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Archive for Fruits & Nuts

RECIPE: Apricot Cilantro Salsa

Seasonal apricot salsa brightens grilled
chicken or fish. Photo courtesy Landana


Salsa is simply the generic word for “sauce.” Many centuries before tortilla chips were invented, Aztecs and other Mesoamericans ground ingredients into sauces for meat and fish.

This salsa recipe was developed as a sauce for chicken or fish, as opposed to a dip for tortilla chips. It comes from Landana Cheese, a Dutch producer specializing in Gouda-style cheeses—hence the unusual addition of cheese. You can omit the cheese, and the salsa is just as good.



  • 5.3 ounces (150g) Gouda-style cheese, shaved (Landana used their 1000 Days aged Gouda)
  • 8 ripe apricots, halved and pitted
  • 6 cilantro sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika


    1. CUT the apricots into a small dice. Remove the leaves of cilantro from the stems and mince them. Juice the lime and grate the zest.

    2. COMBINE the apricots, cilantro, lime juice and zest and paprika and allow the flavors to blend for a half hour or longer. Shave flakes from the cheese and divide them over appetizer spoons or appetizer dishes. Then divide the apricot-coriander salsa over the cheese.



    Fresh, ripe, California apricots are have a short peak season, and that season is now.

    Some 95% of the apricots grown in the U.S. come from California. More than 400 growers produce apricots from 21,000 acres of orchards in the San Joaquin Valley in central California, and in the northern part around San Francisco.

    Numerous apricot varieties grow in California, each with special characteristics. The most prevalent varieties are the Blenheims, Castlebrites, Pattersons and Tiltons. Growers continually experiment with new varieties that deliver sweeter, juicier flavor and/or process or ship with more longevity. Fruits are bred to do better in specific soils and microclimates.

    Apricots originated China. Cuttings were brought by caravan across the Persian Empire and planted in the Mediterranean, where they flourished.

    Spanish explorers get credit for introducing the apricot to the New World, and specifically to California, where they were planted in the gardens of Spanish missions. The first major production of apricots was recorded in 1792, in an area south of San Francisco.



    Organic apricots from Northern California’s Frog Hollow Farm.



    If you end up with a wealth of apricots, they can be frozen in sugar syrup, to be defrosted and enjoyed in the cold months when you need a bit of sunshine.

    1. COMBINE 2 cups sugar and 5 cups water. Add 2 ounces ascorbic acid for each 2-1/2 cups syrup.

    2. PLUNGE cleaned whole apricots into boiling water for about thirty seconds. Then peel, pit and halve or slice; place in the sugar syrup and freeze.

    3. DEFROST slowly in the fridge (the best way to retain flavor when defrosting just about anything).



    TIP OF THE DAY: Stone Fruit Salad

    “Everybody must get stoned!” sang Bob Dylan in Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.

    Someone, whip him up a stone fruit salad!

    1. MIX together your favorite greens. We like to add something peppery as a counterpoint to the sweet fruit, such as baby arugula, daikon/radish and/or watercress. We also like to add crunch, in the form of celery, jicama or water chestnuts (the radish does double duty with pepperiness and crunch).

    2. TOSS the salad with a light vinaigrette. Try this champagne vinaigrette, or a traditional balsamic vinaigrette, both of which add a bit of sweetness. You can also add a tablespoon of orange juice to a regular vinaigrette.

    3. LAYER with sliced stone fruits—either a single fruit or an assortment. You can leave on the skin.

    4. SERVE as a side salad or as a main salad with the addition of goat cheese (or other favorite cheese), chicken breast or other protein.

    It’s stone fruit season. Dig in!



    A stone fruit salad with nectarines and peaches. Photo courtesy



    Stone fruits are members of the Prunus genus, and include apricots, cherries, nectarines, olives, peaches, plums, and cherries and cross-breeds such as apriums, plumcots and pluots.

    A stone fruit, also called a drupe, is a fruit with a large, hard stone (pit) inside a fleshy fruit. The stone is often thought of as the the seed, but the seed is actually inside the stone.

    In fact, almonds, pecans and walnuts are examples of the seeds inside the stones. They’re also drupes, but a type in which we eat the seed inside the pit instead of the surrounding fruit.

    Drupes are members of the Rosaceae family—the rose family—which includes shrubs as well as other prominent fruits (in other genuses) such as apples, loquats, pears, quinces and strawberries.

