Archive | September, 2011

Juicing the Passion Fruit

25 Sep

Passion Fruit

Making Passion Fruit Juice


Passion Fruit Nectar

Passion Fruit Nectar

So there I was with two dozen passion fruit, ripening to wrinkles and turning my kitchen into an aroma factory. I had plenty of time to consider what I would do with these fragrant fruits that had literally dropped in my lap. (Well, almost literally…they had dropped into the backyard.)

As I don’t seem to do anything these days without consulting the internet first, I began googling and came across a number of You Tube videos about what to do with passion fruit. One fellow advocated just plain eating them: you slice the fruit in half, scoop out the innards, then eat juice, pulp and seeds all together. I thought I’d give that a try. It was then I discovered just how tart passion fruit is. And I hated eating the seeds.

Another video demonstrated how to make passion fruit juice. Cut them open, scoop them out into a blender, add lots of sugar, blend gently so you don’t chop up the seeds, pour out through a sieve to get the juice and leave the seeds behind. I tried that with the remainder of my passion fruit. I found that the pulp held rather tenaciously onto the seeds so I kept pulsing the blender more and more. Ooops, I think I over did it. Some of the seeds had begun to get chopped up. I strained the juice as best as I could. Nearly two dozen fruits yielded about a cup of rather thick nectar with little tiny bits of seed floating in it. Well, if you can eat the seeds whole, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to drink up these tiny bits.

So now I’ve got a rather tart nectar. What next? One friend suggested adding sugar, heating it up and reducing it into a syrup for pouring on top of vanilla ice cream. Tasty as that sounded I rather tended towards turning the nectar into a tropical cocktail.

I found plenty of tropical fruit cocktail recipes on the internet but I was lacking most of the ingredients. This is when I ventured into the dangerous territory of recipe experimentation. The first night I added pomegranate juice to the passion fruit juice, stirred in some sugar and added the only liquor we have — bourbon. I had expected the concoction to turn into a blood orange color, but no, it became a decidedly unappetizing muddy brown. But rather tasty, nonetheless.

The next night I challenged my hubby to come up with a cocktail. He simply added the whiskey to the passion fruit juice. We had to add sugar to cut the tartness. Then I added a bit of coconut milk to smooth the drink out a bit. Again, rather tasty.

I shall be checking the back yard regularly now for more heaven-sent passion fruit.

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Backyard Harvest

16 Sep

A pile of passion fruit

The fruits of my labor

Passion Fruit in a Potted Plant

Some of the passion fruit landed in potted plants.

Passion Fruit and Palm Tree

One got wedged in this palm.

Bowl of Passion Fruit

The Cream of the Crop

Every year a large black walnut tree would drop scores of nuts in our backyard at our home in Maryland. It was an ongoing chore through the summer and fall to gather those nuts. We didn’t even eat them. They were bitter and nasty tasting. Sadly that walnut tree was taken out recently by Hurricane Irene.

Here in Israel we have another type of harvest to make. High above one wall of our backyard runs a passion fruit vine. We don’t know who planted it. Considering the mass of tangled vines and branches back there it’s hard to tell if the vine is rooted in our yard or our neighbor’s.

As I was weeding the other day (a chore I had been putting off) I came across a few passion fruit on the ground and gathered them up. Then today I went out to see if there were any more passion fruit. I was astounded at the number of fruit lying in our yard. Not only were they lying on the ground, some had landed inside plant pots. One had even become wedged in a palm tree. It was like going on an Easter Egg hunt.

I gathered the fruit into two plastic grocery bags. In all, I had gathered 8.5 lbs. of passion fruit! This was not counting the ones that had withered and rotted away already. I sorted through the fruit and discarded many that had been gouged or otherwise damaged. Those that passed my quality control inspection weighed a total of 2.5 lbs.

Now I just need to wait for the skin of the fruit to turn wrinkly — that is when they are ripe and ready for eating.

Daytrip to Cascais

4 Sep

A short train ride from Lisbon brought us to Cascais, a former fishing village and resort for Portuguese royalty and now a popular vacation spot. We found Cascais to be charming and incredibly picturesque. Back in Lisbon for the evening, we had dinner outside on Praça do Carmo and finished up with coffee and dessert at A Brasileira on Largo do Chiado. It was a fun and lively time at Largo do Chiado — at one end a juggler performed tricks, while directly in front of the cafe a band played music with a Brazilian beat. This is our last night in Lisbon and we will be sad to say goodbye. But tomorrow we will spend the night not far away in the town of Sintra.

Cascais

Largo 5 do Outubro, Cascais

Rocky shore in Cascais

Rocky shore in Cascais

Praiha da Rainha, Cascais

Praiha da Rainha, Cascais


Largo do Chiado, Lisbon

Largo do Chiado, Lisbon

Lisbon Gadabouts

3 Sep

We covered a lot of ground today. Rode on trams and elevadores. Explored both the Alfama and Bairro Alto neighborhoods. Sampled port wine. Visited a couple of churches. Sipped on coffee while taking in a panoramic view from Miradouro de Sao Jorge. Walked up winding alleys and trod down stone stairs. Got caught in the rain and went slip sliding on the tiles that became slick when wet. Whew! Here are a few photos of some of the sites we took in today.

Parque Metro Station

Parque Metro Station

 

Church of Sao Domingos

Church of Sao Domingos

 

Port Wine Institute

Sampling Port at the Port Wine Institute

 

Praça dom Pedro IV

Praça dom Pedro IV


Largo Santa Luzia

Church Wall at Largo Santa Luzia

Explorations in Belém

1 Sep

While ominous storm clouds hovered over parts of Lisbon today, we enjoyed blue skies and white puffy clouds most of the day. We spent most of our time exploring the delights of Belém, a section of Lisbon that sits on the mouth of the Tagus River. We caught the 15E tram from Praca do Comercio, missed the Belém stop where we would have gotten off to go to the National Coach Museum, but got off at the Jerónimos Monastery stop. The monastery is a stupendous work of architecture with ornate decoration on the exterior. One of the highlights inside the church is the tomb of Vasco da Gama. The cloisters looked stunning with ultra blue skies and gigantic clouds peeking over the tops of the walls.

Had lunch at a little seafood restaurant where I had a delicious but strange bacalhau dish. The waiter said it was cod fish with french fries. I was expecting something like fish and chips but was surprised to see that the cod had been flaked and baked together with the fries. B sampled this restaurant’s version of Acorda soup with shrimp. It was hard to believe it was the same kind of soup I had the night before. Acorda is a bread soup and my soup had slices of bread floating in it. The bread in B’s soup was reduced totally to mush. Even though the dishes looked weird they both tasted great.

After lunch we each just had to sample the national dessert at Pasteis de Belém, a scrumptious little custard tart.

We walked off our lunch by strolling to see the Monument to the Discoverer’s along the Tagus River and then further on to the impressive Belém Tower.

I’m finding Lisbon to be an incredibly photogenic city and look forward to further explorations in the days to come.

Yellow Tram in Lisbon

One of Lisbon's characteristic trams makes its way up one of the many hills in the city.

Tomb of Vasco da Gama

Tomb of Vasco da Gama

Cloisters of Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

Cloisters of Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

Lunch in Belém

Lunch in Belém: Cod fish and french fries on left, Acorda soup with shrimp on right

Pastel de Belém

Pastel de Belém

Torre de Belém

Torre de Belém