Kiwi adds an exotic touch to simple desserts

Kiwi adds an exotic touch to simple desserts

At the start of the pandemic, we changed our approach to grocery shopping. Instead of pushing a cart down the aisles, trying to remember what was on the grocery list still sitting on the kitchen counter, we placed our order online each week. On the chosen day and time, we drove to the store and waited in a parking space while the friendly staff loaded the bags they had packed into the trunk of our car.

Sometimes there are missing elements or less than ideal substitutions. For example, oatmeal is not a reasonable substitute for cracked wheat (bulgur). But, the aspect that I find most difficult is the feeling that we are “blind buying”. It’s not a problem with mayonnaise (Duke’s tubs show up regularly on the options list) but more of a challenge with meat and produce, where you can’t see the specific item and have to settle for what incoming.

This is especially true for fresh fruits and vegetables. No one can tell that the tomato sitting in a green cardboard tray is hiding a deep gash on its underside, and only the very picky shopper will examine the box of mushrooms to see how close to rotting they were. This was a recent experience with my kiwi order. I had specified a quantity of four fuzzy fruits and did not expect them to come pre-packaged in a tray covered in plastic wrap.

For those of you unfamiliar with the kiwi, also known as the Chinese gooseberry, it is a fruit the size of a large egg with a thin, edible, tan colored skin. The flesh is light green or golden and dotted with rows of tiny, edible black seeds. The kiwi was recorded as early as the 12th century in China, and its cultivation spread to New Zealand in the early 20th century. During World War II, British and American soldiers discovered the fruit, which eventually arrived in Britain and California in the 1960s.

Around the same time, New Zealand growers began calling it “kiwi” for how its fuzzy skin resembled the feathered body of the local kiwi bird. Typically, the fruit is not called a kiwi in New Zealand, where the term is reserved for the bird or as a nickname for New Zealanders. Today, China remains the largest producer of kiwifruit, with Italy second and New Zealand third in production volume.

The Italian connection came as a surprise, until I learned that Italian growers adapted the infrastructure and techniques they had developed for grape production to successfully grow kiwifruit. In fact, the packet of kiwis in my grocery bag were labeled as an Italian product, distributed by an LLC in Salisbury, NC – no wonder they were overripe by the time they arrived in my kitchen.

I had planned to make a vanilla pie and use kiwi slices for a decorative garnish. However, after removing the skin and the unfortunate bits of flesh, there wasn’t enough to cover the pie, so I filled in the blanks with strawberry slices. If I had berries or bananas on hand, they would have helped with the decoration as well.

I never know what the editor will choose to title one of my columns, but for this one I might suggest “Your Cheatin’ Tart.” The crust is a store-bought chocolate-graham and the filling is vanilla Greek yogurt, which had just the right texture to pass for custard.

Another filling “trick” has been printed on the pie label. This one used instant pudding mix combined with milk and a tub of non-dairy whipped topping (the kind sold in the freezer aisle). I’ll include instructions for these quick and easy tricks, as well as a baked lime custard that provides a sweet contrast to the slightly tart kiwi.

Greek Yogurt Kiwi Tart*

1 graham cracker pie shell

3 to 4 cups vanilla Greek yogurt

4 peeled and sliced ​​kiwis

crumbled graham crackers (optional)

Place the yogurt in the bottom of the pie and smooth the top with a spatula. Arrange the kiwi slices in a circular pattern, overlapping them to create concentric circles. Reserve a slice or two for the center. If desired, sprinkle top with graham cracker crumbs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Yield: 8 slices. *Note: This will get soggy as the liquid separates from the yogurt solids.

Vanilla Kiwi Pudding Tart*

1 graham cracker pie shell

1 1/3 C milk

2 packages 4 oz instant vanilla pudding

8 oz non-dairy whipped topping

4 peeled and sliced ​​kiwis

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk and the contents of both boxes of pudding mix. Add half the whipped topping; whisk to combine. Spread pudding mixture in pie shell. Top with remaining whipped topping and smooth with spatula. Arrange the kiwi slices in an overlapping circular pattern. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Yield: 8 slices. *Note: you can substitute the homemade whipped cream for the filling.

Kiwi Key Lime Pie

1 graham cracker pie shell

4 egg yolks

14 oz sweetened condensed milk

1/2 C lime juice

4 peeled and sliced ​​kiwis

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake pie shell until golden brown, about 10 minutes; cool to room temperature. In a mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks and condensed milk until smooth. Add lime juice and stir until combined. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Before serving, arrange the kiwi slices concentrically on top of the pie. Yield: 8 slices.

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