Category Archives: Fruit

Loquat Cardamom Jam

Loquat Cardamom Jam | Pook's Pantry
Loquat jam is sweet and tart, slightly floral and absolutely delicious.   Loquats are more commonly referred to as “Japanese plum” and they are high in pectin, which makes them ideal for jams.   

Three months after I moved to Florida, I went to visit my aunt and uncle who live here part of the year.  My Aunt Ramona made loquat jam and asked if I would like to try it.  Of course I replied with a resounding “YES”, as I am never one to refuse food.

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Healthy Homemade Banana Pumpkin Dog Treats

Pumpkin Banana Dog Treats - Pook's Pantry
My dog is spoiled, but I’m guessing yours is too.  Healthy, homemade banana pumpkin dog treats are quick and easy to make, plus they only have four ingredients!  For less than $5, you can make approximately 100 treats, which is a much better deal than store bought.

Our pets are like family.   We do everything we can for them, right?  Which is why I make treats for her instead of buying them when I have the time.   Sugar has always had a very sensitive stomach and sometimes store bought foods/treats have given her tummy issues.   For example, when she was a puppy I went through NINE different dog foods before I found one that didn’t make her sick.  Eventually, the vet suggested that I cook vegetables for her and mix them with her dog food.  Sugar has been on this diet for a few years now with no issues, so I’m quite happy.  She eats what we eat most of the time, so it’s not really any extra work.  Chicken, broccoli, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, etc.  She eats better than some of my friends!

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Holiday Candy Bark

Holiday Candy Bark - Perfect hostess gift or quick treat for busy holiday schedules!

This week, Betsy from Desserts Required is doing a guest post!  I love Betsy and I know you will too!  We’ve been friends for a few years now and I must tell you, when you are around her – a good time will be had, whether you like it or not!  🙂  She is a ball of energy, a ray of sunshine and has a serious sweet-tooth just like your truly.   Betsy is a “girl’s girl”, a cheerleader & champion of her friends, the kind of friend everyone should have.

Hello Pook’s Pantry readers!

I am so excited to guest blog while Cheryl takes some much needed time to recover from her surgery. I met Cheryl at Food Wine Conference a couple of years ago and last year she was my roommate. To say that I love and adore her would be an understatement. I mean, seriously, you already know how fabulous her sense of humor is in addition to her talent in the kitchen but I got to see it firsthand. Cheryl was on team Betsy’s Balls in the Chopped competition and, holy moly, can that woman cook!

My blog is Desserts Required and I live by the mantra, “Without desserts, life would not be as sweet.” If there is a delicious dessert within reach, driving distance or flying distance, I am always up for giving it a try. That goes for candy, too.

Since Thanksgiving is two days away, I thought it would be best to offer a quick and delish option to make; Holiday Candy Bark. I love the idea of making something that is as easy to serve at home as it is to take to someone for a hostess gift.

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The key is to use high quality chocolate. I love bittersweet chocolate but Holiday Candy Bark will work just as well with semisweet, milk or even white chocolate. When I was at Whole Foods buying dried cranberries and unsweetened shredded coconut, I had trouble locating dried apricots. I was directed to a bin of very dark, almost black, apricots. I thought something was wrong with them but learned that they were Turkish apricots and, as such, did not contain sulphur, which gives that very bright unnatural orange color. Although, initially, I wanted that bright orange color, I opted for the natural dried fruit. Feel free to use whichever dried apricot you prefer.

Assembly is a breeze. It’s just a matter of adding layers of dried fruit, coconut and toasted pecans over most of the melted chocolate and then drizzling more melted chocolate over the top to keep the goodies in place.

Holiday Candy Bark - a perfect hostess gift or quick treat at home for busy holiday schedules!

Best of all, Holiday Candy Bark is great throughout this holiday season. I’ve even heard a rumor that Santa loves a batch with his milk and cookies!

Find DR on twitter, facebook & instagram!

Holiday Candy Bark
Yields 48
A delicious, no-bake treat perfect for hostess gifts and holiday gatherings!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup (141 grams) dried cranberries, chopped
  2. 1 cup (172 grams) dried apricots, chopped
  3. 1 cup (120 grams) pecan pieces, toasted
  4. ½ cup (40 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut
  5. 2 pounds (910 grams) bittersweet, semisweet, milk or white chocolate, melted
Instructions
  1. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil. Add 4/5 of the melted chocolate and use a small offset metal spatula to spread it evenly in the pan. Top with the cranberries, apricots and most of the pecans and coconut.
  2. Drizzle half of the remaining chocolate over the top. Sprinkle the remaining pecans and coconut over this. Lastly, drizzle the rest of the chocolate on top to ‘glue’ the pecans and coconut onto the bark.
  3. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes. If the block of chocolate is too hard to cut through, allow it to sit out on the counter until a knife cuts through the chocolate without breaking it into shards of chocolate. Cut in squares.
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Swamp Monster Slow Cooker Jackfruit Gumbo

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Halloween is fast approaching and if you are a fan of this fun holiday, you’re in for a treat (not a trick).    My friend Kathy has written a new cookbook full of fun, vegan Halloween food.   Her blog Healthy Slow Cooking is full of healthy options and is my “go to” source for vegan recipes. Whether you follow a vegan diet or not, there is something that everyone can enjoy.

