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Archive for Desserts

RECIPE: Apple Crisp With Ambrosia Apples

Contributing Editor Rowann Gilman returned from picking Ambrosia apples in Washington’s Wenatchee Valley, glowing over the food and restaurants there. If you didn’t catch her report on the apples, here it is.

She brought back an apple crisp recipe that she can’t wait to have again. Since fall is prime apple crisp season, it arrives just in time.

If you don’t know the difference between a crisp and a cobbler, crumble, betty and other kin, THE NIBBLE has spelled it out below.
 
RECIPE: OLD-FASHIONED APPLE CRISP

Try this old-fashioned recipe with new-fashioned Ambrosia apples. It’s from Chef David Toal of Ravenous Catering in Cashmere, Washington.

Ingredients For 6 to 8 Servings

For The Crumb Topping

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (do not use quick cooking oats)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup butter, cut into small chunks
  •  
    For The Ambrosia Apple Filling

  • 6 to 8 large Ambrosia apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Zest from one lemon
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  •  
    Plus

  • Vanilla ice cream
  •    

    Apple Crisp A La Mode

    Ambrosia Apples

    TOP PHOTO: A crisp is has a crumb or streusel topping. The crumbs can be breadcrumbs, breakfast cereal, cookie or graham cracker crumbs, flour or nuts. Photo courtesy Ambrosia Apples. BOTTOM PHOTO: Ambrosia Apples. Photo by Rowann Gilman | THE NIBBLE.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Butter a 13×9-inch baking dish or 6 to 8 individual ramekins and set aside.

    2. COMBINE the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl; toss well to combine. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients.

    3. STIR together all of the filling ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix thoroughly to combine. Transfer the filling to the prepared baking dish or ramekins. Top the filling with the crumb topping.

    4. BAKE for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and bubbly around the edges. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

    5. SERVE with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle some of the juice from the baking dish over top.
     

     

    applecrisp-themeaningofpie-230

    blueberry-cobbler-top-melissas-230

    TOP PHOTO: In our book, it isn’t apple crisp
    if it isn’t topped with vanilla ice cream. Photo
    courtesy TheMeaningOfPie.com. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: A cobbler has a dropped dough
    topping that bakes up to resemble
    cobblestones (hence, the name). Photo
    courtesy Melissas.com.

     

    PAN-BAKED FRUIT DISHES

    Most people use these terms interchangeably. Even Produce Pete called a crisp a cobbler in last week’s episode on NBC. If you really care about food, you’ll care about knowing the differences among pan-baked fruit dishes.

  • BETTY, or brown betty, alternates layers of fruit with layers of buttered bread crumbs. Some modern recipes use graham cracker crumbs.
  • BIRD’S NEST PUDDING is a bit different: A pan of fruit is covered with a batter that bakes into an uneven top with the fruit poking through. It’s served in a bowl topped with heavy cream and spices.
  • BUCKLE, very similar to the French clafoutis (often spelled clafouti in the U.S.), adds fruit, usually berries, to a single layer of batter. When baked, it becomes a cake-like layer studded with berries. It is topped with a crumb layer (streusel), which gives it a buckled appearance. Alternatively, the cake, fruit and crumbs can be made as three separate layers.
  • COBBLER has a pastry top instead of a crumb top. Biscuit pastry is dropped from a spoon, the result resembling cobblestones.
  • CRISP is a deep-dish baked fruit dessert made with a crumb or streusel topping. The crumbs can be made with bread crumbs, breakfast cereal, cookie or graham cracker crumbs, flour or nuts.
  • CROW’S NEST PUDDING is another term for bird’s nest pudding. In some recipes, the fruit is cored, the hole filled with sugar, and the fruit wrapped in pastry.
  • CRUMBLE is the British term for crisp.
  • GRUNT is a spoon pie with biscuit dough on top of stewed fruit. Stewed fruit is steamed on top of the stove, not baked in the oven. The recipe was initially an attempt to adapt the English steamed pudding to the primitive cooking equipment available in the Colonies. The term “grunt” was used in Massachusetts, while other New England states called the dish a slump.
  •  

  • PANDOWDY or pan dowdy is a spoon pie made with brown sugar or molasses. It has a rolled top biscuit crust that is broken up during baking and pushed down into the fruit to allow the juices to seep up. It is believed that the name refers to its “dowdy” appearance. Sometimes it is made “upside down” with the crust on the bottom, and inverted prior to serving.
  • SLUMP is another word for grunt.
  • SONKER or ZONKER, a North Carolina term for a deep-dish cobbler made of fruit or sweet potato.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cinnamon Pecan Topping

    For holiday season, it’s good to have a trick up your sleeve that quickly turns everyday food into festive food.

