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Archive for Vegetables/Salads/Herbs

FOOD FUN: Kermit Eggplant

Kermit is the name of a small, green eggplant, bred in the U.S. from the round Thai eggplant. It is also known as Garden Egg and Bitter Ball, the latter since they grow bitter the longer they are off the stalk.

But some clever American, probably selling the eggplants or the seeds, gave it the name “Kermit” after Kermit the Frog. They’re adorable, small and green, just like the frog.

A member of the Nightshade Family, Solanaceae (as are the tomato and the potato), Kermit is a variant in the genus and species Solanum melongena, to which all eggplants belong.

These golf ball-size eggplants average 1½”-2″ in diameter (an American golf ball is 1.68 inches).

Kermit and all Thai eggplants differ from other eggplants not only in their size and shape, but also in that they can be eaten raw, and have tender, edible skin.
 
HOW TO EAT KERMIT EGGPLANTS

When you’re Kermit, it’s tasty being green, with quick-cooking, meaty flesh.

  • In Thai dishes they are often halved or quartered before cooking, but can also be cooked whole. They hold their shape well.
  • As they cook in a sauce, such as green or red curry (or marinara, for that matter), they become softer and absorb the flavor of the sauce.
  • Add them to stewed dishes or stir fry them and serve with marinara and Parmesan, or other favorite sauce.
  • Kermits are eaten raw in Thai salads or with nam phrik, a hot and spicy Thai chili paste. One might say that dipping raw Kermits into nam phrik is a form of Thai crudités. Try them that way, and also sliced into your salad.
  •  

    Kermit Eggplant

    Kermit-characters.wikia-230

    TOP PHOTO: The Kermit eggplant. It’s easy being green. Photo courtesy Foragers City Grocer | New York. BOTTOM PHOTO: The namesake. Photo courtesy Characters.Wikia.com.

     
    KERMIT EGGPLANT RECIPES

    Like other eggplants, Kermits are high in fiber, folate, manganese, potassium, thiamine and vitamin K. They are also low in calories and have no fat or sodium. Two eggplants have 25 calories.

  • Thai Green Curry With Kermit Eggplants Recipe
  • Tomato & Kermit Eggplant Ragu Recipe
  • Stuffed Kermit Eggplants recipe
  •  
    GROW YOUR OWN

    The shelf life of Kermit eggplants is typically shorter than other varieties. Once picked they should be refrigerated in plastic, for no more than 1 week. They become increasingly bitter as they age.

    You may want to try growing them at home. Eggplant is easy to grow, with big yields. You can buy seeds here.

      

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    FOOD FUN & RECIPE: Cauliflower Steak

    We admit: We are one of those people who has a double grievance during fall and winter. Not only do we grip daylight hours, but we miss the cornucopia of fruits and vegetables from spring and summer.

    Sure, there are asparagus and tomatoes, honeydews and peaches to be had. But as subscribers to locavore and green philosophies, we don’t buy out-of-season produce shipped from other parts of the world.

    The folks in California are gifted with the best produce variety in the nation. It helps that the growing is so long, as is the growing area: 770 miles long.

    We just heard from Good Eggs, San Francisco’s top quality produce provider, that new fall bounty has arrived:

  • Buttercup squash
  • Baby spinach
  • Artichokes
  • Romanesco, the offspring of cauliflower and broccoli rabe (see the photo below)
  • Mexican Sour Gherkins (they look like tiny watermelons)
  •    

    fall-produce-goodeggs-230

    The best fall produce in northern California. Photo courtesy GoodEggs.com.

     

    On the opposite coast, where we live, we find comfort in colored cauliflower and winter squash. But wherever you live, here’s…

    HOW TO FIND THE BEST PRODUCE

  • Know what’s in season locally. Click your state on this map from Fresh Everyday Produce.
  • Go to farmers markets. Here’s the USDA’s list of farmers markets in the U.S.
  • Patronize stores that have better produce. Our closest supermarket is fine for the dairy and packaged food, but the produce often is wilting so we go elsewhere.
  • Be willing to shop at multiple stores. The specialty supermarket where we buy produce carries an inferior brand of strawberries. We eat lots of strawberries year-round, so we go to yet another store that does carry our brand (Driscolls).
  • Ask the chefs at independent restaurants for advice. They typically have favorite farmers markets and specialty grocers.
  • Recognize that if you live in the northern climes, January and February will be bleak. After the new year, we’ll provide tips on how to cope.
  •  
    YOUR FUN FOOD ASSIGNMENT

    1. Ask 10 foodies and/or chefs in your area where the best produce can be found. You don’t have to ask them all in one week, of course. But anytime the topic of good food comes up in conversation, ask!

    2. Find a seasonal fruit or vegetable and do something different and exciting with it. To give you a leg up, the next section has a recipe for our latest veggie fancy: cauliflower steaks. You can make them with endless variations of seasonings and sauces, and we’ve included six of our favorite variations.

     

    multicolored-cauliflower-nourishtheroots-230

    cauliflower-steaks-olive-tomato-epicurious-230r

    TOP PHOTO: Some jewels of fall: colored
    cauliflower. In the front is romanesco, a
    cultivar bred from cauliflower and broccoli rabe (rapini). Photo courtesy
    NourishTheRoots.com. BOTTOM PHOTO:
    Cauliflower steak with Italian accents. Photo
    courtesy Epicurious.com. Here’s the recipe.

     

    CAULIFLOWER STEAKS

    Since the summer, cauliflower steak has been trending at almost every restaurant we go visit, as a vegetarian/vegan/paleo/low-calorie/whatever option. It can also be served on top of your favorite whole grain, as a first course or entrée, or atop a bed of greens as a salad course. It’s especially fun with a purple cauliflower!

    A whole head of cauliflower is sliced into “steaks,” which are variously seasoned and roasted.

    Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 3 pounds)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Garnish: 2 tablespoons fresh parsley or other herb, finely
    chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

    2. COMBINE the lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Set aside momentarily.

    3. REMOVE the leaves and bottom core of a head of cauliflower lengthwise into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Season both sides with salt and pepper to taste and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with the lemon juice-garlic mixture. Roast 40 minutes or until golden and tender. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

    4. USE the remaining cauliflower pieces in salads raw or pickled, or steam/microwave them for another occasion.
     
    Variations

    Turn this spare basic recipe into more flavorful cauliflower steaks. Use your favorite international flavors as seasonings and sauces. For example:

  • Chinese cauliflower steaks: Eliminate the salt, brush steaks with soy sauce instead of lemon juice, top with minced garlic, garnish with fresh chives.
  • Indian cauliflower steaks: Season with ground cumin, coriander and optional curry powder instead of garlic, salt and pepper; garnish with fresh cilantro.
  • Italian cauliflower steaks #1: Use garlic-flavored olive oil and top the cauliflower with minced garlic before roasting. Place cooked steaks atop pesto, or atop marinara sauce seasoned with some oregano. Garnish with sliced black olives.
  • Italian cauliflower steaks #2: Make the basic recipe. After roasting, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  • Japanese cauliflower steaks: Use 1/2 olive oil, 1/2 toasted sesame oil or wasabi oil, and garnish with toasted sesame seeds, grated fresh ginger and/or fresh chives.
  • Mexican cauliflower steaks: Replace the lemon juice with lime juice. Serve on a bed of black beans or pinto beans and top with warmed salsa. Garnish with cilantro and optional crumbled queso fresco.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: “Pumpkin Custard” & The First Thanksgiving

    We’ll soon celebrate Thanksgiving, a remembrance of a harvest feast that took place 394 years ago. Pumpkin may have been served at the Pilgrims’ first harvest feast, but it wasn’t pumpkin pie. The pumpkin pie we know and love first appears in cookbooks in the early 19th century.

    After a horrific first winter that saw their community reduced by half, the settlers had yet to construct ovens for baking. Even if there had been butter and shortening to spare, pie crusts wouldn’t have cooked evenly over an open fire.

    But there may have been a pumpkin custard, which could be cooked in its own vessel—the pumpkin shell. Our tip today is: See if you can fit it into your Thanksgiving menu; and if not, enjoy it in advance of the big day.

    Before we go on to the recipe, here are some tidbits from Scholastic.com.

    The website has a terrific account on the Pilgrims and the first “Thanksgiving” (it wasn’t called that until much later). It expands on snippets taught in school and follows the dual stories of both the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag natives who helped them. The re-enactment videos and photography bring the story to life in a fresh new way.

    If some family and guests have an hour to kill on Thanksgiving Day, send everyone to the site. It will make the feast so much more meaningful.

    THE FIRST THANKSGIVING

    The Pilgrims, 102 adults and children, set sail for Virginia on September 6, 1620. The Mayflower was thrown off course by storms, and landed at Cape Cod 56 days later, on November 11th. The party made their way to the settlement they called Plimouth as winter set in, arriving on Christmas Day. Already weakened by their travel voyage, half of the passengers failed to survive the first few months of a bitter winter.

     

    Custard-Filled-Pumpkin-soufflebombay-230

    sugarpumpkin-artofthehome-230

    TOP PHOTO: Pumpkin custard baked in a pumpkin. Photo courtesy Souffle Bombay. BOTTOM PHOTO: A sugar pumpkin, the best size and shape for this recipe. Photo courtesy Art Of The Home.

     

    During those winter months, it was very difficult to find food and build shelter. Fortunately, the local native people, called Wampanoag, shared their knowledge and helped the colonists survive.

    Ten months after they arrived the settlers had constructed seven cottages, a common meeting house and three storehouses for the food from their first harvest. The Wampanoag Squanto taught the settlers how to plant native crops like corn and squash.

    Our national holiday commemorates the feast held in the autumn of 1621 to celebrate the colony’s first successful harvest. It was considered a harvest celebration, and was not called Thanksgiving. The “thanksgiving” concept was applied in the 19th century by scholars studying that period; and the Thanksgiving holiday, setting the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise,” was proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.
     
    WHAT DID THE PILGRIMS EAT AT THE “FIRST THANKSGIVING?”

    What did they eat? There’s only one surviving written account of the feast, which mentions neither turkey nor pumpkin, although we know both were plentiful locally. There were no cranberries† and no potatoes, mashed or sweet. Here’s what we do know:

  • Waterfowl were plentiful in the Massachusetts Bay area. Men could go out and shoot as much duck and geese as they liked. The women would pluck them and roast them over the fireplaces in their cottages.
  • Children would grind corn into cornmeal which was then made into porridge called samp (think oatmeal made from corn).
  • For their first harvest feast, the Wampanoag leader, Massasoit, sent 5 warriors to hunt five deer as a gift to the colonists. Venison was a favorite Wampanoag food.
  • The duck and venison were likely accompanied by cabbage, corn, onions, squash (including pumpkin) and seafood. Mussels clung to the rocks along the shore—easy pickings.
  • The 1621 feast lasted about a week, spanning several meals and games for both children and adults. Sometimes the Wampanoag and Pilgrims dined together, sometimes apart.
  •  
    *The Native Americans probably couldn’t sweeten them enough to be tasty. Instead, they used cranberries for red dye.

     

    pumpkin-apple-pies-leaf-decor-ws-230

    mini-pumpkins-for-creme-brulee-spoonforkbacon-230

    TOP PHOTO: A traditional pumpkin pie, made
    in a pie plate with a crust, didn’t appear until
    the early 19th century. TOP PHOTO: A
    traditional pumpkin pie decorated with small cookies in seasonal shapes. The cookie cutters are available at William-Sonoma.
    Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: You can also bake the custard in small individual pumpkins. Photo courtesy SpoonForkBacon.com.

     

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN CUSTARD, BAKED IN A PUMPKIN

    According to some accounts, the English settlers hollowed out pumpkins and filled the shells with milk, honey and spices to make a custard. They baked the filled pumpkin in the hot ashes of the fireplace. You, fortunately, have an oven.

