soft serve fruit (machine required)

September 21, 2012
Fans are going bananas for soft serve fruit

By MICHELLE LOCKE Associated Press

Pureed frozen fruit probably won’t become the next bacon, or even cupcake. It’s simply not sexy enough. So-called soft serve fruit is, however, having a moment, recently becoming a darling of the mommy blog set, showing up on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” inspiring a new countertop kitchen appliance, even spawning a product line and small chain of shops, the New York City-based Soft Serve Fruit Co.

And to be clear, we are talking about something that is precisely as it sounds — frozen fruit that is pureed until it reaches the consistency of soft serve ice cream. That’s it.

Soft serve fruit is “the answer to an ice cream lover’s cravings,” says Francesca Borgognone, Entertain Editor at The Daily, who adds that the appeal is easy to understand. “A fraction of the calories and mixed with the same type of fixings that frozen yogurt has — it can be sweet, savory as well as an any-time-of-the-day treat.”

Soft serve fruit has been quietly building a following online, where recipes abound for turning all manner of frozen fruit into treats. It’s hardly complicated. A splash of juice or water, a bag of frozen fruit and a few minutes in a food processor and the result is something that begs for an ice cream cone.

Just type “soft serve fruit” into Pinterest and see the multicolored flurry of frozen fancies that pops up. And kitchen supply companies are keeping up with the trend, marketing appliances specifically for making frozen fruit desserts, like the Yonanas machine that costs around $50. Of course, most people just use their food processors or blenders.

Tanya Steel, editor-in-chief of, has been on to this idea for a while, keeping foil-wrapped, frozen over-ripe bananas in the freezer for times when she wants a treat that’s tasty without being calorific.

“I started making them when my kids were little and I was trying to not only curb their constant need and quest for sugar, but also my own,” says Steel, coauthor of the cookbook “Real Food for Healthy Kids.” Steel says her site has a number of frozen fruit dessert recipes and “we see incredible interest in them,” she says. Soft serve fruit “makes so much sense,” she says. “It’s an almost guilt-free treat and you actually feel good about giving it to your kids and you feel good about giving it to yourself.”

For Chloe Epstein, a partner in the Soft Serve Fruit Co., the love of soft serve fruit began with bananas. Expecting for the second time (twins, as it turned out), she craved something sweet, but she wanted it to be healthy, too. Up to then her career had been in law, but she was always looking for innovative ways to create healthy alternatives to favorite indulgences so she decided to try to come up with her own solution.

“We started to experiment with frozen, old, over-ripened bananas in a blender, juicer and Cuisinart and learned, like many who play in the kitchen, that there was a way to create something like the creamy frozen consistency we craved without all the other ‘stuff,”’ she says. The first few efforts encouraged them to incorporate soft serve machines and learn the steps needed to guarantee consistency and taste.

The big challenge was sticking to the goal of keeping the product simple — minimal ingredients — wholesome and nutritionally sound. After a lot of trial and error they found that fruit, filtered water and a touch of organic cane sugar — to keep the machine from “hard-freezing” the mix, not for taste — did the trick. After perfecting bananas they moved on to mango and apple, working with a food professional to get things right.

Today, Epstein, her husband Jason, and business partner Michael Sloan run the company (soon to be renamed Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co.) together. They have two stores, one on the Upper East Side and one in Union Square, as well as a seasonal store in Watermill, Long Island, and are carried in several cafes in the region. They’re also considering opening a branch “somewhere warm,” such as Miami, Atlanta or Los Angeles, and have plans to grow their wholesale business for outlets such as schools and universities.

Epstein expects interest in soft serve fruit to grow along with the general emphasis on eating healthier and more wholesome and natural foods. As for the at-home devices, Epstein says her product has been developed to have a creamier, more frozen yogurt-like texture “that we feel is unique. Nonetheless, eating a frozen banana in a home machine or a blender is a fun way to eat fruit and maintain a healthy diet, always a priority for us!”

10-ounce bag frozen mango chunks
1 very ripe banana
1/4 cup sweetened cream of coconut
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon orange juice

In a food processor, combine the mango, banana, cream of coconut and salt. Pulse several times to roughly chop, then add the orange juice. Process until very smooth, this may take several minutes. You may need to stop the processor several times to scrape down the sides of the bowl or move any chunks of fruit that aren’t being pureed. Serve immediately.
Servings: 4

Nutrition information per serving: 140 calories; 30 calories from fat (21 percent of total calories); 3 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 24 g sugar; 1 g protein; 45 mg sodium.

