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Archive for Fruits & Nuts

FOOD HOLIDAY: Recipes For National Strawberries & Cream Day

The type of cream is up to you. Photo ©
Jacek Kadaj | Fotolia.


Today is National Strawberries And Cream Day, a classic English dessert. The ingredients are as simple as can be. And if you use just a dab of cream, whipped cream or fat-free sour cream, it’s also so healthful that it’s recommended by the Mayo Clinic (third recipe below).

One cup of strawberries has just 55 calories, 0g fat or cholesterol, 3g dietary fiber and 7g natural fruit sugar. Strawberries are a very good source of dietary fiber, manganese and vitamin C, and are a good source of folate and potassium.



  • Fresh strawberries
  • Sugar or other sweetener
  • Cream, plain or sweetened to taste:* crème fraîche, half and half, heavy cream, ice cream, light cream, sour cream, whipped cream
    *Our personal favorite is sour cream with a bit of brown sugar.


    1. HULL, wash, dry and halve the strawberries.

    2. SPRINKLE with a bit of superfine or table sugar, or noncaloric sweetener, unless the berries are perfectly sweet and need no additional help.

    3. TOP with cream. Serve.


    Add a special touch to half and half or heavy cream. Before pouring it over the strawberries, add some rosewater, orange flower water, essence of jasmine or liqueur to your cream. Alternatively, you can infuse lavender in the cream two hours or overnight, and strain out the lavender before using the cream.

    Here are some flavored whipped cream recipes: bourbon, five spice, lavender, salted caramel and more.



    In the U.K., the strawberries are allowed to marinate. Try this recipe:


  • 10 large strawberries, hulled, washed, quartered
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1. MIX water and 1/2 of the sugar.


    Strawberry fields forever. Photo by Rachael Wong |

    2. WHISK the half & half until bubbly. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and the vanilla extract.

    3. PLACE the strawberries into the bowl of sugar water. Soak for 5 minutes. Drain.

    4. LAYER strawberries with cream in individual cups.

    Here’s a guilt-free recipe from the Mayo Clinic:


    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1-1/2 cups fat-free sour cream
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons amaretto liqueur
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and halved (reserve 6 whole berries for garnish)

    1. WHISK together the sour cream, brown sugar and liqueur in a small bowl.

    2. COMBINE the halved strawberries and sour cream mixture in a large bowl. Stir gently to mix. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.

    3. SCOOP the strawberries into 6 colorful bowls or chilled sherbet glasses. Garnish with whole strawberries and serve immediately.


  • Strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside.
  • Strawberries do not reproduce with their seeds, but via long shoots of new growth.
  • The strawberry is not a true berry, but what is known as an aggregate accessory fruit: The fleshy part is derived not from the plant’s ovaries but from the receptacle that holds the ovaries. Each “seed” (achene) on the outside of the fruit is actually one of the ovaries of the flower, with a seed inside it.
  • The most widely held view of the origin of the name is that the berries are “strewn” about on the plants. The name “strewn berry” evolved into “strawberry.”
  • The strawberry belongs to the botanical genus Fragraria, which is in the rose family, along with apples and plums. The name of the scientific classification was derived from the Old Latin word for fragrant. The garden strawberry is Fragaria × ananassa.
  • The garden strawberry was first bred in Brittany, France, in the 1750s as a cross of Fragaria virginiana from eastern North America and Fragaria chiloensis, which was brought from Chilein 1714.
  • Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in the spring.


    FOOD HOLIDAY: 30 Favorite Ways To Enjoy Raisins On National Raisin Day

    It’s a big day for one of the world’s smallest fruits, the raisin. Long before processed foods became the snack of choice in America, people would snack on healthful* raisins, or nut and raisin mixes. Much as we enjoy chocolate-covered raisins, National Raisin Day, April 30th, is the day to return to raisins’ roots.

    Raisins are a great grab-and-go snack, but are also so much more. So we’re paying homage to the humble dried grape by sharing 30 ways in which it is elevated to something quite special.

    If you don’t like raisins (there are some of you out there, and one of you works at THE NIBBLE), you can use the following recipe concepts with dried blueberries, cherries or strawberries.


    1. BREAKFAST CEREAL. Just as Skinner’s Raisin Bran first added raisins to its bran flakes back in 1926, you can make Raisin Cheerios, Raisin Chex, Raisin Rice Krispies, Raisin Special K, raisin granola, raisin oatmeal or other mix.