    This recipe creates an impressive dessert that happens to be gluten free. You can also make a savory custard version to serve as a side. Here’s an assortment of savory custard recipes.

    Note that this isn’t “pumpkin custard” but a conventional custard baked inside a pumpkin. You can make a pumpkin custard by adding pumpkin purée to the custard recipe. Here’s one pumpkin custard recipe; there are many others online.
     
    Ingredients For 4-5 Servings

  • 1 small pumpkin*
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs plus 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  •  
    *The pumpkin should be 4-5 inches in height and 18 inches in diameter. Sugar pumpkins are ideal, but if you can’t find a small pumpkin, look for other winter squash in this size range (Hubbard, for example).
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Prepare the pumpkin as if preparing a jack-o-lantern: Cut off the top leaving the stem intact and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Scoop out enough pulp (pumpkin flesh) for the custard, while leaving a border of pulp to serve along with the finished custard. Place the large bottom portion on a baking sheet. Reserve the top (stem end) for later.

    2. COMBINE the sugar, eggs and vanilla in a mixing bowl and whisk until combined. Add the heavy cream, cornstarch and salt and whisk until fully combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pumpkin, leaving a 3/4-inch space between the filling and the top of the pumpkin. Bake for 15 minutes; then cover the top of the pumpkin loosely with foil and bake another 15 minutes.

     
    3. LOWER the oven temperature to 375°F, place the top of the pumpkin on the tray and continue to bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the custard comes out almost clean.

    4. TURN off the oven, allow the pumpkin to cool for an hour, then place it a refrigerator or in your cold garage, loosely covered with plastic wrap or foil. Allow the custard to set 6 hours or overnight. This is a good recipe to assign to a guest, since if you’re making the rest of the dinner, you (a) have your hands full and (b) your fridge is packed.

    5. TO SERVE: Scoop the custard into dessert bowls, scraping the sides to include some of the baked pumpkin.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Stuffed Acorn Squash

    Whole Acorn Squash

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/acorn whole halved 230

    TOP PHOTO: Whole acorn squash. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: Halved and seeded acorn squash.
    Photos courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     

    Last night we were out with a group of friends, the majority of whom ordered healthy roast vegetable plates for dinner. Roasting vegetables at home arose as a topic, and surprise:

    While most of us roasted sliced root vegetables, only two baked halved acorn or butternut squash.

    The reason given: It’s difficult (and scary) to cut the hard squash with a knife. So they purchased already-peeled and diced squash.

    Anyone with a sharp knife and a degree of caution can cut open a hard squash. Do not be intimidated by a vegetable!

    Sharpen your knife and watch this video.

    When you get comfortable with the process, you don’t even need to cut off the ends. We prefer to leave them on for aesthetic appeal, and use this technique—a rocking knife motion—to slice the squash in half.

    Now there’s nothing wrong baking the squash halves with a bit of butter or oil, salt and pepper—or a drizzle of maple syrup.

    But baked stuff squash is such a festive dish. You can stuff it with absolutely anything, from grains to other vegetables, as a first course or a vegetarian entrée. It’s a great Meatless Monday dish, but you can also add sausage or other meat.

    One squash serves two people. The following recipe is from QVC’s chef David Venable.

    The photo of the recipe is below the preparation instructions.

    RECIPE: BAKED STUFFED ACORN SQUASH

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    For The Stuffing

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for coating squash
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3/4 cup dry stuffing mix
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 bag (8.8 ounces) precooked long grain and wild rice blend
  • 1/2 cups grated Gruyère, Cheddar or substitute*
  • 1/2 cup pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
  •  
    *Semi-firm cheese or semi-hard cheeses include American Swiss, Appenzeller, Asiago, Beaufort, Caciotta, Caerphilly, Cantal, Cheshire, Colby, Comte, Emmental, Fontina, Glouster, Gjetost, Jarlsberg, Caserri, Manchego, Tete de Moine andTomme d’Abondance, among others.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil and season the flesh of each squash with salt and pepper. Place the halves flesh-side down on a baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until fork tender. While the squash is baking…

    2. MAKE the stuffing. Add 1 tablespoon oil to a skillet over medium heat, and sauté the onion and celery until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the stuffing mix and cranberries. Stir and remove the pan from the heat. When the stuffing has cooled slightly…

    3. SPOON it into a medium-size bowl and add the rice, cheese and pecans. Mix until combined. When the squash has finished baking…

    4. TURN each squash half flesh-side up and spoon the stuffing into the cavity. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the stuffing is heated through and is golden brown on top.
     
    TIP: Whole acorn squash can be stored for up to a month in a cool, dry spot. Only cooked or cut acorn squash should be refrigerated.
     

     

    THE HISTORY OF ACORN SQUASH

    Squash is indigenous to Central and South America. It was introduced to the Spanish conquistadors in Mexico and to the English setters in Virginia and Massachusetts.

    It was easy to grow and hardy enough to store for months, providing a nutritious dietary staple throughout the winter.

    Acorn squash (Curcubita pepo, var. turbinata) is so called because its shape resembles an acorn. The most common variety is dark green in color, often with a splotch of orange on the side or top. Some varieties are variegated (multi-color) and newer varieties include the yellow Golden Acorn squash and white-skinned varieties.

    Like the other popular winter squash, butternut squash, the skin of an acorn squash is thick and hard, and it is an effort to peel it.

    But either squash is easily cut in half with a large, sharp knife. It can then be baked, plain or stuffed with grain, meat or vegetable mixtures.
     
    EATING ACORN SQUASH

    Acorn squash are smaller than butternut squash (acorn is one to two pounds, four to seven inches long), and half of an acorn makes a convenient individual portion. It is similar in flavor to butternut.

    While acorn squash is most commonly baked, it can also be microwaved, sautéed or steamed.

