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Archive for Fruits, Nuts & Seeds

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
  •    

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    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!

     

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    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.

     

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    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.

       

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    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.

     

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    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.
  •  

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    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.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: SunGold Golden Kiwi Fruit

    golden-basket-malaysia-230

    Kiwi: It’s not just green. Photo courtesy
    Zespri.

     

    In the late 1970s, New Zealand kiwifruit growers began experimenting with the breeding of a golden kiwifruit (in the U.S., we call it “kiwi” for short). Seeds were imported from China, where a female plant was chosen for its yellow flesh and excellent flavor, and was crossed with a male plant proven to produce large, succulent fruit.

    In 1992 one offspring plant from the breeding stock was selected and nurtured, resulting in the golden-fleshed berry* now known as Zespri® SunGold Kiwifruit. It is available at supermarkets nationwide from June through October.

    Zespri spent 10 years developing the SunGold variety through natural crossbreeding methods. SunGold is sweeter than a green kiwi, and tastes like a cross between a mango and a strawberry, with just a hint of tanginess.

    Like regular kiwi, it offers healthy ammounts of vitamins C and E, potassium. Its sunny yellow sweetness boosts the nutrition and color on your plate. Try it:

  • Peeled and sliced for snacking
  • Scooped right out of the shell and eaten from the spoon
  • With cereal, cottage cheese or yogurt
  • In smoothies
  • In any fruit recipe (fruit soup, ice cream, puddings, pies and tarts)
  • In fruit salads and green salads
  • As a bright plate garnish for entrées and desserts
  • Sliced on sandwiches, especially ham or turkey
  •  
    Many people prefer the flavor of kiwifruit chilled.
     
    For more information about Zespri—the world leader in premium quality kiwifruit—and delicious kiwi recipes, visit the ZespriKiwi.com.
     
    HOW TO RIPEN FRUIT

    Golden kiwifruit is usually ready to eat when you buy it. It should feel slightly soft to the touch, like a ripe peach or avocado. Once ripe, should be stored in the refrigerator.

    Green kiwifruit may be a bit firm when you buy it, and will usually ripen at in three to five days at room temperature. The firmer the fruit, the more tart it will taste.

    To speed up the ripening process, place kiwis (or any fruit) in a closed paper bag on the counter with an apple or banana. Fruits like apples and bananas produce natural ethylene gas, which accelerates ripening.

    By the same token, any ripe fruit should be stored away from ethylene-producing fruits—never in the same produce drawer.

    If you want to store the fruit for longer than a few days, keep it in a plastic bag in the fridge.

     

    ABOUT KIWIFRUIT

    The kiwi, also known as the Chinese gooseberry, is the edible berry of a woody vine in the genus Actinidia.

    Native to China, the fruit was first commercially grown in New Zealand in the early 20th century. The growers began calling it “kiwifruit” to give it more market appeal (and to to avoid the high duties charged on imported berries). Kiwi is a flightless bird native to New Zealand, and the fruit was small, brown and fuzzy like the bird.*

    The most common cultivar is oval, about the size of a large hen’s egg. Cultivars range in color from light to very dark green, orange, yellow, and a green variety where the seeds are in a red-colored ring.

    A medium kiwi has 42 calories, lots of vitamins A and C, fiber, folate, potassium, copper, magnesium, phosphorous and vitamins E and K. It has two times more vitamin C than an orange and as much potassium as a medium banana.

     
    *Kiwi, the bird, is and its national symbol of New Zealand. The name is used internationally as a reference to New Zealanders.

     

    golden-in-egg-cup-230

    Cut the fruit in half and scoop out the fruit. Alternatively, peel and slice. Photo courtesy Zespri.

     

    THE TAXONOMY OF KIWIFRUIT

    You may remember from high school biology that all living things have a biological classification, known as taxonomy: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species.

    This system of taxonomy was developed Carl Linnaeus, and first set forth in his Systema Naturae, published in 1735. Here’s how the system works. For kiwifruit specifically, visit Bioweb.Uwlax.edu.

    Family: Actinidiaceae

    Kiwifruit are categorized in this group because they are a woody vine. The Actinidiaceae family consists of woody vines, shrubs and trees that are native to Asia, Central America and South America. These plants also have a simple, spiral arrangement of leaves.

    Genus: Actinidia

    This genus name is given to plants that are tough and hardy. The word actinidia derives from a Greek word meaning difficult or hard. The vine and skin of the kiwifruit are tough, resistant, strong and hardy.