    2. PANCAKES. After making a disappointing batch of blueberry pancakes (the berries were way too tart), we fished out the berries and substituted raisins. Delicious!


    Mixed raisins. Photo by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.

    *Raisins are good nutrition: A 1/4 cup serving has 9% DV of fiber and potassium and 6% DV of iron, no cholesterol; no fat and no added sugar. The USDA ranks raisins as the most economical dried fruit.
    3. MUFFINS & DANISH. If you enjoy a raisin bagel, how about raisin toast (from a loaf of raisin bread) or homemade raisin muffins? A cheese danish without raisins is a disappointment. If you buy raisinless baked goods, simply add your own. They affix nicely with the tiniest dab of honey. If it’s a cheese croissant, cut it in half and sprinkle in the raisins (and some sliced almonds, too).


    4. CARROT RAISIN SLAW. It’s delicious with sandwiches or cottage cheese and yogurt. Here’s an easy recipe: 4 cups shredded carrots, 1-1/2 cups raisins, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 to 3 tablespoons milk. Combine carrots and raisins in a mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine mayonnaise, sugar and enough milk to achieve a dressing consistency. Thoroughly coat carrot-raisin mixture. Yields 8 servings.

    5. COTTAGE CHEESE & YOGURT. Whether for breakfast, lunch or snacks, add some raisins to your yogurt and cottage cheese. We love an artistic mixture of black raisins and golden raisins (sultanas), and some sliced almonds.

    6. SALADS. Raisins are delicious in a mixed green salad, spinach salad or arugula and endive salad; the sweetness plays well against bitter greens. Toss raisins into cole slaw or even a fresh fruit salad; dried fruits add an interesting counterpoint to the fresh ones. Raisins are de rigeur in curried chicken, tuna and egg salads.

    7. WRAPS & SANDWICHES. Sprinkle a few raisins into just about any wrap, from ham and cheese to turkey to grilled vegetables. Raisins add sweetness in the way that chutney (which often includes raisins) and cranberry sauce do. Then there are peanut butter and raisin sandwiches, cream cheese and raisins, grilled cheese and raisins and one of our favorites, goat cheese and raisins on a toasted baguette.


    Curried roasted cauliflower with raisins.
    Photo courtesy Dole. Here’s the recipe.



    8. ANTS ON A LOG. This retro snack is as much fun today as it originally was in the 1950s. Celery stalks are filled with peanut butter, and raisins placed atop like a line of ants. Our mother preferred cream cheese to peanut butter.

    9. ENERGY FIX, HUNGER FIX. Keep boxes of raisins in your desk drawer, glove compartment, gym bag or locker. They’re yummy alone, with a cup of tea, cinnamon-accented coffee or other drink.

    10. RAISIN “S’MORES.” Instead of graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows, grill thin slices of baguette with a piece of chocolate bar and some raisins.

    11. TRAIL MIX. Long before the term trail mix was coined (in the 1950s), middle class families would keep a candy dish of mixed nuts and raisins on the coffee table. If you had an especially good grandmother, she would toss M&Ms or chocolate chips into the mix when you were visiting.



    12. BEANS & LENTILS. Stir raisins into bean and lentil dishes. For baked beans, cut the sugar in half and add a half cup of golden raisins (a nicer color contrast with the beans).

    13. CALVES LIVER, FISH, CHICKEN PAILLARD. Use the rum raisin sauce in #15 below; cut the sugar in half and substitute wine for the rum.

    14. CHILI. Do you know the trick of adding chocolate to chili to bring out new dimensions of flavor? It works with raisins, too.

    15. CURRY. Raisins accent any curry dish, or any dish seasoned with cinnamon, ginger or turmeric,

    16. HAM OR PORK. You can substitute (or add) raisins for prunes in pork/prune recipes. Or, top ham or pork roasts with a rum raisin sauce: In small saucepan, combine 1 cup water and 1 cup raisins (we like to mix black and golden raisins); bring mixture to boil. In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 tablespoons flour; add slowly to raisin mixture, stirring constantly until thickened. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons rum; stir to blend and remove from heat.

    17. MEAT DISHES. Pot roast, heavy casseroles and stews of meat and/or poultry get a lift from 1/4 cup of raisins.

    18. RICE & GRAINS. Go Middle Eastern and add raisins to your hot rice dishes or rice salads. Do the same with whole grains: barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, farro, quinoa, etc.