  • The seeds of the squash are toasted and eaten. (Trivia: Initially, the seeds were eaten instead of the flesh until plumper-fleshed varieties were bred.)
  • The yellow trumpet flowers that are produced before the squash is fully developed are also edible. They are stuffed and considered a delicacy.
  •  

    Stuffed Bake Acorn Squash

    quinoa-stuffed-acorn-squash-smellslikebrownies-230sq

    TOP PHOTO: Stuffed acorn squash, the recipe above. Photo courtesy QVC. BOTTOM PHOTO: Go trendy: Stuff acorn squash with quinoa and kale. Here’s a recipe from SmellsLikeBrownies.com.

  • The green tops, about three inches’ worth from the end of the squash, are also edible (but not the prickly stem). The squash greens are a popular vegetable in the Philippines. Unless you grow your own or your local farmer doesn’t remove them, you aren’t likely to see them for sale in the U.S.
  • Squash in salads. Don’t hesitate to add cooked squash to green salads, grains, omelets, and anyplace you’d like another level of flavor and color.
     
    Acorn squash is a good source of dietary fiber and potassium, with smaller amounts of vitamins C and B, magnesium, and manganese. Surprisingly, because of the color of the flesh, it is not a good source of beta-carotene.
     
    SQUASH TRIVIA

  • The word “squash” comes from the Wampanoag Native American word, askutasquash, meaning “eaten raw or uncooked.” This may refer to the summer squash varieties, yellow squash and zucchini, which can be enjoyed raw. Summer squash, which belong to the same genus and species as most winter squash, are small, quick-growing varieties that are eaten before the rinds and seeds begin to harden.
  • There are three species of squash, all native to the Americas. Curcubita pepo includes acorn, butternut, pumpkin, summer squashes and others. Curcubita moschata, represented by the Cushaw, Japanese Pie, Large Cheese Pumpkins and Winter Crookneck Squashes arose, like Curcubita pepo, in Mexico and Central America. Both were and are important food, ranking next to maize and beans.Curcubita maxima, includes Boston Marrow, Delicious, Hubbard, Marblehead and Turks Turban, and apparently originated near the Andes, or in certain Andean valleys.
  • Before the arrival of Europeans, Curcubita pepoCurcubita moschata had been carried to all parts of North America that were conducive to growth. Many Native American tribes, particularly in the West, still grow a diversity of hardy squashes and pumpkins not to be found in our markets.
  • Squash was unknown in the Old World until the 16th century, brought back by the returning conquistadors. The oldest known prin record of it is dated 1591.
  • Much of canned pumpkin consists odf Curcubita moschata squash, not from the jack-o-lantern variety of pumpkin. The best commercially canned varieties are Boston Marrow and Delicious varieties.The flesh of these varieties is much richer and more nutritious than that of pumpkin.
  •  
    [Source]

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Raw Brussels Sprouts

    At this time of year, Brussels sprouts are in season and many people are debating how to prepare them for Thanksgiving. Our nana and aunt disagreed to the extent that each brought her preferred preparation (one a gratin laden with Gruyère and pancetta, one with a honey balsamic sauce).

    But you don’t have to cook Brussels sprouts. You can slice them or remove the leaves (as with cabbage, remove the bottom core first). Then, make:

  • Brussels sprouts slaw with mustard vinaigrette and optional crumbled cheese, or with apple matchsticks, or simply dressed with lemon and olive oil.
  • “Christmas” slaw: Mixed red cabbage and green Brussels sprouts.
  • Pickled, as a condiment for meats or a sandwich topping (how to pickle vegetables).
  • Sandwiches, using Brussels sprouts leaves instead of lettuce.
  •  
    Be sure you buy freshly harvested sprouts. As they age, they develop stronger and more bitter flavors. This applies equally to the sprouts used in cooked recipes.

    To start you off with raw Brussels sprouts, here’s a tasty salad with holiday accents. There’s another recipe below that combines raw Brussels sprouts with raw shaved root vegetables.

    Prep time is 15 minutes.

       

    Raw Brussels Sprouts

    Raw Brussels sprouts salad with holiday accents. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    RECIPE: SHAVED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH CRANBERRIES & TOASTED WALNUTS

    Raw Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts and toss in a light vanilla-sage vinaigrette for a salad that’s sure to please during holiday gatherings.

    Ingredients For 5 Servings

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (substitute white wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 container (12 ounces) Brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (substitute pecans)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WASH, trim and thinly shave the Brussels sprouts.

    2. MIX the oil, vinegar, vanilla and seasonings in small bowl with a wire whisk until well blended. Add the cranberries; let stand 30 minutes to allow cranberries to soften.

    3. TOSS the Brussels sprouts and walnuts in a large bowl until well blended. Drizzle with the dressing; toss to coat well. Serve immediately.
     

     

    Brussels Sprouts Salad

    Shaved Fall Salad

    TOP PHOTO: Brussels sprouts salad with a
    holiday touch. Photo courtesy Julie Gransee |
    Lovely Little Kitchen | McCormick. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: Shaved fall vegetable salad. Photo
    courtesy GoodEggs.com.

      RECIPE: SHAVED ROOT VEGETABLE SALAD

    This recipe combines raw Brussels sprouts with raw fall root vegetables and some arugula for greenery. It was adapted from a recipe on GoodEggs.com. A bonus: You get to practice your shaving skills on a mandoline.

    Ingredients For 2-4 Servings

  • 1 bunch arugula (substitute baby spinach)
  • 1 watermelon radish, peeled and trimmed (substitute other
    radish)
  • 1 bulb celery root (celeriac), outer skin removed
  • 1 bulb of fennel, trimmed, fronds reserved†
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts, leaves separated
  • 1 slow-browning apple*
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (substitute goat cheese)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) apple cider vinegar (substitute red
    wine vinegar)‡
  • Drizzle of honey
  •  
    *Some varieties of apple brown more slowly when their flesh is cut and exposed to air. Look for Ambrosia, Cameo, Cortland, Empire, Gala, Ginger Gold, Goldrush, Masonova, Shizuka or SnowSweet varieties. Browning is caused by an enzyme called phenolase, that reacts with oxygen. These apple varieties have much less of the enzyme (or a weaker form of it), so they turn brown very slowly, without having to be dipped in acidified water or other slowing technique. They are natural varieties, not genetically modified like the Arctic Apple, a GMO that was bred not to brown for a very long time.