The bananas provide most of the “creamy” in this soft serve. They combine so wonderfully with the blueberries to create a silky, creamy soft serve. If you want to keep it dairy free, substitute plain rice milk, coconut milk, or apple juice for the regular milk. You also could use water.

12-ounce bag frozen blueberries
2 frozen bananas, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt
2 tablespoons milk

In a food processor, combine the blueberries, bananas, honey, cinnamon and salt. Pulse several times to roughly chop, then add the milk. Process until very smooth, this may take several minutes. You may need to stop the processor several times to scrape down the sides of the bowl or move any chunks of fruit that aren’t being pureed. Serve immediately.
Servings: 6

Nutrition information per serving: 90 calories; 5 calories from fat (6 percent of total calories); 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 22 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 16 g sugar; 1 g protein; 30 mg sodium.

10-ounce bag frozen strawberries
1/4 cup agave syrup or honey
Juice of 2 limes (about 1/3 cup)

In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Process until very smooth, this may take several minutes. You may need to stop the processor several times to scrape down the sides of the bowl or move any chunks of fruit that aren’t being pureed. Serve immediately. Servings: 4

Nutrition information per serving: 90 calories; 0 calories from fat (0 percent of total calories); 0 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 22 g sugar; 1 g protein; 0 mg sodium.


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Moroccan Style Spicy Orange Salad — Two Versions

Orange salads are a fixture of the Mediterranean table and Moroccan orange salad is one of the best salads in the world — sweet citrus juices countered with pungent onion and dueling kicks of spices and acidity.

Eat it with bread and cheese and call it lunch, or serve the salad as a cooling antidote to a spicy fish, lamb or chicken dish. Variations: Substitute red onion for the garlic. Add mint. Use other citrus, such as tangerines, mandarins or blood oranges. Sprinkle in a little orange-flower water.

Paula Wolfert seasons orange slices with the spice mixture ras el hanout, orange-flower water, lime and lemon zest, dates and mint. Wolfert devotes an entire section to orange salads in her book “Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco,” one with radishes and cinnamon, another with grated carrots and orange-flower water and one with olives and paprika. She wrote, “Olives and oranges are one of those miracle combinations, like lamb and garlic, before which I sometimes feel I should bow in gratitude.”

1980: Spicy Orange Salad, Moroccan Style
This recipe appeared in an article in The Times by Craig Claiborne.

3 large seedless oranges
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon paprika (or use Ras El Hanout — available from Kalustayan’s — instead of paprika & cayennne)
1/2 teaspoon garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red-wine or sherry vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup chopped parsley
12 pitted black olives, preferably imported Greek or Italian.

1. Peel the oranges, paring away all the exterior white pulp. Cut each orange into 8 wedges. Cut each wedge into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.
2. Place the cayenne, paprika, garlic, olive oil and vinegar in a salad bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and whisk to combine. Add the oranges, parsley and olives. Toss gently to blend. Serve cold or at room temperature. Serves 4.

Recipe: 2010: Mom’s Florida Avocado and Orange Salad
By Andrew Carmellini, the chef and an owner of Locanda Verde in Manhattan.

2 Valencia or navel oranges
1 Florida avocado or 2 regular avocados
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 scant tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce
Handful cilantro leaves.

1. Segment the oranges by slicing off the ends with a sharp knife. Put the orange on one end and, with a small, sharp knife, cut off the peel and white pith. Segment the orange by slicing between the membranes. Remove the segments and drop into a bowl. Squeeze the juice out of the remaining membranes into the bowl with the segments. Reserve the juice.
2. With a dinner knife (not the sharpest knife in your kitchen), cut each halved avocado half lengthwise into segments, cutting through the meat to (not into) the skin. Then cut around the outside of the avocado meat and, using the knife, push the pieces out of the skin and into the bowl with the oranges.
3. Add the lime juice, red onion, oregano, olive oil, salt, hot sauce and the reserved orange juice. Using a large spoon, mix all the ingredients together so that everything is coated and well combined.
4. Remove to a serving bowl. Garnish with cilantro leaves and drizzle with more olive oil. Serves 4 as an appetizer or antipasto.

