winter’s afternoon, weeks still before Christmas, a good friend Carolyn and I came together in my kitchen. We’d amassed on the counter several bags of organic lemons, sea salt, a few herbs and spices, and a collection of pretty jars.  We washed, sliced and stuffed the lemons with salt. We packed them tight into their jars. Then tighter still. We dropped bay leaves and pink peppercorns and allspice berries in behind them, and then squeezed juice enough from other lemons to cover them. We talked about what we’d do with them and who we’d give them to as gifts for Christmas. In six weeks they’d be ready. Carolyn hadn’t tasted them before, so she could hardly wait.CarrotSoup-1Some time – too long ago – I posted on how to preserve lemons. I (kind of) promised that I’d share recipes that used these indescribably delectable “preserves”. (In all truth, though, you don’t really need a recipe in order to use them. You can strew them on a salad or in the salad’s vinaigrette; or in with roasted or steamed vegetables; make a simple sauce sort of extraordinary; add them to stews or soups; flavor grilled or poached fish with them. I reach for them several times a week, at least!) Over the next couple months I’ll share a good handful of really good recipes. One of them will be from my friend Carolyn who invented it on the spot (she does that sort of thing, and created herself a beautiful shrimp dinner in about 15 minutes.) She told me about it and I made it and we loved it. (Expect to see more from Ottolenghi too.)

This one today is from Mike – Mike, married to my daughter, is a good good cook. They received a jar of Preserved Lemons for Christmas. One day my girl and I were on an outing and she raved about the dinner Mike had made the other night. By that afternoon, I was texting Mike…

He generously shares his soup:

Creamy Carrot Soup with Preserved Lemons

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 -3 Tablespoons butter or olive oil

 2 cloves of garlic, minced

1½ teaspoons finely minced ginger root

 2 cups chicken stock (or good vegetable stock)

2 Tablespoons dry sherry or white wine

8 to 10 medium carrots, sliced thinly

1 to 2 sections of preserved lemon, diced finely (See NOTE)

1 to 1¼ cups milk (from whole milk to 1% to your preferred milk alternative)

Salt & Pepper (white if you have it) to taste

NOTE on preserved lemons. By “sections” we mean quarters of lemon. After soaking in a briny liquid for 6 weeks, the flesh of the lemon has given over much of its juice to the jar. The rinds of the lemon have softened, and in a way quite impossible to describe, have mellowed, given up their acidic bite and become more roundly-flavored, very lemony still, but not mouth-puckeringly so. To use them, you remove the flesh (either discard it or toss it back in the jar) and use only the rind, which you rinse well first and then (generally) finely dice. If you cook with it, it will impart its lemony-ness to the dish but in a way you can’t quite put your finger on. If you use it fresh, without cooking first, you get little lemony bursts.

CarrotSoup-2

If you don’t want to make them yourself, you can find them in many markets. That said, they’re easy and (we think) fun to make…especially with a friend.

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so what’s in a salad?

Fresh-air markets, booths and stalls stretching for blocks and blocks, wooden tables piled high with newly-picked fruits and vegetables.  Luscious juice-sweet fruits, all round-body shapes and colors. Rustic root or bright green vegetables some with the earth still clinging to them. Farmers in aprons, their hands, soil-worn and calloused, paring off samples for us to taste. And we held out our hands and we tasted, and we bought what we couldn’t resist. But we’d made some kind of cosmic mistake! We had no kitchen to take our booty to, no salad bowl, no wooden tongs. No aprons of our own. So it happened that everywhere we went, my longing for brilliant color tossed in a bowl grew. We had some nice salads while away, but they weren’t the salads of home. And  the salads of home are the foods I miss most of all when we’re away.

So here, for you (and for me) brilliant color in a bowl. (and between us, so delicious it’s startling!)