    †While the fronds come free with the fennel, we had fresh dill on hand and used those fronts instead (see Step 3 below).

    ‡Check out the different types of vinegar.

     
    Preparation

    1. CAREFULLY SHAVE the radish, fennel, apple and celery root on a mandoline. (Depending on the size of the celery root, you may need to cut it in half before shaving.)

    2. ROUGHLY CHOP a small handful of the fennel fronds.

    3. COMBINE the arugula, apple, Brussels leaves, celery root, fennel, fennel fronds and radish and in a big bowl. Dress with the olive oil and vinegar, a drizzle of honey, salt and pepper.

    4. ADJUST seasonings to taste and finish with blue cheese crumbles.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Celeriac, Celery Root, A Root By Any Name

    Celeriac, Celery Root

    Celery Root

    TOP PHOTO: It’s not a beauty, but you’ll be hooked by its delicious, distinctive flavor. Photo courtesy The Chef’s Garden. BOTTOM PHOTO: Use the tops as garnish and in salads, soup stocks and stir frys. Courtesy Good Eggs |San Francisco.

     

    If you were asked to name root vegetables, you probably would overlook celery root, even though it has “root” in its name.

    Celery root is a large, gnarled globe—perhaps the least attractive item in the produce section.

    But peel away the skin and you’ll discover creamy flesh like a parsnip’s, to which it is related. Its botanical family, Apiaceae—commonly known as the carrot or parsley family—includes numerous* well-known vegetables. While not a relative, it can be cooked in the same way as potatoes.

    We grew up in an era and in a town with a wealth of old school French restaurants, presenting the cuisine of Escoffier and other seminal French chefs. Our favorite appetizer was céleri remoulade, a classic French first course.

    To make it, the raw celery root knob is peeled and julienned (cut into matchsticks). It is then dressed with rémoulade sauce, a homemade mayonnaise flavored with Dijon mustard. It was served to us in a lettuce cup, sometimes atop greens. Think of a gourmet cousin of cole slaw. We couldn’t get enough of it.

    Here’s a video recipe for céleri remoulade.
     
    A ROOT BY ANY OTHER NAME

    Called céleri in French and celeriac in English, the vegetable is also called celery root, knob celery and turnip-rooted celery. It can be eaten raw or cooked.

    Apium graveolens var. Rapaceum has a crisp, apple-like texture with bright white flesh. The firm, juicy flesh has a mild herbaceous quality with celery-like undertones. Celery root can be a non-starch substitute for potatoes: mashed, French-fried and almost any other way.

    Celery root is available year-round, with a peak season in late fall and winter. Nutritionally, it is an excellent source of dietary fiber and potassium, with significant amounts of vitamins B6 and C. It has just 66 calories per cup.

    One of the oldest root vegetables in recorded history, it grew wild in the Mediterranean Basin and in Northern Europe, but was considered difficult to grow. Farmers worked to master it, and it became culinarily important during the Middle Ages.

     

    Celeriac developed from the same wild plant as the familiar long-stalk green celery, but you’d never know from looking at them that they are kin. Over the millennia, different strains of the plants were developed for different reasons, some focusing on the root, others on the stems or leaves.

     
    *Some other cousins include angelica, anise, caraway, celery, chervil, coriander/cilantro, cumin, dill, fennel, lovage and sea holly.

     
    RECIPE: CRISPY CHICKEN THIGHS WITH MASHED CELERY ROOT

    Thanks to Good Eggs, the finest grocery purveyor in San Francisco, for this recipe.

     

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 4 large chicken thighs (more for bigger appetites or leftovers)
  • 1 pound celery root
  • 1 bunch of Lacinato kale† ‡, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
  • Handful** of chives, dill or tarragon, chopped
  • Handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • Spoonful of salted butter
  • Squeeze of lemon or a splash of red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    †Tired of kale? Substitute broccoli rabe (rapini), collard greens, kohlrabi leaves, mustard greens, red cabbage or Swiss chard.

    ‡There are more than 50 varieties of kale, of which four are most often found in the U.S. Curly kale is the variety typically found in grocery stores. You may have to hit farmers markets or specialty produce stores for the others: lacinato kale (also called black kale, dinosaur kale, and Tuscan kale, among other names), redbor kale (ornamental kale, which is equally edible) and red Russian kale.

     

    Mashed Celery Root

    Crispy chicken thighs, creamy mashed celery root and good-for-you greens. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     
    **We don’t love vague measurements like a bit, a handful, a spoonful, a smidge. They’re imprecise and subjective. The best explanation is that the exact quantity isn’t important: Use more or less as you like. Write down how much you use when you add the ingredient, and then note afterward how much you’d use the next time you make the recipe.

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F with an oven-safe pan inside (cast iron, french oven or deep fry pan). Fill a large pot about half way full with water for the stove top, add a handful of salt and turn the heat to high. Salt and pepper the chicken thighs liberally.

    2. PREP the celery root by slicing off the top and bottom and peeling off the fibrous outer skin. Cut into 1 inch chunks and add to the pot of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. When the oven is hot…

    3. REMOVE the pan and add the chicken thighs, skin side down. Place the pan back in the oven for 25-30 minutes, then gently test for doneness by pricking with a small, sharp knife. They’re done when the chicken juices run clear. TIP: For extra crispy skin, preheat a cast iron skillet in the oven instead of a baking pan—and be prepared to remove it with silicon oven mitts or pot holders.

    4. CHECK the celery root for doneness; it’s finished when the cubes are tender. Drain and place the cubes in a mixing bowl along with the butter, herbs, salt and pepper. Using a fork or the back of a spoon, mash all of the ingredients together until you have your preferred consistency of mashed potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    5. REMOVE the finished chicken from the pan. Pour off about half the pan drippings, add the kale and toss with tongs, making sure the greens are coated in the drippings. Return the pan with the kale to the oven for about 5-7 minutes to cook the kale quickly. Once the kale is done, dress it with a squeeze of lemon and serve alongside the chicken and celery root.

