Monday, November 28, 2011

Ambrosia, a Quintessential Southern Dessert


As a child of the Deep South, ambrosia was always among the desserts my grandmother served at her holiday table. According to Greek and Roman mythology, ambrosia is food of the Gods.

An internet search revealed there are a lot of different ambrosia recipes, some containing apples, pineapple, sour cream, Cool Whip, marshmallows, or pudding. The Deep South Southern ambrosia I recall from my youth was a simple dessert consisting of seasonal winter citrus, such as oranges and grapefruit, garnished with flaked coconut. This is my best recollection of my Nanny’s ambrosia. The addition of the dried cranberries and a splash of Grand Marnier are my own. It's best served during the winter months when citrus fruits are at their peak. Even after all these years, my grandmother's recipe is timeless and contemporary.

Serve in your finest crystal bowl, or as I did in this case, a bowl from Meakin’s mom’s Early American Feather Glass collection. Food of the Gods deserves the best.


Southern Ambrosia 
Serves 6 to 8

3 ruby red grapefruit
6 – 7 Navel oranges
A small handful of dried craisins (dried cranberries), optional
½ cup flaked sweetened coconut or more to taste
Splash of Grand Marier, optional
Fresh mint for garnish

With a sharp knife, remove the peel of the grapefruit and oranges and discard. Over a large bowl, remove the individual sections (called supremes) of the citrus with a knife, letting the juices and the sections fall into the bowl. Drain the juices and save for breakfast or cook’s treat.

Soak the dried craisins if using in a bit of hot water to plump, then drain well. Add the craisins to the citrus supremes, along with about a half cup of flaked, sweetened coconut or to taste. I added a splash of Grand Marnier for extra flavor, but it’s neither traditional nor necessary.  Add a sprig of fresh mint for garnish, or julienne the mint at the last minute and add just before serving.




48 comments:

  1. Your creation sounds great for breakfast, lunch or dinner! Thanks! Wishing you and family a Happy Holiday Season!

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  2. I do remember many versions of Ambrosia from my youth as well. Fruit was always present for dessert in one form a or another.

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  3. Exactly as my Nanny's!! It was on the table at every special occasion and in a very similar crystal bowl. Nanny would have added those dried cranberries had they been available back then. The Grand Marnier I'm not so sure--in case the preacher stopped for lunch--but I'd splash in a little!!

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  4. Florida citrus is at it's peak right now and I just sliced some oranges for breakfast. This looks so much better. Now if I could just find a crystal bowl. Beautiful Sam.

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  5. So high in colors, healthy and divine!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  6. Your addition of Grand Marnier sounds delicious!

    I can but dream of the taste of true Southern citrus fruit (boxes of Indian River grapefruit dancing in my head!).

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  7. So nice and refreshing when it's in it pure form! With fresh fruit! Love the addition of the craisins!

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  8. Your right ambrosia is the ultimate southern dish and this one of yours looks out of this world amazing. It is so beautiful and colorful and not sure I could eat it - wait- yes I can- We can always make a new one! LOL!

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  9. My grandmother's ambrosia was equally simple and I too add dried cranberries. It's part of our traditional Christmas morning breakfast.

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  10. Looks so healthy and fresh..and served in nana's bowl? Perfection.

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  11. Your version here looks clean, fresh, and so appetizing. A welcome dish from all the other heavy dishes. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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  12. Yay no Cool Whip! I have always been fond of this dish in various forms - and love good ripe citrus. These days, I remain attracted to foods that are not too gussied up - so you don't recognize the main ingredients. I love how your grandmother took something all in season and then made it shine.

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  13. Yay no Cool Whip! I have always been fond of this dish in various forms - and love good ripe citrus. These days, I remain attracted to foods that are not too gussied up - so you don't recognize the main ingredients. I love how your grandmother took something all in season and then made it shine.

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  14. So deliciously refreshing and light - perfect dessert for summer! Can't go wrong with the food of the gods!

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  15. Your Ambrosia looks so delicious. Thanks for sharing and hope you are having a great day!
    Miz Helen

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  16. Hi Sam,
    Your bowl of ambrosia looks beautiful, perfect for this time of year!!
    My great grandmother had a boarding house and she had this beautiful pedestal bowl she would serve ambrosia or strawberry shortcake in. My mom serves it in the same dish that was passed on to her.

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  17. My mom made ambrosia when we were growing up, and her recipe had (I think) sour cream and whipped cream. Your variation looks great too!

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  18. mmm yummm love anything that has the word ambrosia with it!

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  19. I love Ambrosia. This looks so delicious.. Thanks for the recipe..

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  20. What a delicious and elegant dish - so beautiful and refreshing - LOVE this :)
    Mary x

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  21. We've really been enjoying citrus fruit now that they back in the markets. I love your mom's simple recipe and your addition of the Grand Marnier!

