Category Archives: Fruit

Watermelon Boba

Boba drinks (also referred to as bubble tea) are popular refreshing Taiwanese beverages with black tapioca pearls. These dark pearls are the size of little marbles with a chewy, gummy texture and come with oversized straws to accommodate the little balls. The boba pearls are often made of sweet potato starch and provides texture to these drinks. They are served in iced teas, iced coffee, fruit juices, slushies, and smoothies. These drinks are so popular in the San Gabriel Valley, you can find a boba cafe on every other block. Popular boba cafes like Tea Station, Ten Ren, and Half & Half will have lines out the doors on hot summer nights. I’m guilty of waiting in one of those ridiculous lines.

My first introduction to a boba drink was back in the early 1990’s when my friend treated me to a delicious Taiwanese meal. Back then, boba drinks were only available in select restaurants and not in specialty cafés. One of the few places that served boba was a small Taiwanese resaruant called Old Country Café in Alhambra, California. They served delicious Taiwanese food and their specialty drink was the watermelon boba, and I spent many weekends during my college days visiting the Old Country Café. Now that the summer is here and the watermelon is sweet, I thought it would be a perfect time to share my watermelon boba recipe. It tastes just like the ones I’ve had at Old Country Café – refreshing and delicious. Enjoy!

Watermelon Boba

Yield: 6 drinks

1 cup of organic sugar
1 cup of water
1 cup of boba pearls (large tapioca pearls)*
1 small watermelon (or 8 cups of chopped watermelon chunks)
Pinch of sea salt
Ice cubes
Boba straws*

1. To make the simple syrup, add the sugar and 1 cup of water to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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2. To cook the boba, bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Once the water boils, add the boba pearls and give it a gentle stir. Once the boba pearls float to the top, reduce the heat to a simmer.

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3. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes. Make sure to stir gently so as not to break up the pearls.

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4. Turn off the heat and let sit for about 25 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, make the water melon juice. Take out the simple syrup from the refrigerator. Add about half of the watermelon pieces, 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the syrup (depending on your preference for sweetness and the ripeness of the watermelon) and a pinch of salt to a blender. Press the smoothie button, or blend until smooth. Pour into a pitcher.

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6. Repeat the process with the remaining watermelon pieces.

7. To assemble, using a handheld strainer, remove the boba out of the water. Divide among 6 large glasses.

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8. Add some ice cubes to each glass.IMG_6086

9. Give the watermelon juice a good stir and pour evenly among the 6 glasses. Add the boba straw and serve.

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*You can find boba pearls and boba straws at most Chinese supermarkets. Note: If you purchase quick cooking boba, follow the instructions on the package.

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Peach Cobbler

Summer is my favorite time to visit the farmers market because of all the stone fruits that are in season. Nectarines, peaches, plums, pluots – all of them are plentiful everywhere you turn. They are ripe, sweet, juicy and tart; in other words, they’re perfect for making warm cobblers!

Cobblers are baked fruit desserts that have a shortcrust, crumble or biscuit topping. I have tried many different versions of cobbler and my favorite combination is peach cobbler with a biscuit-like topping. In this recipe, I sprinkle crystallized sugar on the biscuit topping, which makes the crust crispy on the top but still moist above the cooked fruit. Since this recipe uses less sugar than most other cobbler recipes, it is important use ripe and sweet peaches. Serve the cobbler with some good vanilla bean ice cream and you’ll have a wonderful summer treat! Enjoy!

Peach Cobbler

Serves 9-12

6 cups sliced ripe, yellow peaches (1/2 inch thick slices)
1/3 cup of sugar + 1/4 cup of  sugar
1 tablespoon of organic cornstarch
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (divided in half)
3/4 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 scant teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cold and cut into 12 cubes
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 tablespoon of heavy cream
Crystallized or turbinado sugar, for topping
Vanilla bean ice cream, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. In a large bowl, add the sliced peaches, 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Stir to combine. Set aside.

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3. In a food processor, add the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Pulse 3 to 4 times.

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4. Add the cubes of butter. Pulse 5-6 more times or until the mixture is pea-sized chunks. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.

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5. Add the buttermilk and the vanilla extract to the dry mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold in carefully until just combined. Set aside.

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6. Grease a 9 x 9 square baking pan with a non-stick spray. Give the peach mixture a quick stir. Pour filling into the pan.

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7. Spoon the crust mixture in evenly-spaced dollops on top of the peaches.

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8. Brush the crust with heavy cream. Generously sprinkle the crystallized sugar on top.

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9. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. (Check the cobbler at the 20 minute mark. If the cobbler browns too quickly, you can cover it with aluminum foil.) Cool for at least 20 minutes.

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10. Spoon into a bowl and serve with a large scoop of your favorite vanilla bean ice cream.

