Plum Torte and Jackson Heights

The past week was one of minor miracles. My husband recovered quickly from covid and knock on wood, I never succumbed! I have to confess that I was rather glad when it was time to commute to New York to teach at Hofstra; escape from the germ zone!

As a treat to Paul, I thought I would bring some Indian takeout back home; this would give me the opportunity to explore the vibrant Indian community in the New York City borough of Queens. I had heard about the neighborhood for years, but never had chance to visit the area.

A kindly cab driver motioned me into a parking spot that he was leaving and I took a picture of the street signs; no getting lost this week! From this point of reference, I started to slowly walk around the neighborhood, taking in all of the sights.

As I neared the entrance of the subway at 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, I was met by the sounds of popular Indian music blaring from a loud speaker in front of a store. As people pushed by me on all sides, I felt as if I could be in the middle of a bustling and vibrant movie set!

Enjoy this short video in front of the 74th Street subway station!

There were many thriving family businesses and clothing stores that displayed bold colorful fabrics.

The streets were lined with small grocery stores selling a wide variety of Indian spices, dals & grains and outside the stores, exotic vegetables were displayed on stands including Thai eggplants, small round purple eggplants, Bengali squash, gourds, and heaping boxes of hot green chilies. As I walked slowly through the neighborhood, a delicious aroma of garlic and spices wafted through the air.

Thai Eggplant

Bengali Squash

There were numerous cafes and Indian pastry shops with enticing displays of sweets.

The colorful and fragrant small desserts were like eye candy; I succumbed and selected a few small pastries to sample on the way back home.

I discovered that Jackson Heights is also one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in the United States with over 167 languages spoken, including Mexicans, Ecuadorians, Columbians, Argentinians, Tibetans and Nepalese. As I walked down the streets and looked at all of the different faces of the people, I sensed the beautiful mix of cultures with everyone seeming to comingle peacefully!

I started to look for an Indian restaurant to order our takeout dinner and was distracted momentarily by a display of colorful cakes in the window of a Mexican bakery and of course I had to go inside. The counter person was a lovely young woman who proudly showed me the different breads , cakes and pastries.

Just down the street I saw a Tibetan restaurant that looked interesting and decided that maybe some momos (Tibetan dumplings) would be good instead of Indian food. I made a rather large order to take home along with a few other dishes. Often my instincts are on the mark when choosing restaurants, but alas not in this case. The food was greasy, lacking in flavor & the momos were filled with tough pieces of meat. So, this restaurant will remain nameless! The good news is the I will definitely make more trips to Jackson Heights and I know the next time I will find great Indian or Tibetan food!!

Back in the car, heading home, I took out one of the Indian pastry treats and took a bite. The flavor was delicious with hints of cardamom, but shockingly sweet and it made my teeth ache; time to think about a dessert that was guilt free but also delicious!

In my blog, I made a decision not to dwell on health issues, but I will make an exception for this post. More then 15 years ago my husband was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and this caused us to make major changes to our diet. You may have noticed that many of the dessert recipes in my blog are made either without sugar and if a recipe needs a sweetener, I use either small amounts of monk fruit sweetener, stevia, or coconut sugar; all with a very low glycemic index. I find that now when I taste recipes that use regular sugar, they taste way too sweet and I enjoy the fresh taste of apples and berries without sweeteners.

Recently, I reinvented a plum torte that was made famous by the NY Times food writer Marian Burros. The original plum torte is rich and buttery and very sweet. For my guilt free version, I used the same batter that is in my Apple Strawberry Ginger Crumble Tea Cake, with the addition of almond extract and for an extra treat, I made a glaze for the top of the torte with a small amount of honey that I microwaved with cinnamon. You could also use sliced apples or apricots when they are in season. I hope you enjoy this recipe!!

Plum Torte

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup monk fruit sweetener

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

1/3 cup canola oil

3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla soy or almond milk

10-12 Italian plums or you can use sliced apples or apricots in season- cut plums in half and remove pits.

Glaze:

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon cinamon

stir together honey and cinnamon and microwave for about 30 seconds until honey becomes liquid.

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees

Lightly butter a tart pan or large pie dish.

To make cake batter:

In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, monk fruit sweetener, coconut sugar and cinnamon.

Add egg, vanilla, canola oil, soy or almond milk and mix together just until the batter is smooth.

Pour batter into the prepared baking dish and place plum halves cut side down in a decorative pattern over batter.

Drizzle glaze over top of the batter and fruit.

Bake until fruit starts to bubble and a cake tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

ENJOY!!

This fall I have been watching a spider outside of my study window. It distracted me nicely as I avoided working on my oboe reeds! I was fascinated to watch how during stormy weather or heavy rain, the spider would retreat to a corner of the window and the web would be torn apart. When the weather cleared, the spider would slowly climb back out, repair it’s web and carry on; much like the resilience that our fragile democracy has recently exhibited!

AND: Here is the “Tree of the Week”!

“That was a close call”!!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

“Mann tracht un Gott Lacht”* and Baked Apple Cider Donuts

* “Man plans and God Laughs”- The old Yiddish expression took on new meaning this past week. The plan was this-my Birthday week was crammed full with students, an early rehearsal in NYC for a Salisbury Four Christmas concert, teaching at Hofstra University and getting ready for the release of my group Hevreh Ensemble’s new album, Meserole Street. I thought that I would be too busy to write much in the way of my blog and the idea of a guest blogger appealed to me. My husband took a walk at the Keystone Arches in Chester, MA and returned with beautiful photographs- he would be the perfect guest!

“Keystone Arches”- Chester, MA- photo Paul DePaolo

But as it happened, too much transpired that I needed to write about. I will look forward to featuring a Keystone Arches guest blog soon!