Once again, as is usually the case with salads around here, a list of ingredients but no amounts. I’ll give some rough guidelines, but you know how you like your salads from home, so no one will be as good a judge as you …

 

Brilliant Winter Green Salad with Pomegranate, Apple & Almonds

Baby Spinach – or Arugula  (which do you prefer, mild and green, or slightly bitter? Or maybe a mix of the two.)

Apple, cored and sliced

Pomegranate seeds (see a previous post for the most ingenious way to remove these wonderfully tart & crunchy little seeds)

Basil – leaves laid out on top of one another, rolled tight like a cigar and sliced thinly

Slivered Almonds, toasted brown

Shallot, sliced thinly and sauteed to a toasty brown in a bit of oil

Soft, mild goat cheese – Optional

Vinaigrette (see below)

__________

Thinly slice the shallot and drop it into a small medium-hot skillet to which you’ve added a small amount of oil. Stir occasionally until browned. Remove to a paper towel.

Toast the almonds – in a 350° oven for perhaps 15 minutes. Check frequently. (The last bit of browning goes very quickly.) About the last 5 minutes you might (might!) want to place the shallots in the oven along with the almonds to dry and crisp them a bit more. 

Remove the seeds from the pomegranate. (See previous post link above. You’ll also find another delicious salad there.)

Toss all ingredients into a bowl (reserving a little of the seeds, nuts and shallots for sprinkling on top.) Toss with a little vinaigrette. Taste to see if amply dressed. Drizzle more as desired. Sprinkle bits of brilliance on top.

Would you like me to taste it for you and tell you why it’s so good?

Even this time of year, most markets will still have fresh crisp baby spinach leaves. These leaves taste mild and green and like Health itself. (Arugula, a little or a lot, but only for those who like the mildly bitter. I do!) Crisp sweet-tart apple, toasted almonds tasting of the hearth, threads of fresh basil winding throughout (these you nearly taste in your nose), crunchy smoky bittersweet bits of shallot, bursting tart seeds full of juice…and then…if you like this sort of thing…mild and creamy, exquisite white cheese of goat.

I . love .  this .  salad !

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plum crazy ~ part deux

I’ve been wanting to tell you and haven’t found the time. Tomorrow, laundry’s done, beds made, bills paid, bags packed, our pups are in the tenderest of hands, we’re sliding ourselves into plane seats to head across the country, across the sea, to Europe for three weeks. One week in Berlin, two in France. (Business gets us there, pleasure keeps us.) This will be our longest (most ♥ glorious!) vacation ever.

but first…

Plums on the tree, plums on the ground, plums in the fruit bin in the fridge. We couldn’t leave town  (well, he could)  without treating them right. And so this morning, on the day before we fly this coop, with dozens of things yet to do, here i am, making jam. Honestly! if that isn’t the height of

plum crazy

it’s got to be close!

This is my second batch of this particular jam, and it’s, well, sort of out of this world and into the next!

There will be but one photo

(because I’m only just so crazy)

and because I’ve already shared with you the basics of plum jam in a recent post.

This jam though is made without the ginger and warming spices of the last one (which was delicious), and in their place steps

Lavender, lovely lovely Lavender!

~ ~ ~

The very thought of lavender is quieting,

Calming.

You can sleep on it, bathe in it, and ought to if you (like moi!) are a bit wigged out!

And who among us hasn’t been pacified by a piece of toast smeared with seductively sweet jam?

This jam may even do it one better.

~ ~ ~

But before the recipe, a NOTE  to you before we fly  –

I’ll be uploading photos while we’re away. At this point I can’t predict whether I’ll actually post to this blog, or simply do a continuing photo story on Facebook. If you’re interested in seeing parts of our trip (Berlin, Paris, Provence, Burgundy) you can Like me on Facebook.

In any event, I will miss this connection with you and will be eager to share when we get back home!