    We nominate homemade cinnamon pecan topping, which can be used to garnish both sweet and savory foods. See our list of uses below.

    You can use any nut, but pecan goes particularly well in this type of topping.

    We adapted this recipe from McCormick. It makes 12 servings, 2 tablespoons each. You can make a double batch and keep it in the fridge.

    Although the McCormick version uses rum flavor, feel free to substitute real rum or whiskey.

    Plan ahead: You can bring a jar of topping as a house gift, or give it as holiday gifts.

    Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 12 minutes.

    RECIPE: CINNAMON PECAN TOPPING

    Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon rum flavor
  •    

    Pecan Topping

    caramel-pecan-topping-yummly-230

    TOP PHOTO: Top a Brie with homemade cinnamon pecan topping Photo by Caroline Edwards from Chocolate and Carrots | McCormick.com. BOTTOM PHOTO: Turn a plain scoop of ice cream into a sundae. Photo courtesy Yummly.com.

     

    Pecan Topping

    Keep it in the fridge to pull out whenever you need it. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    Preparation

    1. MIX the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in small bowl until blended. Set aside.

    2. MELT 2 tablespoons of the butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and toast for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low.

    3. STIR the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, corn syrup, water, vanilla extract, rum flavor and the brown sugar mixture into the skillet. Cook, stirring until the butter is melted and the mixture is heated through.

    4. REMOVE from the heat. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Serve at room temperature.

     

     
    WAYS TO USE THE PECAN TOPPING

  • Breakfast: Top French toast, pancakes, waffles.
  • Desserts: Use as a cake topping or filling; fill crêpes and tartlets; top ice cream, ice cream cake or ice cream pie; garnish blondies/brownies or pie; mix with mascarpone or ricotta to spread on biscotti or shortbread.
  • Hors d’oeuvre: Top regular or baked Brie.
  • Sides: Top a baked sweet potato with pecan topping and Greek yogurt or sour cream.
  • Snack: Mix into yogurt, stir into coffee or tea.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pudding Parfaits

    Pudding Parfaits

    If your crowd is elegant, use finer ingredients
    than crushed Oreos and M&Ms. Photo
    courtesy Gather By Damico | Minneapolis.

     

    Add a special element to any small party, or even a quiet evening with the family, by putting together a mix and match pudding parfait bar. It’s a popular annual event at our place; and unlike ice cream parfaits, pudding doesn’t melt.

    If you don’t have glass dessert dishes, use juice glasses or wine glasses so people can enjoy their layering talents.

    You can make the pudding or buy it. At different times. we’ve made instant pudding or cooked pudding, even cooked from scratch (mixing and measuring all the ingredients). Sophisticated palates will prefer the cooked variations.

    Here’s what else you need:

    MIX & MATCH PUDDING PARFAITS

    Basic Ingredients

  • Pudding (offer several flavors, e.g. banana, butterscotch, chocolate, vanilla, lemon)
  • Crushed cookies (chocolate chip, chocolate wafers, gingersnaps, grahams, vanilla wafers)
  •  
    and/or

  • Cake and brownie cubes
  •  
    Crunchy Or Chewy Layers

  • Granola
  • Nuts (our favorites are pistachios, candied peanuts and spiced pecans)
  • Small candies (candy corn, chocolate chips/flavored chips, M&Ms, mini marshmallows, toffee chips, shredded coconut)
  • Berries or diced fruit
  •  
    Creamy Layers

  • Cherry pie filling, fruit purée, fruit curd or preserves
  • Caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, dulce de leche, marshmallow cream
  • Whipped peanut butter (use Jif Peanut Butter Whips or make your own)
  • Whipped cream or other topping
  •  

    Customize the ingredients to your crowd and the occasion. If you’d rather have pistachio or maple pudding, team colors, a layer of crushed peanut butter cups or Corn Flakes, and so forth, by all means set them out!

     

    NEW PRODUCT: TRUWHIP 100% NATURAL WHIPPED
    TOPPING

    If you like frozen whipped topping but not all the chemical additives, now there’s an all-natural alternative.

    Truwhip is the first frozen whipped topping that is 100% natural and gluten-free. Made from plant-based ingredients, it contains no high fructose corn syrup, no hydrogenated oils, no polysorbate 60, no trans fats and no GMOs.

    It’s also gluten-free and certified kosher (dairy) by OU.

    Truwhip Natural and Truwhip Skinny look just like the other stuff and can be used in the same way:

  • In coffee and hot chocolate
  • As a dessert topping
  • In parfaits sundaes
  • For snacking (cookie sandwiches, anyone?)
  •  
    Truwhip Natural has 30 calories, 20 from fat, per two-tablespoon serving. Truwhip Skinny has 25 calories, 15 from fat.

