Sunday, April 20, 2008


This sweet little fruit tree makes it's home in my front yard. When we first moved in I had to ask a neighbor what it was. The answer was a Loquat tree. I then had to ask what in the heck a loquat was.

The tree flowers in the fall, and puts out fruit in early spring. From what I understand, loquat vary in color and flavor. Mine have yellow skin and white flesh with one or two large seeds in the center. The flavor is sort of peach, sort of cherry. But not exactly. When fully ripe, they are extremely sweet. I almost prefer them a little unripe, when they are a bit tart.

Loquat are native to southeast China, have been cultivated in Japan for over 1000 years, and in the States are mostly grown in California and east-Texas/west-Louisiana. I think you can find them canned in some Asian markets, but I'm pretty sure the taste and texture will be very different. Around here, this seems to be a fruit that people either happen to have growing in their yard, or have never heard of.

The past few years, the birds have beat me to the loquat, and left me with only a handful to munch on. This year the birds lost out big time, because I picked them all the minute they seemed ripe. I don't usually have so much fresh fruit in the house, so it was fun to decide what to do with it. Tarts, crisps, cakes: all would have been good, but I was worried I still wouldn't use them all before they went bad. So in the end I decided to make loquat jam.

I kept fretting over how to go about making this, spending way too much time comparing recipes on the internet. In the end I just winged it, and it came out perfect. I made two batches; one with ginger and one without.

Loquat Jam

Loquat Jam

Halve loquat, removing seed and membrane. You can leave the skins on.

Blend in food processor to desired consistency. I like mine pretty chunky. Transfer to a large pot.

For each cup of puree add 1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, and 1-2 tsp. minced crystallized ginger if desired. Add cold water just to cover.

Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 40 minutes or until the liquid has reduced and thickened considerably.

Transfer to a clean jar and store in the fridge.

Quinoa Biscuits with Loquat Jam

I made these biscuits the same night and we consumed an alarming amount of them with lots of the jam. The lavender in these really goes well with the loquat.

Quinoa Lavender Biscuits

1 1/2 cup flour (I used spelt)
1/2 cup quinoa flakes*
2 tsp. lavender
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil or melted margarine
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. flax meal (optional)

Mix wet ingredients and flax. In separate bowl mix dry ingredients. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir till just combined. Drop by spoonful onto oiled baking pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 7-10 minutes or until biscuits are firm and slightly browned.

*I use Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes. Rolled oats would work as well. Or, you could just omit and add an extra 1/2 cup flour.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I love food that is stuffed or filled. I think it's the contrast of textures and flavors. In addition it's always cooking and crafting at the same time. Here's a couple of tasty stuffed things I've made recently.

Stuffed With Fennel

These filo pockets are delicious. I wanted to use the filo dough that had been sitting in my freezer, and I had some lovely fennel in the refrigerator. The rest of the recipe came together when I thought about a Coconut Corn Fennel Chowder that I like to make. The flavor combination is wonderful.
Fennel Corn Filo Pockets

frozen filo dough, thawed
one onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 fennel bulb, stalks removed, quartered, and thinly sliced
pinch of red pepper flake
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 1/2 Tbsp. shredded coconut
2 Tbsp. coconut milk
1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup firm tofu, crumbled
salt and lemon juice to taste
feathery greens from fennel stalks

Heat a little olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic, and fennel. Saute until the onion is beginning to soften. Add the vegetable stock and pepper flake. Cover and steam until the fennel is tender. Remove from heat. Add the rest of the ingredients, reserving some of the fennel greens for garnish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet.

You will need a large working area for assembling the pockets. Lay the thawed filo out flat, and cover with a clean kitchen towel or wax paper to keep from drying out. Remove two sheets of the filo and lay them (stacked one on the other) on your work surface. Spray them with a little oil, sprinkle the whole thing with some more shredded coconut, and cut into 5 even strips (about 3 and 1/2 inches or so wide). Place a small mound of the filling at the end of one of the strips of filo. Fold the bottom right corner up to meet the left side to form a triangle. Continue folding until you get to the end of the strip. Spray the whole thing with some oil and move to the prepared baking sheet. Continue like this until you use all of the filling.

Bake in preheated oven until the filo is crisp and slightly browned. Garnish with the reserved fennel fluff and eat! I really think this is one of the tastiest recipes I have ever come up with.

Stuffed with Strawberries and Bean Paste

I have a love/hate relationship with Asian sweets in general, and red bean paste in particular. During a two month trip to Thailand and Malaysia several years ago I was always being confronted with desserts that my taste buds and eyes just had no reference for. I still cringe at the thought of a bowl of black gelatinous cubes in a sweet liquid with shaved ice that my kind and gracious host set before me. I'm still not sure how I managed to eat it.

When I saw Kittee's post about Ichigo Daifuku, though, I was intrigued. Ichigo Daifuku is Mochi (a chewy cake made from glutinous rice) stuffed with red bean paste and strawberries. Not only was it pretty, but I love strawberries and Jeff loves red bean paste, so I decided to give it a try. These were really fun to make, and while I'm not ready to call myself a lover of red bean paste quite yet, they were somehow very tasty. I saved the stems and leaves from the strawberries I used and stuck them on the finished mochi. They turned out better than I expected! For directions and pictures, see Kittee's original post.

Mochi waiting to happen

Speaking of Kittee, she tagged me! So I now have to tell you five things about myself, and then tag five more people to do the same. Here goes...

1. I grew up in the Midwest. Indiana to be exact. The thing I miss most is the 4 distinct seasons...winter, spring, summer, fall. (they all seem to blur together in the South).

2. Jeff and I sometimes make music...and videos. Check it out if you dare.

3. In addition to Nutmeg the bunny, we share our house with Spiralina the mourning dove (rescued as a baby from the mean streets of the french quarter, New Orleans), and Castor the gecko.

4. I went Veg about 4 years ago. I had been married for about a year, cooking lots of meat, when I decided to cease and desist. I'm extremely lucky that Jeff not only went along for the veg ride, but was very encouraging about the decision.

5. I currently wait tables at a 'British' tea room that is NOT veg friendly. We do have lots of tasty tea, however, which is of course vegan!

And I will tag...

1. bugheart
2. kamutflake girl
3. bird by bird
4. your vegan mom
5. eve and johnny

Link to your tagger and post these rules.
Share 5 facts about yourself.
Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.