This year, my birthday fell on a Friday, the day I travel to New York to teach; Paul suggested waiting until Sunday to celebrate. The plan was to attend an Orchestra ONE concert at Bard College’s Fisher Center. A group of my talented Advanced Ensemble students from the Indian Mountain School were planning to meet us at the concert; being kindly driven by another IMS faculty member. After the concert, Paul and I would drive to nearby Rhinebeck, New York and have dinner at one of our favorite restaurants; Gigi’s Trattoria. I returned home Saturday night; tired but happy and inspired by the rehearsal I had that afternoon. Exquisite melodies from works by Schutz and Monteverdi were still dancing around in my head and for a brief time all felt right with our crazy world. At the rehearsal, we had all talked about the soothing power of music.

Then, Sunday morning after I woke up late, I came downstairs and my husband ominously said that his throat hurt and it felt scratchy. We both took Covid rapid tests and his came back with the dreaded 2 stripes! Quickly all plans were scuttled and we were thrust into the place where no one wants to go….

Feeling frustrated with the sudden change in direction, I decided to take a hike by myself. I made sure that Paul was comfortable with plenty of tissues and herbal tea nearby and I am so glad that I decided to tell him my planned destination!

I set out for The Drury Preserve in Sheffield, Massachusetts for beautiful solitude. My car was the only one in the small lot and this suited my mood just fine. Kicking leaves, I strode off on the trail that led through a pine forest. My thoughts were full of frustration, anger, worry about Paul and plenty of self pity! The trail leads gradually down into a swampy area with narrow planks of wood over the small marsh; the entire round trip is about 3 miles. As I tramped through the woods, gradually my mood began to lighten and I thought there might even be enough time to get back to The Bistro Box in Great Barrington to bring home chicken and falafel burgers and a salad with the freshest organic greens. Things were beginning to look brighter!

I crossed the last wooden plank over the marsh and looked forward to reaching a small idyllic pond with a small wooden bench that has a lovely view of Race Mountain in the distance. Somehow I got off the trail without knowing it, but I saw the pond in the distance and climbed up a small hill and then down to the pond.

Drury Preserve- Sheffield, MA

I sat for a few minutes on the bench, breathing in the fresh fall air deeply and then started to head back. Very quickly I realized that I could not find the trail. The ground was covered with leaves and there were no blue blazes on the trees to mark the way.

I started off in one direction, realized it was not leading to the trail and went the other way. This did not work either, but I saw the pond peeking through the trees and headed back to the pond.

After a few mores tries to orient myself to the trail, I knew that I was completely lost and as the sun sank lower in the sky, a small amount of worry trickled into my mind and I decided to call my sick husband. With one bar of power on my phone, the call miraculously connected and I said “I think I am completely turned around, please come!! I had a good 45 minutes to wait for my rescuer and went back to the lovely bench by the pond; plenty of time to “cool my heels”, mediate and take pictures of the beautiful surroundings.

I even took a picture of a possible candidate for a “Tree of the Week”!

As I heard Paul’s voice calling out to me through the woods, I felt palpable relief. I bounded down the path towards him; Paul was so relieved to see me that he did not pay close attention to the way back and soon enough both of us were lost! Our friends Peter and Caroline were also coming to my rescue. Luckily, Paul remembered Peter’s advise to “cross the marsh and head east” after Peter had checked a map of the preserve. With great relief we soon saw the wooden slats of the trail in the distance and we headed back to our cars just as the sun was setting!

And best of all, my dear friend Carol created a beautiful piece of artwork, “Tree and Bird” for my birthday; this could not be a better birthday treat! To see more of her extraordinary artwork: Carol Ober.

As I write this post, Paul is recovering nicely and I wait to see if I will develop symptoms.

In the Fall, I often pass by farm stands that sell Apple Cider Donuts and I resist eating them because they are greasy, overly sweet, full of calories and I am often disappointed with the lack of apple flavor. I set out to find a recipe for Apple Cider Donuts that were baked and full of cider flavor and I think I may have found the trick! I adapted a recipe that I found online from Sweet Cayenne. The recipe calls for apple cider that is cooked down into a syrup and with the addition of allspice, cinnamon and ground cloves, they tasted light, delicious and best of all are guilt free! I liked them plain, but they could also be glazed or dipped in coconut sugar and cinnamon.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts- adapted from Sweet Cayenne

Ingredients

For the donuts:

  • ⅓ cup neutral-flavored oil (canola, avocado, grapeseed, walnut)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup monk fruit sweetener
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup applesauce ( I did not have a jar of applesauce on hand, so I just cooked down a few apples and mashed them up with some cinnamon).
  • ½ cup  apple cider, boiled down to about 2 tablespoons of syrup
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

For the glaze:

  • 1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons milk or enough to make a spreadable glaze

Instructions

Making the donuts:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a non-stick donut pan with cooking spray. My pan makes 6 donuts, so I had to fill it twice.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, sugar, applesauce, cider syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder until smooth.
  • Add the flour, stirring until just smooth.
  • Fill a pastry bag or a sturdy gallon-sized plastic bag with the batter. Use scissors to snip off the tip of the bag, creating about an ½”’ hole.
  • Pipe the batter into the wells of the doughnut pan nearly to the rim. Or, just carefully spoon in the batter.
  • Bake the doughnuts for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. .
  • Remove the doughnuts from the oven, and loosen their edges by running a knife along the outer circle.
  • ENJOY!

AND: Here is the “Tree of the Week”

“Oy Vey”

HAPPY HALLOWEEN AND STAY SAFE!!

Autumn in Chelsea: Himalayan Art at the Rubin Museum

Rubin Museum of Art

I am back to my fall teaching schedule at Hofstra University in New York where I teach oboe, recorder and chamber music. I often combine my trip to New York City with food and art explorations. The crisp cooler air is energizing and I am excited to head out to visit art museums and galleries and to discover more of the wonderful ethnic neighborhoods and small restaurants that make New York City so unique.

One clear and sunny Saturday morning I decided to go to Chelsea; an area on the West Side of Manhattan that stretches from 14th street to the upper 20’s; from the Hudson River to the west and to 6th Avenue to the east.

The neighborhood is known as the center of the city’s art world with over 200 art galleries and recently has seen good a good deal of gentrification. When I was a young music student at Juilliard, my boyfriend at the time lived on a block in Chelsea that had seen better days. The windows in his walk up apartment faced a dark courtyard where feral cats fought and the sound of their loud screeching made a caterwaul that reverberated against the walls- very peaceful. One day, two cats engaged in an especially ferocious battle flew through an open window and landed with an unceremonious thud on the floor of the apartment. I’m not sure who was more surprised; the cats or the people!