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Mini Berry Tarts

Fruit tarts are delightful summertime treats, with the combination of rich pastry cream, crispy tart shell, and seasonal berries, creating a wonderful taste and texture sensation in your mouth. The crust is crispy with hint of salt, the pastry cream is sweet, smooth and creamy, and the berries add a lovely tart flavor. Because making fruit tarts is such a production, I reserve making them for special occasions. With blue and red berries in season, what better time than the 4th of July to make these lovely treats!

A typical fruit tart shell is made with pâte sablée, a rich French crust that resembles a shortbread cookie in flavor and consistency. For my tarts, I use a graham cracker crust recipe, which is more crispy and golden in color. It holds up well to the pastry cream without getting soggy. It also has just enough salt to balance out the sweetness. The pastry cream recipe has Grand Mariner and orange zest to add a hint of orange flavor. Make the pastry cream and the tart shells a day in advance so you can just assemble the fruit tarts the day of serving. This recipe makes 12 mini fruit tarts, perfect for a family gathering. Enjoy!

Mini Berry Tarts

Yield: 12 mini tarts

1/3 cup of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups Grand Marnier pastry cream (recipe follows)
12 mini graham cracker tart shells (recipe follows)
1 cup of fresh raspberries
1 cup of fresh blueberries
Superfine sugar for sprinkling, optional

1) in a medium bowl, add the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk vigorously until your mixture gets to medium peaks.

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2) Fold 2/3 of the mixture into the pastry cream. Fold carefully so as not to deflate the whipped cream. Reserve the remaining portion in the refrigerator for decoration.

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3) Using a small ice cream scoop (just shy of 1/8 cup), portion out the pastry cream to each of the tart shells.

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4) Arrange the berries on top of the pastry cream. Sprinkle a little sugar, if using.

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5) Take the remaining whipped cream out of the refrigerator. Place a star tip on a pastry bag and add the whipped cream, decorating the fruit tarts with stars. Serve immediately or place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Graham Cracker Tart Shells
(Adapted from Claudia Fleming’s Recipe)

Yield: 12 mini tart shells

1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/8 cup of brown sugar
1/8 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons of honey

1) In a medium bowl, add both types of flour, salt and cinnamon.

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2) In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, add the butter, both types of sugar, and the honey. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the bottom with a rubber spatula.

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3) Set the mixer on low speed. Slowly add the flour mixture. Beat well until there is no visible flour.

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4) Scrape the dough and transfer onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten into a disk and double wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

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5) Once the dough has chilled, remove from the refrigerator.

6) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

7) Dust a workstation lightly with flour. Roll the dough into 1/8″ thickness. Using a round 3 1/2 inch cookie cutter, cut out 12 circles. Carefully transfer each circle to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Place the entire baking sheet into the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

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8) While the dough circles are being chilled, grease 12 mini tart pans* with cooking spray. Heat the oven to 325°.

9) After 10 minutes, take out the cut dough from the refrigerator. Quickly press each of the circles into the tart shells. Using a fork, make several pricks in the dough, even on the sides.

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10) Transfer the tart pans onto a baking sheet. Place the entire baking sheet into the freezer for 5 minutes.

11) Remove the tart shells from the freezer. Place them directly into the oven and bake for about 18 minutes or until golden brown.

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12) Cool in the tart pans for 10 minutes. Tap the bottom of each tart pan to remove the tart shells. Cool completely on a wired rack. The tart shells can be made a day in advance and placed in an airtight container.

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*Use mini tart pans with a 2″ base and the rim 3″. If you don’t have mini tart pans, you can use muffin tins. Just make sure you line the muffin tins with 2″ parchment paper circles.

 

Grand Marnier Pastry Cream

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

3 large egg yolks
1/3 cups of sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons of organic cornstarch
1 cup of whole milk
1/4 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
2 teaspoons of Grand Marnier
1/2 teaspoon of orange zest, optional
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

1) In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium speed for about five minutes. The consistency will be thick and the color will be light yellow.

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2) Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, add the milk and the vanilla bean with seeds. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat.

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3) After five minutes, reduce the mixer speed to low and add the cornstarch. Beat until the cornstarch is no longer visible.

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4) Keeping the mixer on low, add the boiled milk mixture in a slow stream. Make sure you don’t pour too quickly or the mixture will curdle.

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5) Transfer the entire mixture back to the medium sauce pan. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir.

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6) Add the Grand Marnier and orange zest and swap out the rubber spatula for a whisk. Cook for an additional 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Once the mixture boils in the center, cook for 1 more minute. The mixture should be thick like pudding.

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7) Pour the mixture into a fine mesh sieve and place over a medium glass bowl. Using a rubber spatula, press down the pastry cream mixture. You should get a smooth and shiny pastry cream in the bowl. Whisk in the butter.

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8) Place a plastic wrap directly on the pastry cream to avoid a skin from forming. Place in the refrigerator for 3 hours to cool. This mixture could be made a day in advance.

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