I wanted to share this recipe with you because jackfruit is probably a fairly unfamiliar ingredient to most people.   I find it at my local Asian market.  Sometimes they sell the whole fruit, but more often it’s cut into pieces.  

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A whole fruit can weigh as much as a small child, so getting a piece at the market is a much better option!  The best option when you don’t need 40 pounds of jackfruit: canned for convenience.

I love Kathy’s unique spin on this classic recipe.  If you are trying to eat less animal protein or you are curious about a vegan diet or you just want to try something new,  I would wholeheartedly recommend this and any other recipe by Kathy.   

Swamp Monster Slow Cooker Jackfruit Gumbo
Serves 4
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For the main gumbo
  1. 4 cups water
  2. 4 cups sliced okra (fresh or frozen)
  3. 3 cups diced tomatoes or 2 (14.5 ounce) cans
  4. 1 cup minced bell pepper (any color)
  5. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1 can (20 ounce) young green jackfruit in brine, rinsed with seeds removed *
  7. 2 large vegan sausages (Italian, Chik’n Apple, or Andouille), cut into quarters lengthwise and sliced
  8. 2 bouillon cubes (vegetable or vegan chicken flavor)
  9. 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning blend (see recipe at bottom)
  10. 3 bay leaves
For finishing
  1. 1 cup chopped spinach, kale or other mild green
  2. just enough water to puree, about 1/4 cup
  3. salt and pepper, to taste
  4. more Cajun seasoning blend, to taste – optional
For serving
  1. steamed rice (white, brown or forbidden)
  2. hot sauce
Make Your Own Cajun Seasoning Blend
  1. If you’re looking for a salt-free version or just can’t find it in your area, this little recipe will keep you in spicy goodness for awhile. The best part is you can make it as spicy or mild as you like!
  2. 2 teaspoons paprika
  3. 2 teaspoon thyme
  4. 2 teaspoons oregano or marjoram
  5. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  6. 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  7. 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  8. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  9. 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  10. 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  11. Combine all the ingredients well and store in a lidded container. You can also use a spice grinder to make it look more like store-bought.
Instructions
  1. In the morning: Add all the main gumbo ingredients to your 4 quart slow cooker. Cook on low 7 to 9 hours.
  2. 15 minutes before serving: Add the greens to a blender with a little water and purée until smooth. Then add salt, pepper and more Cajun seasoning if needed.
  3. Remove bay leaves and serve gumbo topped with the green “swamp” purée and a scoop of rice.
  4. * shred the jackfruit with your hands – it will happen easily as you remove the large seeds.
Notes
  1. This chunky stew is full of okra, tomatoes, vegan sausage and stringy jackfruit. One of my testers, Robin Fetter of The Real Vegan Housewife, says the soup had “an awesome foamy green effect on top” when she served it immediately, but that the green became less bright after twenty minutes. She highly recommends puréeing the greens into the soup.
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/

Below is a link to the Kindle edition of Kathy’s book!

11 of My Very Best Fall Recipes

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Crisp fall air and leaves turning shades of red and burnished orange, the crackle of them under your feet as you walk down the street with hands snuggled deep inside your pockets.    Autumn is by far my favorite season.  The temperatures begin to cool down at night, calling for an extra blanket or a down comforter.    This is something I miss now that I live south of the Mason Dixon line.  It’s only been 3 and a half years, but I doubt I’ll ever really get used to the lack of (distinguishable) seasons.

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Citrus Sunshine Cooler

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Citrus Sunshine Cooler - Pook's Pantry
I love tea.  Warm temperatures call for pitchers of iced tea or sun tea sitting on the porch letting Mother Nature do the work for you.  Cooler weather brings spicy teas infused with cinnamon and cardamom or my favorite English Breakfast.  Recently, I wrote a post for a new grocery store in town and I discovered they have a bulk tea section.  I zeroed in on this particular tea, full of dried citrus and hibiscus.  I brought it home and opened the bag.  The smell of that tea was absolutely intoxicating.  I knew it would be lovely as is, but that’s not really my style.  So I started poking around in the fridge and freezer to see what I had stashed away.

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Fig Puff Pastry Tarts

Fig Puff Pastry Tarts - Pook's Pantry

Labor Day weekend is behind us, and for me that marks the “unofficial” official end of summer. I’m not quite ready to “pumpkin spice all the things”, and I’m grasping onto the last ripe tomatoes, corn and veggies that summer has to offer, but fall is right around the corner.  This summer has brought sweltering temps with it and I for one, am ready for it to cool down just a bit.  

This recipe came to fruition based on 2 things:  I had puff pastry in the freezer and I had figs that were on the verge of being too soft.   Wasting food is a Cardinal Sin in my book, and I needed desserts for a client so it was a no-brainer.   I looked through the fridge to see what I had on hand to make this come together; it wasn’t much.  Luckily, I had cream cheese and I figured if I sweetened it up just a touch, the finished product would be almost Danish-like.