    19. STIR FRY. Along with your protein and garlic, add a sweet touch of raisins.

    20. STUFFED CABBAGE. One of our favorite ancestral foods, we recently purchased a prepared dish of stuffed cabbage at Zabar’s in New York City. There was so much sugar in the recipe, we couldn’t eat it until we’d fixed a work-around with vinegar. Zabar’s took the cheaper route with sugar, when naturally sweet raisins were the proper ingredient.

    21. STUFFING. A packaged bread stuffing comes alive with some raisins and fresh herbs.

    22. VEGETABLES. Add raisins and nuts to bitter greens like chard and kale; definitely try them with Brussels sprouts and bacon.


    23. CAKES & QUICK BREADS. Add raisins to carrot cake and zucchini bread. They’re delicious in pound cake; even more so when they’re pre-soaked in rum. We put those rum-soaked raisins into brownies, too.

    24. COOKIES. Make classic oatmeal raisin cookies, with or without chocolate chips. Butter cookies and shortbread with raisins are also delicious.

    25. PIE. Add to apple or other fruit pie or pecan pie; make a sour cream raisin pie. Other popular combinations include cranberry-raisin, pumpkin-raisin and rhubarb-raisin.

    26. PUDDING. Add raisins to bread pudding, custard, rice pudding, tapioca or any flavored pudding (butterscotch, chocolate, pistachio, vanilla, etc.). They work nicely in applesauce, too.

    27. RUM RAISIN ICE CREAM. Marinate raisins in rum and sugar for several hours or overnight. Remove the raisins from the liquid and stir into softened vanilla ice cream; return to the freezer to harden. Or use them as a topping on scoops of ice cream, or interspersed in a parfait.

    28. STEWED FRUIT. We love to make our grandmother’s stewed fruit compote: seasonal fresh fruits accented with a scattering of raisins.


    29. MULLED WINE. Toss raisins into mulled wine, while it’s warming or as a garnish. And supply an espresso spoon or cocktail pick so they can be easily eaten.

    30. MARTINI. Garnish a Martini with vermouth-soaked raisins. You can drop them into the glass or serve them skewered.

    RAISIN TRIVIA: California is the raisin capital of the world. Almost all California raisins are grown within a 60-mile radius of Fresno, in California’s sun-drenched San Joaquin Valley.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Asian Pears

    Today’s tip is to try Asian pears. But don’t expect a creamy European pear texture or even a juicy apple texture, from the fruit that is also known as “apple pear” and “Korean pear,” among other names.*

    “Asian pear” is the generic name for more than 25 different varieties† that originated in Asia. In ancient times the fruit was cultivated in what are now China, Japan and Korea.

    Asian pear is not a cross between apples and pears, as a name like “apple pear” suggests. That name was conferred because its shape and crisp texture are reminiscent of some varieties of apples. Don’t expect any apple flavor, either: The Asian pear is a true pear, of the genus Pyrus.


    Asian pears. Photo courtesy Baldor Foods.

    Depending on the variety, Asian Pears may be considerably large or somewhat small. Their color may vary from yellow to brown, and their skin may be smooth or speckled.

    Although the outside appearance of each variety will differ, all Asian pears are crunchy and moderately sweet. Thought to have originally come to the U.S. via Chinese immigrants, Asian pears are now grown in California, Oregon and Washington, in addition to orchards worldwide.† Some of the most popular varieties grown in the U.S. include Hosui (Golden Russet Brown), Kosui (Golden Russet), Nijiseiki or Twentieth Century (Yellow-Green), Shinseiki (Yellow) and Shinsui (Russet Brown).

    *Names include apple pear, Asian pear, bae (Korean), Japanese pear, Korean pear, li (Chinese), nashi (Japanese; also nashi pear, nashipati or nashpati), sand pear and Taiwan pear. Asian pears are cultivated throughout East Asia, as well as in Australia, New Zealand and other countries.

    †The species include Pyrus pyrifolia, Pyrus ussuriensis, P. × bretschneideri, P. × sinkiangensis and P. pashia. Unlike the creamy flesh of Western pear varieties,


    Asian pear varieties grown in the U.S. often
    have a yellow-brown hue with a tinge of
    green. Photo courtesy The Fruit Company.