My fellow-blogger friends, I’ll likely be able to read your posts but not offer much comment. If you see me liking you, know that I truly do! 🙂 

~ ~ ~

Lavender Plum Jam 

fills approximately 2 pint jars – possibly 2½ – or 5 half-pint jars

  • a total of 4 pounds ripe plums (or plums & plucots mixed)– pitted and diced
  • 1  cup lavender sugar (to make your own, see note at bottom of post)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons strained fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon slightly crushed culinary lavender

NOTE: If you prefer to make a freezer jam, you can ignore the canning steps and simply fill your jars with cooked jam, allow to cool, and then place in the freezer.

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a crisp of stone fruits

.

peaches, nectarines,

apricots, cherries, plums

sublime in their ecstasy dancing,

sweating sweet sunny juices of summer

. .

What is it about stone fruits that makes them so amiable and easy-going? Such contented things. Never any squabbling. Never an ego out of control. No matter which of them is in the bunch, it’s in all ways pure sweet harmony.

I’ve made this crisp  in many combinations and it always tastes … well, sort of perfect. This time it was with a crowd of them all – some just slightly under-ripe, holding their shape while adding a bit of tartness, other dripping their ripe sweet juices over the cutting board onto the counter. The addition of bing cherries (though no more than a good fragrant handful) colored the entire dish with the blush of magenta. Here is a dessert, baked but simple, without secrets or special formulas, and full of summer’s freshness and freedoms.

Crisp Topping

  • 3 T. unsalted butter, broken into several pieces  (see NOTE)
  • 3 T. walnut oil
  • ½ to ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

NOTE: instead of using a combination of butter and walnut oil, you could simply use 6 T. butter. Or all walnut oil.  Or 3 T. butter & 3 T. coconut oil. Such freedom.

Either using your fingers and kneading together the ingredients or using the paddle attachment of your mixer, work the ingredients together until you have a mixture resembling coarse crumbs. Set aside.

The following recipe will fill a 2½-quart gratin dish. On this occasion, I separated the recipe into 3 separate baking dishes, baking them all together, but only serving one. The others will be gently reheated for serving later – perhaps even for some special breakfast, served alongside cold Greek yogurt drizzled in honey.

A Crisp of Assorted Stone Fruits

  • 3 pounds (about 1.5 kg) assorted stone fruits
  • ¼ cup sugar (nice with vanilla bean scented sugar if you have it)
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

When selecting fruits, a combination of ripe and slightly under-ripe fruits work to produce the most balanced flavors.

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

Wash fruit, remove stones and pits. Cut cherries in halves, all other fruits in approximately ½-inch slices. Mix the sugar with all the spices and then sprinkle over the fruit. Toss together and tumble into buttered baking dish (or dishes) of your choice. ( See below for baking times.)

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rhubarb apple tart & tulips on the table

we all bring something to the table. what are our gifts? what of ourselves do we decide to grow and then share? what love language do we speak? do we learn to speak another’s? how well do we listen?

my husband learned years ago that i love flowers. in the beginning he would order elaborate flower arrangements (full to overflowing) and have them delivered to the door. then, somewhere along the line, he learned i like simple, and all of one thing. and now, he brings me bundles wrapped in paper, wound with string, carried in his own man arms. and sometimes, after days away, blooms are there, welcoming me home again.

if you’ve been with me awhile, you’ve heard of my fear of pie. (more truly, it was fear of a colossal-y failed crust.) i’ve done truly brave things in my life (i’ll even cop to a “reckless” act or two) but pie crust? why and how this fear (irrational to begin with) grew to be such a beast, you might guess. but for years i steered clear of the rolling pin. then, only fairly recently, i decided to stand toe to toe with that tiger, stare unflinching into his golden eyes.

that tiger walks beside me now, purring like a kitten. and finally (and this is reason enough to take on a tiger) i can make my love his apple pie.

Apple Rhubarb Tart

I’ve shared my recipe for a tart shell in an earlier post. (see French Lemon Tart if you want to be tempted!) I’ll include the crust recipe here too, at the end of the post. I’d like to be humble about this, but after years of being humble, to finally be proud seems like something worthy of sharing. So here’s the un-softened, un-humble truth. This crust is   a.w.e.s.o.m.e.

