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Bless Your Spoon: Try these ‘fruity’ specials for a lunch get-together

Lunchtime can be an easy and fun time to entertain guests.

Consider hosting a working lunch during the week or having a few friends over to celebrate something special. My favorite lunches are on Sundays and shared with family.

Today’s recipes focus on a few simple-to-make but great-to-eat fruit or nut finales. Serve a simple but delicious lunch menu followed by a made from scratch, dazzling dessert.

If you only have time to prepare one thing from scratch – make it the dessert.

The emphasis is on gathering folks around a big table in your kitchen. Get your guests involved by having them help get the meal on the table. Mid-day is the perfect time for a slow-paced and informal gathering.

KIWI TARTS

1 cup whole milk

¼ cup sugar

3 egg yolks

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. unsalted butter

½ tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup whipped heavy cream

12 3-inch baked tart shells

6 peeled, sliced, kiwi fruits

For pastry cream filling, in a saucepan, add milk and sugar. Heat milk to scalding while stirring until sugar is dissolved. In a mixer, beat egg yolks with 1 Tbsp. sugar until thickened. Add flour and cornstarch and mix well. Add half the hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture. Bring remaining milk to a boil without scorching. Remove from heat and add to pastry milk mixture. Melt butter on top to prevent skin formation. Pour into a bowl, cover, and cool completely. When cool, fold in vanilla and whipped cream. Spoon cream into shells. Arrange kiwi slices in circles on top. Drizzle with raspberry glaze.

Raspberry Liqueur Drizzle

1 quart fresh raspberries

¾ cup sugar

3 Tbsp. Grand Marnier liqueur (optional)

Press berries through a fine sieve. Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Add liqueur and chill until ready to serve.

MELON BALLS WITH ROSEMARY SYRUP

5 lb. cantaloupe or honeydew melon

½ cup water

½ cup dry white wine

½ cup sugar

3 – 1 ½-inch strips of orange zest

1½ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp. black peppercorns

¼ cup fresh orange juice

Cut melon into balls or wedges and arrange in a serving bowl. Set aside. In a saucepan, combine water, wine, sugar, zest, rosemary, and peppercorns to a boil while constantly stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce to low heat and simmer 5 minutes while occasionally stirring. Strain mixture through fine-mesh sieve, pressing to remove syrup from solids. Discard solids. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Stir orange juice into syrup. Toss melon balls with syrup. Cover and let stand 1 hour at room temperature. Toss again and serve.

SNOW-CAPPED LEMON ROLL

4 beaten egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar

½ tsp. grated lemon rind

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

4 egg whites

1/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup sifted cake flour

¼ tsp. salt

Confectioners sugar

In a mixer bowl, beat egg yolks until thick. Add sugar while beating. Fold in lemon rind and juice. In a mixer bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold yolks into whites. Add flour and salt into egg mixture. Spread on a well-greased and floured 15 x 10 jelly roll pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes. Turn out on dish towel and sprinkle with sugar. Roll cake and towel together and cool completely.

Lemon Filling

¾ cup sugar

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

¾ cup water

2 beaten egg yolks

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. grated lemon rind

2 Tbsp. salted butter

In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Add water and stir to dissolve sugar. Stir in egg yolks and lemon juice. Cook while constantly stirring until thickened. Remove from heat. Fold in lemon rind and butter. Cool.

Meringue

2 beaten egg whites

¼ cup sugar

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. To assemble, unroll cake, spread with filling, and roll up again. Spread meringue over top and sides of cake roll. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 12-15 minutes.

WALNUT CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE CREAM

6 beaten extra lg. egg yolks

1 cup sugar

2 cups, ground to powder, black walnuts

1 tsp. vanilla extract

6 beaten extra lg. egg whites

Pinch of cream of tartar

In a mixer bowl, beat egg yolks. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. In a mixer bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into egg yolks. Fold in walnuts. Mix well. Bake in 2 well-greased and floured 9-inch baking pans in a 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes or done. Invert pan on rack without removing and cool 30 minutes. Then, remove from pan and cool 2 hours.

Chocolate Cream

3 oz. melted unsweetened chocolate

5 Tbsp. sugar

1 ½ cups whipped, heavy cream

In a saucepan, melt chocolate over medium heat and add sugar. Remove pan from heat. Add cream while whisking. Return to heat and cook until almost cream is almost at boiling stage. Don’t allow to boil. Remove and refrigerate until completely cooled. Whip chocolate cream until stiff peaks form. To assemble, place one cake layer on a plate. Frost top with cream. Place remaining cake on top and frost with remaining cream. Refrigerate until serving. Yield: 8-10 servings.