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  22. My Grandmother made Ambrosia for Christmas every year. Hers was very simple, just oranges tangerines, and coconut....my mother-in-law added apples, red grapes, walnuts, a little powdered sugar, and a splash of Mogan David grape wine. Both versions were served in a pretty cut glass bowl. I love the old Southern dishes! Well, I love everything about the South!

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  23. I guess I've never had real southern ambrosia because I remember canned fruit salad in whipped cream or sour cream (it's been so long I can't remember) and the coconut sprinkled on top. Must have been the lazy northerner version. :)

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  24. Hi Sam, my grampy made a similar dish, he called it fruit salad, and it was a Thanksgiving tradition! My mom made one with marshmallows, and we loved it! Your's looks very delicious!

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  25. Oh, wow. I love the simplicity of this recipe. I could eat seconds, and even thirds, without an ounce of guilt. Thank you for sharing this one. I want to make this.

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  26. What a stunning photo of the finished dish. The colors are wonderful.

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  27. Simple and delicious especially without the marshmallows - great shot as always.

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  28. wow...sounds divine..excellent presentation..
    just found your space..awesome space you have..
    Am your happy follower now..:)
    do stop by mine sometime..
    Tasty Appetite

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  29. Beautiful dessert Sam. I think that's why I've never tried Ambrosia. Every recipe I've browsed has marshmallows and sour cream...I really don't like marshmallows.

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  30. Your photos are wonderful, Sam!

    We always said "ambrosia, nectar of the gods" all in one breath like that was the name of this family favorite. I have vivid memories of my husband (ex) and his sister "going to the mat" over who could take home the leftover ambrosia notg. Really, I thought I was going to have to get in the middle of the squabble to fit for my share!

    Bises
    Genie

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  31. Love this ambrosia salad! So colourful and inviting!

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  32. You reminded me of my first years in Dallas I was served this salad at various ladies luncheons and such and of course loved it. Great photo, very appetizing

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  33. Simply beautiful. I remember Ambrosia Salad from my childhood as well, however, heavily laced with sour cream and whipping cream, disguising the true flavors of the fruit. I much prefer your version. On my menu for Christmas dinner. Thank you so much for sharing. Delicious Wishes!

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  34. Elle est terriblement fraiche colorée et parfumée
    Je te souhaite une belle journée
    Valérie.

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  35. Hello dear Sam - I'm imagining the lovely fresh flavours, especially with the touch of Grand Marnier.

    While I can't eat grapefruit or the coconut I'm sure I'll find good substitutes so I can spoil my parents with this over our downunder Christmas holidays. I take over their kitchen every year - with their blessings.

    Sending care from me and puRRRumbles from Zebby Cat, Michelle xxx

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  36. Ambrosia was one of the first things I "learned to cook" and I'm sure there were marshmallows and Cool Whip in the recipe! I'm going to try this adult, Southern version.

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  37. What a beautiful bowl of freshness; I have always wanted to make this and now you are sharing your recipe; merci!
    Rita

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  38. Sam,
    Your dish is so lovely and looks so delicious. I love ambrosia. It's a perfect dish for this holiday season.

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  39. Ambrosia is probably as varied as chili, both traditional but 1 million and 1 recipes. I have to say yours is about the prettiest I've ever seen.

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  40. This post brings back lots of wonderful memories, Sam. Ambrosia was one of my grandma's favorites too and she had a special bowl she always used. I love the addition of craisins for a bit of tartness and texture.

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  41. Like you, Sam, I always remember ambrosia. I even serve mine in my grandmother's cut glass bowl.

    This year I added some mango and guava to mine for a change.

    I've been sick with a terrible cold and cough. It's been three weeks now, and I am beginning to improve. Unfortunately, now my husband has it.

    I hope you'll join us for Pink Saturdays this month as we celebrate the holidays together. No pink required - just holiday related.

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  42. I had a simple wedding breakfast when I got married. And ambrosia was there! What a memory you brought back!

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  43. Sam,
    Glad to see no marshmallows in this ambrosia......just the Grand Marnier. Happy holidays!

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  44. You're right on the money, Sam. It is definitely a southern dessert. Although my mother used to add sour cream to hers...and my sister insisted on marshmallows. Ye Gods! Does that bring back memories.
    Your version is not only picture perfect, but has the grace to avoid sour cream and those sweet little white things. :)
    Pure delicious simplicity.

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  45. Oh, remember the ones with tiny marshmallows and Cool Whip? Lol! That was my childhood! Yours is much better, more adult, cleaner and prettier! And mmmm like a wonderful citrus salad. Another wonderful recipe, Sam.

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  46. Wow, as close to my Southern childhood memories as any version I've seen. Experimented with several..last year did a combination of navel oranges, pineapple, coconut, banana, and maraschino cherries (added for the grandson). Will definitely use your version this year. Love the addition of Grand Marnier.

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I enjoy reading each and every comment. I appreciate your taking the time to visit my blog and I hope you'll return again soon.
Sam