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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Fruits & Nuts

TIP: Eat More Peaches ~ The Season Ends Soon!

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Skillet photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Photo of Wisconsin Fontina courtesy Emmi Roth USA.

 

Soon, juicy peaches will be gone from the shelf. Even if you’ve had a few, as hand fruit or in recipes, seek them out in the next few weeks and enjoy peaches while you still can.

Our personal favorite is peach ice cream, the favorite flavor of our childhood that has fallen out of favor. While some artisan ice cream producers make it, we haven’t seen a pint in our area in decades: We have to make it. And it’s worth it: Here’s a peach ice cream recipe.

But first up, in our featured peach recipes, is a delicious appetizer, side dish or snack with wine from Eat Wisconsin Cheese.

RECIPE: GRILLED TOMATOES & PEACHES WITH FONTINA

You might not think to combine tomatoes with peaches, but they are very complementary—especially when grilled and topped with melted Fontina cheese, as in this recipe.
 
Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 medium peach, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) Fontina cheese, shredded (substitute
    Emmenthal, Gruyère or Provolone)
  • 1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) Parmesan cheese, grated (substitute
    Asiago, Grana Padano or Pecorino Romano)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  •  

    Preparation

    1. HEAT a gas grill to medium, or prepare a charcoal grill for indirect heat.

    2. DRIZZLE the baguette slices with olive oil and grill, until toasted, turning once.

    3. DRIZZLE the tomatoes and peaches with olive oil; toss. Place in well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Cook on grill 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally (but do not over-stir).

    4. ADD the Fontina and Parmesan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Remove from the grill and sprinkle with rosemary and black pepper. Serve immediately with baguette slices and spreading knives.
     
    WHAT IS FONTINA?

    Fontina is a semisoft cow’s milk cheese which has been made since the Middle Ages in Valle d’Aosta, in the Western Alps of northwest Italy. It has PDO status (protected domain of origin), which means that cheese called Fontina can only be made in this area.

    The Italian cheese is mild when young and pungent when aged, when the rind turns an orange-brown color. The texture of PDO Fontina is semi-soft, rich and creamy with eyes (holes). It belongs on a cheese plate, and is an excellent melting cheese.

    In the U.S., the cheese called Fontina is typically sold on the younger side, when it has a buttery, nutty taste. Danish Fontina is pale yellow with a mild, slightly sweet flavor; it is often used as a sandwich cheese. These differences illustrate the importance of authenticity labels like PDO and AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) is the French version of PDO) if you’re looking for the original experience.

     

    RECIPE: PEACH SHORTCAKES WITH ICE CREAM OR
    WHIPPED CREAM

    You’ve likely had strawberry shortcake, but what about peach shortcake?

    In this recipe is from Annalise of Completely Delicious for Go Bold With Butter, the conventional whipped cream that tops the fruit is replaced with ice cream. Annalise specifies vanilla, but we used peach ice cream.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 25 minutes.
     
    Ingredients For 6 Servings

    For The Biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk, cold
  • 1 large egg + 1 teaspoon water (the egg wash)
  •  
    For The Topping

  • 4 peaches, ripe but firm
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 6 scoops vanilla ice cream
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/ice cream shortcake goboldwbutter 2301

    In this peach shortcake recipe, ice cream replaces the traditional whipped cream. Photo courtesy Go Bold With Butter.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or butter well.

    2. MAKE the biscuits: Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in medium bowl. Add the cold cubed butter and cut it into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks, until butter is size of small peas. Add the buttermilk and mix until the dough begins to come together. Place it on a clean surface and knead a few times to incorporate all of the dry bits. Do not over-handle (it toughens the dough).

    3. PAT the dough to about 1 inch thick. Use a 3- or 4-inch round cookie cutter to cut the dough. Place the rounds on the prepared sheet pan. Brush them with the egg wash and bake until golden, about 15-20 minutes.

    4. PREHEAT a grill to medium low heat. Halve the peaches and remove the pits. Brush with melted butter and place them cut side-down on the grill. Grill 3-4 minutes until the peaches have grill marks and have softened somewhat. Transfer them to a plate and drizzle with maple syrup.