    Discover more at Truwhip.com.

    In terms of the flavor, to quote one of our tasters:

    “It tastes different from Cool Whip. You kind of get used to all those chemicals.”

    It tastes like what it is: cool, creamy and natural.

     

    truwhip-gingerbread-man-ps-230

    Truwhip Cartons

    Truwip, in Natural (regular) and Skinny (reduced fat). Photos courtesy Peak Foods.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Rethink Jell-O As Elegant Gélee

    Jello Mold

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/rainbow jello jellomoldmistress 230

    How can you dis them? Retro-style Jell-O
    molds from JelloMoldMistress.com. See the
    photos below for shaping without molds.

     

    Check online and you’ll find that more people are horrified by retro Jell-o molds than embrace them.

    Yet, these gelatin works of art, that became de rigeur party fare in the 1950s, get a bad rap. Seriously, what’s wrong with different flavors of Jell-O and fruit layered in an attractive mold?

    They are very tasty, thank you, and enable the cook to exercise creativity. If the media mentioned, say, that they were a favorite at the Kardashian or Brangelina household, molds and Jell-O would be flying off the shelves.

    Sugar-free Diet Jell-O provides a low-calorie dessert option. And a holiday offers the opportunity to use theme colors.

    Maybe ditch the brand name, Jell-O, and the generic term, gelatin, when presenting the dish. Call it something that sounds like a sophisticated dessert. We prefer the French name for a gelatin dish, gelée (zhel-LAY) or gélatine (zhay-la-TEEN), which identifies the product, gelatin.

    Trivia: The name comes from the Latin gelare, to freeze.
     
    RECIPE: GINGER GELÉE

    Make this harvest-colored Ginger Gelée with the taste of fall. The recipe was adapted from TheSugarMonkey.com.

     

    As you can see in the photo below, you don’t need to make the dish in a mold. Make the gelée in a baking pan and cut it into elegant rectangles. Or make a layered gelée in glasses, as Martha Stewart did in the second photo below.

    Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup peeled, fresh ginger, cut in 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 6 two-gram gelatin sheets, softened in cold water-or-apricot or mango Jell-O
  • 1 quart bottled or filtered water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped-or-a few dashes of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes, strained
  • Optional: food color
  • Garnish: raspberry, pineapple dice, candied orange peel, mint or tarragon leaf or other contrasting garnish (for kids, try candy corn)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. FILL a small bowl halfway with ice cubes and water. Put the ginger in a small pot of water and bring to a boil. Drain and transfer the ginger to the ice-water bath; let cool. Repeat this process two more times, starting with cold water in the pot each time.

    2. SOFTEN the gelatin sheets in a small bowl of cold water. Lift the gelatin out of the water and squeeze it gently to remove the excess moisture.

    3. BRING the blanched ginger, water, sugar and vanilla bean pod and seeds to a boil in a medium pot over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, add the softened gelatin and stir until the gelatin has melted. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve in a large bowl; discard the ginger and vanilla bean pod.

    4. COOL the liquid to room temperature, then whisk in the lime juice. Adjust the color as you like with food color (1 drop red + 2 drops yellow = orange, or see this chart). Pour the liquid into a 1-quart mold or an 8- by 8-inch baking pan and refrigerate until set.
     
    THE HISTORY OF JELL-O

    Gelatin (also spelled gelatine) has been made since ancient times by boiling animal and fish bones. Aspic, a savory*, gelatin-like dish made from meat or fish stock, was a French specialty centuries before the invention of commercial gelatin. It was very difficult to prepare and thus a dish for the wealthy, requiring days to boil down and clarify natural gelatin to make the aspic set. The aspic was shaped in an elaborate mold, to be admired by the guests.

     

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/ginger gelee elegant affairs 230

    layered-gelee-marthastewart-230

    TOP PHOTO: Gelée cut into elegant rectangles. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs. BOTTOM PHOTO: Gelée in glasses. Photo courtesy MarthaStewart.com.

     

    Powdered gelatin was invented in 1682 by Denis Papin. The concept of cooking it with sugar to make dessert dates to 1845 and an American inventor named Peter Cooper. Cooper patented a product that was set with gelatin, but it didn’t take off.

    In 1897, Pearle Wait, a carpenter in Le Roy, New York (in Genesee County), experimented with gelatin and developed a fruit flavored dessert which his wife, May, named Jell-O. The first four flavors were orange, lemon, strawberry and raspberry.