Walking down a Chelsea street the other day, I passed by glitzy new high rises, trendy art galleries and fancy restaurants.

I had planned to visit The Rubin Museum of Art, which features masterpieces of Himalayan art. I arrived before the museum opened and decided to visit Chelsea Market, just a few blocks away.

Chelsea Market is housed in an enormous old factory that once was the National Biscuit Company, later known as Nabisco. Built in 1913, the building stretches from 9th to 10th Avenue and fills up a whole city block.

Vendor stalls were selling everything from falafels, sushi, dumplings, noodles, Tai food, etc. Side by side with upscale stores and outposts were of some of the best NYC bakeries. The maze of hallways was somewhat overwhelming with sensory overload. In a small dose it was exhilarating; an atmosphere supercharged with energy and extravagant Halloween decorations.

Walking slowly through the labyrinth of hallways, I enjoyed looking at colorful and vibrant works of art displayed on the walls.

I saw one of my favorite all time bakeries, Amy’s Bread, which makes some of the most delicious bread in the city. At this point, I was just browsing and admiring.

And then I succumbed to temptation; ahead of me was an outpost of the famous bakery/restaurant Sarabeth’s. According to her website, Sarabeth Levine first began her business in 1981 making her family’s unique 200-year-old recipe for Orange Apricot Marmalade at her apartment in New York City.

Manhattan’s Chelsea Market Sarabeth location operates a 15,000 square foot jam manufacturing facility and a 4400 square foot wholesale bakery, café, and retail shop. It was great fun to walk through the bakery. It is setup so that the first thing one sees is the manufacturing facility. I joined in with the tourists and watched the bakers making croissants and English muffins!

Everything in the bakery looked delicious; I chose a pumpkin muffin to savor on my trip home and I was delighted to see a homey pig ceramic figure above the counter.

It reminded me of my own antique 3 little pigs that grace my kitchen window sill.

I headed back to the museum and after the frenetic energy of the Chelsea Market, entering the peaceful and serene atmosphere of the Rubin felt like a calming balm. Himalayan art is featured; including the cultures of Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan as well as the interrelated traditions of India, Mongolia and China. The artwork in the exhibitions depict figures and symbols where sacred images play a prominent role.

The museum was founded by art lovers Shelley and Donald Rubin in 2004 and is the site of the former store, Barney’s-a bastion of New York fashion and celebrity.

There was s0 much to take in, with six floors of art and exhibits. I concentrated on a few masterpieces that were rich with depth and complexity.

“Wheel of Existence”- The Rubin Museum of Art

Rubin Museum of Art

And then it was time to savor the pumpkin muffin that I had purchased from Sarabeth’s for the two hour drive home. I bit into the top of the muffin strewn with toasted walnuts and a light crunchy glaze. The texture of the muffin was light but moist, not too sweet and with hints of nutmeg and ginger; pure perfection!

The cooler days have also put me in the mood for cooking with long simmered dishes that fill the house with enticing aromas. I have made countless stews, braises and soups in my heavy blue La Creuset cast iron enamel pot. I like to think that the pot has absorbed it’s own particular character with the many flavors of food cooked in it, but it was starting to exhibit wear and tear, with a stained scratched cooking surface. One day while perusing an online sale from Sur la table, I decided to treat myself to a new bright red La Creuset pot; a tad larger and all the better to make larger amounts of recipes for our guests! For the first dish that I cooked in the pot, I decided on a chicken stew made with red wine, shallot, onion, mushroom, red pepper, thyme, basil, oregano and plenty of garlic. Served over whole wheat rotini, accompanied by sauteed broccoli rabe, freshly grated pecorino cheese and more red wine, it was wonderful first act for my new pot!

Fall Chicken Stew

Ingredients:

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 cup red wine

1- 28 ounce can crushed organic tomatoes

4 shallots finely diced

1 medium onion finely diced

1 large red pepper cuts into thin strips

5-6 button mushrooms cut into quarters

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

To Make Chicken Stew:

In a large heavy cast iron pot, heat olive oil.

Add boneless chicken thighs to pot, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper and brown well on each side.

Add chopped onions and chopped shallots; saute until translucent and slightly softened. Add garlic and cook about 2 minutes.

Add dried oregano, thyme and basil.

Add sliced red peppers and chopped mushrooms cook about 3-4 minutes.

Add crushed tomatoes and about 1 cup water. You can always add more water later if the mixture is too dry.

Add red wine and bring mixture to a boil.

Cover pot and reduce to a simmer.

Cook over low heat for about 1 hour until chicken is very tender and vegetables are soft.

Adjust seasoning as desired.

ENJOY!

AND: As always, here is the “Tree of the Week.”

“Feeling a little nervous “

HAPPY AUTUMN!

Savory Tomato Bread Pudding and Mountain Meadow Preserve

Mountain Meadow Preserve- Williamstown, MA

A bucolic sunny afternoon on Labor Day weekend …..one of our last summer forays! My husband Paul, the intrepid trail blazer, found a walk at the Mountain Meadow Preserve in Williamstown, Massachusetts complete with stunning views of Mt. Greylock in the distance.

Mountain Meadow Preserve

The sun was strong and bright; a hot day. We walked slowly uphill through a fragrant meadow.

Mountain Meadow Preserve

Even with the warm temperature, we saw signs of fall; milkweed pods hung languidly from their stalks and we were delighted to come across late summer wildflowers. The air smelled sweet; at the edges of the field we peered into the cool woods. Ferns were starting to turn brown and gave off a slightly nutty aroma; almost like coconut.

Mountain Meadow Preserve

Mountain Meadow Preserve

We have been gifted with yet one more talented gardener’s summer bounty. We also had a rather large amount of stale sourdough bread hanging around from the Hungry Ghost Bakery in Northampton, MA; our new addiction!

