JAMAICAN CHRISTMAS FRUIT CAKE IN CUPCAKE SIZES

A miniature version of Jamaica’s traditional Christmas fruit cake. Decided to bake some in a cupcake format. This cake is made with candied fruits simmered/infused with spirits (alcohol): Wray/Nephew White Rum, Red Label Wine and Brandy. Molasses and food browning were added for a dark brown hue.

As usual, Santa will be delivering a few bigger versions to my loved ones.

JAMAICA'S CHRISTMAS FRUIT CAKES
JAMAICA’S CHRISTMAS FRUIT CAKES

Ho!!!Ho!! Merry Christmas!! Feliz Navidad!!

HOLIDAY BERRIES #CRANBERRIES

It’s that time of the year when the market is loaded with cranberries. Their presence remind us that the holiday season is here. And because it’s the peak season for these,  the prices are relatively inexpensive. Prices vary; however, a pound of these can put you back $2.00 in certain markets.

These red and tart berries are not only attractive for the table, but they are packed with beneficial nutrients such as antioxidants that protect against damage to the body. Moreover, over the years, many studies have found that the acidity in  these berries prevent urinary tract infections (UTI’s).

I love to take advantage of these seasonal berries. Thus, I like to buy and freeze a copious amount to be used up during the year when prices are higher. I rinse and store in ziplock bags.

FRESH CRANBERRIES
FRESH CRANBERRIES BEING RINSED FOR STORING IN FREEZER

A little goes a far way. I often use as: syrup for pancakes/crepes, as a side dish for turkey and other poultry. I love to simmer on low heat, cool and make a cranberry drink instead of the store-bought version. Or, as a holiday cocktail (cranberry vodka martini). Also I like to add other berries such as blue, straw or raspberries and fruits and make a refreshing non-alcoholic drink.

 

 

DRUNKEN BOSC PEAR #JUST IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN

One of fall’s favorite harvest treats is pears. And, I fetched a couple from the Bosc variety. I allowed same to ripen on top of my counter. As soon as they started to release all the warm and wonderful aromas of fall, I decided to place them in refrigerator for chilling. Also, this move is great for stopping the ripening process.

I couldn’t help myself; so I peeled one and devoured its sweetness with a few pieces of cheddar cheese. Although it was mature, it held its natural formation. As a result, I decided to simmer its counterpart in a cup of left-over Merlot wine.

With just a cup of the rich Merlot and a drizzle  of honey, I allowed pear to simmer under low heat. In approximately 20 minutes, it absorbed all the burgundy, sour/sweet flavors. The sauce reduced and developed a thick and sweet finish. I used some to drizzle around fruit.

After cooling,  pear was placed in refrigerator for chilling. I’ll consume as is or pair same with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. I can’t wait. Salud!

PUMPKIN/CARROT LOAF WITH A HINT OF BRANDY

It was quite a treat to use up one of autumn’s favorite foods. I did so in the form of a pumpkin and carrot loaf. During the fall months, I like to have on hand a package or two of frozen pumpkins. These are handy for pancakes, waffles, cupcakes and soups.

Today I decided to make a warm pumpkin loaf. But, I also incorporated shredded carrots which turned out to be perfect partners as they provided an extra sweetness to the loaf. I allowed my food processor to do a quick shred of the carrots; however, a grater could also be used.

SOME OF THE MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR PUMPKIN/CARROT LOAF
SOME OF THE MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR PUMPKIN/CARROT LOAF

Ingredients:

  • Pumpkin (1 cup)
  • Shredded carrots (1 cup)
  • Whole-wheat flour (1 cup)
  • All-purpose flour (1/2 cup)
  • Baking powder (1 teaspoon)
  • Baking soda (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Salt (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Vanilla (1 teaspoon)
  • Cinnamon (teaspoon)
  • Nutmeg (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Canola oil (1/2 cup)
  • Egg (2 large)
  • Dark sugar (1/2 cup)
  • Brandy (splash) (optional)

Method:

  1. Cream oil and sugar.
  2. Add beaten eggs along with lemon juice and vanilla.
  3. Fold in dry ingredients.
  4. Add and fold in pumpkin, carrots, raisins along with splash of brandy.

    BATTER FOR PUMPKIN AND CARROT LOAF
    BATTER FOR PUMPKIN AND CARROT LOAF
  5. Place in greased loaf dish.

    PUMPKIN/CARROT LOAF READY FOR OVEN
    PUMPKIN/CARROT LOAF READY FOR OVEN
  6. Bake in pre-heated 325 degree oven for approximately one hour or with a clean tooth pick test.

Loaf was a moist and sweet (not overly) treat. From my observations, baking with frozen pumpkin can sometime leave an after taste to the palate; however, incorporating the carrots eradicated this and gave a beautiful balance.