    5. ASSEMBLE: Slice the biscuits in half. Top with ice cream and grilled peaches. Serve immediately.

     
    KNOW YOUR PEACHES

    Check out these peach facts: the history of peaches, types of peaches and more.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Chilled Blueberry Banana Soup

    Our recent article on chilled soup featured a recipe for Chilled Cucumber Yogurt Soup. It’s a great starter.

    But chilled fruit soups are great summer desserts, and they couldn’t be easier to make. Just toss the ingredients into a blender or food processor, whirl, and it’s ready to serve.

    RECIPE: CHILLED BLUEBERRY BANANA SOUP

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2-¼ cups blueberries, divided
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1½ cups ice
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup frozen vanilla yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  •  
    Preparation

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/blueberry banana soup blueberrycouncilorg 230

    Blueberry soup: pretty in purple. Photo courtesy BlueberryCouncil.org.

    1. COMBINE 2 cups of the blueberries, the banana, ice, milk, frozen yogurt, sugar and lemon juice in blender.

    2. PROCESS until smooth. Divide equally into four bowls.

    3. GARNISH with the remaining blueberries and frozen yogurt or ice cream.
     
    Find more delicious blueberry recipes at BlueberryCouncil.org.

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/blueberries plastic carton goodeggs 230sq

    When blueberry prices are low in season, try as many blueberry recipes as you can. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.

     

    ABOUT FRUIT SOUP

    A fruit soup can be made from fresh or dried fruits and served hot or cold. It can be served as a first course or for dessert. It also can be an intermezzo or palate cleanser between fish and meat courses.

    Cold soups tend to be made with seasonal fruit and are thus served in warmer weather. Soups made of dried fruits, such as Norwegian fruktsuppe, made of raisins and prunes, can be served hot or cold in any season.

  • Fruit soups can be cream soups or purées, with or without the addition of fruit juice.
  • They can include alcohol, such as brandy, champagne, Port or wine.
  • Sweet fruit soups can include meat; and in at least one instance, a fruit soup can be completely savory, like the Chinese winter melon soup. Technically, cucumber, which makes a delicious chilled soup, is also a fruit (it’s related to watermelon); but it’s treated as a vegetable in Western cuisine.
  • Fruit soup can be garnished with fresh cheese, such as fromage blanc or mascarpone; with cultured creams such as crème fraîche, sour cream and yogurt; and with ice cream or sorbet.
  • Examples of dessert soups from other cultures include etrog, a citron soup eaten during the Jewish feast of Succoth; ginataan (guinataan), a Filipino soup made from coconut milk, fruits and tapioca; and oshiruko, a Japanese soup made from the adzuki bean (the same bean used to make red bean ice cream).
  •  
    Check out the history of soup and the different types of soup in our Soup Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Black Mission & Green Kadota Figs

    Summer is fresh fig season. If you enjoy dried figs the rest of the year, go out of your way to enjoy them fresh.

    Last month we wrote about how to use fresh figs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But we’ve been reveling in them in the weeks since then, and want to send this reminder to everyone who has not yet jumped onto the fresh fig bandwagon*.

    This week, a trove of Black Mission and Green Kadota figs arrived from California to our produce market. The Green Kadota figs we purchased are even sweeter than the Black Mission figs. Do your own taste test.

    After enjoying them out of hand, focus on these easy, no-cook uses:

  • For breakfast with cereal, cottage cheese, yogurt and pancakes
  • Instead of fig jam, sliced or diced and mixed with honey or agave
  • For lunch in a green salad with bacon, lardons, prosciutto or other ham; or sliced onto a cheese sandwich with Brie, cream cheese or goat cheese on multigrain or raisin bread
  • With a cheese course, with any cheese from mild to strong (our favorite pairing is blue cheese)
  • For an hors d’oeuvre, spread blue cheese on fig halves
  • For dinner make compound butter (use it on bread, for cooking or toss with pasta or rice)
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/fresh and dry figs californiafigs 230

    Fresh Green Kadota and Black Mission figs, shown with their dried versions. Photo courtesy California Figs. The website has recipes for everything from fig muffins to fig pizza.