Stuffing is one of my favorite cold weather comfort foods. I came up with a dish that combines my love of stuffing. It was a good use for stale bread and also for a surplus of cherry tomatoes. The combination of the crunchy savory bread moistened with chicken stock and vegetables full of flavor was irresistible; even better with a glass of chilled rose!

Enjoy!

Savory Tomato Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

3 cups stale sourdough bread cut into medium cubes

1 medium onion chopped finely

1/2 bunch lacinato kale chopped, tough center stem removed

5 mushrooms chopped

1 medium zucchini chopped into small pieces

1 cup chicken stock (more if needed) If you have home made stock on hand, this would be great.

1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled

12-13 cherry tomatoes halved

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried basil

extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To Make Bread Pudding:

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy saucepan.

Add chopped onions and saute until slightly softened over medium heat.

Add dried herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

Add mushrooms and zucchini and saute about 5 minutes until mushrooms release their liquid and zucchini starts to soften.

Add kale and cook a few minutes.

Remove pan from heat and add bread cubes. Add chicken stock a bit at a time to let the bread absorb the liquid slowly. If the bread mixture seems to dry, you can always add a bit more stock.

Pre heat oven to 375 Degrees Farenheit

Place mixture in a lightly greased casserole dish.

Place tomatoes on top of the bread/vegetable mixture and sprinkle feta cheese over the tomatoes.

Pour a good glug of olive oil over the mixture and bake about 35-40 minutes until the tomatoes start to burst, the mixture bubbles and the bread is crunchy and browned around the edges of the pan.

ENJOY!!

AND: Here is the “Tree of the Week”!

“Feeling a bit long in the face!”

William Cullen Bryant Homestead Cummington, MA

HAPPY END OF SUMMER!

End of Summer: Tomato Tart and Hallockville Pond

Hallockville Pond- DuBuque State Forest

The days have visibly shortened and the end of summer is just around the corner. I console myself with the late season bounty of tomatoes and the appearance of Italian prune plums and best of all, Plum Tart. The recipe will appear soon in another post!

The fall rush of concerts and teaching has started, but I was determined to sneak in a few more spontaneous walks and hikes.

Case in point: Hallockville Pond in Dubuque State Forest in Hawley, Massachusetts. It was a bright beautiful morning with low humidity; I got my practicing and concert work out the way and we decided to hit the road. One last free day! Dubuque State Forest is a bit of a slog to get to, but well worth the effort. I wanted to remember the beauty of summer; the gift of time.

We met our friends Peter and Caroline at the park and took off for a leisurely walk around Hallockville Pond.

Fragrant pine needles lined the forest floor with views of the peaceful pond peeking through the trees. I held back from the others to take pictures and listened to their exuberant voices echoing through the woods as they discussed philosophy, economics and coffee.

This summer the water level in the pond was very low with interesting grasses and algae that sprouted up around the pond.

In the spring we often come to the pond to see the early trilliums and other wildflowers. On our late summer walk, we were surprised to come across trillium plants with bright red berries. I discovered the following from an article by  Annie Reid from the
Westborough Community Land Trust: Nodding trillium spreads slowly in its woodland setting. The flower develops into a single red berry with many seeds. Birds may spread a few of the colorful berries, but most berries simply split open and drop the seeds on the ground. Ants then spread the seeds, as they find them and carry them to their nests to feed on tasty parts on the outside of the seeds.

I will look forward to seeing the first trillium blooms next May!

I am not much of a gardener; my excuse is that we have too much shade, deer and groundhogs! Luckily I know several talented gardeners and I am the grateful recipient of their summer bounty! Recently I was gifted many sweet cherry tomatoes and zucchini. What to make??

Tomato Pie immediately came to mind. I always remember fondly the tomato pie that the late writer Laurie Colwin wrote about in her book Home Cooking. Mary O’Brien served the savory delicious pie for many years in her iconic teahouse Chaiwalla in Salisbury, CT. I decided to make my own version of tomato pie with a favorite vegan biscuit crust.

I caramelized an onion, broiled some zucchini slices with olive oil and layered this over the spelt biscuit crust with halved cherry tomatoes, toasted walnuts, feta and fresh rosemary. I drizzled olive oil over the top and baked the tart in a hot oven until the tomatoes burst and browned lightly. We ate this with a green salad and it was so good; the tomatoes so sweet, that I almost forgot to be sad that summer was over!

End of Summer Tomato Tart

Ingredients:

Biscuit Crust:

1 cup spelt flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 cup hot water

1/3 cup canola oil

Tart Filling:

13-14 ripe cherry tomatoes- cut in half

1 medium onion thinly sliced

1 medium zucchini sliced into thin rounds

1/4 cup toasted walnuts (or more to taste)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4-1/2 cup feta cheese- crumbled

freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

To Make Tart:

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium pan, add sliced onion and cook until onions are soft and lightly browned; about 20 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees F.

Place zucchini slices on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, 1 teaspoon dried thyme and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Bake in oven until soft and starting to brown. Set aside.

Make Biscuit crust:

Combine flours, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Add canola oil and hot water. Stir until just combined.

Lightly grease a round baking dish or glass pie plate with butter. Press biscuit mixture into bottom of the dish.

Reduce Oven to 350 Degrees F.

Sprinkle onion mixture over crust. Place zucchini rounds and cherry tomato halves over onions. Sprinkle walnuts, feta cheese and chopped fresh rosemary on top. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and more freshly ground pepper.

Bake about 30 minutes until tomatoes start to brown and burst and the top is lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool about 10 minutes.

ENJOY!!

AND: Here is the “Tree of the Week”!

“Many thoughts swirling around this week!”

HAPPY END OF SUMMER! STAY SAFE!

Kite Hill- Ancram NY

Foodie Heaven, Continued: Iceland Part 4

Tryggvaskali Restaurant- Selfloss, Iceland

On the second night of our Iceland adventure, we had dinner in the small town of Selfloss about an hour from Reykjavik. The charming Tryggvaskali Restaurant is housed in a historic building that was built in 1880 and since 1900 has been in continually in operation; either as a store, inn or restaurant.