    He tried to market his product but lacked the capital and experience. In 1899 he sold his formula to a fellow townsman and manufacturer of proprietary medicines, Orator Frank Woodward, for $450. The Jell-O was manufactured by Andrew Samuel Nico of Lyons, New York. Alas, sales were slow and one day, Woodward sold Sam Nico the business for $35.
     
    Finally, Success

    In 1900, the Genesee Pure Food Company promoted Jell-O in a successful advertising campaign, and by 1902 sales were $250,000—more than $6 billion in today’s dollars. In 1923 management created the Jell-O Company, Inc., replacing the Genesee Pure Foods Company, the purpose of which was to protect the Jell-O trade name and to keep it from becoming a generic term.

    That same year, the Jell-O Company was sold to the Postum Cereal Company, the first subsidiary of a large merger that would eventually become General Foods Corporation. The next flavor, Lime Jell-O was introduced in 1930. Recipes printed on the boxes—including molds—brought more users into the fold.

    Today Jell-O is manufactured by Kraft Foods, a subsidiary of Phillip Morris, which also acquired both Kraft and General Foods in the 1980s and ultimately merged the two companies. Today there are 21 flavors of regular Jell-O and eight sugar-free flavors, plus puddings and snacks in both categories.

    There is a Jell-O Museum in Le Roy, New York.

     
    *Molded sweet gelatin mixes were called gelatin salads.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Marshmallow Fluff

    Marshmallow Cream Garnish

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Chocolate Marshmallow Fluff cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice 230

    TOP PHOTO: Elegant drops of homemade
    marshmallow cream at Guard and Grace
    Restaurant
    | Denver. BOTTOM PHOTO:
    Chocolate “Fluff” from Sugar and Spice and
    Everything Nice
    .

     

    For the upcoming holiday season, something special is the name of the game. Today’s tip was inspired by Guard and Grace in Denver, where dessert plates are garnished with their own version of Marshmallow Fluff, instead of whipped cream.

    Homemade Marshmallow Fluff, it seems, is a popular undertaking. This first recipe is from Kimberly Reiner of Momma Reiner’s Fudge.

    You’ll need a candy thermometer, ideally a clip-on thermometer or an all-purpose thermometer with a good range; as well as a stand mixer. A simple hand mixer and a bowl won’t do because you’re working with boiling syrup, and need guaranteed stability. We also recommend thick clothing and a vinyl (waterproof) apron to guard against spatters.

    You can vary the flavors of the marshmallow creme beyond vanilla; for example, with lemon extract or maple extract, or a tablespoon of instant coffee or cocoa powder. A recipe for gingerbread marshmallow creme is below.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOW FLUFF

    Ingredients

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BEAT the egg whites with an electric beater or an electric stand mixer with the whisk attachments, until light and frothy. With the mixer running, slowly incorporate 2 tablespoons of sugar. Beat until soft peaks form.

    2. COMBINE 1/3 cup water, the corn syrup and 2/3 cup sugar in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture boils, watching constantly and stirring occasionally. Raise the heat to medium high and cook until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage, 240°F on a candy thermometer (10-15 minutes). If the hot syrup bubbles up the sides, briefly lower the heat or remove the pan from the heat. When the syrup goes back down to level, raise the heat and continue cooking.

     
    The next step requires care, since the hot mixture can spatter and burn you. In addition to long sleeves and an apron, drape a kitchen towel over the front and side of the mixing bowl, leaving an open side to pour in the syrup.

    3. WITH the mixer on low, slowly add the hot syrup to the beaten egg whites. Increase the mixer speed to high and continue beating for 6-8 minutes. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until mixture looks like marshmallow creme, 2-4 minutes more.

    4. COOL and store in an airtight jar. It will keep in the fridge for up to a month. We particularly like it atop a cup of hot chocolate.

     

     

    GINGERBREAD MARSHMALLOW CREAM

    Here’s a holiday-flavored version of marshmallow creme, from Reeni of Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice. She has also created a strawberry marshmallow cream.

    Renni advises: “Please keep children and pets clear of the kitchen while making this. The sugar syrup reaches temperatures that can burn should an accident occur.”

    Ingredients For 2-1/2 Cups

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  •  

    Gingerbread-Marshmallow-fluff-cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice-230

    Photo © Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice.Who has also created strawberry marshmallow cream http://www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com/strawberry-marshmallow-fluff-eggless-and-corn-syrup-free/.

     
    Preparation

    1. STIR together the sugar, corn syrup, molasses, water and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, with a clip candy thermometer attached to the side. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally, until it reaches 240°F. Meanwhile…

    2. ADD the egg whites and cream of tartar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start whipping the egg whites to soft peaks on medium speed.