    NOTE: Like an apple, celery root will discover with prolonged exposure to air. To serve it raw, blanched briefly in acidic water (with lemon juice).

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Carrot Tartare

    carrot-tartare-eleven-madison-park-tripadvisor-230

    Carrot Tartare

    TOP PHOTO: Carrot tartare at 11 Madison
    Park, served in custom-designed platters.
    Photo courtesy Trip Advisor. BOTTOM PHOTO:
    Simple but elegant carrot tartare at
    Restaurant Niven | The Netherlands. Photo
    courtesy TheLittleThings.com.

     

    Today’s tip is an illustration of how to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Take the humble carrot.

    Carrot tartare is turning up at the finest venues around the world. We recently had it as part of the 13-course tasting menu at 11 Madison Park in New York City. A walk away, it is served at the equally fashionable NoMad.

    We found other preparations as far apart as New Zealand and The Netherlands.
     
    CUSTOMIZED MIX-INS AT THE TABLE

    At 11 Madison Park, the dish is culinary theatre. A shiny meat grinder is brought tableside. Beautiful farmers market carrots are ground as if they were sirloin.

    The shreds of carrot are then plated and served to each person with condiments, set into a custom wood platter. At 11 Madison Park, it’s all about the mix-ins, customized as you like. The assortment of condiments can vary.

  • On one occasion we had pickled chopped chives; quail egg yolks; quince mustard; sea salt, shaved smoked and dried beets; sunflower oil; sunflower seeds; shaved horseradish; pickled quince and pickled mustard seeds, served with mini squeeze bottles of spicy curried vinaigrette and mustard vinaigrette.
  • On a second occasion, our mix-ins included apple mustard, chives, grated horseradish, mustard flowers, pickled apple, pickled ginger, pickled quail egg yolk, smoked blue fish, sea salt and sunflower seeds, with squeeze bottles of mustard oil and spicy carrot vinaigrette.
  •  
    As with steak tartare, there’s a side of toast, here in the form of toasted whole grain bread. You can see the whole process here on YouTube.
     
    But you don’t need a meat grinder or a specially designed platter to hold the carrots and mix-ins. You can present the dish ready to eat.

     
    MIXED IN THE KITCHEN AND READY TO EAT

    Here’s a recipe that arrives ready to eat. Great thanks go to Denise Kortlever, a Dutch cookbook author and creator of the website The Littlest Things, for obtaining the recipe. You must see her website; we want to eat everything on it!

    Her carrot tartare recipe comes from Niven Kunz of Restaurant Niven in The Netherlands. A young, Michelin star chef, his philosophy is “80/20”: 80% vegetables and 20% meat or fish. (His book of that title is not yet available in English.)

    You can make it in just 10 minutes. It can be served as a first course, or plated with an entrée protein.

    We also have a recipe for Beet Tartare.

     

    RECIPE: CARROT TARTARE

    Serving Size: 4 Appetizer Servings

  • 1 bunch of carrots, peeled (we used a blend of yellow, orange, red and purple carrots from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 very fresh egg yolk*
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 4 anchovy† fillets, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers, drained and finely chopped
  • 1 dill pickle, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • Garnish: fresh microgreens, sprouts, or a chiffonade of basil leaves
  •  
    *It’s best to use organic eggs. If you’re concerned about salmonella, use SafeEggs pasteurized eggs or this technique to pasteurize eggs at home.

    †Don’t like anchovies? Substitute 2-3 tablespoons of a tiny dice of Granny Smith or other tart apple.
     
    Preparation

    1. GRATE the carrots coarsely on a box grater, Microplane or shredding disk of a food processor.

    2. BLEND with the other ingredients into a smooth tartare. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    3. PLATE with a cooking ring (a.k.a. egg ring, English muffin ring or pancake ring). Place the cooking ring on a plate, fill with the tartare and press down with the back of a cooking spoon. Garnish with a green leaf.

     

    carrot-tartare-chameleon-resto-NZ-tripadvisor-230

    Carrot Tartare

    TOP PHOTO: Carrot tartare served with lamb loin and drops of black garlic, pea purée and turnip purée at Chameleon Restaurant and Bar in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo courtesy Trip Advisor. BOTTOM PHOTO: At Harvest On Hudson, local goat cheese is mixed into the carrot tartare. It’s garnished with arugula pesto and red beet vinaigrette. Photo courtesy Harvest On Hudson.

     

    WHAT IS TARTARE?

    Steak tartare, or tartar steak, is a meat dish** that got its name from the legend that the ever-invading Tartars†† did not have time to cook their meat, so ate it raw as they traveled on horseback.

    Steak tartare is made from finely chopped or minced raw beef or horse meat, plus seasonings. With its growing popularity over the last 30 or so years, other recipes have adopted the name. Salmon tartare, tomato tartare and tuna tartar are examples.

    _____________________________
    **The typical steak tartare recipe comprises ground raw beef mixed with onions, capers, Worcestershire sauce and a raw egg, served with toast points. A French variation, tartare aller-retour, is tartare patty lightly seared on one side. Steak tartare is often served with frites (French fries). In Belgium, the dish is known as filet américain. American? What happened to the Tartars?

    ††The Tartars, also spelled Tatars, are an ethnic group from Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. Most Tatars live in the Russian Federation. To Americans, the most famous of the Tartars is Genghis Khan, whose troops invaded Europe in the 13th century. The most famous Tartar-American is the actor Charles Bronson.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sunchokes Are In Season

    Fresh from California, sunchokes are in season. Their flavor gets even better after at a light frost. This brings us to the question:

    WHAT ARE SUNCHOKES?

    Sunchokes, a modern term for Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus) are edible tubers that grow underground, similar to potatoes. The word is a contraction of “sunflower chokes”; sunchokes are close relatives of sunflowers. They are both in the botanical family Asteraceae and the genus Helianthus.