A word about the filling: I grew up eating and loving rhubarb. To me, it’s a thing of spring. So as a base for this pie is a thick rhubarb “compote” of sorts – the liquid cooked out of it and nothing but the essence of the fruit remaining, lightly sweetened, imbued with the scented seeds from a vanilla pod and touched with a hint of cardamon. Apples, rolled in melted butter and brown sugar twirl across the top. Serve as is, warm from the oven, with or without ice-cream or crème fraîche. Or serve it chilled. It’s not too sweet for brunch or tea.

the Fillings

the rhubarb

  • 1 pound rhubarb stalks
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar or muscavado
  • 1/3 vanilla bean
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

the apple

  • 2 apples – Granny Smith or Pink Lady are good (or any other apple that will hold its shape while cooking)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar or muscavado

Wash the rhubarb stalks. Split in half lengthwise, then cut into pieces about 1/2-inch or smaller. Put in a medium-size heavy pot. Split the piece of vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, adding both the pod and seeds to the pot. Drop in the brown sugar and cardamom.

Place the lid on the pot and cook over low heat for 15 minutes or until saucy. (No water in this compote – the low heat will encourage the rhubarb to release its own moisture.)

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muffin madness

It’s time I told you of some plans. On Wednesday April 4th I’ll be heading out of town, gone for 9 days. Gone to meet, to hold and to fall in love with our family’s newest and littlest little. Besides nuzzling of soft powdery neck and losing my heart again, I’ll be preparing some meals, hiding-and-seeking, story-telling and tending to Ali, the  littles’ mama.

In anticipation, yesterday was largely spent in the kitchen, making muffins (and more & more muffins) and two batches of granola. We’ll all be pretty busy at breakfast time, so a bowl of yogurt topped with fruit and crunchy granola, or nutritious muffins in one hand and baby in the other will put us one leg up on the day.

GratefulGuineaPig is out of town and comes home in the afternoon of the same morning I leave. Our ships will pass in the night, so I’ve left him some muffins for breakfast too.

Earlier I posted a recipe for the Morning Glorious Muffins. You can find them here.

In the basket, Morning Glorious Muffins.

Earlier I posted a recipe for the above muffins. You can find them here.

But the muffin I’m about to share with you is ta-da   G l u t e n   F r e e.  That matters to an increasing number of eaters out there. And what I’m discovering in sampling some of these g-f recipes is that the baked goods that result are extremely Tender & surprisingly Delicious! A number of them win the taste test over traditional flour recipes, with hands tied behind their backs. (I’d have lost good money if I’d bet on that one.) Here’s one plucked from the pages of La Tartine Gourmande that I thought you’d like!

Millet, Oat & Apple Muffins

 Made with a combination of flours –

Quinoa flour – wheat-free, gluten-free, an ancient grain that adds a richness of flavor as well as a complete protein.

Millet Flour – one of the earliest cultivated grains (5,000 years ago in China!) it has a sweet flavor, high in amino acids and fiber and contributes a delicate, cake-like crumb to the baked goods it’s in. Again, easily digested and gluten-free.

Add in Gluten-Free Rolled Oats, tahini, grated apple, and this muffin packs a nutritional wallop and starts the day off right. 

Millet, Oat & Apple Muffins – Gluten-free

makes 10 muffins

  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup (80 g, 2¾ oz.) Muscovado sugar (or substitute with brown sugar)
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini (sesame butter)
  • 3½ tablespoons (50 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (60 g, 2 oz) millet flour
  • ¼ cup (30 g) quinoa flour
  • ½ cup (50 g) rolled oats, plus more for topping
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (175 g, 6 oz) finely grated pink lady apples or substitute (peeled & cored)

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a muffin tin with 10 paper muffin cups, or use silicone muffin molds.

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where do you look for sunshine?