    3. MEASURE the spices into a small bowl or ramekin. When the syrup reaches 240°F, set the mixer to low speed. Slowly drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of the hot syrup to warm the mixture (if you add too much hot syrup at once, the egg whites may scramble.). On low speed, slowly drizzle in the rest of the syrup, the vanilla and all the spices; then increase the speed to medium-high. Beat until the marshmallow creme is stiff and glossy, 8-10 minutes.

    4. COOL and use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF MARSHMALLOW FLUFF

    Marshmallow dates back to ancient Egypt. The marsh mallow plant that was plentiful along the banks of the Nile has a slippery sap that forms a gel when mixed with water. The Egyptians mixed the “juice” with honey to make a confection, reserved for the wealthy and the gods.

    The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder credited the sap with curing all sorts of diseases, and encouraged people to drink the juice daily, although it wasn’t very palatable (what happened to the honey?). Still, for centuries the sap was used to treat sore throats, skin conditions and other maladies.

    In the mid-19th century, a pharmacist in Paris came up with the idea of whipping the sap with sugar and egg whites into a light, sweet, fluffy throat remedy. A variation soon became popular as marshmallow candy.

    By the late 19th century, confectioners had determined how to mass-produce marshmallows, which included eliminating the sap entirely and replacing it with gelatin. (Prepared gelatin was patented in 1845; prior to then it was laborious to render and clarify gelatin from cattle and pig bones, skin, tendons and ligaments; and in addition to setting aspics, it was desirable as glue, a use that dates back to ancient Egypt.).

    Marshmallow sauces were popular in the early 20th century (see Marshmallow History). But to make marshmallow sauce or frosting required that the cook first make marshmallow creme. It was a two-step process: make a sugar syrup, melt marshmallow candy in a double boiler, and combine them with the syrup.

    In 1910 a marshmallow creme called Marshmallow Fluff was sold to ice cream parlors by Limpert Brothers, a company that still exists in New Jersey. You can see the original packaging here.

    Snowflake Marshmallow Creme was available around 1914. The first commercially successful, shelf-stable marshmallow creme, it was produced by the Curtis Marshmallow Factory of Melrose, Massachusetts.

    They ultimately bought the Marshmallow Fluff brand from the Lippert Brothers (details). Marshmallow Fluff wasn’t the first marshmallow creme, but it’s the one that endured: 94 years later, the brand is still around.

    Unlike conventional marshmallows, which require gelatin (an animal product) or a seaweed equivalent to set, marshmallow creme is a kosher product made from corn syrup, sugar, water, egg whites, artificial flavor, cream of tartar, xanthan gum and artificial color.

    Marshmallow Fluff is OU Kosher, Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme is OK Kosher. Ricemellow Creme, manufactured by Suzanne’s Specialties, Inc., is a vegan equivalent.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pears At Every Fall Meal

    Who doesn’t like to bite into a perfectly ripe pear, soft to the touch, dripping with juice? Whether in a packed lunch or as a grab-and-go snack, pears are one of the delights of fall.

    But pears don’t have to be ripe to be delicious. Hard pears can be baked, cooked (especially poached), even grated as a garnish onto cake, pudding, pancakes and yogurt.

    Here are suggestions from USA Pears, the national trade association, for incorporating pears into cooked recipes. There are many delicious pear recipes on the organization’s website.

    At the least, treat yourself to pear purée, the pear version of applesauce that can be served at any time during the day, as a condiment, side, topping or dessert. You can also use it in pear-accented cocktails. Peartini, anyone?

    Here’s a quick recipe to try with a ripe pear. A hard pear can be cooked first.

    RECIPE: NO-COOK SIMPLE PEAR PURÉE

    Ingredients For 1 Serving

  • 1 ripe pear
  • Dash of lemon juice
  • Optional: cinnamon or added sweetener, to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL and core the pear. You can leave the skin on the pear; it will provide vibrant flecks of color in the purée.

    2. CUT into chunks and purée in a food processor or blender until smooth. The splash of lemon juice helps prevent the purée from browning.

    3. TASTE and adjust for sweetness as needed. Add a dash of cinnamon as desired.

       

    Pear-Butternut Squash Soup

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pear puree usapears 230

    TOP PHOTO: Pear-Butternut Squash Soup. BOTTOM PHOTO: Pear Purée (like applesauce). Images courtesy USA Pears.

     
    Preparation For Hard Pears

    Poach the pears before pureeing. Pears can be poached in red and white wine, fruit juice, beer, sake, coconut milk or water. Add some spice to your poaching liquid: cloves, cinnamon, salt, black pepper, vanilla bean, orange zest, nutmeg, cardamom.