    Chilled or cooked, Asian pears can add interest to any meal. The Asian pear is not baked into pies or made into chutney because it has a high water content and a signature grainy texture. It is commonly served raw and peeled, but we also enjoy them:

  • Diced and added for crunch to a fruit, vegetable or protein salad (chicken, tuna, egg, shrimp, etc.) salad
  • Sliced or diced as a garnish
  • Pickled and served with meat and poultry

    The pear genus is believed to have originated in present-day western China, in the foothills of the Tian Shan mountain range. It evolved into a diverse group of more than 20 widely primary species in Asia, and spread along mountain ranges in prehistoric times to the Middle East and then to Europe.


    There is firm evidence of prehistoric cultivation of pear trees in the Stone Age (beginning around 9500 B.C.E.), the period that begins with the rise of farming with stone tools and ending when metal tools engendered the Bronze Age (approximately 3500 B.C.E. to 2000 B.C.E.).

    As far back as 5000 B.C.E., Feng Li, a Chinese diplomat, became engrossed in grafting pears and other fruits as a commercial venture and switched careers.

    Early colonists brought the first pear trees to America’s eastern settlements, where they thrived until crop blights proved too severe to sustain widespread cultivation. Fortunately, the pear trees brought west to Oregon and Washington by pioneers in the 1800s thrived in the unique agricultural conditions found in the Pacific Northwest.

    Here‘s more on the history of pears from the Pear Bureau Northwest.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Frozen Lemons & Lemon Zest

    Last month we discussed the different uses for lemon juice.

    Today we’ll tackle another delicious part of the lemon: lemon zest, the grated rind of the lemon. The rind is the top layer or skin of the peel; the peel also includes some of the white pith under the skin.

    How to make lemon zest? Simply hold a washed, dried lemon in one hand and run a zester over it with the other (we use a Microplane lemon zester in the photo, which comes in a variety of handle colors and is a fun party favor for Mother’s Day). Zest lightly: You only want the yellow rind, not the white pith underneath it.

    If you don’t have a zester, you can use any kind of grater.

    Here‘s an easy way to have fresh zest on hand all the time: Just freeze a whole washed lemon in a plastic bag.


    Few lemons should go unzested—and it’s so easy with a zester. Photo courtesy Microplane.

    You can zest the frozen peel a bit at a time, as you need it, and toss or sprinkle it on top of your foods. When all the zest is gone, keep the lemon frozen until you need fresh lemon juice. Then, let it defrost, and juice away.

    Freshly grated zest can make just about anything taste better. Take out the lemon and the zester as you serve:

  • Breakfast: cottage cheese, fresh fruit, yogurt.
  • Lunch: ramen, salads (chicken, egg, green, fish/seafood and potato salads), soups.
  • Dinner: chicken and fish recipes and garnish (including sushi and sashimi), pasta and pasta sauce, rice and other grains, salad, sauces, soups, sushi, vegetables, vinaigrette.
  • Dessert: baked goods, frosting/icing,* fruit salad, lemon cake, rice pudding, sorbet.
  • Beverages: black coffee or tea, juice, lemonade, punch, soft drinks, spritzers, spirits (neat or cocktails), wine that needs more flavor.
  • Condiments. Mix zest into ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, prepared horseradish and other condiments for added verve. Also make gremolata, a lemon, garlic and parsley condiment that is delicious with fish, meat and poultry.
    *The difference between frosting and icing is that icing is made with confectioners’ sugar (also called icing sugar) and frosting with table sugar; but the two terms are often used interchangeably (that doesn’t mean correctly!).


    The slender zest provides intense flavor.
    Photo by Andre Karwath | Wikimedia.



    The lemon tree, which has the botanical name Citrus limon, is a small evergreen. The fruit is used for primarily for its juice, though the pulp and zest are also used, mainly in cooking and baking. The tart taste of the lemon juice comes from citric acid, which comprises about 5% of a true lemon.

    There are many different types of lemons; but the components of all lemons include:

  • Lemon Juice. Juice squeezed from the lemon is used as an ingredient in many recipes. Quartered lemons (or smaller divisions) are used to garnish foods so that the diner can squeeze fresh lemon juice as a condiment. Lemon juice can replace or complement vinegar in salad dressings; used in a marinade to tenderize meat, poultry or fish; to make lemonade; and to brighten a cup of tea. The juice and the zest can be used instead of salt in low-sodium cooking.