The building even has it’s own ghost. According to local lore: “On September 30, 1929, there was a loud knock on the west door of Tryggvaskála, and when Óli J. Ísfeld, a restaurateur, opened the door, he saw a tall and thin woman with an 8-10 year old child with her. This vision disappeared from the restaurateur as quickly as it appeared. Testified later that it was a maid who was supposed to start at Tryggvaskála that day, but had died during the summer, without it being reported in Selfoss. She had been paid in advance for the work, and throughout the years the staff of Tryggvaskála have felt that they have been helped at times of stress.”

From our table by the window we looked out at lupines hugging the shore of the pristine Olfusa river.

Selfloss, Iceland

The fish in Iceland was incredibly fresh with many meals featuring either cod or salmon. At the Tryggvaskali restaurant I noticed an unusual appetizer on the menu; whale tataki with garlic soy wasabi and sesame seed. I had to try this, I wasn’t sure when I would have the opportunity to sample whale again! The fish was lightly grilled and similar to sashimi. The texture was a tiny bit rubbery but the flavor was delicate and briny.

Whale Tataki

For entrees we enjoyed beautiful presentations of pan fried ling cod served with garlic potato salad, grilled corn and honey glazed carrots and salmon with pesto and charred broccoli over barley.

We had many excellent meals, but one simple lunch stands out. We found the Geirabakari Kaffihus totally by accident. Once we left Reykjavik, the landscape changed dramatically, stark and atmospheric with waterfalls cascading down mountains that at one time were covered with trees.

On a cloudy overcast day, we drove down a desolate road and approached the small town of Borgarnes. We were looking for a place to have lunch, not setting our sights too high.

Geirabakari Kaffihus stands next to a few nondescript small businesses, slightly run down around the heel. But when we entered the bakery, we were met by the yeasty aroma of freshly baked goods and the cafe was filled with local people queued up to the counter. Keeping with the plan of the trip to indulge in whatever we wanted to eat, we chose flaky buttery croissant sandwiches filled to the brim with ham, cheese, cucumbers, lettuce and tomato; all covered with a creamy dill sauce. This was accompanied with mugs of rich steamy hot chocolate- simply delicious!

Geirabakari Kaffihus Borgarnes, Iceland

Way too soon, our Iceland adventure was coming to an end. On our last day of the trip, we returned to Reykjavik. For dinner that evening we had made a reservation at the Public House, a trendy gastro pub with Asian influences. The best way to describe the eclectic menu would be Asian Tapas. We ordered probably too much food: vegetable dumplings; crispy tacos with roasted beets, goat cheese, fig jam and truffle mayo and grilled lamb kebabs with miso, ginger and pickled cucumbers with sesame seeds. I am not a great fan of lamb, but this was the most tender and full of flavor lamb that I have ever tasted. The spicy and assertive flavor combinations from the various dishes were perfect with mugs of frosty Icelandic beer!

We left a tiny bit of room for two desserts: skyr panna cotta with coconut and salted caramel and strawberries with oat crumble and strawberry sorbet; then it really was time to travel back home!

Many of the restaurants and cafes that we visited offered excellent fish chowders; all unique and equally delicious. What they all had in common is that they were not thick and gluey like some New England fish chowders.

This past week I found myself with a surplus of sweet fresh corn and fish chowder came to mind. I channeled all of the Icelandic chowders that I had tasted and came up with up with a chowder filled with corn, cod, leeks, potatoes, celery and onion; garnished with crisp bits of prosciutto, scallion and parsley. This would also work with shrimp or chunks of salmon. You can also add a few pieces of fresh kale; I was lucky to be given the most tender kale from a friend’s garden. We ate this with hunks of rosemary sourdough bread from the Hungry Ghost Bakery and a salad of fresh greens and local tomatoes with balsamic dressing. A glass of chilled rose would also be lovely with this! Enjoy!

Summer Fish Chowder

Ingredients:

1 /2 pound cod cut into chunks

3 medium red potatoes cut into small pieces

1 onion finely chopped

1 medium leek, rinsed well finely chopped

4 ears fresh corn

2 stalks celery finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

few pieces fresh kale torn into small pieces (optional)

For garnish:

a few tablespoons of finely chopped parley

2 scallions finely chopped

1/8 pound prosciutto

2 tablespoons flour

Make Stock:

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add corn. Cook briefly for one minute and remove corn from pot.

With a sharp knife, scrape corn kernels from cobs and place in a small bowl. Put corn cobs back in pot and simmer for about 1/2 hour. Strain liquid and reserve stock.

In a clean soup pot, heat olive oil over and add onions.

Saute until onions soften slightly.

Add leeks and celery- cook for about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mixture and combine well.

Add potatoes, thyme, bay leaf.

Add stock- it should come to about 1/2 way up the pot.

Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

Cover pot and simmer until potatoes are soft and then add corn and pieces of fish. Cook only a few minutes, just until fish flakes easily.

Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

In a small pan heat 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add prosciutto and cook until crisp. Drain on paper towel and break into small pieces.

Add garnishes of scallions, parsley and prosciutto if desired.

ENJOY!

AND: Here is the “Tree of the Week”!

“It’s safe in here- I’ll just stay a little while!”

HAPPY END OF SUMMER! STAY SAFE!

Kite Hill- Ancram, NY

Cornmeal Peach Cake and Joe-Pye Weed at Steeple Top!

Steeple Top Reserve- New Marlborough, MA

I have been enjoying collecting my notes for the next Iceland Post; Part 4: Foodie Heaven. I got waylaid this week by the lusciously sweet fragrant peaches that have appeared in our local farmers markets and also by August sightings of Joe-Pye Weed. Foodie Heaven will return shortly!

The weather finally broke and it was possible to walk again without feeling the oppressive heat and humidity weighing down on me. My husband Paul had gone out for an early morning hike with a friend (not an early riser here!) I made an executive decision that there was to be no practicing this day; I headed out for the Steeple Top Reserve in New Marlborough, MA. We often went there during the pandemic because there were usually few people. I was in the mood for quiet contemplation and to be completely alone. So, it was just me for the entire 2 mile loop, although I wasn’t really alone; I was accompanied by many bugs and the mosquitos also had a lovely time!