  • For dessert in a fruit salad; or sliced and marinated in liqueur by themselves or as a topping for ice cream, cheesecake and other desserts
  •  
    *To get, jump or leap on the bandwagon is an idiom from the 19th century. It means to become involved in a successful activity so you don’t lose out on the advantages. There are other expressions of the phrase as well. A bandwagon was a festively-decorated wagon that carried a circus band; the band was part of the showy parade through town to generate excitement for the circus. The term first appears in print in P.T. Barnum’s autobiography, published in 1855. Politicians began to “jump on the bandwagon” to be part of the parade, actually renting seats on the wagon to get exposure to the public during the merry occasion.

     

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    Fresh figs are a delicious summer dessert with cheese and a drizzle of honey. Photo courtesy The French Farm.

     

    RECIPE: FRESH FIG COMPOTE

    Compote, the French word for mixture, is a dessert that dates to medieval Europe. It is made of a mixture of whole or sliced fruits, cooked in water with sugar and spices (cinnamon, clove, lemon or orange peel, vanilla). It can be further blended with grated coconut, ground almonds, or dried or candied fruits.

    Our Nana grew up on compote, and we loved it too. There was always a compote when we visited, served warm (with ice cream or whipped cream) in cooler months and cold in the summer.

    In medieval England compote was served as part of the last course of a feast; during the Renaissance it was served chilled at the end of dinner. Any fresh fruit could be used. Nana’s family recipe included rhubarb, sour cherry, apricot, nectarine and plum in the summer; apples, pears, quince, dried apricots, figs, raisins and walnuts in the fruit-challenged winter months.

    Use the compote as a bread spread and a condiment with sweet or savory foods, in yogurt, with cheese, cheesecake, etc.

    Ingredients For 2/3 Cup

    If the figs are very sweet, you may need only a small amount of sweetener.

  • 1 pound fresh figs†, cleaned and trimmed as needed
  • 1 to 6 tablespoons sugar or honey (or half as much agave)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Optional: dried fruits or other fruits, Grand Marnier or other alcohol
  •  
    †Figs do not ripen off the tree, so buy fruit that is soft to the touch. The skin around stem should have begun to twist and wrinkle.
     
    Preparation

    1. CUT the figs into quarters or smaller pieces as desired. Place the figs, sweetener, water and cinnamon in a small saucepan over low heat.

    2. COOK for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding the alcohol near the end (or if using dried fruits in the recipe, you can pre-soak them in the alcohol). To turn into a smooth sauce instead of a chunky dessert or topping…

    3. PULSE, using an immersion blender or food processor, until the desired consistency is reached. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

    TO DEGLAZE A PAN

    Here’s how to deglaze a pan to make a sauce. Include a tablespoon of fig compote (you can also use fig jam).

    To make a sauce without pan juices (terrific with roast duck or pork):

    1. HEAT 1 cup of red wine in a saucepan, and simmer to reduce it by half. Add 1/2 cup of fig compote and a half teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.

    2. BRING to a simmer again, stirring for a few minutes to blend the ingredients. Remove from the heat and finish with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Add a scant tablespoon of butter to smooth out the sauce.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fresh Peach Bellini Cocktails

    We were inspired by this photo from Audra, The Baker Chick, to look for the ripest peaches—or plan ahead and ripen our own—for fresh peach Bellinis. In the off-season, you can buy frozen peach purée or (surprise!) baby food puréed peaches.

    You can make the peach purée a day or two in advance of your brunch or cocktail party. Well-chilled purée from the fridge is ideal.

    RECIPE: FRESH PEACH BELLINI COCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drinks

  • 2 ripe peaches
  • Chilled Prosecco (substitute Cava or other sparkler)
  • Lemon wedge
  • Optional garnish: peach wedge
  •  
    Preparation

    Plan on two peaches for the cocktail. Cut a wedge from one peach, unpeeled, for the garnish. Peel and purée the remainder of the two peaches. The riper the peaches, the better they are for the purée; but you need a ripe-but-firm peach to slice and notch for the garnish.

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/fresh peach bellini thebakerchick 230

    A Bellini made with fresh summer peaches. Photo courtesy TheBakerChick.com.

     
    1. POUR 2 ounces of the purée into a flute, tulip or other stemmed glass. Increase the amount of purée for a sweeter and less alcoholic drink.

    2. ADD a squeeze of fresh lemon.

    3. TOP with chilled Prosecco. You don’t need to stir, but if you want to, do it just once, very gently, so you don’t break the bubbles.