    Not all drupes are stone fruits. The coconut is also a drupe, as are bramble fruits such as blackberries and raspberries. June through September is prime stone fruit season in the U.S.



    Nectarines, bursting with flavor, ready for a
    salad. Photo courtesy The Fruit Company.



    Chef Johnny Gnall says:

    “I like to eat stone fruit raw whenever possible. But grilled stone fruit is also delicious; peaches and nectarines are exquisite.” His advice:

  • To grill, halve, pit and cook the fruits just long enough to mark them. The sweetness comes out with the heat and the earthy char in the markings complements them.
  • Another great way to take advantage of stone fruits is to purée them and turn them into emulsified vinaigrettes. Purée the fruit with a bit of hot water, just enough to get things spinning smoothly. Then add the acid and seasonings, and finish with oil as you would a conventional vinaigrette.
  • Bright flavors from a dressing like this work for salads and also as meat marinades: Think pork chops!
  • Here’s a stone fruit salsa recipe.

    Don’t forget a regular fruit salad, ice cream, smoothies and sorbet!



    TIP OF THE DAY: Fresh Apricots


    For a light lunch or a dinner first course:
    chicken and rice salad with apricots. Photo
    courtesy Rice Select.


    It’s apricot season! Full of beta-carotene, vitamin C and fiber, fresh apricots are one of the early signs of summer. They’re in season in the U.S. from May through August. Check your local farmers markets for the sweetest, tree-ripened fruits.

    Relatives of peaches, apricots are small, golden orange fruits, with velvety skin and flesh. A good apricot is sweet with a flavor that is described as somewhere between a peach and a plum.


    Apricots are an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, copper, dietary fiber, and potassium, as well as other vitamins and minerals.

    The fruit’s phytochemicals (carotenoids, powerful antioxidants, including lycopene) help to prevent heart disease, reduce LDL (“bad cholesterol”) levels and offer protection against some cancers



  • As a hand fruit, for snacking.
  • Slice atop hot or cold cereal or granola.
  • Chop into pancake batter.
  • Add to a green salad or cooked grains (barley, couscous, quinoa, etc.).
  • Churn into ice cream or sorbet.
  • Make into a dessert sauce.
  • Soak in wine and cook with duck or pork.
  • Make jam.
    Dried apricots are available year-round, and are handy to:

  • Give a Middle Eastern flavor to chicken or vegetable stews.
  • Dip in chocolate.
  • Add to oatmeal cookies, white chocolate chip cookies, bar cookies, muffins, scones, breads and pastry.
  • Chop and added to stuffing.
    Apricots are also distilled into brandy and liqueur. Essential oil from the pits is sold commercially as bitter almond oil.
    Try this Chicken Apricot Rice Salad from You can make it with fresh or dried apricots (or a combination of both, for varying tastes and textures). Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 25 minutes.


    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • ½ cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • 6 cups cooked Texmati Light Brown Rice*, prepared with
    low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked
    and shredded
  • 1 cup chopped fresh or dried apricots
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • Lettuce leaves
    *Texmati Light Brown Rice, from Rice Select, is the quicker-cooking alternative to traditional brown rice. It cooks like white rice, yet tastes like brown rice and appeals to the nutrition-conscious consumer. You can substitute white rice or wild rice, or use another grain (barley, couscous, quinoa, etc.).



    Fresh apricots are a fleeting summer treat. Photo courtesy Washington State Fruit Commission.



    1. WHISK together lime juice, oil, honey and ginger in small bowl; set aside.

    2. COMBINE rice, chicken, apricots, onions and raisins in large bowl. Chill at least 1 hour. Just before serving, drizzle dressing over salad.

    3. COVER individual plates with lettuce leaves and top with salad.


    Like peaches, apricots are originally from China. They arrived in Europe via Armenia*, where they have been cultivated since ancient times. Their botanical name is Prunus armenaica. (The Prunus genus of trees and shrubs includes the stone fruits: apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches and plums, plus almonds.) The Greeks called apricots “golden eggs of the sun.”

    The first American apricot tree arrived in Virginia in 1720, but it was thanks to the Spanish missions of California that the crop became widely planted, beginning around 1792. The sunny California climate is perfectly suited to the tree, and most tree-ripened apricots sold in the U.S. come from California orchards. Turkey, Italy, Russia, Spain, Greece and France are other leading growers.