When rain in Seattle or Portland makes national news, you know things are about as bad as they get here. Standing water on freeways, drains unable to keep pace with the deluge,  stretches of highway closed, even a few small towns along rivers evacuated. We get grey days, and mostly gentle (and occasionally incessant) rain here, but not monsoons that turn umbrellas inside out and flood boots with the rain that falls fast down our jackets.  I was hydroplaning down the freeway about 10 miles an hour below speed limit, heading toward a long (and long-overdue) coffee date with a dear friend. Carolyn had been out of town for more than a month and I’d missed her. I was thinking of her sunny self as I tried to see through the waterfall that was my windshield. I was thinking too about where it is we go looking for sunshine when our eyes and skin are hungry for it.

Carolyn and I sat drinking our large steamy cups of chai, catching up with the parts of each other’s lives we’d missed. And then, from beneath the table she brought out a canvas banana with a zipper along one side. “Bananagrams,” she said. “You’re going to love it!” She spilled the tiles onto the table, and we turned them over, letters face-down,  as she explained how the game is played. Carolyn was right of course, my friend knows me. From here on out, along with my camera, Bananagrams go where I go.

~ ~ ~

Not long ago I’d visited a fellow-blogger  – Violets and Cardamom – and was struck by her pretty mango lassi.  It was lovely.

Today, I winged my own with several changes. Knowing the deliciousness of the pairing of mango, coconut, ginger, lime, cardamom and banana, it was a simple matter to drop them into a blender, whir them up, pour them out, and stick a straw into a glass of gleaming sunshine.

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Orangettes – Candied Orange Peel Dipped in Chocolate

 Orange and dark chocolate! A show of hands – who loves this combination? For me, it ranks up there with the best of sweet culinary marriages!  I do want to warn you before we get started though that this is not something you’ll want to do if you’re in any way pressed for time; or if you’re one who shuns repetitive activities, (some prefer the word boring.) Every once in a while, some of us (with a higher tolerance for things slow) like to put on some happy music and wile away some hours playing in the kitchen with food. I had a day like that recently, and this is what came of it:

If I’d had some company, we could have danced a bit and the play would have been far more enjoyable – but then there would have been a witness to the “mistakes” that would mysteriously disappear.  So, you take the good with the bad. And these are good!

Orangettes – Chocolate-dipped Candied Orange Peel

This recipe can easily be halved, and for your first batch, you may be happier doing that. But once you’ve tasted them…a whole batch will do just fine. I’ve discovered that if you can draw the process out over two days, the final result will be improved. I candy the orange peel and roll in sugar the first day and let them dry overnight. The next day, it’s all about the dipping, and the cleaning up your mistakes.

Ingredients

candying the oranges:

  • 6 large navel oranges (always when you’re using the peel of any fruit or vegetable, it’s far better to use organic or unsprayed produce!)
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup orange juice  (either store-bought or from the flesh of the oranges put through a strainer)
  • for rolling:
  • 1/2 up of regular granulated sugar or turbinado sugar (you decide – or choose both)
  • for dipping:
  • 10 ounces of bittersweet chocolate

Preparing the oranges: Read more

Why not Kumquats?

One simple salad I simply love has little slivers of bright and tartly fragrant kumquats in it. Have you never tried a kumquat? You should!

Green Salad with Kumquats, Avocado and Pistacios

Ingredients

  • Mesclun, mixed spring greens, or baby spinach (or lettuce of your choice)
  • Avocado
  • Kumquats (see NOTE)
  • Pistacios
  • Dressing – Cilantro-Lime Salad Dressing (in my post Cilantro-Lime Salad, today’s date.)

(You’ll notice that for green salads I don’t list quantities. Only you know how much you or those at your table will eat at one meal.)

Remove your pistacios from the shell. Chop them coarsely, or leave them whole, as you choose. (Or toss some whole ones in, and save the chopped ones for scattering over top.)

Wash and dry your lettuce.

Wash your kumquats, and slice them crosswise, as thinly as possible, removing the seeds as you go. (Yes, you DO eat the peel! In fact it’s all about the peel. Kumquats have been called the inside-out fruit – all the sweetness in the peel, the sour in the flesh.) For a salad feeding two, I use about a handful of kumquats.

