Monday, December 20, 2010

Golden Apple Tarts - pomme de cythère

At one time apples were synonymous with Christmas in Trinidad. As a child I eagerly anticipated the crate of apples which my father ordered from Ibrahims and Co. on Charlotte street. It was a yearly Christmas tradition.

Nowadays I think it's a pity that our fascination with all things foreign has been to the detriment of the fruits grown locally. Apple pies and  turnovers are abundant in bakeries and supermarkets all over the island but not many people know that apples aren't needed to make this truly delectable golden-apple pie.


The Golden apple (Spondias dulcis or Ambarella)is not related to the apple of temperate zone fame. In Trinidad this fruit is known as pomsitay which is derived from french, pomme de cythère. Unripe pomme de cythères are sour tasting but can be used in salads as I did here. They can be pickled, or cooked in curries and they make fabulous chutney.

When the fruit ripens, its skin and flesh turns golden-yellow. The fruit has the somewhat unusual characteristic of being both sweet yet bitingly tart at the same time. My favourite way to enjoy this fruit is at its ripest with a sprinkle of salt. I am aware that seems a bit odd but trust me it cuts the tartness and bumps up the fruit's juicy sweetness. It's this incongruous sweet and sour quality that makes the pomme de cythère so adaptable to both sweet or savoury dishes. Even more unusual is that this fruit which tastes nothing like an apple ends up tasting exactly like apples when baked in this pie.

I must confess that I made this as an experiment with the intention of making it again if it turned out well. As a result I did not measure anything.  I do plan on making these tarts for Christmas dessert so a recipe (with precise measurements is in the works). Until then I want to take this opportunity to send you all a little holiday greeting.

tart de pomme de cythère


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Looking for Life's Easy Button


This blog has been quiet recently on account of work and some family drama... but mainly work. Lately everything has been happening all at the same time and I find myself exhausted and looking for life's easy button. I promise I'll let you know when I find it, until then here is a fabulous recipe for gluten-free muffins.

It doesn't look like much so what's so great about this muffin?  Well these muffins wake you up. Seriously. They are the kick your ass out of bed, put a smile on your face even though you don't feel like smiling muffins. Yeah these are those guys. They sound like this. I know they are a departure from my regular healthy, whole-grain  breakfast muffins but I do have to tell you, recently I've been needing a whole lotta kick ass to roll me out to face the days.

I have said before that I love how quickly muffins can be put together. This recipe is a little different. You can't just dump the ingredients into one bowl and mix. First you must cream the butter and sugar before combining the wet and dry ingredients. Your reward for this little extra effort will be a muffin that has a tender cake-like crumb.

Warm from the oven, oozing sticky blueberries and slathered with even more sweet butter, I can't think of a better way to chase away morning blues than with cake masquerading as a muffin for breakfast, can you?

Blueberry Muffins Gluten-Free
(NB: This recipe works just as well if you swap out the gluten free flour for regular all purpose flour)

3 cups of Dove's farm Gluten Free white flour

1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 Tbsp unsalted butter or 1 1/4 stick, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon grated lime or orange peel
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (defrosted)
1 tbsp flour (if using defrosted frozen berries)


Use standard 12-muffin muffin tins. Coat each muffin cup lightly with butter. Set your oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 375°F.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together, beating until it turns a pale yellow colour. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each one. Add the grated lime or orange peel.

Add one half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat until it is only just incorporated. Beat in one third of the yoghurt. Beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients. Beat in a second third of the yoghurt. Add the remaining dry ingredients and then the remaining yoghurt. Beat until just incorporated. Do not over mix. Fold in the berries with a wooden spoon. If using defrosted berries drain the excess liquid and coat them with a light dusting of flour before folding in.

Distribute the muffin batter equally among the cups. Bake until muffins are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Test for  a thin bamboo skewer or a toothpick to see that the enters are cooked. Set on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from the tin and serve slightly warm.
Makes 12 muffins.