    Sunchokes taste like a cross between potatoes and artichoke hearts (although they are related to neither), with a slightly nuttiness. Although many people peel them before cooking, we enjoy the earthy flavor of the skins. (We also loved baked potato skins, if that’s any measure.)

    Root vegetables are generally storage organs, enlarged to store energy in the form of carbohydrates. True roots include:

  • Taproots, such as beet, burdock, carrot, celeriac, daikon, dandelion, jicama, parsley root*, parsnip, radish, rutabaga, salsify and turnip, among others not well-known in the U.S.
  • Tuberous roots, such as cassava/yuca/manioc, Chinese/ Korean yam, and sweet potato, among others.
  • Other root vegetables include:

  • Bulbs (fennel; garlic, green onion/scallion, leek, onion, shallot and the rest of the Allium family)
  • Corms (Chinese water chestnut, taro)
  • Rhizomes (arrowroot, galangal, ginger, ginseng, lotus root, turmeric)
  • Tubers (Chinese artichoke/crosne, Jerusalem artichoke/ sunchoke, potato, ube, yam)
  •  
    Sunchoke tubers are elongated and uneven, typically 3-4 inches long and 1.2–2 inches thick. The color is often light brown, but some varieties are purple, red or white. Brown sunchokes vaguely resemble ginger root in appearance, and can be eaten raw or cooked.
     
    *Parsley root is not related to parsley, the herb, but is a beige root vegetable that resembles a parsnip or turnip. The edible leaves that grow above the ground do resemble curly parsley leaves, but taste like celery. Parsley root is also called turnip-rooted parsley. In Germany it is known as Hamburg parsley, and is a popular winter vegetable in Germany, Holland and Poland.

     

    Jerusalem Artichoke (Sunchoke)

    Jerusalem Artichoke Plant

    TOP PHOTO: The Jerusalem artichoke, or sunchoke, is the root of a sunflower-like plant. Some subscpecies are purple, red or white. Photo courtesy Culinary Vegetable Institute. BOTTOM PHOTO: You can see the resemblance of this Jerusalem artichoke plant to its cousin, the sunflower. Photo by PJF | Wikimedia.

     

     

    Sunchokes & Kale

    crispy-jerusalem-epicurious-230r

    TOP PHOTO: Mix sunchokes with mashed potatoes or other roots, or combine it into a hash with kale and farro. Recipe from Food & Wine. BOTTOM PHOTO: Crispy Jerusalem Artichokes from Epicurious.com. Here’s the recipe.

     

    JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE HISTORY

    Jerusalem artichokes are native to eastern North America and were first cultivated by Native Americans, long before the arrival of the Pilgrims and Puritans. The plant grew wild along the eastern seaboard from Georgia to Nova Scotia.

    The explorer Samuel de Champlain first encountered it in 1605, growing in a Native American vegetable garden in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The Native Americans called the food sun roots, and introduced them to the Pilgrims, who grew them as a staple food.

    By the mid-1600s, Jerusalem artichokes had become a common vegetable for human consumption in France, where they were transported by de Champlain. In New England, they were a staple for the settlers. They were also used as livestock feed on both continents.

    The French worked their culinary magic on the tuber, which reached peak popularity at the turn of the 19th century. But if you fast-forward two centuries, some glory remains: The Jerusalem artichoke was named “best soup vegetable” at the 2002 Nice Festival For The Heritage Of The French Cuisine. [Source]
     
    THE NAME “JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE”

    The Jerusalem artichoke is not part of the artichoke family but is a member of the sunflower family. The tall yellow flowers are decorative; the tasty part is the root in the ground.

    Why is it called Jerusalem, when the Jerusalem artichoke is native to North America?

    De Champlain felt the tuber tasted like artichokes, and he brought plants back to France with the name Jerusalem artichokes (the modern French name is topinambour). The Puritans referred to their settlement as “New Jerusalem” (after the Book Of Revelations), which may account† for the first part of the name.

     
    †The Italian word for sunflower is girasole (gee-rah-SO-lay), which could have evolved to “Jerusalem” over time. However, Jerusalem artichokes predated any significant Italian immigration to America by two centuries. A better explanation for the name is that it derives from the Puritans gave their New World settlement: New Jerusalem.
     
    THE NAME “SUNCHOKE”

    Around the 1970s, California growers realized that they had a marketing problem with Jerusalem artichoke. Just as the unexciting “prunes” became “dried plums”—and the Patagonian toothfishbecame the very popular Chilean sea bass—a more tantalizing name was sought. A suggestion of “sunflower artichoke” was contracted to sunchoke.

    Other names include earth apple, and sunroot.
     
    SUNCHOKE RECIPES

    Sunchokes can be cooked like potatoes: boiled, fried, grilled, mashed, microwaved or steamed. Raw, it is reminiscent of jicama, and can be added raw to salads. in stir-fries and soups and simply blanched and sauteed with garlic. They can be mashed or blended into mashed potatoes.

    And there’s nothing like a medley of roasted root vegetables, such as beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips and sunchokes. Here are more elaborate recipes:

  • Brioche-Crusted Fish With Sunchoke Purée and Sunchoke Pickles (recipe)
  • Fried Sunchoke Chips With Rosemary Salt (recipe)
  • Hanger Steak With Shallots & Sunchokes (recipe)
  • Olive Oil Poached Salmon With Sunchoke Purée (recipe)
  • Roast Sunchokes (recipe)
  • Sunchoke & Arugula Salad (recipe)
  • Sunchoke & Kale Hash With Farro (recipe)
  • Sunchoke Purée (recipe)
  • Sunchoke Soup WIth Pumpkin Seeds (recipe)
  • Tamarind-Braised Short Ribs with Truffle Sunchoke Purée, Watercress Purée, and Glazed Chanterelle Mushrooms (recipe)
  •  
    Before cooking, scrub sunchokes well with a vegetable brush under running water. They can be eaten raw, but have been known to cause gastric upset in some people. It you have a tender tummy, first try a small piece of the raw root.
     
