Food & Drink Meatless in Steer City 

Goodbye winter, we hardly knew you – Fruity desserts to help you weather the weather

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This bipolar winter has been excruciating: Just as I’m slipping on the flip-flops and tank tops, ready to hit the gym for bathing-suit season, a glacial north wind pours through my open kitchen window, reminding me that, yes, in fact, we’re still in the icy bitter of winter.

Similarly, my tastes in food have wavered between warm and comforting and cool and refreshing. In that spirit, the cinnamon-infused, pear-strawberry cobbler below fends off gooseflesh, while a grapefruit granita soothes hot-blooded South Texans who shun the wintry mist and welcome the high 80s even in February.

Pear and strawberry cobbler
(serves 6)

The recipe takes about one hour from start to a-la-mode finish, with rich, sweet results guaranteed to fend off any blue-norther’ blues.

For the fruit filling, stir together:
1/2 q strawberries, hulled and quartered
4-5 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/4 t cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
Spread evenly in greased 9 x 13 baking pan.

For the topping, sift together:
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 T sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
Fold in:
5 T cold margarine, chopped

Combine with fingers or pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.

Add: 2/3 c soy creamer

Mix until just combined, then knead the dough on a floured surface for 5-10 turns. Pat dough into 1/2- to 1/4-inch thick piece roughly the size of the pan and lay it over fruit mixture, cutting three steam vents. Brush with melted margarine, sprinkle with sugar, and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Grapefruit-Grape Granita
(serves 4)

A tart homage to the sun, this refreshing treat is a cool finish to dinner on the patio.

2 c fresh grapefruit juice
1/4 c sugar
1/4 Ruby Red grapefruit sections, chopped and pithed
1/4 c red or green seedless grapes, quartered
Optional: mint leaves for garnish

In medium saucepan, combine grapefruit juice and sugar. Heat on medium, whisking constantly until sugar is dissolved. Pour grapefruit-juice mixture into 9 x 13 aluminum baking pan, and cool for 5-10 minutes. Add grapefruit pieces and grapes, evenly dispersing throughout the pan and place in freezer for 2-3 hours. Every 20-30 minutes or so, break up the juice with tines of a fork, maintaining that slushy consistency. Don’t fret if you forget to stir: Place the ice block in a food processor and pulse until the granita reverts to slush.

The sweetness of the grapes cuts the tart edge of the grapefruit in this recipe. But if you don’t enjoy citrus, beef up your antioxidants with a pomegranate granita, substituting strawberries for the grapefruit and grape pieces. Whatever the fruit, this chilled treat will help cool your head when you remember that global warming is the villain behind this erratic winter. Put that in your tank and drive it.

By M.L. Sharpe



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