    4. GARNISH with a peach wedge.
     
    Audra, The Baker Chick, makes a more complex recipe, combining the peach purée with homemade vanilla bean syrup for a strong vanilla flavor. Here’s her recipe.

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/mionetto prosecco treviso bottle 230b

    Prosecco’s traditional bottle shape.
    Photo courtesy Mionetto Prosecco.

     

    THE HISTORY OF THE BELLINI COCKTAIL

    While many people use Champagne to make a Bellini, the original recipe, created in 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, head bartender at Harry’s Bar in Venice, is made with Prosecco. The dry, sparkling Italian wine is lighter than Champagne—and much less expensive.

    Even if money isn’t an issue, save the Champagne and its complex, yeasty, toasty and mineral-chalky flavors, for sipping straight.

    The peachy color of the cocktail reminded Cipriani of the color of the robe of St. Francis of Assisi in a painting, “St. Francis In The Desert” (sometimes called “St. Francis In Ecstasy”) by Giovanni Bellini, commissioned in 1525. Cipriani named the drink in Bellini’s honor. If you’re a Bellini lover and in New York City, the painting is in the collection of the Frick Museum.

    Some sources report that the original Bellini was made with white peach purée. White peaches were plentiful in the area and were often marinated in wine as a dessert.

    If you can’t find white peaches, don’t worry. When mixed with the Prosecco, the flavor difference between white and yellow peaches is indistinguishable. And yellow peaches provide more of the color for which the drink was named.

     
    ABOUT PROSECCO

    Prosecco is the quintessential summer sparkler: light-bodied for hot weather drinking and sufficiently affordable—most bottles are $10 to $12—to enjoy regularly.

    Hailing from the Veneto region of northeast Italy, Prosecco is the name of the village where the Prosecco grape—now known as the Glera grape—originated. Other local white grape varieties, such as Bianchetta Trevigiana, can be included in the blend.

    The wine can be frizzante—just slightly fizzy, sometimes bottled with a regular cork to be opened with a corkscrew—or spumante—very fizzy, bottled with the mushroom-shap cork and wire cage* used on Champagne bottles.

    The wine is often labeled Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene, after its appellation.
     
    *Dom Perignon created an early version of wire caging on the cork. Manyt of bottles were lost during production because the cork on the bottle was unable to withstand the pressure of the effervescent Champagne. The added strength. In 1844, Adolphe Jacqueson made the cage (called a muselet in French) in the shape we know today. Here’s a further discussion.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: “Kaleidoscope” Summer Fruit Salad

    Our mom, who could supreme a citrus fruit fast enough to qualify for the Cooking Olympics, made a huge bowl of fresh fruit salad for us to snack on over summer weekends. It was a healthier alternative, but still had eye- and palate appeal for kids.

    Winter fruit salad colors were a mix of pink grapefruit, oranges and pineapple, green and red grapes. There were splashes of white from diced apples and pears.

    When summer arrived, with vividly colored fruits galore, Mom switched from the winter lineup to what she called “Kaleidoscope Fruit Salad,” after the device we played with as kids (if you’ve never seen one, here’s an online kaleidoscope).

    So today’s tip is: Make a Kaleidoscope Fruit Salad. Or if you prefer:

  • Make rainbow fruit kabobs, following the color of the rainbow, as in the photo below.
  • Serve a plate of bright-colored, sliced fruits with a bright colored dip (see the recipe for Blueberry Dip below).
  •  
    Or, turn the fruit salad into:

  • Breakfast, with yogurt or cottage cheese.
  •    

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/fruit salad mccormick close 230

    You can get much more colorful than this: Add blueberries and/or blackberries, for starters. Photo courtesy McCormick.

  • A luncheon salad or first course, placing the fruits on a bed of greens and topping them with crumbled cheese: blue, chèvre or feta.
  • Dessert, with a scoop of sorbet, flavored yogurt or cinnamon-accented sour cream. You can also marinate the fruit salad with a tablespoon or two of orange liqueur.
  •  
    You can do the same with a multicolored vegetable salad.

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/rainbow fruit kabobs dishmaps 230

    Make “rainbow” fruit kabobs. Photo courtesy Dishmaps.com.

     

    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY DIP FOR FRESH FRUIT

    This recipe, from the Highbush Blueberry Council, produces the most beautiful heliotrope-colored dip (a medium purple).

    Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • 1/3 cup light cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE 2 cups of the blueberries, the cream cheese and the preserves in the container of a food processor or blender. Whirl until smooth.

    2. TRANSFER to a serving bowl; cover and refrigerate until serving.

     
    THE COLOR WHEEL OF SUMMER* FRUITS

  • Brown fruits: dates, figs
  • Green fruits: apples, avocado, figs, grapes, gooseberries, honeydew, kiwi, plums
  • Orange fruits: apricot, cantaloupe/crenshaw melons, gooseberries, kumquats, mango, oranges, mandarins, papaya
  • Purple fruits: blackberries, blueberries, figs, grapes
  • Red and pink fruits: apples, blood orange, cherries, currants (also called “champagne grapes”), dragonfruit, gooseberries, grapes, guava, plums, pomegranate arils,raspberries, strawberries, watermelon
  • Yellow fruits: apples, carambola/starfruit, cherries (Queen Anne, Rainier), figs, golden kiwi, golden raspberries, goosberries, jackfruit, lemon, nectarines, peaches, plums
  • White and beige fruits: apple, Asian pear, banana, cherimoya, coconut, lychee, pear, rambutan, white peaches
  •  
    Go forth and make edible kaleidoscopes and rainbows.
     
    *The “summer fruits” list also includes fruits that are available year-round. If a peel of a different color is left on the fruit, we’ve double-counted it in both color groups (e.g., green apples with white flesh).
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Watermelon Pizza

    How about a watermelon pizza for National Watermelon Day, August 3rd? Here are two snack or dessert recipes, and they couldn’t be easier.

    The first is from the National Watermelon Promotion Board, Watermelon.org.

    RECIPE: WATERMELON PIZZA

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 watermelon round, from a watermelon 8 to 10 inches in
    diameter, sliced 1 inch thick
  • 1 cup strawberry preserves
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  •    

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/watermelon pizza watermelon.org 230

    Pizza for dessert! Photo courtesy National Watermelon Promotion Board.

     
    Preparation

    1. DRAIN the watermelon round on paper towels to remove the excess moisture. Place on a serving platter and cut into 6 wedges, leaving them in the shape of a pizza.

    2. SPREAD the preserves (the “sauce” on top and sprinkle the toppings over the preserves. It’s ready to serve!

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/watermelon pizza zespriFB 230

    Easiest watermelon pizza: Just add sliced kiwi! Photo courtesy Zespri | Facebook.

     

    RECIPE: WATERMELON KIWI PIZZA

    The second watermelon pizza couldn’t be easier. If you like, you can add on additional fruits—whatever you have on hand, from stone fruit slices (peaches, nectarines, plums, etc.) to orange segments.

    Without the chocolate chips, coconut, raisins and walnuts, it qualifies as a “diet dessert.”

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 watermelon round, from a watermelon 8 to 10 inches in
    diameter, sliced 1 inch thick
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • Optional: other sliced fruits, as desired
  • Optional garnish: shredded coconut “cheese”
  •  
    Preparation

    1. DRAIN the watermelon round on paper towels to remove the excess moisture. Place on a serving platter and cut into 6 wedges, leaving them in the shape of a pizza.

    2. PEEL and slice the kiwi. Place on slice on each watermelon wedge. Sprinkle with optional coconut.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Fruit Salad With Shrimp

    We really like this idea from RA Sushi: A shrimp salad with watermelon cubes, kiwi slices, tangerine segments, baby arugula leaves and microgreens (you can substitute sprouts or herbs).

    RA Sushi serves it as an entrée, with a Watermelon Margarita to wash it down (the Margarita recipe is below). The fruit salad dressing recipes below are theirs.

    The natural juices from the fruits provide the “dressing,” but you can create a citrus vinaigrette, a honey vinaigrette, or simply toss with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and fresh lime juice (with salt and pepper to taste).

    Grilling the shrimp adds another flavor dimension, but boiled shrimp work as well. You can substitute crab, lobster, scallops, seared/grilled fish cubes or for vegetarians, grilled tofu.

    The fruit salad has a counterpoint of spicy greens (baby arugula, for example), but you can also add a base of lettuce if you’d like more roughage, and you can add heat as well. Use the recipe template below to customize your ideal salad. Aim to use three different fruits of varying colors, to add interest to the dish. Tropical fruits work very well with seafood.