    1. PEEL THE pears, leaving stem and core intact. Heat the poaching liquid over medium heat until it starts to simmer. Reduce the heat to low and continue simmering while fully immersing pears into the poaching liquid. Simmer until pears are soft and easily pierced with a fork, 5 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the pear.

    2. REMOVE the pears from liquid and let cool. Core the pears, remove the stems, cut into chunks and purée in a food processor or blender until smooth. Taste and adjust sweetness; add spices as desired.
     
    PEAR RECIPES FOR BRUNCH

  • Cheddar Pear Scones (recipe)
  • German Pancake with Caramelized Pears (recipe)
  • Pear and Maple Breakfast Sausage (recipe)
  • Pear and Quinoa Breakfast Custard (recipe)
  • Pear-Stuffed French Toast (recipe)
  •  
    PEAR RECIPES FOR LUNCH

  • Curried Butternut Squash & Pear Bisque (recipe)
  • Curried Pear & Chicken Salad (recipe)
  • Ham, Brie & Pear Sandwich (recipe)
  • Pear & Cabbage Slaw (recipe)
  • Pear & Quinoa Salad With Greens (recipe)
  • Pear, Sausage & Fontina Calzones (recipe)
  • Pear, Spinach & Parmesan Salad (recipe)
  • Red Wine Poached Pear Salad (recipe)
  • Shaved Pear & Beet Salad (recipe)
  • Shrimp Tacos With Pears & Slaw (recipe)
  • Turkey Burgers with Caramelized Pears and Sweet Onion (recipe)
  •  
    PEAR RECIPES FOR COCKTAILS & HORS D’OUEVRE

  • Feta & Pear Crostini (recipe)
  • Pear, Blue Cheese & Walnut Flatbread (recipe)
  • Pear Hummus (recipe)
  • Pear Martini With Pear Purée (recipe)
  • Walnut Pesto Toast with Sliced Pears and Gorgonzola Cheese (recipe)
  •  

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pear hummus usapears 230

    poached-pears-in-chocolate-sauce-usapears-230
    TOP PHOTO: Pear hummus. BOTTOM PHOTO: Pears Belle Hélène (poached pears with chocolate sauce). Images courtesy USA Pears.

     

    PEAR RECIPES FOR DINNER

  • Braised Pork with Pears and Sherry Vinegar (recipe)
  • Grilled Pork Chops with Pears and Rosemary Butter (recipe)
  • Korean Barbecue Beef (recipe)
  • Pear Barbecue Sauce (recipe)
  • Pear and Sesame Glazed Beef (recipe)
  • Penne With Roast Pear & Feta (recipe)
  • Pizza With Pears, Shaved Ham and Fresh Basil (recipe)
  • Soba Noodles With Tea-Poached Pears (recipe)
  •  
    PEAR RECIPES FOR SIDE DISHES

  • Anjou Pear and Red Potato Gratin (recipe)
  • Grilled Pears Stuffed With Mascarpone & Bacon (recipe)
  • Braised Cabbage With Pears (recipe)
  • Pear Purée (recipe)
  • Savory-and-Sweet Ham, Pear, and Gruyère Strata (recipe)
  • Quinoa Pilaf With Carrots, Ginger & Pears (recipe)
  •  
    PEAR RECIPES FOR DESSERTS

  • Cider & Bourbon Poached Pear Tart (recipe—note that the recipes says “torte,” but it’s actually a tart. A torte is a cake. Torte means cake in German.)
  • Cider-Poached Pears With Pound Cake (recipe)
  • Pears Belle Hélène (recipe)
  • Pear-Caramel Galette (recipe)
  • Pear Cranberry Bread Pudding (recipe)
  • Pear Sorbet (recipe)
  • Pear & Frangipane Tart (recipe—also delicious with chocolate sauce)
  • Pumpkin Ale-Poached Peas In Caramel Sauce (recipe)
  •  

    THE HISTORY OF PEARS

    Pears are one of the world’s oldest cultivated and beloved fruits. The trees thrive in cool temperate climates, and there is evidence of pears as food since prehistoric times. Many traces of it have been found in Switzerland’s prehistoric lake dwellings. [Source]

    In the pear genus Pyrus, some 3,000 varieties are grown worldwide, The tree is thought to have originated in present-day western China, and to have spread to the north and south along mountain chains. In 5000 B.C.E., one Chinese diplomat was so enamored of them that he resigned his post to develop new varieties.

    In The Odyssey, the Greek poet Homer lauds pears as a “gift of the gods.” Roman farmers documented extensive pear growing and grafting techniques. Pliny’s Natural History recommended stewing them with honey and noted three dozen varieties.