PULP TOO GOOD TO TOSS!! #CARROT AND BEET MUFFINS

I couldn’t bear to toss. I made myself beet and carrot juice. I incorporated finely chopped ginger root and a squeeze of lime. With a splash of water, all ingredients were placed in standing blender. This was blended and then strained so as to remove pulp.

BEET/CARROT JUICE
BEET/CARROT JUICE

Though most of the juice was extracted, I retained the pulp which still contained enormous fibers, beta-carotene, and other nutrients. I decided to make  carrot and beet muffins. I added shredded carrot to same and combined.

PULP FROM BEET/CARROTS ALONG WITH SHREDDED CARROT FOR MUFFINS
PULP FROM BEET/CARROTS ALONG WITH SHREDDED CARROT FOR MUFFINS

Other ingredients:

  • Whole-wheat and all-purpose flour (1 cup ea.)
  • Baking soda (1 teaspoon)
  • Baking powder (1 teaspoon)
  • Flax-seed (2 table-spoons)
  • Dark sugar (1/4 cup)
  • Granulated sugar (1/4 cup)
  • Butter (1 stick)
  • Vegetable oil (1/4)
  • Salt (pinch)
  • Cinnamon (2 teaspoon)
  • Vanilla (1 teaspoon)
  • Raisins (1/4 cup)
SOME OF THE MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR BEET AND CARROT MUFFINS
SOME OF THE MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR BEET AND CARROT MUFFINS

Method:

  1. Butter, oil and sugar were creamed and then  vanilla added.
  2. All dry ingredients were combined and then gradually added to creamed butter and sugar.
  3. Pulp of carrots and beets along with shredded carrots and raisins were added and folded.
  4. Batter was then placed in sprayed muffin pan.MIXED CARROT AND BEET MUFFINS READY FOR BAKING
  5. Muffins were baked in a pre-heated oven at 370 fahrenheit until done.

    BAKED CARROT AND BEET MUFFINS
    BAKED CARROT AND BEET MUFFINS

DOUBLE TROUBLE ##BRANDY-ROASTED FIGS AND BUTTER PECAN ICE-CREAM

A few days ago, I was gifted a 16 ounce package of Black Mission figs grown in California. You see, some of Publix Supermarkets in my locale (So. Florida, U.S.A.) have these for sale (buy 1 get 1 free). There is a saving of about $5.99. These summer treats are available at the current rate through August 12 to 18. A pound of fresh figs averages between $3.00 to $6.00 depending on where.

Anyway, figs have two seasons: mid-fall and late-summer. Clearly, these were at their peak because they were very mature and a few were even oozing quite a bit. I couldn’t help myself; I did a quick rinse and devoured two to three. They were super-sweet. I had to pull myself away from them. As I placed the package in the refrigerator, I got a culinary brain storm.

I decided to roast them. At the time I couldn’t decide on a savory or sweet version; however, my peripheral left vision caught the left-over brandy. And, immediately I decided on dessert. I grabbed my chopping board and went to work and removed the stem from each fig and sliced them in halves.

FRESH FIGS CUT IN HALVES ALONG WITH MINT
FRESH FIGS CUT IN HALVES ALONG WITH MINT

Other ingredients:

  • Dark sugar (1 tbsp)
  • Honey (1 tbsp)
  • Cinnamon (sprinkle)
  • Olive oil (drizzle)
  • Salt (pinch)
  • Fresh mint (1 tbsp) with sprig for garnish)
  • Brandy (1/4 cup)
  • Pam spray

Method:

  1. All ingredients were combined in a bowl.
  2. Mint was finely chopped and added to mixture. Then, this was toss over figs and gently rubbed into fruits.
  3. Baking dish was sprayed with Pam spray and each fig was turned cut-side down in one layer along with brandy liquid.

    FIGS READY FOR ROASTING
    FIGS  GETTING READY FOR ROASTING
  4. In 400 degree pre-heated oven, figs were roasted for 15 minutes covered with foil. And for the last 10 minutes, the foil was removed.

The figs released their own juices and added to the brandy liquid. The two combination left a thick and syrup-like consistency full of aromatic flavors.

ROASTED FIGS WITH FRESH MINT AS GARNISH
ROASTED FIGS WITH FRESH MINT AS GARNISH

It was double-trouble for yours truly. I decided to pair same with a scoop (well 2-3 small scoops) of butter pecan ice-cream. Oh, I was in heaven!

BRANDY-ROASTED FIGS AND BUTTER PECAN ICE-CREAM WITH A GARNISH OF FRESH MINT
BRANDY-ROASTED FIGS AND BUTTER PECAN ICE-CREAM WITH A GARNISH OF FRESH MINT