  • Lemon Oil. Lemon oil is added to frozen or processed lemon juice to enhance the flavor. It is also used to scent household and personal care items—furniture polishes, detergents, perfume, soap and shampoo, for example.
  • Lemon Peel. Lemon peel, or peeled lemon rind, includes the yellow rind and the white pith underneath. The peel is is the source of lemon oil, plus two more valuable products: citric acid and pectin. Lemon oil is used as a flavoring for hard candies; it is cut and candied in sugar syrup to make candied lemon peel, a delicious confection. The peel and the zest are also used as ingredients in confectionery and baked goods. Fresh lemon peel is served as a garnish for espresso: Rub the pith around the rim of the cup to release the lemon oil, which adds to the flavor of the drink (and offsets bitterness).
  • Lemon Rind. The rind is the yellow skin of the lemon, without the pith. It is most often zested.
  • Lemon Zest. Lemon zest, or the grated rind, is a popular flavoring for baked goods and desserts as well as in savory dishes, such as meats and sauces. The rind holds the lemon oil, and adds exciting taste. After you’ve squeezed a lemon for its juice, don’t toss it out; zest it and use the zest in anything from vinaigrette to vegetables.


    PRODUCT: Dole Chocolate Banana Dippers

    According to research conducted last month by Dole, more than half of American women have admitted to skipping a meal so they could enjoy a snack without feeling guilty.

    With the introduction of Dole Banana Dippers, the company wants Americans to enjoy their meal and their sweet snack (not to mention the potassium and other nutrients in bananas).

    For only 120 calories or less per serving, you can savor a packet of plain Dole Banana Dippers or Banana Dippers Dark Chocolate with Almonds, both covered in antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.

    (Go for the almonds—see the nutritional information below.)


    Frozen bananas substitute for ice cream. Photo courtesy Dole.

    The individual packets contain 4 slices of fresh-frozen, chocolate-dipped banana that provide an ice cream-like experience, without the cholesterol or 15 calories of sugar in a half-cup of ice cream (the 1.55-ounce packet has 4g dietary fiber and 7g sugar).

    They have become a most popular snack at THE NIBBLE.

    Bananas are a terrific, heart-healthy food when included in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Naturally fat-, cholesterol- and sodium-free, bananas are a good source of potassium, dietary fiber, manganese and vitamins B6 and C.


    With 110 nutrient-dense calories per serving (126 grams, or one medium-sized banana) bananas are delicious and nutritious. Here are the nutrients in a banana†:


    A box of Dole Banana Dippers with Almonds. Photo courtesy Dole.

  • Vitamin B6 – .5 mg
  • Manganese – .3 mg
  • Vitamin C – 9 mg
  • Potassium – 450 mg
  • Dietary Fiber – 3g
  • Protein – 1 g
  • Magnesium – 34 mg
  • Folate – 25.0 mcg
  • Riboflavin – .1 mg
  • Niacin – .8 mg
  • Vitamin A – 81 IU
  • Iron – .3 mg


    Nuts are a good protein food. Yes, they have fats, but those are largely unsaturated, heart-healthy fats which have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Here’s the scoop on the health benefits of nuts. A one-ounce serving of almonds (23 almonds) delivers:

  • 35% Daily Value of the antioxidant vitamin E
  • 3.5 grams of dietary fiber
  • 6 grams of protein
  • 8% Daily Value of calcium
  • Only 1 gram of saturated fat and 13 grams of “good” mono and polyunsaturated fats
  • Other important nutrients including iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium, selenium and zinc
    The small garnish of almonds on the Dole Banana Dippers has just a fraction of your daily almond allotment. So for your second snack, enjoy 22 of those 23 almonds!

    *Methodological Notes: The DOLE Banana Dippers survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 nationally representative U.S. women ages 18+, between February 4 and February 7, 2013, using an email invitation and online survey.

    †Nutrient data provided by USDA’s National Nutrient Database. Almond information from Almond Board Of California.



    TRENDS: Is My Name Sexy? I’m An Apple!

    Do you think I’m sexy? Photo courtesy
    Cornell University.


    It’s probably not a surprise, but a food with a sexy name is more appealing to consumers. The right name could command a much sweeter price for farmers, as research for a new apple name has shown.