The Steeple Top trail winds through woods down a small hill to a marsh area with many species of birds, cat tails, tall grasses and wildflowers. It was a bright clear day with gentle breezes.

I stood on a small wooden walkway over the marsh and the air washed over me. I noticed one of my favorite wildflowers; dusky mauve colored Joe-Pye Weed. The plant is named after a New England man who used the plant medicinally to help with Typhus.

Joe-Pye Weed

Here is a backstory: Joe-Pye Weed always reminds me of going to visit colleges with my daughter and mother in Ohio. We were driving down a small two lane highway near Oberlin, when my mother said loudly from the back seat of the car,” Yo, Joe-Pye!” In her excitement, the words spilled out of her mouth and we had a collective giggle. Now, whenever my husband and I see our first Joe-Pye Weed in mid August, we happily call out, “Yo! Joe-Pye!”

As I continued on my walk through Steeple Top, I came upon several clusters of Joe-Pye; a butterfly with intricate patterns and bright colors perched on the top of a flower.

I stood mesmerized by the scene and I was able to take pictures to my heart’s content, but staying still also allowed the mosquitoes to continue their feast on me, so I moved on……

Steeple Top Preserve

The peaches have been wonderful this summer; juicy, fragrant and full of sweet flavor. I have bought way too many several times and tried to think of a use for the surplus peaches that were almost overripe. I love cobblers of all kinds and was thinking about a cake that was not very sweet but with a cobbler like topping. I used the same basic cake batter for my Apple Strawberry Ginger Crumb Teacake and added cornmeal to the dry ingredients. I cut up the peaches full of juice and added a good quantity of instant tapioca. This made a great chewy topping that reminded me of boba (tapioca pearls) used for bubble tea. I used no sugar in the peach mixture, the peaches were already sweet enough, but made a quick syrup to pour over the the fruit before baking. I mixed some cinnamon with a few tablespoons of honey and put it in the microwave briefly. I drizzled this over the peaches and sprinkled on just a bit more cinnamon. Baked until the peaches were bubbly, this turned out to be irresistible. It is great for breakfast or fancied up with vanilla ice cream or whipped coconut cream for dessert. I hope you enjoy this cake!

Cornmeal Peach Cake

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup fine cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup monk fruit sweetener

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

1/3 cup canola oil

1/2 cup soy or almond milk

Topping:

3-4 very ripe peaches peeled and thinly sliced *

1/4 cup instant tapioca

Glaze:

1 heaping tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.

To make cake batter:

In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, monk fruit sweetener, coconut sugar and cinnamon.

Add egg, vanilla, canola oil, soy or almond milk and mix together just until the batter is smooth.

Make glaze:

Mix together honey and cinnamon. Microwave until mixture melts.

Assemble Cake:

Lightly butter a square baking pan. Pour in batter and spread evenly over pan.

Pour peach mixture over top of batter.

Pour honey glaze over top of fruit.

Bake in middle of oven until fruit is bubbling and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

* To peel peaches, bring a pot of water to boil. Add peaches and let sit a minute or two in the water and then remove. The peels will slip off easily!

ENJOY!!

AND: Here is the “Tree of the Week”

“Feeling a little bleh”!

Cardinal Flower- Thousand Acre Swamp New Marlborough, MA

HAPPY SUMMER AND STAY COOL!

Foodie Heaven! Iceland: Part 3

Tryggvas- Selfloss, Iceland

When planning our recent trip, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the restaurant scene in Iceland. I had heard that the food was boring and not very creative; I decided to plan with an open mind and with not very high expectations. What I discovered was a vibrant food scene that has changed greatly in the last few years. We found restaurants that used the freshest, often locally sourced ingredients; the food was creative and lovingly prepared.

The first day of our trip was spent in Reykjavik; we arrived early in the morning and dropped off our bags at the charming Apotek Hotel. We asked the desk clerk to recommend a good bakery and her eyes lit up. She said, “You must try Baka Baka for the most delicious pastries”. We decided early on that for this trip there were no holds barred; we were going to enjoy as much sugar and rich food as we wanted! We headed down the street, walked up a small hill and saw the open door of Baka Baka beckoning to us.

As we entered we were welcomed with the rich smell of coffee and freshly baked pastries. We ordered a yeasty fragrant Cardamom Bun filled with almond paste and enjoyed it with coffee and a pot of herbal tea that had the light delicate taste of currents.

The plan for our first day was to explore Reykjavik and at the the same time try to stave off jetlag. We spent the next few hours walking slowly around the quaint streets and adjusting gradually to the lovely cool windy temperature of 50 degrees F!

The time flew by and we were ready for our first lunch reservation at Hosilo, a small unpretentious restaurant on a quiet side street. The other diners were young Icelanders and as we waited for our food to arrive, we enjoyed listening to the lyrical sounds of the Icelandic language. The food was creatively presented; I started with an appetizer of “watermelon” sushi-cool, rosy slices of fruit in a savory gingery sauce. Expecting the taste of raw fish, my taste buds were jolted awake- a good remedy for my sleepy mind!

I had some of the freshest and most tender shrimp I have ever tasted with house made pasta, basil, tomato and roasted garlic.

It was all bathed in extra virgin olive and served with a slice of crunchy parmesan toast.

We were starting to fade quickly, but thought a walk down the hill to the harbor and to the Harpa Concert Hall might revive us.

Harpa- Reykjavik, Iceland

Luckily for us, we discovered that there was a short interactive visual installation offered; Circuleight. As we entered a large gallery, we were surrounded by animations that were inspired by eight natural elements: lava, glacier, water, algae, micro organism, flora, basalt, and volcanic gas. If you waved your hand or came close to one of the images, the image would respond to the motion; it gave the effect of the artwork improvising. The installation was accompanied by a score written by the Icelandic composer Hogni Egilsson. I found a place to curl up, leaned against one of the walls and immersed myself in the experience; although I confess, I fell briefly asleep! It was time for a short nap at our hotel.