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Tomatoes in Spicy Yogurt Sauce

The tomatoes are warmed, not fully cooked, in the sauce, leaving their softly solid texture intact. Serve them alongside broiled, grilled, or steamed fish and rice. Notes: For this recipe, use tomatoes that are still firm when ripe, such as Early Girl.

8 ripe but firm tomatoes (about 2 lbs. total)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
Cilantro sprigs (optional)

1. Core tomatoes (leave them whole). Set aside.
2. In a large frying pan, heat oil over high heat. When hot, add cumin seeds and mustard seeds and reduce heat to medium-high. Cover and cook until seeds start to pop, about 2 minutes.
3. Remove cover and add turmeric and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add garlic and salt. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is golden.
4. Reduce heat to low. Add tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes are warm and slightly softened.
5. Add yogurt and stir in one direction until smooth. Do not let the yogurt boil. Cook over low heat about 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro if you like and serve warm, with plenty of sauce.

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Cold Stirred Lima Beans

2 tablespoons salad oil
1 package (10 oz.) frozen baby lima beans, thawed
1/2 cup diced bamboo shoots
1/2 cup chicken broth or canned
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Heat a wok or wide frying pan over high heat. When pan is hot, add oil. When oil is hot, add lima beans and bamboo shoots. Stir-fry for 1 minute.

Add chicken broth, sugar, and salt. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are crisp-tender (about 5 minutes).

Remove cover and continue cooking until all liquid evaporates. Stir in sesame oil. Cool, cover, and chill.

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Romaine and Radish Salad With Buttermilk Lemon Dressing

2 hearts of romaine (the lighter, more delicate inner part of a head of romaine lettuce)
1 cup thinly sliced radishes (about 1 bunch)
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped chives, or a mixture of chives and tarragon

For the buttermilk dressing:
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, puréed
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons buttermilk
Freshly ground pepper

1. Combine the romaine, radishes and herbs in a large salad bowl.
2. Whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, salt, olive oil and buttermilk. Just before serving, toss with the salad mix. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, toss again, and serve. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Advance preparation: You can combine the ingredients in Step 1 and refrigerate for an hour or two. The dressing can be made about 1 hour ahead.

NY Times

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Cold Ginger Peach Soup

1 1/2 pounds ripe peaches
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup apple juice
1/2 teaspoon peeled, freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon honey
Scant 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Peel and pit the peaches, rubbing them with 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice to prevent discoloration as you work. Place peaches in a food processor and process until smooth.

Scrape peach puree into a medium bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate until cold. Serve garnished as with a few peach slices on top. Serves four.

NY Times: Ginger Peach Soup

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Summer vegetable salad with lemony ricotta

Think of this salad as the little green dress of summer: Add all kinds of vegetables:  lightly blanched fiddleheads and asparagus, yellow pattypan squash, baby zucchini, fennel, and slender green beans. When it comes to greens, take advantage of what comes into season, including herbs. A few sprigs of soft tarragon or some mint leaves will add flair. The star of this show, though, is ricotta. It’s mixed with lemon rind and placed on the greens like a puff of whipped cream on dessert.


2     tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
6     tablespoons olive oil
1. In a bowl, whisk the vinegar, salt, and pepper.
2. Gradually whisk in the oil until the dressing emulsifies. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.


Salt and pepper, to taste
3/4     cup whole-milk ricotta
Finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon

1     fennel bulb, tops trimmed and cut into 4 wedges
1     pound slender green beans, trimmed
2     endives
1     head frisee lettuce or 1 head red-leaf lettuce, cored and torn up

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Have on hand a large bowl of ice water.
2. In a bowl, mix the ricotta with the lemon rind and a pinch of salt.
3. Add the fennel to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Add the green beans and cook an additional 2 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Use tongs to transfer the vegetables to the ice water. Spread the vegetables on paper towels until you are ready to toss the salad.
4. In a large bowl, toss the greens and vegetables. Add dressing, a little at a time, until the salad is lightly dressed. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
5. Arrange the salad on 4 plates. Garnish with ricotta and sprinkle with a little more dressing.

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