ONE GOOD STRAWBERRY PIE

1 ½ quarts fresh strawberries

1 cup sugar

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

½ cup water

1 9-inch pre-baked pie shell

Whole strawberries

1 cup whipped cream

Crush enough berries to make 1 cup. In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in water and crushed berries. Cook over medium heat while constantly stirring. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and cook while constantly stirring for 2 minutes until thickened and translucent. Cool. In the baked pie shell, place whole berries. Pour the cooled glaze evenly over berries and refrigerate 2 hours. Top with whipped cream.

GRAPES IN CLOUD OF CREAM

8 oz. sour cream

3 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. light rum

¼ tsp. cinnamon

¾ lb. halved, seedless, green grapes

¾ lb. halved, seedless, red grapes

1/3 cup chopped toasted almonds

In a mixer bowl, combine sour cream, sugar, rum, and cinnamon. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Cut grapes in half lengthwise and place in serving bowl. Spoon sour cream mixture over grapes. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve.

CARAMEL BERRIES IN BAKED MERINGUE

2 Tbsp. water

1 cup light brown sugar

3 pints halved fresh strawberries

2 Tbsp. orange liqueur

2 Tbsp. salted butter

4 egg whites

1 cup sugar

In a saucepan, combine water and brown sugar. Cook over medium heat without stirring for 10 minutes, or sugar begins to caramelize. Swirl pan to even color. Add halved strawberries and liqueur. Cook 4 minutes or until berries are tender. Add butter, and stir until melted. Cool and transfer to 8-inch glass baking dish. Set aside. In a mixer bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Slowly add sugar a little at a time while beating. Continue to beat for 5 minutes or until whites are shiny and stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over strawberries. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 12 minutes or until meringue is golden. Serve warm.

LEMON CAKE CUSTARDS

3 beaten egg yolks

2 Tbsp. melted butter

½ cup sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 ¼ cup whole milk

1 tbsp. grated lemon rind

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

3 beaten egg whites

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup sugar

In a mixer bowl, beat egg yolks. Add melted butter and sugar. Beat for 3 minutes. Add flour while alternating with milk and mix well. Fold in grated rind and lemon juice. Mix well. In a mixer bowl, combine egg whites with salt. Beat for 1 minute on high speed. Beat in sugar until well blended. Fold beaten egg whites into egg yolk mixture. Pour at once into 6-8 buttered custard cups. Set in pan with ½-inch hot water in bottom. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 50 minutes or until top is firm and browned. You can also bake in a baking dish. Allow to cool. Serve warm or chilled.

KEY LIME BARS WITH RASPBERRY DRIZZLE

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 sticks softened, salted butter

4 beaten eggs

Dash of salt

1/3 cup key lime juice

¼ tsp. lime rind

1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

In a bowl, mix flour and confectioner’s sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly.  Press into 13 x 9 ungreased pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. In a mixer bowl, beat eggs until light yellow and fluffy. Add lime juice, rind, and salt while beating. Mix well. Pour over warm crust. Bake another 20-25 minutes in a 350-degree oven until golden brown. Cool to warm. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar while warm and cut. Drizzle fruit sauce on plate or lime square.

Fresh Fruit Sauce

2 pints fresh fruit

¼ cup orange juice

3 tsp. honey

In a food processor, combine fruit, juice, and honey. Puree until smooth. Strain through fine-mesh sieve and discard solids. Refrigerate. Must be used within 2 days.

CHERRY DESSERT SAUCE

1/3 cup sugar

¼ cup cherry brandy

3 Tbsp. crystallized ginger

3 ¼-inch lemon slices

1 lb. sweet cherries

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 Tbsp. water

In a saucepan, combine sugar, brandy, ginger, lemon slices, and cherries. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 12 minutes until slightly thickened. Discard lemon slices. In a bowl, dissolve cornstarch in water. Stir in cornstarch mixture. Cook while stirring for 5 minutes until thickened. Cool completely. Refrigerate. Serve over ice cream.

CREAMY MIXED FRUIT

3 cubed, large, unpeeled Red Delicious apples

3 sliced barely ripe bananas

¼ cup toasted walnuts

¼ cup heavy whipped cream

½ cup premium mayonnaise

2 tsp. sugar

In a large bowl, combine cubed apples, sliced bananas, and toasted walnuts. Set aside. In a mixer bowl, whip cream until it forms stiff peaks. Add mayonnaise and sugar and blend well. Fold whipped cream mixture into fruit mixture. Toss to thoroughly coat. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours before serving.