    *Armenia is a mountainous country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia. It is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, Azerbaijan and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to the east, and Iran to the south.



    FOOD FUN: A New Kind Of Fruit Cake

    Here’s a new take on fruit cake: a “layer cake” that’s made 100% from fresh fruit!

    It’s the creation of Jessica from Pen N’ Paperflowers Studio & Design.

    She made it as a birthday cake for a gluten-free friend. But we think it’s a dazzler for any occasion.

    Want to make one of your own?

    Here’s how Jessica made the “cake,” with step-by-step photos.



    Photo courtesy Pen N’ Paperflowers Studio & Design.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Melon With Herbs


    Melon balls with tarragon. Photo courtesy
    American Diabetes Association.


    Today’s tip comes from Good Eggs, purveyors of the freshest local produce and other foods, with stores and delivery in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, New Orleans and San Francisco.


    Tossing any variety of sweet melon with chopped herbs adds a flavor twist to the ordinary, say the folks at Good Eggs. Their suggestions:

  • Cantaloupe with lemon verbena
  • Honeydew with basil
  • Watermelon with dill
    We’d also suggest mint or tarragon with any melon.

    If you like heat, try a sprinkle of red chile flakes.



    Here are two NIBBLE tricks:

    If you get a melon that isn’t sweet, simply toss it with a light sprinkle of plus sugar or non-caloric sweetener.

    If the melon is too hard, cut it into cubes and store it in an airtight container. In a day or two, you may find that the texture has gotten a bit softer.


    1. PRESS the stem end; it should give slightly to the touch. But don’t let the stem end get soft; the melon will be over-ripe.

    2. SNIFF the stem end for slight aroma. An unripe melon has no aroma.

    3. CHECK the natural netting on the rind. It should have a yellow-orange hue, not green.



    The rind of a honeydew is much thicker than a cantaloupe, so the “press” trick doesn’t work.

    1. SNIFF for a sweet aroma.

    2. CHECK the rind for a golden color. Brown freckling on the rind is also an indication of a ripe honeydew. It actually can become sticky from the seepage of the natural sugars.

    Watermelon doesn’t ripen further once it has been picked. Instead, when buying a whole watermelon:

    1. TURN it over. The underside should have a creamy yellowish spot, not a greenish-white one. This is where it had contact with the ground as it ripened in the sun.

    2. COMPARE melons of the same size. Choose the heavier melon.



    Kalyn’s Kitchen flavored a fruit salad with fresh dill. Photo courtesy




    TIP OF THE DAY: Save Those Orange Peels


    Don’t toss the peel! Photo courtesy


    Some people prefer a banana, others an apple. Our go-to hand fruit is a bright, juicy orange. We eat enough of them to engender the question of how to repurpose the peel.

    Beyond zesting and making candied orange peel, we published a piece on what to do with leftover orange peels around the house.

    But with the arrival of warmer weather this spring, another use emerged. We found ourselves brewing lots of iced tea. One day, we were drinking a glass while peeling an orange.

    And then, like the apocryphal story of the boy with the chocolate running into the boy with peanut butter (voilà: peanut butter cups), we put the two together.

  • Brewing iced tea? Add the peels to steep with the hot water and tea. Result: a subtle orange flavor and aroma.
  • Drinking ready-made iced tea? Twist a piece of peel to release the oils and drop it into the glass. You can do the same with plain or sparkling water or a soft drink.
  • Not drinking anything at the moment? Freeze the peels until you need them.

    And of course, you can do the same with a cup of hot tea.

    Banana fans: Here’s what you can do with leftover banana peels.



    RECIPE: Grilled Cake & Fruit Kabobs

    A fun, and light, dessert. Photo courtesy


    If you’ve already got the grill fired, here’s an easy dessert courtesy of Yoplait: grilled angel food cake. Instead of a calorie-heavy sauce like caramel or chocolate, it uses fruit yogurt as a dip for the light and airy cake, along with tasty pieces of fruit.

    You can use pound cake or sponge cake instead of angel food cake. When peaches come into season, use peach slices; otherwise, double up on the strawberries or substitute another favorite fruit (banana chunks, blackberries, etc.).

    Prep time is 20 minutes.