    Apple names generally fall into three categories:

  • “Sincere” names based on a breeder or location, such as Cortland, Granny Smith and McIntosh
  • “Sophisticated” names, which usually highlight the fruit’s appearance, such as Red or Golden Delicious and Golden Pippin
  • “Exciting” names that evoke the taste or texture of the apple, such as Honeycrisp, Jazz and Pink Lady
    Using experimental auctions, researchers at Cornell University tested participants’ willingness to pay for five different varieties of apples, including a new, patented variety developed at Cornell. Auction participants didn’t know about the apples’ history or the Cornell connection, but they learned about each variety’s attributes, such as sweetness and crispness, and they tasted slices of each.

    The researchers tested the new Cornell apple under three names: sincere “Williams,” sophisticated “Burgundy Beauty” and exciting “Flavor Haven.”

    With the first two names, the average bid for the new apple was 12% higher than the average for four established apple varieties: Empire, Fuji, Honeycrisp and Piñata. With the “exciting” Flavor Haven name, the average bid for the apple jumped to 27% more than the other varieties.

    As new, patented varieties of apples hit shelves, they will often sell for a premium—and not just because of the sexy name. They’re also more expensive to grow, as farmers have to buy licenses from the developers to grow them. There is a fairly substantial upfront fee—it could be $1,500 an acre to license—and then a royalty is paid on each box of fruit sold.

    Historically, the agriculture schools of public universities developed new apple breeds and released them to the public. But in 1980, the Bayh-Dole Act gave universities the right to retain the intellectual property rights for their research.

    So the next time you look at the variation in apple prices: There’s more than meets the eye.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Versatile Sautéed Apples

    Sauteed apples: simple to make for every
    meal. Photo by Martia Punts | Dreamstime.


    Sauteed apples couldn’t be easier to make—just brown them in butter. They add a lift to any meal:

  • Breakfast: As a topping for pancakes, waffles or porridge
  • Lunch: For “apple pie yogurt,” with plain or flavored yogurt and optional granola, nuts and/or seeds
  • Dinner: As a side with roast chicken, ham or pork chops
  • Snack or Dessert: As a topping for ice cream or frozen yogurt, or with a dab of whipped cream.

    Also consider adding diced apples to a sautéed Brussels sprouts recipe. The two flavors and textures are very complementary.



  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 Granny Smith or other baking apples, peeled, cored, and cut* into thick slices or dice†
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Optional: 1/4 cup dried cherries, cranberries, raisins or sultanas (or combination)
    *Toss sliced apples with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

    †Slices are more elegant for side dishes, dice are easier to toss yogurt and ice cream.



    1. MELT butter in a large nonstick skillet; do not brown.

    2. ADD apples. Cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes or until the apples soften and are just beginning to change color. Stir often. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and dried fruit.

    3. ADD the sugar and continue cooking, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until the apples begin to caramelize at the edges.


    If serving as a side with meats, you can:

  • Substitute olive oil for the butter
  • Season with a dash of salt and pepper
  • Add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar to Step 2 above

    Make “apple pie” yogurt. Photo courtesy Stix Mediterranean Grill | New York City.



    We like the recipe as is. But if you think you’d like a thicker sauce:

    1. COMBINE 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water. Prior to adding spices and sugar, stir into the apples.

    2. ADD spices and sugar and bring to a simmer; reduce heat and simmer for about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Substitute Citrus For Tomatoes

    Last week we profiled the cara cara orange, a mutation from Venezuela with sweet, rosy flesh. Earlier we discussed their rosy-fleshed cousin: the blood orange, native to Sicily.

    Before spring and summer fruits arrive, we harness the color and flavor these rosy oranges to bring pizzazz to a green salad. Pink grapefruit works, too.

    The concept may seem unusual if one’s mind separates vegetable salads from fruit salads. But replace cherry tomatoes with oranges or pink grapefruit, and your salad will taste much brighter. Berries also add a lift to green salad, but the lively acidity of oranges and grapefruit do a better job.

    We took a wonderfully refreshing summer salad from THE NIBBLE’s consulting chef Eric Dantis, and turned it into a something that brightens up a chilly March day.


    The flesh of blood oranges ranges from pink to deep rose, above. Photo courtesy


    The original recipe follows. “If you want to keep it simple,” says Chef Eric, “just dice up some tomatoes and an equal amount of watermelon and toss with some basil and good sea salt for a super refreshing, clean salad.”


    This side salad contains blood oranges, onion
    and strawberries. It’s a refreshing side to any
    savory dish. Photo by Jerry Deutsch | THE



    As tomatoes and watermelon are not yet at their prime, we substituted blood oranges and strawberries in this recipe. That may seem like a lot of substituting, but the lesson is: Don’t be afraid to substitute any ingredients. You may well discover a favorite new combination.

