The fruits of summer, coming from gardens or freshly misted produce sections, somehow seem to make us lose track of the hot, soaring temperatures. � They cool us down with their refreshing bursts of sweetness and color. I love recipes that use summer fruits with minimal stove or oven use, and ones that take minimal preparation time and effort when prepared at someone else's dinner party. � Here are a few fruits to consider this summer:
Think of fruit as summer's natural sweetener
Watermelon, Pineapple and Peach Smoothies
2 cups chopped seedless watermelon
1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
2 cups peach yogurt
Dash of ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth and serve immediately.
Source: National Watermelon Promotion Board
Versatile Millionaire Pie
2 (9-inch) pastry pie crusts (homemade or frozen)
2 cups confectioners' powdered sugar, plus 1 cup sifted powdered sugar for whipped topping
½ cup margarine or butter, softened
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs (see note)
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup fresh pineapple (or other fresh fruit), chopped and patted dry
½ cup chopped pecans, plus ¼ cup for garnish
Coconut flakes for garnish (optional)
Follow the baking instructions for your frozen pie crusts. For a more golden crust, brush outer edges with whisked egg white before baking. Let cool.
Cream 2 cups powdered sugar and the butter with electric mixer on high. Add salt, eggs (or Egg Beaters) and vanilla. Beat on high until this light yellow, creamy filling is smooth. Evenly spread the mixture into the two crusts. Chill so that the whipped topping going on next doesn't fall into the filling.
Whip the heavy cream until stiff. Blend in 1 cup sifted powdered sugar. Fold in pineapple and pecans with a large spatula. Spread this mixture on top of the fillings in the two pies and chill thoroughly for several hours. Top with coconut flakes, if using.
One note: Go for the gold when picking a pineapple. The more golden in color, the more ripe and sweet the fruit inside will be. Peel it, core it, slice it, chop it finely with a sharp knife and drain it well. Allow it to chill a bit in a covered bowl or plastic zip-top bag for this recipe.
Or experiment with other fruits, such as bananas, strawberries or peaches.
And another note: This makes a very thin layer of filling and a larger layer of whipped, fruit-filled topping. Don't expect it to be the other way around. The filling is wonderful but sweet, and it is the whipped cream that holds all of the "magic," so you want that to be more plentiful. In fact, I like my pie to have more of a large crown of the whipped stuff, so I double that portion of the recipe. For less topping, just use half the whipped cream.
Makes 2 cream pies (8 to 10 servings each).
Source: McClatchy Newspapers
Almond Butter and Honey Capped-off Strawberries
6 large, ripe strawberries
2 tablespoons local, raw honey
2 tablespoons almond butter (peanut butter is fine, too)
2 tablespoons crushed pecans, almonds, pistachios, walnuts or cashews
Rinse and dry the strawberries. Cut off the top and the tip of the bottom of the strawberry so it can sit upright when finished. Insert your paring knife to core the inside of the strawberry. It comes out very easily, usually. What's left is a strawberry "shell."
With a small spoon, fill the hole with raw honey, leaving a little room at the top. Use a flat, regular knife to "cap off" the strawberry with almond butter.
Top with crushed nuts. The strawberries should be served immediately and look beautiful when standing up, grouped on a small platter.
Source: Kurt Starnes, author of 77 Tips for a Grown-Up Man
Peach-Almond Chicken Salad
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken meat
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ cup sliced almonds, plus another ¼ for garnish
1 to 2 tablespoons of honey (to taste, start with 1 tablespoon, add more if you like)
2 to 4 fresh, ripe peaches
Salt and black pepper (as needed, to taste)
In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice and pepper, then toss with cooked chicken and celery.
Add mustard, almonds and honey. Mix well.
Just before serving, peel and slice peaches into bite-sized pieces or quarters and fold into the chicken salad. Season as needed with salt and pepper.
Makes 2 servings.
Source: McClatchy Newspapers