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 cup angel food cake, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup whole strawberries
  • 1 cup peach slices
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 container Yoplait Light white chocolate
    strawberry yogurt (or flavor of choice)
  • Preparation

    1. HEAT gas or charcoal grill. Arrange cake cubes, strawberries and peach slices alternately on eight 6-inch skewers.

    2. MIX sugar and cinnamon in small bowl; sprinkle over kabobs.

    3. PLACE kabobs on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook kabobs about 2 minutes, turning once, until golden brown. Serve with yogurt dip.


    Kebab, variously spelled kebob, kebap, kabab or kabob (transliterated from the original Arabic), is a dish consisting of pieces of meat, fish and/or vegetables roasted or grilled on a skewer or spit. In the Middle East, however, kebab refers specifically to meat that is cooked over the flames.

    The traditional meat for kebab is lamb, but depending on local tastes, beef, chicken, fish/seafood, goat and pork are skewered and grilled. In America, vegetarian kabobs are also popular, with or without cubes of tofu.

    The dish originated in the Middle East and spread worldwide. The concept is very old: Excavations on the Greek island of Santorini unearthed firedogs—vertical stone slabs that hold the skewers over the fire—that date to before the 17th century B.C.E.

    In America, the term “kebab” has been adopted to describe any food on a skewer.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Sunshine Raspberries


    Double Gold raspberries, sold as Sunshine
    Raspberries by Driscoll’s. Photo courtesy


    Grocers have the same challenge as other retailers: how to catch the eye of consumers with something new, and get them to spend more money.

    Seeking to sell more to grocers, browers are always on the prowl for new produce varieties, with distinctive flavor and a different look from conventional supermarket varieties.

    So today’s tip is: Be on the prowl for what’s new and exciting.

    In the raspberry department, what’s new is Double Gold raspberries. A cross-breeding of conventional red and the newer gold raspberries, Double Golds have a deep blush color, combining hues of both red and yellow into a peach-like effect, and a distinctive conical shape.

    The berries are naturally bred, never genetically modified or subjected to irradiation.

    As befitting their parentage, Double Golds—called Sunshine Raspberries by a major grower and distributor, Driscoll’s—have a unique flavor of their own—different from both the red raspberry and the golden raspberry, but still an obvious member of the family.

    Said Courtney Weber, a Cornell University small fruits breeder and associate professor of horticulture, “If consumers get a taste of these, they will buy them.”


    The variety was released to growers by Cornell, where it was bred, two years ago. The Double Gold plants bear deeply blushed, golden champagne-colored fruit in two crops per season (hence the “double” in the name). New to the retail marketplace, they are being sold under the Driscoll’s label as Sunshine Raspberries.

    The plants have also been sold to u-pick growers, farm stands and home gardeners. You can buy the plants from

    Imagine a bowl of the three different colors of strawberries, sparkling like jewels. Or, top pound cake, angel cake or sorbet.

    It’s a treat for summer entertaining!



    Here’s how they look at the grocer’s. Photo courtesy Fresh Direct.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Cinco De Mayo Strawberries


    Fresh strawberries dressed up for Cinco de
    Mayo. Photo courtesy Harvard Treat


    This Cinco de Mayo treat from Harvard Sweet Boutique inspired today’s tip.

    For snacks or desserts, dip fresh strawberries in melted chocolate and decorate in festive colors: aqua, pink, purple or lavender and yellow, for example.

    Start with this easy recipe for chocolate-dipped fruit.

    Then use decorator icing to pipe squiggles and dots

    You can also tint white chocolate pink with food color, and use colored sanding sugar (recipe).




  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4 egg whites, beaten
  • Food color

    1. SIFT together sugar and cream of tartar.

    2. BEAT in 4 beaten egg whites with an electric mixer. Beat for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape.

    3. DIVIDE the icing and tint with desired food colors.



    TIP OF THE DAY: The Ataulfo Mango (Champagne Mango)


    The Ataulfo, or Champagne, mango. Photo


    When you think of mangoes, you may think of the familiar reddish-green mangos, and wonder about the petite golden yellow ones that some people call baby mangoes.

    They’re Ataulfo mangos from Mexico, also commonly called Champagne mangoes, and they’re in season now.

    Mango lovers prefer them to the more prevalent Tommy Atkins cultivar (the red-green ones in the photo below). Their buttery flesh is not fibrous, and their thin pit makes them easier to slice and dice than other varieties.