    Seventeenth-century Europe saw a great flourishing of pear cultivation, especially in Belgium and France. Many of the modern varieties began to emerge.

    Early colonists brought the first pear trees to America’s eastern settlements, where they thrived until crop blights proved too severe to continue widespread cultivation. Fortunately, pioneers had brought pear trees brought to Oregon and Washington in the 1800s, where they thrived in the agricultural conditions of the Pacific Northwest. It remains the major pear-growing center of the U.S.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Honey Dessert Sauce

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    A chocolate tart, drizzled with orange blossom honey. To the right of the tart: chocolate biscotti pieces. Photo courtesy Bestia | LA.

     

    Caramel to crème anglaise, hard sauce to sabayon: For many centuries, good cooks have known how to garnish a dessert with a sauce.

    Even if the dessert tastes delicious as is, a bit of sauce dresses up a brownie, ice cream, pudding, or slice of plain cake or pie.

    While you can buy them off the shelf, all dessert sauces except one require that someone create it. The one that is ready-made: honey.

    You can use generic honey—whatever you have on hand. Or, match the honey to the dessert:

  • Black sage honey with pear desserts.
  • Basswood or lavender honey with apple.
  • Orange blossom honey with lemon.
  • Raspberry honey with chocolate or fruit desserts.
  • Sourwood honey with peaches.
  •  
    Here are more honey pairings.
     

    HOW TO GARNISH WITH HONEY

    Drizzle the honey straight from the cap of the Honey Bear* or other squeeze bottle, or from a teaspoon.

  • You can start by creating a drizzle pattern—circles, dots, zigzags—on the plate.
  • Then place the dessert on the plate.
  • As you like, drizzle some honey on top of the dessert.
  •  
    See the different types of dessert sauces Dessert Sauce Glossary.

     
    *Never throw away an empty Honey Bear bottle. Fill it with a varietal honey and use it to drizzle. The Honey Bear bottle design is a registered trademark of the National Honey Board, which licenses the design to honey bottlers.

     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Mounds Mess

    Recently we published a recipe for a popular U.K. dessert, the Eton Mess. It’s a combination of strawberries, whipped cream, meringues and other ingredients, unceremoniously mixed together (i.e., a mess).

    We saw this dessert on the Facebook page of Distilled NY in Manhattan’s TriBeCa neighborhood, and decided it was an American version of the Eton Mess. We nicknamed it the Mounds Mess, because it combines coconut and chocolate.

    Chef Shane Lyons of Distilled NY creates his “Mess” with brownie brittle, chocolate pudding, frozen coconut marshmallows and coconut macaroons.

    We did a version with brownie strips, coconut ice cream, French meringues and mascarpone; and, because we have a slight preference for Almond Joy, we tossed in some toasted almonds.

       

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    A dessert for Mounds Bar lovers. Photo courtesy Distilled NY.

     

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    More fun: Make your own Mounds or Almond Joy, using premium chocolate and coconut. Here’s the recipe from Elana’s Pantry.

     

    Here’s a template for putting together your own Mess:

  • Chocolate: brownies, chocolate pudding, cookies (chocolate wafers, chocolate chocolate chip, etc.), fudge sauce, shaved chocolate
  • Coconut: ice cream, almond macaroons (made from coconut), toasted coconut chips
  • Almond macaroons (buy or make with this recipe)
  •  
    And what about an Almond Joy Mess? Add an almond component:

  • Almonds: raw, roasted/toasted, whole or sliced
  • Almond butter
  • Almond buttercrunch or toffee
  • Amaretti cookies, whole or crumbled
  •  
    Want to get fancy? Layer your mess in a glass bowl, like a trifle. It will become a mess when you scoop it onto plates.

     

      

     
     

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sweet Or Savory Popcorn Garnish

    Before it was a popular snack, popcorn was a whole grain food. In Colonial times, it was eaten in a bowl with milk or cream, like modern puffed rice and other puffed cereal grains.

    In the 18th century, after the corn harvest, farmers would toss corn kernels, some fat and a little molasses into a cast iron pot. Voilà: the first kettle corn. (Today, special popcorn strains create big, fluffy kernels.)

    By the 1840s, corn popping had become a popular recreational activity in the U.S. By the 1870s, popcorn was sold in grocery stores and at concession stands at circuses, carnivals and fairs. The first commercial popcorn machine was invented in 1885; by the early 1920s, popcorn machines turned out hot buttered corn at most movie theaters.

    Here’s the history of popcorn.

    Considered a humble food accessible to all, it now used by fine chefs as a garnish for both sweet and savory food.
     