    Species: A. deliciosa

    The species name deliciosa derives from the Greek word meaning luxury or luxurious, referring to the luscious taste of the fleshy fruit.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Summer Fruits & Vegetables

    Following our recent article on spring produce, here’s what’s in season for summer. Not everything may be available in your area, but what is there should be largely American-grown—not imported from another hemisphere.

    Some of the items are harvested for only a few weeks; others are around for months. So peruse the list, note what you don’t want to miss, and add it to your shopping list.

    The list was created by the Produce For Better Health Foundation. Take a look at their website, FruitsAndVeggiesMoreMatters.org for tips on better meal planning with fresh produce.

    SUMMER FRUITS

  • Acerola/Barbados Cherries
  • Apricots
  • Asian Pear
  • Black Crowberries
  • Black Currants
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Boysenberries
  • Breadfruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Casaba Melon
  •    

    lychee-baldorfood-230

    If you’ve never had fresh lychees, this is the season to get your fill! Photo courtesy Baldor Food.

  • Champagne Grapes/Corinthian Currants/Zante Currants
  • Crenshaw Melon
  • Durian
  • Elderberry
  • Fig
  • Galia Melon
  • Grapefruit
  • Grape
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Jackfruit
  • Lime/Key Lime
  • Loganberry
  • Longan
  • Loquat
  • Lychee (photo above)
  • Mulberry
  • Nectarine
  • Olallieberry*
  • Passion Fruit
  • Peach
  • Persian Melon
  • Plum
  • Raspberry
  • Rose Apple†
  • Sapote/Sapodilla
  • Strawberry
  • Sugar Apple
  • Watermelon
  •  
    *Olallieberries, developed in 1949 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at Oregon State University by crossing a loganberry with a youngberry. They are two-thirds blackberry, one-third European red raspberry.

    †Rose apples are not related to European apples (family Rosaceae), which originated in Turkey. They are members of the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Native to the East Indies, they are also known as plum roses and Malabar plums.

     

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    Ong choy, Chinese water spinach. Photo by Eric | Wikimedia.

     

    SUMMER VEGETABLES

  • Anaheim Chile
  • Armenian Cucumber‡
  • Beet
  • Bell Pepper
  • Butter Lettuce
  • Chayote Squash
  • Chanterelle Mushrooms
  • Chinese Long Bean
  • Corn
  • Crookneck Squash
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • French Bean
  • Garlic
  • Green Bean
  • Green Soybean (Edamame)
  • Heart of Palm
  • Jalapeño Chile
  • Lima Bean
  • Okra
  • Ong Choy Water Spinach (photo above)
  • Pea
  • Radish
  • Shallot
  • Sugar Snap Pea
  • Summer Squash
  • Sweet Onions
  • Tomatillo
  • Tomato
  • Winged Bean
  • Yellow Squash
  • Yukon Gold Potato
  • Zucchini
  •  
    Enjoy the feast!

     
    ‡The Armenian cucumber, Cucumis melo var. flexuosus, is a long, slender fruit which tastes like a cucumber and looks somewhat like a cucumber inside. It is actually a variety of muskmelon, a species closely related to the cucumber. However, cucumbers and melons are botanical first cousins. Both are from the binomial order Cucurbitales, family Cucurbitaceae and genus Cucumis, differing only at the species level. Watermelon rind is edible and tastes like cucumber. That’s why it is often turned into pickles, like cucumbers.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Cherry Ice Cubes

    cherry-ice-cubes-hdwallpapersdesktop-230sq

    Cherry ice cubes. Photo courtesy HD Desktop Wallpapers.

     

    Take advantage of cherry season to make cherry ice cubes.

    Freeze cherries in the cube compartment (with the stems for more dazzle). Then, add them to cocktails, mocktails, soft drinks, juice, sparkling or still water.

    When the cubes melt, the cherries are the final treat.

    MORE WAYS TO USE CHERRIES

  • Black Forest Cake with fresh cherries instead of maraschino (recipe)
  • Cherry gastrique sauce for fish or meat (recipe)
  • Cherry salsa for fish and chicken (recipe)
  • Fresh cherry ice cream (recipe) or sorbet (recipe)
  • Spiced cherries to top grilled fish, meat or poultry and desserts (recipe)
  • Add cherries to green salads and fruit salads
  •  

    Here’s more about cherries, including the different types of cherries.
     
    MAKE USING FRESH CHERRIES EASY

    Get yourself a cherry pitter.

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Horned Melon or Kiwano

    Native to the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa, and once commercially grown only in New Zealand (Kiwano® is a trademark of New Zealand growers), Kiwano melons are now grown in California and Mississippi as well as well as Africa, Australia and Chile. So you may be seeing more of them soon.

