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Archive for June, 2011

TIP OF THE DAY: Fresh Cherries

Rainer cherries are now in stores. We got
ours at Trader Joe’s. Photo courtesy
Washington State Fruit Commission.

 

You can enjoy dried cherries year-round, but fresh cherries are a special event. They’re only available from mid-May through August, so don’t miss out: Put cherries on your shopping list.

Cherries are a healthy snack food on their own, but also consider them as recipe ingredients. Just for starters:

  • Toss plump cherries into green salads (and fruit salads, of course)
  • Make a salsa or relish to top burgers or other grilled meats, fish and poultry
  • In pasta with feta and basil
  • Make fresh cherry sorbet
  • Make sweet or savory cherry sauce to grace just about anything
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    Northwest Cherries, an association of growers, has a wealth of fresh cherry recipes, from breakfast to appetizers, salads, mains and of course, desserts.

    TIP: Make life easier: Buy a cherry pitter. You can also use it to pit olives. Here’s an excellent basic cherry pitter, plus a more complex one for faster pitting.

  • Enjoy cherry trivia, history and a cherry tiramisu recipe.
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    Calories In Cherries
    Cherries have a bad rap as a more “fattening” fruit. A single cherry contains about 5 calories; a cup of cherries with pitts, 87 calories; a cup of pitted cherries, 97 calories.

    Cherries & Health
    A growing number of Americans are drinking cherry juice 365 days a year. Tart red cherries contain significant levels of 17 different antioxidants, including anthocyanins and melatonin. Reports about cherry health benefits are promising. Antioxidants can help fight cell damage, which produces cancer and heart disease.

    You’ll want to get guidance from your healthcare provider, but according to the Cherry Marketing Institute, to date no other fruit or vegetable has been found to have the pain-relieving properties of tart cherries.

    Anthocyanin, one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants, is a natural Cox-2 inhibitor that can relieve the pain of arthritis, gout and possibly fibromyalgia for many people. Ongoing research at Michigan State University and the University of Texas at San Antonio shows that tart cherries contain enough anthocyanins to help relieve the pain of these diseases, and can be a safe alternative to drugs such as Vioxx and Celebrex for the relief of pain from arthritis.

    CHERRY TRIVIA: Cherries have been eaten since prehistoric times. Wild cherry trees grew throughout Europe, western Asia and parts of northern Africa. The word cherry (cerise in French, cereza in Spanish) derives from a city in northern Turkey—Cerasus in the Roman Empire, Giresun today—from which the cherry was first exported to Europe.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Grenadine

    First, what is grenadine?

    A deep red syrup used for hundreds of years to flavor and give a reddish/pink tinge to drinks and other recipes, true grenadine is made from pomegranate juice and sugar syrup. The name comes from the French grenade and the Spanish grenada, words for pomegranate.

    Alas, today’s mass-marketed “grenadine” is faux grenadine, containining neither pomegranate nor sugar. If you want to pour HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) into your drink, go ahead.

    Otherwise, look for artisan brands and check the label.

    Or, make your own grenadine. Here’s the recipe.

    Making grenadine syrup couldn’t be easier. And once you’ve made a batch, you can use it to make dozens of delicious recipes: not just drinks, but everything from mains to desserts.

    And you can give it as gifts.

  • Grenadine Overview & History
  • Grenadine Recipes
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    Grenadine. Some European brands contain
    alcohol and are drunk as a cordial. Photo
    by Coatilex | Wikimedia.

     

      

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    JULY 4TH FOOD: Goat Cheese Stuffed Celery

    Updated retro: goat cheese-stuffed celery
    with pomegranate arils. Blueberries not
    shown. Photo and recipe courtesy Pom
    Wonderful.

     

    An update of the 1950s classic, this stuffed celery recipe replaces the old school cream cheese and pimento-stuffed olives with goat cheese and capers.

    For July 4th, the white goat cheese is accented with red pomegranate arils and blueberries. You can also substitute blue cheese.

    For Christmas, switch out the blueberries and put extra green capers on top of the goat cheese.

    Stuffed Celery Ingredients

  • 6 large celery stalks, cleaned and trimmed of strings
  • 4 ounces mild goat cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons chopped green onion (shoots only, not tops)
  • 4 teaspoons chopped capers (optional)
  • 1/2 cup arils (the pomegranate seed sacs—from 1 fresh pomegranate, or a bag of arils)
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries, washed and dried
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    Stuffed Celery Preparation

    1. If using a whole fresh pomegranate, score and place in a bowl of water. Break open the pomegranate underwater to free the arils. The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top.