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup watermelon cut in cubes (or use a melon baller), roughly the size of a cherry tomato
  • Basil cut in thick chiffonade
  • 2 teaspoons chopped onion
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons (or to taste) good extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Good-quality balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • Optional: prosciutto or Serrano ham
  • Optional: crumbled feta or goat cheese

    1. MIX halved cherry tomatoes with watermelon cubes in a medium-sized bowl.

    2. STIR in basil and onion.

    3. SEASON with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil to taste.

    4. STIR in balsamic vinegar.

    5. TOP with optional ham and/or cheese, for a sweet and savory bite (this can turn a side salad into a luncheon salad).

    5. SERVE immediately.


  • Once you master this simple and delicious salad and you’re ready to take on the next level of flavor, try this substituting strawberries or peaches for the watermelon. Each will bring a different, but equally refreshing sensation.
  • If you do either substitution, you’ll want to make sure to add the balsamic vinegar, because some added acid is excellent in this application.



    TIP OF THE DAY: More Uses For Lemon Juice

    Last summer, for National Lemon Juice Day, we listed some of our favorite kitchen uses for lemon juice: anti-browning agent, grater cleaner, lemon water, marmalade, marinade, pancake fluffer, soft drink enhancer and veggie saver. Here’s the full article.

    Lemons are an affordable way to add fresh flavor to every meal of the day. Here are more uses from Shubhra Krishan, author of Essential Ayurveda: What It Is And What It Can Do For You and other books on health and wellness:

  • Dijon mustard. Squeeze lemon juice into Dijon mustard to add an extra kick of flavor.
  • Lemon cream dressing. For salads, baked potatoes and other vegetables, or a general dip, whisk lemon juice into fat-free Greek yogurt and season to taste.
  • Lemon ice cubes. Slice a lemon into pieces that fit into an ice cube tray, and place a piece in each compartment. Add water and freeze. Use in iced tea or soft drinks.

    When life gives you lemons, squeeze that juice! Photo by J. Eltovski | Morguefile.


  • Lemon tea. It may seem like a no-brainer, but when’s the last time you enjoyed a cup? Steep for three minutes in boiled water: 1 slice of lemon, 1 teaspoon black tea leaves and a cinnamon stick. Sweeten with honey if desired. It’s delicious hot or chilled.

    Linguine dressed with lemon juice and olive
    oil. Photo courtesy Shrimp Council.

  • Lemon rice. Squeeze lemon juice onto boiled rice for fluffier, more fragrant rice. Try it with other cooked grains too (barley, bulgur, farro, freekah, kamut, quinoa, etc.).
  • Lentil soup. Squeeze lemon juice into hot soup. If it needs more seasoning, add a pinch of turmeric.
  • Pasta & pizza. Toss pasta with garlic, lemon, fruity olive oil and fresh basil: delicious! You can also drizzle this dressing on pizza.
  • Vinaigrette. Add lemon juice instead of vinegar to extra virgin olive oil. Season with some crushed garlic, fresh-ground black pepper, salt and finely chopped fresh herbs.
  • Don’t throw away the juiced lemon just yet: Here are excellent uses for lemon zest.

    We know that lemons are chock-full of the powerful antioxidant vitamin C. Here are more health benefits of lemons.




    NEW YORK & SAN FRANCISCO: Paulette Tavormino Food Photography

    Figs, grapes and morning glories. Photo ©
    Paulette Tavormina Photography | NYC.


    There’s just one more week to see Paulette Tavormina’s exquisite still life photographs at the Robert Mann Gallery in New York City: Then they head to San Francisco. The show opens at March, a retailer of luxury kitchenware and other goods, on March 14, 2013 and continues through June 1.

    They look like 17th century Old Master paintings, re-envisioned in a contemporary medium and a modern approach.

    Largely self-taught, Paulette Tavormina has been exhibited internationally and was the winner of the Grand Prix at the 2010 International Culinaire Photography Festival in Paris.


    She has worked on set as a food stylist in Hollywood and also photographs works of art for Sotheby’s. Her work has been featured in prominent publications including the New York Times, Boston Globe, L’Express, Martha Stewart magazine and Photo Technique magazine.

    Paulette lives and works in New York City: a good place for a lover of beautiful food. Visit her website,



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