    The Ataulfo—it was found in a conventional mango grove owned by Mr. Ataulfo Morales—goes by several other names as well: Adaulfo, Adolfo, baby, honey and yellow mango. It is closely related to the Alphonso variety popular in India.


    Mangoes deliver sumptuous tropical flavor with easy calories.

  • One cup of mango is just 100 calories, fat free, sodium free and cholesterol free.
  • Mangos contain more than 20 different vitamins and minerals. One cup provides 100% DV of vitamin C, 35% of vitamin A, 20% of folate, 12% of fiber and good amounts of B6, copper, K and potassium.
    Believed to be native to India, mango trees have been cultivated for more than 4,000 years. The different cultivars come in a rainbow of reds, yellows, oranges and greens and a wide variety of shape, flavor, texture and aroma.

    Our favorite way to eat mango is with a knife and fork, as a delicious fruit snack or dessert (note that the skin can cause stomach irritation, so should not be eaten). Second place goes to mango sorbet.

    But use mango however you would use peaches or pineapples—the two fruits to which mango’s flavor is compared.

  • Beverages: Daiquiri, Margarita, shake with mango sorbet or ice cream, smoothie
  • Breads: muffins and fruit breads
  • Condiments: chutney and salsa
  • Desserts: cobbler, fruit salad, grilled fruit, ice cream or sorbet, pie, pudding, tart, tartlet
  • Fruit Soup: mango gazpacho
  • Mains: poultry, pork, seafood
  • Salads: green salad, shrimp salad

  • Asian Fruit Salad With Pernod (recipe)
  • Blueberry Mango Cobbler (recipe)
  • Halibut With Mango-Blood Orange Salsa (recipe)
  • Ice Cream With Grilled Mango (recipe)
  • Orange Blossom Waffles With Mangoes & Nutmeg Cream (recipe)
  • Salmon with Cherry Mango Salsa (recipe)
    Find many more recipes at



  • Peel the skin from the flesh with a small, sharp knife.
  • There is a long pit that runs down the center of the length of the fruit. Cut the mango lengthwise down the side of pit to free the first half (called a cheek). Do the same with the other half.
  • Dice or slice the flesh as you wish.
  • We nibble the remaining fruit on the pit in thin slices, although it can be used in sauces or pudding.
    There’s a second slicing technique that produces the “hedgehog”-like diced effect in the photo above:

  • Without peeling, cut the fruit from the cheeks, using the technique above.
  • Score the flesh into squares, about 1/2- to 3/4-inch in size, cutting up to, but not through, the skin.


    The Tommy Atkins mango is the most commonly available in the U.S., due to its hardiness. Photo courtesy National Mango Board.

  • Gently push the mango cheek inside out, which pushes the cubes up and apart.
  • Cut the cubes from the skin to serve, or cut and eat cubes from a mango half with a knife and fork.
    Peeled and cut fruit will hold at least three days in the fridge, in an airtight container. The flesh may darken a bit, but the flavor changes only slightly. You can tell by the aroma when the time to enjoy it has passed.

    Mangoes need to ripen in a warm room. To speed ripening, you can place them in a paper bag.

    Color is not the best way to determine ripeness. Instead, touch and smell: A ripe mango will have a fruity aroma and the flesh will yield to gentle pressure. Unripe mangoes have no scent.

    Ripe mangoes can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. The peeled flesh can be dried, frozen, puréed or stewed.

    Ataulfo mangos have only recently gained popularity in the United States, but have been a major crop in Mexico for decades. In season between March and September, they are the second-most popular variety of mango sold in the U.S., behind the Tommy Atkins cultivar.

    And here’s the big tip of the day: The most prevalent mango, the Tommy Atkins, is not considered to be the choicest mango in terms of sweetness and flavor. Retailers prefer it for its very long shelf life and ability to be handled with little or no bruising, which is why it’s the mango offered first and foremost. [Source: Wikipedia]

    So go for the gold: Bring home some Ataulfos and taste the difference.

    The other less common mango varieties found in the U.S. include the Haden and Kent, which appear along with the and Ataulfo and the Tommy Atkins in spring and summer; and the orange and green Keitt from Australia, which comes from Australia in the fall (and has a lemony note to the flesh).

    Many people attest that mangoes taste best right off the tree, fresh and succulent. So if you’re in Florida, Mexico or other mango haven, see if you can seek out the experience, called by one expert “a taste experience you’ll never forget.”



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