Circuleight Installation- Harpa

Just an hour of sleep and we were refreshed and ready to continue on our culinary adventures of the day! For dinner, I had a made a reservation at The CooCoo’s Nest. From our hotel, we walked a few miles to the quirky, newly developed section of the waterfront with art galleries, specialty food shops and restaurants. CooCoo’s Nest was opened in 2013 by Anna and Lucas Keller.

The CooCoo’s Nest- Reykjavik, Iceland

A passionate chef, Lucas is originally from California and trained and worked in Italy. Since opening, the restaurant has gained a loyal local clientele.

It was Taco Tuesday, so we ordered the sampling menu of 3 different tacos that included tequila marinated fish with guacamole, shredded cabbage and spicy sour cream; slow cooked lamb, salsa verde and pickled raddish; and a vegetarian taco with sweet potato, charred broccoli and a spicy romesco sauce. They were delicious and the flavors danced in our mouths.

The CooCoo’s Nest- Reykjavik, Iceland

We ate our dinner outside the restaurant at a picnic table and watched young families strolling by; several of which were licking ice cream cones. Glancing to our right we saw an inviting ice cream shop- well one more treat for the day!

An interesting flavor was listed on the wall that looked very similar to my last name- “Danskur lakkris”. I asked for a taste and the young clerk told me that the flavor was Danish licorice. Very nice, but I settled for a double dish with dark chocolate and lemon ginger crunch and then enjoying our ice cream, we walked oh so slowly back to our hotel; the sky still bright blue in the late evening. Shortly after we returned to our room we fell into a deep slumber!

Thus ended our first day in Reykjavik. Coming soon…. one more Icelandic blog detailing the other food highlights of our trip; some from restaurants where the food was simply but expertly prepared in lovely peaceful settings.

Silfra Restaurant- Nesjavellir, Iceland

AND: Here is the “Tree of the Week”!

“Well, THEY sure ate a lot!”

Twin Lakes- Salisbury, CT

HAPPY SUMMER-STAY SAFE AND COOL!!

Iceland: Part 2/ Geothermal Baths and Icelandic Brown Bread (Rugbraud)

Deildartunguhrar Geothermal Spring- Borgarnes, Iceland

Late last winter, when we started to plan our trip to Iceland, the thought of soaking to our heart’s content in a hot thermal pool was the balm that got us through the dark days of the latest omicron wave. And here we finally were, peering into the largest thermal spring in Iceland at the Krauma Baths in Borgarnes, Iceland!

Krauma Thermal Baths is one hour from Reykjavik and next to one of Europe’s most powerful hot springs. With a temperature over 212 F; the water bubbles vigorously up from the earth. In the above picture, my intrepid travel buddy Carol is obscured by steam from the spring.

We walked up a path to the thermal baths and the gracious attendant ushered us into sleek contemporary changing rooms where we showered and changed into our suits. As an added treat, we had reserved fluffy white robes. There were several pools heated to different temperatures; around 39 C / 102F.

At the present moment, during the most recent heat waves and climate change woes, the thought of submerging my body into a hot tub, is not at all appealing! But, stepping outside in a wet bathing suit with an outside temperature of 50 Degrees and a stiff artic wind blowing, it was an amazing feeling to slowly sink into a hot thermal pool; all tension melting slowly away. This was not a touristy site; small groups of hardy North Europeans were enjoying tall glasses of frosty beer while soaking in the pools. After one sip of beer, I believe I would have drowned!

I did make somewhat of a thermal spa faux pas; I saw a smaller pool with no other guests in it and thought the privacy would be nice. I climbed in eagerly and then let out a bit of an uncouth yelp; the water was ice cold. I realized too late that this was the pool to use after exiting from the sauna!

Krauma is open year round; I love this picture of brave souls in the winter enjoying the hot springs! An image that is a good antidote to our current high temperatures!

After we soaked to our heart’s content, I mentioned to Carol that I believed I was “cooked” and ready to return to earth! Our next stop was to our lodging for the night, a charming unspoiled B&B nestled in the hillside; Hotel A, in nearby Kirkjubol, Iceland. We had a lovely dinner, more to come about this in the next blog. The next day at breakfast I noticed a dark brown bread on the bread board and added a slice to my plate along with fresh fruit, a bowl of skyr and smoked salmon. I spread the bread with fresh blueberry jam and it was delicious. The bread was hearty, slightly sweet and full of flavor. I asked the young desk clerk about the bread and he immediately looked it up online for me and printed a recipe. Originally Icelandic Brown Bread was steamed in a thermal pit overnight. When I returned home, I looked at several online recipes and decided to try a recipe from King Arthur Flour. Some recipes require baking the bread all day in a low oven or in a slow cooker. The King Arthur recipe called for 2 hours in the oven. I decided to try this method and modified the amount of sugar. I replaced the honey in the recipe with a small amount of Agave Nectar and used a smaller amount of dark molasses for flavor and color. And, the bread was very easy to make! The recipe calls for baking powder, baking soda and buttermilk and there is no yeast or rising time involved. The texture of the bread improves greatly after a day and was delicious sliced and toasted; spread either with butter or jam. The bread would also be lovely with smoked salmon and dill or other savory toppings.

ENJOY!!

Icelandic Brown Bread

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups stoneground dark rye flour ( I used Bob’s Organic Flour)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1/8 cup molasses

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the center position. 
  2. Weigh flour or measure it by gently spooning into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. 
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, honey, and molasses.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring to combine.
  6. Transfer the batter to a lightly greased 9 inch loaf pan and smooth the top. Cover tightly with foil. 
  7. Bake the bread for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven and remove the foil from the pan. Leave the loaf in the turned-off oven for another 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and turn out of the pan onto a cooling rack.
  8. Cool completely before slicing thinly and serving with butter or your favorite savory toppings.
  9. Store leftover bread tightly wrapped at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

AND: Here is the “Tree of the Week“!

“How long do we have to wait for the Brown Bread??”

STAY COOL AND SAFE!