Slice or chunk your avocado.

Combine your lettuce, the avocado, and kumquats in a salad bowl. Dress lightly with Cilantro-Lime dressing. Scatter with pistacios and serve.

NOTE: If you’re undecided on whether to try kumquats, I understand your hesitation, but maybe this will help: they’re little ovoids, somewhat smaller than a pecan; they manage somehow to be both hinting of sweet and smacking of tart; they smell vaguely like a daphne blossom, which is, if you didn’t know, heavenly; and they’re highly cute. What more could you ask for in a tiny fruit?

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here.


A slower, lemony breakfast

On a Saturday or Sunday morning, it’s such a delight to slow down the pace a little. Putzing a bit in the kitchen, and then savoring an extra cup of coffee or tea, with a plate of  tender, lofty, lemony cakes is one sure way to do it. Maybe a game of Scrabble with your honey, and you’re home free. Not all (and maybe not many) will want to go the extra step of making their own ricotta, but I promise, it’s only slightly more complicated than boiling milk. If you want to give it a try, I’ve included some instructions that you can access by clicking on the “CONTINUED…” link below. But using a good quality store-bought ricotta will do just fine. The photos here show these cakes virtually unadorned, and they’re simply, delicately delicious that way. (A pat of soft butter, a good squeeze of lemon, a dusting of powdered sugar. A fork.) But you can also serve them with a Blueberry Sauce (recipe below) or a berry syrup, or (can we possibly wait?) heaping spoons of slightly sweetened and sliced Oregon strawberries (I’m sorry – they’re simply the best on earth.) I enjoy maple syrup, but it’s not what I’d put with these. They’re much better complimented by fruit. You’ll see.

 

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes

  • 9 ounces of ricotta cheese (1 cup + 2 Tbl.)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. fine salt
  • Extra fresh lemon for serving, or fresh fruit or berry syrup of your choice

Get ready: Turn your oven to 200°F and put your breakfast plates in to keep warm. Turn your griddle on to medium high. Then just before ladling out the batter for your cakes, brush the griddle with a little bit of neutral oil (such as canola or grapeseed.)

The batter: Separate the eggs, putting the yolks into a medium-size bowl, and the whites into a small one. Whisk the whites until frothy. (It’s not necessary to form peaks of them, but do get them white and full of air.) Mix the egg yolks with the ricotta cheese, milk, lemon juice and vanilla extract. In a separate small bowl sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir in the lemon zest. Mix the wet and dry ingredients until just blended. (Don’t over-mix or your tender little cakes will turn tough and mean.) Then gently fold in the frothy whites until blended.

Griddle: Spoon out the batter onto your greased griddle.  It’s best for these if you keep the size small – say, around 3 inches diameter. You may find it works best if you spoon out a little and spread it slightly so that it’s not too very thick. (Around 1/4″ inch or so.) That way, they’ll be golden brown outside and cooked fully inside. Do a test run of several cakes to see if you’re happy, and then go to town! Like all pancakes, they’re of course best straight from the griddle, but you can keep a stack of them warm in your oven under a towel for a short time without harm.

Serve: As I mentioned above, they’re perfectly flavored to my taste with just a little more lemon juice, some melting butter and a dusting of powdered sugar. But the Blueberry Lemon Sauce here is a very nice accompaniment too! Come summer though, these cakes will lose top-billing to the strawberries that will gorgeously smother them.

for a printer-friendly version of the pancakes, click here

Spree’s Lemony Blueberry Sauce

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries (I love the little ones for this)
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 3 T. water
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1 t. lemon zest

Put the water, lemon juice and sugar into a small saucepan and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the frozen blueberries and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Add fresh blueberries and lemon zest and simmer for about another 3 minutes. Serve warm.

for a printer-friendly version of the blueberry sauce, click here

To make your own ricotta cheese, please click on the “read more” link below…

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