    RECIPE: FRUIT SALAD WITH SHRIMP

    Customize your recipe by choosing from these groups:

       

    shrimp-fruit-salad-RASushi-230

    Shrimp and fruit salad. Photo courtesy RA Sushi Restaurant.

  • Fruits: banana, clementine/tangerine/orange, grapes, guava, kiwi, lychee, mango, papaya, pineapple, star fruit (caramboli)
  • Spicy greens: baby arugula or watercress
  • Other vegetables: herbs, lettuces, red jalapeño, red bell pepper
  • Optional garnish(es): pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds, toasted coconut, trail mix
  • Dressing: Citrus vinaigrette, honey vinaigrette or EVOO and lime juice
  •  
    RECIPE: CITRUS VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients For 1-1/3 Cups

  • 1-1/2 cups fresh blood orange juice or half regular orange juice, half lime juice
  • 1 shallot, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest from blood oranges
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt or sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING the citrus juice to a boil in a medium saucepan. Lower the heat to a simmer and reduce to 1/3 cup.

    2. COMBINE the reduced citrus juice, vinegar, shallot, thyme and zest in a medium bowl. Slowly drizzle the oil into the mixture while whisking until the emulsion is combined and thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until needed.
     
    RECIPE: HONEY-LIME VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients For 1-1/3 Cups

  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper or cayenne pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the lime juice and honey in a blender and mix. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

    2. SEASON as desired.

     

    watermelon.org-margarita-230

    Watermelon Margaritas. Photo courtesy National Watermelon Promotion Board.

     

    RECIPE: WATERMELON MARGARITA

    Ingredients For 2 Large Cocktails

  • 2 cups (16 ounces) cubed, seeded watermelon
  • 6 ounces tequila
  • 3 ounces triple sec or other orange liqueur (Cointreau, GranGala, Grand Marnier, etc.)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Kosher salt or coarse sea salt for the glass rims
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: watermelon spear, lime wheel or both
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE the watermelon in a blender. Add the tequila, triple sec and the juice of 1/2 lime.

     
    2. PLACE the salt on a plate. DIP the rims of the glasses into 1/4 inch of water in a shallow bowl, then twist the into the salt. Add ice, pour in the drink and serve.
     
    FOR TWO FROZEN MARGARITAS

    1. PURÉE 1-1/2 cups cubed, seeded watermelon in a blender.

    2. ADD 1 cup tequila, 1/2 cup orange liqueur and 1/2 cup fresh lime juice , plus 3 cups of ice. Blend until desired consistency is reached.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cook With Fresh Blueberries

    August is National Blueberry Month. The harvest is full, the prices are at the year’s low, and any food lover should relish the opportunity to eat lots of them.

    And cook with them. Beyond the all-American blueberry pie, you can make:

  • Baked treats: cheesecakes, cobblers, crumbles, fruit tarts, muffins, scone
  • Beverages: cocktails, lemonade, smoothies
  • Breakfasts: in cereal, muffins, pancakes, omelets, scones, yogurt and waffles
  • Frozen desserts: ice cream and sorbet
  • Salads: fruit salads and green salads
  • Soup: in chilled fruit soup, all blueberries or mixed berries
  •  
    We’ll focus on some of those tomorrow. Today, we’re starting with dessert; specifically, blueberry ice cream and blueberry pound cake. Both are easy to make, and won’t keep you in the kitchen for too long.

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/blueberry ginger ice cream driscolls 230

    Blueberry ice cream. Photo and recipe courtesy Driscoll’s berries.

     
    HOW TO BUY FRESH BLUEBERRIES

    Fresh blueberries should be firm and dry (no leakage or juice stains on the bottom of the container), with a smooth skin covered with a silvery white bloom. The color should be deep purple-blue to blue-black. Reddish blueberries aren’t ripe and won’t ripen once they are picked, but you can use them when cooking with added sugar.

    Refrigerate fresh blueberries, either in their original plastic pack or in a covered bowl or container. Before using, wash the berries, removing any stems, leaves and smashed fruit, plus berries that look soft, shriveled or dots of white mold.
     
