Exotic fruits add delightful and unusual flavors to traditional recipes. Each has a personality and unique taste, and some seem strange to prepare, at first. But the better acquainted you become, the more you’ll enjoy these unusual fruits and want to integrate them into your culinary life.
TYPES OF EXOTIC FRUITS
Rambutan (Chom Chom)
VICTORIA SPONGE CAKE WITH PASSIONFRUIT & STRAWBERRY FILLING
Add a refreshing twist the traditional Victoria sponge cake (Queen Victoria’s favorite teacake, hence the name) and rather than a traditional strawberry filling, add a little zest by combining the sliced strawberries with passionfruit puree. If you were in England, you would serve this delectable cake with Devonshire or clotted cream. Some grocery and food specialty stores do carry clotted cream but if you can’t find it, whip to stiff peaks a pint of heavy cream (not whipping cream) and serve.
Victoria sponge cake:
1-1/3 cups self-rising flour
¾ cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
3 large eggs
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon pure almond extract
Strawberry and passionfruit puree filling:
¼ cup granulated sugar
2-teaspoons water or orange juice
1 teaspoons tapioca to thicken
2-cups sliced fresh strawberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease two 7-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl sift the flour, then add the sugar, butter, and the vanilla and almond extracts. Add the eggs. Beat until the batter is smooth, light, and fluffy. Divide the batter equally between the two pans.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Insert a toothpick and if it comes out clean, the cake is ready. Cool for five minutes, then invert each cake onto a wire rack and cool completely for another half-hour.
Take two passionfruit. Cut each fruit in half crosswise and scoop out the seeds and pulp with a spoon. Place the pulp and seeds in a saucepan and stir over low heat until softened. Using a wooden spoon, push the pulp through a metal strainer placed over a mixing bowl to remove the seeds. In the saucepan, heat the juice, sugar, and tapioca until smooth, then add the passionfruit pulp. Stir constantly over a low flame until thickened. If the mixture becomes too thick, add a little more juice. You want the consistency of jam. Cool, then stir in the sliced strawberries till fully coated and set aside.
To assemble the cake, turn one of the cakes upside-down onto your serving plate so the golden side is on the plate and the flat side is up. Spread the fruit mixture over the cake, right up to the edges. Carefully place the second cake, flat side down this time, so the golden side is up. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the top of the cake. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream on the side of each slice and if you have extra fruit mixture, add a tablespoon alongside the cream.
EXOTIC FRUIT SMOOTHIE
In a blender add:
½ cup fresh pineapple, cut in cubes
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
½ cup mango, peeled and sliced,
½ cup Greek vanilla yoghurt
½ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons honey
8 ice cubes
Blend thoroughly until the ice is crushed and serve in a tall glass.
SPINACH POMEGRANATE SALAD
One 10-ounce bag of baby spinach leaves, thoroughly rinsed and drained
One Vidalia or red onion, sliced very thin
½ cup of walnut pieces
¾ cup crumbled Feta cheese or shaved Parmesan
¼ cup sprouts
Handful of unsalted sunflower seeds
¼ cup sundried tomatoes, julienned
1 pomegranate, peeled and seeds separated
Balsamic vinaigrette dressing
Choose a wonderful salad bowl—in fact, break with tradition and instead of a wooden salad bowl, take out that wonderful crystal bowl you inherited from your grandmother, a colorful pottery serving bowl, or perhaps that Limoges fish platter you never use. Spread the spinach. Either mix the ingredients in a mixing bowl, saving the cheese and pomegranate seeds, or layer each one in the bowl. Sprinkle the cheese on top and finally, the pomegranate seeds. Serve with warm baguette you tear, not slice, and herb butter.