    2. Sieve the arils and place in a separate bowl. You only need half the arils (1/2 cup); refrigerate or freeze the rest. Or put them to work on the holiday menu: in a salad or cocktails, or as a tray garnish.

    2. Clean six stalks of celery; cut into four pieces each and set aside.

    3. Mix together goat cheese, green onion and optional capers, if desired.

    4. Using a knife, fill each piece of celery with cheese mixture.

    5. Divide the arils and blueberries evenly and press onto the cheese. Lightly press down the blueberries.

    6. Serve chilled.

      

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    RECIPE: Make A Creamy Cannoli Pie

    Like cannolis? You can enjoy the same creamy ricotta filling and chocolate chips—baked into a pie. Enjoy this recipe, courtesy Eagle Brand condensed milk. If you want to add the crunch of a cannoli shell, add pieces of sugar cones to the pie filling.

    Ingredients

  • 1 nine-inch unbaked pie shell at room temperature (we prefer a chocolate shell or a graham cracker shell to a plain pastry shell)
  • Water
  • Cinnamon sugar (blend 2 tablespoons cinnamon with 2 tablespoons sugar)
  • 1 container (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
  • 1 can (14 ounces) Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1/3 cup powdered (confectioners’) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
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    Cannoli pie: a baked variation of the popular
    filled cannoli shell. Photo courtesy Eagle Brand.

     

  • Optional: 2 sugar cones, broken into half-inch to one-inch pieces
  • Optional: whipped cream for garnish
  • Optional: extra chocolate chips to garnish whipped cream
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    Preparation
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush pie shell very lightly with water; generously sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
    2. Blend ricotta cheese, sweetened condensed milk, powdered sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into pie crust.
    3. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until [plain pastry] crust is golden brown. Filling will appear slightly soft.
    4. Cool completely on wire rack. Chill at least 2 hours before serving. Garnish with whipped cream.

    FOOD TRIVIA
    A Sicilian pastry, cannoli is actually the plural form of the word. The singular is cannolo (cannolu in Sicilian dialect), meaning “little tube.” The crunchy, fried pastry dough tube (sometimes dipped in chocolate) is filled with a sweetened ricotta cream (sometimes mascarpone), which can be mixed with vanilla, chocolate chips, chopped pistachio nuts, candied citron, marsala, rosewater and other flavorings. The open ends of the tube can be decorated with mini chips, shaved chocolate or chopped pistachio nuts. Cannoli range in size from finger-sized “cannulicchi” (mini-cannoli) to five-inch-long tubes.

  • Peruse our Pastry Glossary: a beautifully illustrated description of the different pie and pastry types.

      

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    COOKING VIDEO: Portabella Mushroom Burger Recipe

     

    Call it a portabella or a portobello: Just put this giant mushroom on the grill and enjoy it as a meaty burger. Even carnivores will love this vegetarian burger.

    When you choose a vegetarian burger, you eliminate artery-clogging cholesterol (sure it tastes great, but it’s one of the unhealthiest things you can ingest).

    You also help save the planet. The production of meat contributes to more greenhouse gas than anything else on earth, including gasoline emissions.

    So even if a portabella burger weren’t so delicious, you earn angel points for switching between beef and portabella burgers. Consider it as a regular dish for Meatless Mondays.

    There are a few tricks to making the perfect portabella burger, including removing the gills and marinating the mushrooms. You’ll see how easy it is in this video.

  • This portabella burger recipe is topped with a chopped tomato, feta and onion salad. If you have vegan guests, hold the feta. You can substitute chopped olives, raw corn stripped from the cob, or other vegan ingredients (nothing that’s animal-derived).
  • Instead of iceberg or romaine lettuce, we prefer piquant arugula on a portabella burger.
  • Go with good nutrition in your burger bun. Look for whole wheat buns, like Rudi’s and Udi’s Gluten Free. We also buy the private label* brand from Trader Joe’s.
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    *What’s a private label brand? It’s one that is made by a brand-name manufacturer—or a manufacturing company that makes nothing but private label products—and packaged under the name of the retailer. Kroger’s, Publix, Safeway, Trader Joe’s and other retail chains are not food manufacturing companies. They contract with manufacturers to place their name on the package.

    What’s the difference between a portabella and a porcini? Learn your mushroom types in our Mushroom Glossary.

       

       

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