    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY ICE CREAM

    Ingredients For 1 Quart

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the blueberries, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Mash the softened blueberries and stir with a fork. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

    2. PURÉE the berry mixture and milk in a blender or food processor. When smooth, stir in the cream. Press the purée through a sieve into a bowl. Press on the solids with back of a spoon to extract the remaining juices.

    3. COVER and chill the mixture at least 2 hours, or until cold. You can make the recipe up to this step, up to 1 day in advance.

    4. PROCESS the cold mixture in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer it to an airtight container and place in the freezer to harden.

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/blueberry pound cake qvc 230

    Fresh blueberry pound cake with blueberry sauce. You’ll notice how much firmer and tastier fresh berries are, compared to baking with frozen berries. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY POUND CAKE

    This easy recipe is from QVC’s chef David Venable. David tip: “Be sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature before beginning. And, only use fresh blueberries in the sauce; it will have a better consistency.”

    The recipe is easy because David uses a pound cake mix. We made our own pound cake recipe from scratch, adding just the cup of blueberries and the sour cream from the cake ingredients below.

    Ingredients For 6-8 Servings

    Ingredients For The Cake

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 box pound cake mix or your own pound cake recipe
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 1/8 cup + 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • Zest of a half lemon (zest the whole lemon; the rest goes into
    the sauce)
  •  
    Ingredients For The Blueberry Sauce

  • 3 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Zest of half a lemon
  •  
    Garnish

  • Optional: whipped cream or vanilla or blueberry ice cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a loaf pan. Set aside.

    2. PREPARE the cake: Toss the blueberries with flour in a bowl. Set aside.

    3. PLACE the remaining ingredients in a food processor and process for 3 minutes. Scrape the sides and process for 3 more minutes. Stir in the flour-coated blueberries with a spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45–55 minutes.

    4. MAKE the sauce: Place all the ingredients into a food processor and process for 4–6 minutes. Drizzle the sauce on top of the sliced pound cake. Top with whipped cream and serve; or make it a la mode with a scoop of ice cream.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Serve Fresh Figs

    figs-blue-cheese-230b-r

    It doesn’t get simpler than this: halved ripe
    cheese topped with a bit of blue cheese or
    chèvre. Photo courtesy Castello USA.

     

    We were surprised not too long ago when a friend mentioned she liked figs, but had only eaten figs in their dried form. Why, we asked, since they are easily available?

    “I didn’t know what to do with them,” she replied.

    Today’s first tip: Never let unfamiliarity stop you from trying a new food. Buy it, bring it home, look it up.

    A sweet, soft and moist tree-ripened fig is luscious, eaten plain, with cheese or yogurt, or in many recipes. Just as with, say, fresh versus dried mango, it’s a completely different experience.

    And the season is now: In the U.S., figs have two seasons: a short season in early summer and a main crop that starts in late summer and runs through fall.

    Fresh figs are fragile and don’t travel well: The think skins easily split and the flesh can bruise. This makes fresh figs even more of a treat, worth seeking out.

    THE HISTORY OF FIGS

    Man has been cultivating figs for more than 11,400 years. It is now believed to be the first food cultivated by man, in the Near East* some 11,400 years ago. This is roughly 1,000 years before the other “earliest crops,” barley, legumes and wheat were domesticated in the region. [Source]

     
    Domestication of crops was a tipping point in the evolution of human thinking after 2.5 million years as nomadic hunter-gatherers: the decision to settle down and grow their own food rather than relying on finding food that was growing wild.
     
    *According to National Geographic, the terms Near East and Middle East are synonymous. Afghanistan, Armenia, Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the West Bank, and Yemen are included in the definition. According to Wikipedia, different bodies—Encyclopedia Britannica and the United Nations, for example—may exclude some countries and add others. [Source]
     
    Figs Today

    The fig is a member of the Moraceae binomial family, sometimes called the fig family. It’s the family member that’s most familiar to us: Other members include the banyan, breadfruit, mulberry and Osage orange (which not an orange).

    There are almost 200 cultivars of figs, in a wide range of shapes, colors and textures. While most of think of figs as having skins that are brown, green, red or purple, take a look at the lovely yellow Tiger Stripe Fig.

    Figs are now grown in warm, dry and sunny climates in around the globe (fig trees can’t tolerate temperatures below 20°F).

    The top 10 fig producing countries are, by crop size, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Iran, Syria, United States, Brazil, Albania and Tunisia.