    HOW TO BUY SUNCHOKES

    Choose chokes that are firm, with no soft spots. As with potatoes, avoid nicks or cuts in the peel.

    Store in a cool, dry place, or keep the sunchokes in the crisper drawer of the fridge, wrapped in a paper towel to absorb excess moisture.
     
    NUTRITIONS

    One cup of sunchokes has 109 calories, 0 fat or cholesterol, 6 mg sodium, 643 mg potassium, 26 g total carbohydrte, 2.4 g dietary fiber, 14 g sugar and 3g protein.

    Most significant among vitamins and minerals, one cup contains 10% DV of vitamin C and 28% DV of iron.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pears At Every Fall Meal

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

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

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

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

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

    RECIPE: NO-COOK SIMPLE PEAR PURÉE

    Ingredients For 1 Serving

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

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

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

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

       

    Pear-Butternut Squash Soup

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

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

     
    Preparation For Hard Pears

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    PEAR RECIPES FOR DINNER

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

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

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

    THE HISTORY OF PEARS

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

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

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

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

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

      

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    RECIPE: Twice Baked Pumpkin Potatoes

    This recipe for Twice Baked Potatoes offers a new twist by mixing pumpkin in with the scooped-out potato flesh. The result is more complex flavor and more creamy texture—not to mention a bright orange color. There are also a trio of onion varieties: green onions, shallots and yellow onions.

    The recipe is from Taylor Mathis of TaylorTakesATaste.com for GoBoldWithButter.com. He recommends it as “a perfect side for any grilled or roasted pork dish.” Ditto for roast chicken.

    Taylor, a professional food and lifestyle photographer, works with his mother Sally James Mathis, a professional recipe developer. You can bet that everything they create is delicious.

    RECIPE: TWICE BAKED PUMPKIN POTATOES

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 4 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and patted dry
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup yellow onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup shallots, chopped
  • 1/3 cup scallions (white and green parts), chopped
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  •    

    twice-baked-pumpkin_taylor-goboldwithbutter-230

    The center is scooped from baked potatoes, mixed with pumpkin, returned to the potato shell and baked again. Photo courtesy Taylor Mathis | Go Bold With Butter.

  • Garnish: pumpkin seeds and additional grated Parmesan Cheese
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 42°F and bake the potatoes: Pierce each raw potato three or four times with a fork. Brush with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, place and directly on the oven rack. Roast until the skin is crisp and the body is very soft when squeezed, 50–60 minutes. Lower the heat to 350°F.

    2. SPLIT the baked potatoes in half lengthwise while still warm. Scoop out the insides of each half, taking care not to damage the skins, and place the flesh in a large bowl. The hollowed-out potato skins will be filled later.

    3. MELT the butter in a medium pan. Add the yellow onions, shallots and scallions. Cook, while stirring, until soft. Add the canned pumpkin and milk. Stir until all ingredients are well incorporated.

    4. REDUCE the heat and add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir and remove from the heat. Add the Parmesan and stir. Fold the pumpkin mixture into the large bowl of potatoes.

    5. FILL the empty potato shells with the potato and pumpkin mixture. Garnish with additional Parmesan and pumpkin seeds as desired. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

     

    russet-beauty-230

    A russet potato with extra slices. Photo courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.

     

    ABOUT RUSSET POTATOES

    Russets are the most common type of potato grown in the U.S. They are the classic baking potato, floury/starchy potatoes that are lower in moisture (drier) and high in starch. The potato is oval and has a brown or russet-colored, net-like skin. The skin typically has just a few shallow eyes.

    The term “Idaho potatoes” is often used interchangeably, but Idaho© Potatoes is a trademark of the Idaho Potato Commission, for russets that are grown in the state of Idaho.

    Floury potatoes do not hold their shape well after cooking due to their low sugar content. They have a crumbly texture that tends to fall apart when boiled. That’s why russets are easier to mash. In addition to baked potatoes, they’re also used for deep-frying (for example, French fries and potato pancakes).

    Russets are bred to be harvested in the warmer months; Idahos are harvested in the cooler months. Idahoan Luther Burbank developed the Russet Burbank potato in 1872, a more disease-resistant version of the Irish russet potato.

     

    There have been additional russet developments since. In the U.S. alone, they include Alturas, BelRus, Centennial Russet, Century Russet, Frontier Russet, Goldrush, Hilite Russet, Krantz, Lemhi Russet, Nooksack, Norgold Russet, Norking Russet, Ranger Russet, Russet Burbank, Russet Norkotah and Russet Nugget. Each is bred for optimal growing in different soils, climates, rainfalls and seasons, and for resistance to pests.

    POTATO HISTORY

    Wild potatoes are indigenous to the Andes Mountains in Peru, where the Incas cultivated many species of potato. They were first domesticated more than 6,000 years ago.

    The name is said to originate from the Spanish patata, a combination of batata (sweet potato) and papa, a word for potato from the Inca Quechua language.

    The Spanish conquered Peru around 1530 and brought potatoes back home to Spain along with tomatoes, also native to Peru. News traveled fast (or what passed as “fast” in the centuries prior to the telegraph), and potatoes quickly reached the rest of Western Europe.

    However, not everyone was enamored of the potato or the tomato. They were feared at first, accused of causing leprosy and being poisonous. They were classified as members of the Nightshade family, Solanaceae, because both contain toxic compounds known as glycoalkaloids. However, the levels in domestic potatoes and tomatoes fall far short of being harmful to people.

    Slowly, more countries realized the power of the potato. It could grow in any climate. It became a major food crop in Ireland, so much so that when the country was hit by a potato blight (Phytophthora infestans) three years in a row, more than a million people died of starvation and disease.

    Potatoes were introduced to America in the 18th century. They were first planted in Idaho in 1836; today the state grows 25% of the nation’s potatoes.

    See the other types of potatoes in our Potato Glossary.

      

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