    The horned melon, Cucumis metuliferus, goes by a variety of names: African horned cucumber or melon, blowfish fruit, English tomato, hedged gourd, jelly melon, kiwano and melano. The horns are called spines by botanists.

    The fruit is an annual vine in the cucumber and melon family, Cucurbitaceae, which also includes pumpkin and the other squash.

    The exotic-looking, the spiky, orange colored shells contain a soft, juicy bright green seed-studded flesh. The flesh isn’t sweet, but more of a cross between a cucumber and a zucchini. The seeds are edible, like cucumber seeds. Some people eat the peel, which is very rich in vitamin C and dietary fiber.

       

    kiwano-horned-melon-melissas-230

    Kiwano, or horned melon. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

     
    BUYING TIPS

    Look for horned melon in specialty-food markets and some upscale supermarkets. The fruit should range in length from 3 to 5 inches and not have any bruises or soft spots. When ripe, the melon will have a bright orange shell.

    Horned melon is available year-round but its peak season is summer. California-grown varieties are available now; in the winter, they’ll come from New Zealand, where the seasons are opposite.

     

    KIWANO-horned-melon_marxfooDS-230

    Horned melon or Kiwano. Photo courtesy Marx Foods.

     

    HOW TO SERVE KIWANO, HORNED MELON

    You can buy horned melons at Melissas.com. If you’re lucky to come across them in the flesh, don’t hesitate to buy and try.

    Once peeled, they can be added to fruit salads or green salad. Sliced unpeeled, they can be used as a garnish. Here are some popular uses:

  • Enjoy the melon as a hand fruit, just by squeezing a cut half into your mouth. You can enhance the flavor with small amount of salt or sugar.
  • You can cut the melon in half and serve the jelly-like flesh from the shell; or scoop out the flesh for other uses and repurpose the shells as fun serving bowls for desserts, ice cream/sorbet, sides and soups.
  • Garnish roasted meat, like steaks or chops, instead of topping rich with butter. Sprinkle some kiwano kernels on top of the meat before serving for an exotic and tangy flavor highlight.
  • Make Kiwano salsa. Seed the melon into a bowl and mix it with the juice of one lime, a clove of garlic, two tablespoons of fresh chopped cilantro, a chopped green onion (scallion) or equivalent sweet, onion, 1/4 teaspoon cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Add a small amount of olive oil to bind the mixture and use the salsa as a garnish for meat, grilled vegetables, or exotic nachos.
  •  
    For Beverages

  • Add to smoothies.
  • Garnish cocktails: Sprinkle a few green kernels into a champagne flute or add an unpeeled slice to a gin and tonic instead of a lime slice.
  • Make the Intergalactic Nebula, a recipe we found on WikiHow. Remove the Kiwano melon seeds and place in a cup. Fill the cup with sparkling red grape juice cocktail 3/4 of the way to the top of the cup. With the remainder space, add half and half (optional), Serve in layers for the best look before stirring.
  •  
    Play around, have fun with kiwano and tell us how you like it!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Grilled Mango “Bowls”

    For Cinco de Mayo, these mango bowls are great as a dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or lemon sorbet.

    The recipe is from Urban Accents, which makes it with its Rio grande chili blend, an award winning chili seasoning that balances a smoky mesquite flavor with chili pepper, onion, garlic and bell pepper.

    But mixed with the honey, it creates a spicy-sweet glaze.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 5 minutes.

    RECIPE: GRILLED MANGO-CHILE-HONEY BOWLS (OR SLICES)

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons Urban Accents Rio Grand Chili Blend
    or substitute*
  • 2 ripe mangoes
  •  
    Plus

  • Ice cream or sorbet
  •  

    Grilled_Mango-ice-cream-mango.org-230

    Spicy grilled mango is easy to make. Photo courtesy Mango.org.

     
    *Use plan chili powder or blend it with a bit of onion and garlic powders and dried bell pepper, as Urban Accents does.
     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the grill for medium heat. Make the glaze by combining the orange juice, honey and chili blend in small bowl, Mix well.

    2. SLICE the mangoes by cutting the two large side portions from each side of the mango pit. Score each side in a crosshatch pattern, cutting down to, but not through, the skin.

    3. PLACE the mango halves on the grill, cut side down, and cook for 2 minutes until light grill marks form on the fruit. Turn over and brush liberally with the glaze, trying to get glaze to drip down into the cut slits. Turn glazed mangoes over and grill for an additional 30 seconds; then remove from heat.

    4. COOL the mangoes to room temperature; then turn them inside out by pushing them from the skin side. Serve resting on the skin as a tasty side dish or as a dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

    You can stretch the recipe to 6 servings by slicing up the grilled mango halves.

      

    Comments

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