     

    HOW TO ENJOY FRESH FIGS

    Since figs are sweet, we think of them in the context of desserts or sweet snacks. But sweetness is also an excellent counterpoint to bitter, salty and spicy/hot foods.

    Eat up: Figs are among the richest plant sources of calcium and fiber. They are rich in calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins B6 and K, and are a good source of flavonoids and polyphenols (antioxidants). They are sodium-free and cholesterol/fat-free.

    Don’t peel the figs. Enjoy them with breakfast cereal, yogurt or cottage cheese; sliced on sandwiches with fresh or aged cheese; chopped and added to rice; stuffed with cream cheese or goat cheese as an hors d’oeuvre; or raw or grilled as a side dish, cut in half and served with grilled meat or poultry.

    Figs For Breakfast

  • With yogurt or cottage cheese.
  • With pancakes, instead of berries.
  • On cereal, hot or cold.
  • Sliced as an omelet filling, with cream cheese or goat cheese.
  • In muffins and breakfast pastries.
  •  

    fig-fondue-californiafigs-230

    Fresh figs with a sweet mascarpone dip; figs dipped into chocolate fondue. Photo courtesy California Figs.

     
    Figs For Lunch

  • On panini with fig jam (recipe—add sliced figs atop the jam; use orange marmalade if you don’t have fig jam).
  • Cheese Soufflé With Figs (here’s a recipe with blue cheese but you can substitute fresh goat cheese).
  •  
    Figs In Appetizers, Hors D’oeuvre And Salads

  • Bacon or prosciutto-wrapped figs.
  • Brie & Fig Torte (recipe).
  • Endive Salad With Figs (recipe).
  • Figs In Prosciutto Bundles (recipe).
  • Fig & Radicchio Salad (recipe.)
  •  

    Cocktails With Figs

  • Fig & Maple Fizz (recipe).
  • Give A Fig Cocktail (recipe).
  • Fig-infused vodka (Fig Infused Vodka).
  •  
     
    Dinner Courses With Figs

  • Honey Balsamic Fig-Glazed Ham (recipe).
  • Bison With Fig Balsamic Reduction (recipe).
  • Pork Loin With Fig & Port Sauce (recipe).
  •  

    Desserts With Figs

  • Bonbons dipped in chocolate (like these from John & Kira’s).
  • Cheese plate with fresh figs.
  • Compote.
  • Fig Flower With Honey Goat Cheese (recipe).
  • Fig Fondue, quartered and dipped into your favorite chocolate or white chocolate fondue recipe.
  • Ice cream—we love this recipe from Charlie Trotter, but you can simply dice the figs, marinate them in brandy or Grand Marnier, and add them to softened vanilla ice cream before returning to the freezer. It’s a riff on rum raisin.
  • Roast Figs With Honey & Hazelnuts (recipe).
  •  
    TOO MANY FIGS?

    If you have too many ripe figs, you can place them on paper towels, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate them for a few days. Or, place them in a freezer bag and freeze for up to six months.

    Or, purée the ripe figs and use the purée in cocktails (mixed with white spirits, for example), smoothies, or as a topper for ice cream or sorbet (add sweetener as necessary).
     
    Hungry yet?

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit In A Green Salad

    Enjoy the summer’s fruit bounty straight, in fruit salads, yogurt, pies, ice cream, smoothies and … green salad.

    Strawberries or watermelon salad plus greens and feta or goat cheese are time-honored additions to a green salad.

    But you can create your own recipe. For a July 4th salad, how about a red, white and blue green salad with raspberries, blueberries and diced applies? Instead of the apples, use feta or goat cheese for the white component.

    The salad in the photo, from Souplantation, combines:

  • Romaine
  • Red leaf lettuce
  • Red onion
  • Caramelized walnuts
  • Raisins (you can substitute dried cherries or cranberries)
  • Sliced strawberries
  •  
    You can use a conventional vinaigrette recipe or a berry vinaigrette, adding a tablespoon of puréed berries to the recipe.

     

    strawberry-fields-salad-souplantation-230r

    Strawberry Fields forever? Well, for about 15 minutes until you’ve finished the salad. Photo courtesy Souplantation.

     
    For a creamy dressing, add a tablespoon of sour cream or Greek yogurt and combine in a blender.

      

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