You want dessert, but you don’t want to spend hours making it…   However, if said dessert gave the appearance you had spent all day making it that would be a bonus.  Amiright?!

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Blueberry Buttermilk Bundt Cake

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Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

I love my “swirly” bundt pan, but it’s a tad smaller than the average bundt and I always have leftover batter.  This may not seem like an issue, but sometimes I don’t want to make extra cupcakes or little cakes.  I just want One Big Bundt!  So, after dropping a few subtle hints and finally telling my Mom that I was planning a heist and the prize was her Classic Bundt pan… Voila!  She told me that one was on it’s way to me!  Thanks, Mom!  (sometimes, a girl needs to resort to extreme measures) Continue reading

Can All The Things!

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I met Rebecca Lindamood a few years ago at a food blog conference in Orlando.  One day, we were talking about trading goods with each other (local food for local food).  A few weeks later, much to my delight, a quart of Grape Pie Filling (p.31) shows up on my doorstep.  I had never tasted grape pie filling before, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.  I was in for gastronomic bliss of epic proportions. If you pay attention to things I swoon about, you know THIS is at the top of my list.  Think of the juiciest, “grapiest”,  most luscious grape you’ve ever had.  Now multiply that by 10.  That’s Rebecca’s grape pie filling.

When there was talk of this book happening, I was beyond thrilled for my friend.  Her food is amazing and creative.  It is beautiful and yet,  practical.  As a former cook and Mom of 5 boys, she knows a thing or two about feeding people.   I couldn’t wait to get this book and review it because I knew it was going to be one of my “go-to” guides for canning.   I’ve made chutneys and jams, pie fillings and pickles,  chow chow and pickled beans… and then they sit there. Sometimes I get around to actually using them and sometimes, I give it all away because I can only eat so much of it.  Here’s where Rebecca saves the day:  there is a corresponding recipe for all of the things you’ve just canned!!!  I can’t even begin to explain my excitement about that!  

After all, a beautiful jar of something sitting on the shelf doesn’t do anyone any good unless you know how to use it!   -Rebecca Lindamood

If you or someone you know enjoys canning, get this book! There is something for everyone. It would make a great present for any occasion.  Or just because it’s Tuesday. I can’t recommend it enough.  It’s written in a way that makes it accessible for beginners and at the same time, appeals to experienced canners as well.  The recipes are unique and so varied!  Everything from the aforementioned grape pie filling to cardamom extract.   Make the cherries in red wine syrup this weekend (while you can still get this little ruby fruit) and enjoy the fruits (see what I did there ;)) of your labor in the fall or winter when you use those cherries to make Filet Mignon with Red Cherry Wine Sauce!  Make a batch of Ginger Peach Butter now, enjoy Peaches and Cream Baked Oatmeal later!   The entire book is like this!!!  Can you tell how much I love that?  It’s brilliant!

My dream pantry is lined top to bottom with beautiful jars containing their jewel colored treasures.  This book has me on my way to achieving that dream.  Thank you Rebecca, for reintroducing me to my love of canning.

Here is an affiliate link to Amazon to make getting your book even easier!

Happy Canning!

Cherry Chutney

Cherry Chutney
I’m on a serious cherry kick lately.    I can’t get enough of them…  We have gone through almost 10 pounds in the last month because they always seem to find their way into my cart.  You know, just in case I need more.  I’ve been putting them in everything from cakes to oatmeal and this week, I decided to go a savory route.    If you are unfamiliar with chutney, let me give you a quick description.  It’s like a relish, it has sweet and sour ingredients, usually coming from sugar or fruits and vinegar.  It is a blend of sweet and savory.  It’s a great condiment to use with grilled meats or vegetables and this chutney went splendidly with a grilled flank steak.Cherry Chutney

This chutney was paired with grilled meat, but it can also be a great addition to a cheese board or a charcuterie platter or even as a tasty spread on a hearty sandwich.cherry chutney

Cherry season is nearly over, so don’t wait too long to grab a couple of pounds.   I’ll be making another big batch before the summer is over to put up on the shelves so I can enjoy them long after they disappear from the stores. 

Let’s Cook!

Cherry Chutney
Serves 8
A sweet & sour condiment made from fresh cherries, perfect on grilled meat.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/4 lb. fresh cherries, pitted and roughly chopped (approximately 3 cups)
  2. 1/2 small red onion, diced
  3. 1/3 cup dried currants
  4. 1 clove garlic, minced
  5. 1 1/2 tsp. grated ginger
  6. 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  7. 1 TB whole grain mustard
  8. 2 TB light brown sugar
  9. 1 tsp kosher salt
  10. 1 TB canola oil
Instructions
  1. In a medium pot, heat oil over medium low heat then add onions and garlic. Cook until softened, but not browned (5 minutes). Add red wine vinegar and cook a few minutes more.
  2. Add in cherries, currants, ginger, brown sugar, mustard and salt.
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked down and thickened.
  4. Cool completely then pack in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Notes
  1. I served this with grilled flank steak, but it would be a great addition to a cheese or charcuterie board!
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/
Cherry Chutney