    THE HUMBLE SNACK BECOMES FANCY FARE

    Recently we featured an elegant savory corn custard, made from fresh corn and garnished with popcorn.

       

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    Add some whole grain popcorn to your mac and cheese,perhaps flavored garlic or jalapeño. Photo: DK.

     
    But a recipe doesn’t have to be made from corn—or be savory—to dazzle with a popcorn garnish. You can use popcorn as a fun food garnish.

    While a popcorn garnish is not yet ubiquitous, it has long been a standard on cheese and beer soup. Here’s a recipe from Emeril Lagasse, who makes spicy popcorn for the garnish. But if you don’t have the time, plain popcorn works just fine.

    Any thick soup—bean, lentil, vegetable—is ready to wear a popcorn garnish; as is a bowl of chili.
     
    USE PLAIN OR FLAVORED POPCORN

    A second level of fun in using a popcorn garnish: You can flavor the popcorn to complement the dish. Just a sample of popcorn flavors you can pair:

  • Savory flavors: bacon-chive, garlic, herb, jalapeño, mustard, parmesan-rosemary, sesame, truffle
  • Sweet flavors: caramel/salted caramel, chocolate, cinnamon-sugar, maple, peanut butter, peppermint, pineapple-coconut
  •  
    If there’s a flavor you want, just toss it with popcorn. Here are 50 ways to season plain popcorn.

    You can also coat the popcorn in chocolate, or use purchased popcorn: chocolate-covered, chocolate-peppermint or maple for the holidays, and so forth.

     

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    Use caramel corn or a popcorn/pecan praline mix to top a cheesecake or (shown above) a carrot cake. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy MyKitchenStories.com.au.

     

    WAYS TO USE A POPCORN GARNISH

    Beverages: Hot chocolate, on a cocktail pick, on milkshakes

  • Breakfast: Grits or other hot cereal with sweet or savory corn (cheese popcorn on cheese grits, anyone?), pancakes and waffles with caramel corn, yogurt and cottage cheese with sweet or savory popcorn
  • Lunch/Dinner: Chicken breasts, chili, fish fillets, mac and cheese, soups, salads, grains, stews
  • Desserts: Crème brûlée, cupcakes, ice cream (here’s actual popcorn ice cream), layer cake, pudding (especially popcorn pudding)
  •  
    If you’re not yet convinced, here’s a simple way to try out popcorn garnishes:

    The next time you roll down the supermarket snack aisle, check out the popcorn selection. Buy a savory (plain salted popcorn) and a sweet variety (caramel corn or kettle corn) and start using them as garnishes.
     
    *Leave off the butter and sugar, and season with spices or herbs, and you’ve got a fiber-filled, healthful snack.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Apples & Honey

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    Apples and honey, a Jewish New Year tradition, are a delicious snack or
    simple dessert on any day.

     

    Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. One of the holiday traditions is dipping an apple in honey. But the tradition can be enjoyed year-round by anyone looking for a tasty snack or a simple dessert.

    All you need are honey and apples. Slice the apples and serve them with a dish of honey.

    TIP: While a bowl of honey lets more than one person dip at a time, a Honey Bear squeeze bottle or other squeeze bottle (with a dispensing tip) is much neater!

     
    WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE APPLE & HONEY
    TRADITION?

    Apples are sweet, honey is even sweeter. Combine the two and it’s symbolic of a [hopefully] ultra-sweet new year.

    The apple symbolizes the Garden of Eden, which according to the Torah has the scent of an apple orchard, and in Kabbalah is called “the holy apple orchard.”

     

    So whether or not you’re celebrating anything today, pick up some crisp apples and honey, slice and dip. If you aren’t already familiar with this combination, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to put them together!
     
    VARIETAL HONEY

    There’s generic honey—a blend of inexpensive honeys from around the world, blended to a common denominator for American supermarket purchases.

    And then there’s varietal honey: single-source honey, such as Black Sage, Clover, Orange Blossom, Raspbery and Sage. There are hundreds of varieties, each made from the nectar of a different flower, bush or tree.

    Each varietal honey has a distinct flavor; thus, and each pairs well with specific foods. Check out our food and honey pairings.

    Consider these pairing tips from Rowan Jacobsen, an apple grower and author of Apples of Uncommon Character:

  • Gala apples with orange blossom honey
  • Granny Smith and other tart green apples with basswood honey
  • Honeycrisp apples with wildflower honey
  • Pink Lady or SweeTango apples with avocado honey
  • Pippin apples with apple blossom honey
  • Russet apples with tupelo honey
  •  
    Here’s the full article.

    Happy New Year to those who celebrate, and enjoy those apples and honey, to those who don’t.
      

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