Iceland Part 1: Lupines and Blueberry Skyr Pie

I was convinced that something would prevent my friend Carol and I from traveling to Iceland. At the last minute, either my husband or I would get Covid or some other emergency would come up; but the heavens smiled in our favor and as the plane lifted up into the clouds, Carol and I held our hands tightly together and said, “We did it”!!

So many choices and things to write about the trip. I have decided to write a three part blog. The second post will be about geothermal pools, volcanos and the Icelandic brown bread that I am going to attempt to bake. The third post will be a foodie’s delight; a road tour of the restaurants and cafes that we visited- even with all of the hiking and walking that we did, I managed to put on a few pounds!

With all of the disturbing events in our world, I hope you enjoy the next few entries as a brief respite!

We spent the first two days of our trip in quaint and charming Reykjavik and could easily have spent a week there walking around interesting neighborhoods, visiting museums and enjoying excellent restaurants and cafes.

Harpa Concert Hall- Reykjavik
Reykjavik Harbor

After our stay in Reykjavik, we headed out in our rental car, about a 3 hour drive along the coast to the western peninsula towns near Anarstapi. I was not prepared for the breathtaking and unusual landscape.

Brilliant purple lupines lined coastal inlets and mountainsides.

Volcanic rock looked as if it was tossed randomly in the fields.

Often, we were the only car on the road with sheep slowly crossing the road.

So many things to share; a hike between the two small towns of Anarstapi and Hellnar stands out. From our cozy lodging, Fosshotel in Anarstapi, we walked to the trailhead for a 4 mile hike along the sea cliffs. The rocky path, high above the ocean, was strewn with volcanic rock.

Wildflowers dotted the rugged landscape with the cries of seabirds reverberating from the cliffs.

The air was bracing, clear and invigorating; my four layers of sweaters and winter raincoat a perfect match for the sudden blasts of artic air- and this was in July!!

At the end of the hike, there was a treat awaiting us; the path led up a small set of stairs to cozy and atmospheric Cafe Fjoruhusio. The tables were covered with embroidered place settings with patterns of tiny wildflowers. The air smelled of coffee and fresh baked pastries; cinnamon mingling with butter and chocolate.

Cafe Fjoruhusio- Hellnar, Iceland

An outside deck overlooked the cliffs and the ocean.

Sykr, Icelandic yogurt, appears in many dishes. After securing a lovely spot on the deck, we ordered a piece of Blueberry Skyr Cheesecake. I am normally not a big fan of cheesecake, but this cake was light, full of tangy flavor and had a blueberry topping; irresistible! Just a few bites were all I needed; any more and I don’t think I would have felt light footed enough to make the return trek back over the craggy and rocky trail to our hotel!

That night we had a delicious dinner at the Fosshotel and since it does not get dark at all this time of year, we were able to take one more small walk at 9 PM. Just down the road, we saw a small weather beaten church; it looked like the metal structure had withstood many storms. Next to the church was an ancient graveyard overlooking the sea.

Anarstapi, Iceland

There were hours of daylight left, but shortly after returning to our room, we fell into a deep sleep. I woke briefly in at 3:00 AM and the sun was still shining brightly!

More to come………

We made it back safely home, without incident and knock on wood, no Covid! As we entered the customs hall at Newark, I was expecting to be met by throngs of sweaty, exhausted travelers. There were at the most 20 people in line. Amazed, I asked the elderly African American guard: “Where are all of the people”. He remarked dryly, “Don’t ask questions, just pray to G-d!!”

During the trip, we enjoyed desserts, ice cream and treats with abandon. After all, we did not want to miss out on anything! One day, we had three desserts (although we did share them)! Back home and to reality, I was thinking fondly about the rich Skyr cheesecake that we devoured happily. I decided to create a version with no refined sugar, healthy and guilt free. I perused a few online versions and here is what I came up with. I made the crust from whole grain flax crackers rather than sweet graham crackers and sweetened it with a bit of coconut sugar. I added a handful of toasted walnuts and some lime zest and instead of butter used a vegan butter substitute, although melted butter would also be fine.

For the filling, I used plain lowfat skyr (I used the Siggi brand) and added some pureed wild blueberries. The best part was the substitute for whipped cream. Here is a bit of kitchen magic: I put a can of whole fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight and the next day opened it and scooped out the solids. Beat together with monk fruit sweetener and vanilla, it miraculously morphed into what looked like whipped cream and it was delicious!

Blueberry Skyr Pie

Ingredients:

Crust:

12 Back to Nature flax flatbread crackers

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons lime zest

3 tablespoons melted butter ( I used Kite Hill plant based butter)

1/8 cup coconut sugar

Filling:

1 cup Wymans wild blueberries

2 cups plain low fat skyr

1 can full fat coconut milk ( refrigerated overnight)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup monk fruit sweetener

1 cup fresh blueberries

To make pie:

In a small saucepan place blueberries and slowly bring berries to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until berries release their juice and berries soften. Place berries in a fine mesh strainer over a small bowl and press down on solids. Refrigerate until cold.

Make pie crust:

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees

Place crackers and toasted walnuts into the bowl of a food processor. Process until crackers and walnuts are finely ground. Place in a bowl and add cinnamon, lime zest and coconut sugar. Mix well and then add melted butter. Stir well and place mixture in the bottom of a pie pan. Pat firmly and place in oven. Bake about 8-10 minutes until crust is lightly brown. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Make whipped coconut:

Open can and carefully remove the solid coconut from the top of the can. Place in a mixer and start to slowly blend. The mixture will start to lighten- add the vanilla and monk fruit sweetener and beat on a high speed until mixture resembles whipped cream. Set aside.

Place skyr in a large bowl- slowly fold in whipped coconut mixture and then carefully fold in strained blueberries.

Place mixture in pie crust and smooth over evenly. Decorate with fresh berries and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. We liked this light dessert so much that we are bringing a tartlet version to our friends in Boston as a house gift this week!

ENJOY!

AND: Here is the Icelandic Tree of the Week from Reykjavik!!

“Glad that I could appear in the blog all the way from Iceland!!”

HAPPY SUMMER!