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Posts Tagged ‘Fruit’

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Make melon salsa.

I made this a while back, when we were still getting boxes from our CSA.  I like melons, but I don’t love them.  I probably would order the healthy side of fruit option with a sandwich instead of fries a lot more often if it wasn’t usually just a big pile of cantelope and honeydew chunks, with a half a strawberry thrown in so that they can actually argue that it is indeed a fruit salad.

This however was a wonderful way to use up the very gorgeous melon we got from Eatwell.   I’m not sure exactly what kind of melon it was, as the outside skin was a gorgeous shade of yellow, but the inside tasted like cantelope. 

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I think this recipe would work with any basic cantelope or honeydew type of melon, though I think watermelon would be too watery.

I found this recipe on the always amazing blog, Smitten Kitchen, who in turn based hers on a variation in Gourmet.  I changed things up a bit using what I had in the fridge, and brought it to a barbeque with some tortilla chips.  It was a huge hit.

Cantaloupe Salsa
Adapted from Gourmet and Smitten Kitchen

Makes about 3 cups of salsa

2 cups finely diced cantaloupe or other melon (about a half a melon, maybe a little less)
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1-2 sweet gypsy peppers (depending on the size), diced.  If you can’t find gypsy peppers, I would use one small red bell pepper, chopped very finely.
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 (2-inch-long) fresh hot red or green chile, minced (use the seeds if you want extra heat)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix everything together and eat as soon as possible.  After about 2-3 hours it will start turning watery and not attractive, so you can’t really make this too far ahead.

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Unfortunately, that day threw me another lemon…or melon..and my digital camera is no more.  So, if any food bloggers out there have recommendations for a good one, please let me know!

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It’s strawberry season in California and I have been obsessed.  I feel the urge to buy local strawberries whenever I see them at farmer’s markets and produce stands.  I bought so many this week that I couldn’t keep up with eating them them before they went bad.  And, when I realized more strawberries would be coming my way in my Eatwell box this week, I knew I had to do something.

I had flagged this scone recipe from Confessions of a Tart in my blog reader recently, as it looked so easy and so delicious.   I made the batter the night before and it really just took a few minutes.  The next morning, I baked it and yum, yum.  I definitely recommend it to satisfy your strawberry baked good fix.  Or any fruit baked good fix, really.

Strawberry Scones

Ingredients
1 cup strawberries (or other fruit)
3 tablespoons sugar – I used vanilla sugar (threw a scraped out vanilla bean pod in a container of sugar, let it sit indefinitely)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, in cubes, slightly softened
2/3 cup half-and-half or cream or cold buttermilk

Topping:
1 tablespoon sugar (again, I used vanilla sugar)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or cover it in parchment.  Don’t skip this step.  I did and wound up with burnt strawberry bits encrusted on my sheet.

If using larger fruit, cut into bite-sized pieces.  At least quartered, more if needed.  Sprinkle fruit with 1/2 tablespoon sugar; set aside.  Be sure to make the pieces small, or they tend to fall out of the dough.  They’ll still be plenty prominent in your finished scones.

Combine remaining sugar with flour, baking powder and salt. Add butter, using a pastry cutter or your fingers to evenly mix the butter into flour.  Stir in fruit; then add cream/half-and-half/buttermilk all at once.  Gently stir dough until it holds together.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to incorporate dry ingredients.  Be gentle so you don’t break up the berries and don’t overwork the dough.  Sprinkle dough with flour if it gets sticky. 

Pat the dough into a circle 3/4 inch thick.  If any berries peek out, push them into dough.  At this point, I wrapped it up in plastic wrap and stuck it in the fridge to bake in the morning.  Scone dough can sit for a couple days in the fridge since it doesn’t have any eggs in it.  But if you want to power through and bake it right away, no need to refridgerate.

Cut circle into 6-8 wedges, then transfer wedges to the cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space between them. Bake 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with sugar and bake 5-10 more minutes or until the tops are beginning to brown and spring back when you push them.  (The sprinkling of sugar over the top for the last few minutes of baking creates a simple, sparkly topping.

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Growing up, a staple at family parties was keilbasa in grape jelly.  There was other stuff in it, like ketchup or barbeque sauce, and probably some Lipton French Onion Soup mix, because wasn’t that stuff in everything in the 70s and 80s?  The dish was usually served warm, in a crockpot or on a hot plate or something, and we’d spoon it up onto our paper plates right next to the macaroni salad dressed with Miracle Whip.  It was the type of recipe that probably originated on the back of a jar of Smuckers, designed by The Man to find new ways to help the hungry masses injest sodium and high fructose corn syrup.  It was chock full of processed pork scraps and chemicals, but it was sweet and spicy, and went perfectly with a styrofoam cup of Sprite.

Since this blog is a Sandra-Lee-Free-Zone, I’m not even going to try to recreate that dish.  But The Man did strike gold when he combined pork products with grapes.  Thankfully, Bon Appetit has come up with a version of that delicious combination that won’t make you hang your head in shame when you eat it.

The recipe is amazing.  It’s a perfect fall or winter dish, so since there’ll inevitably be another cold, blustery day before the warm weather hits, I recommend filing this away for that occassion.  The original recipe didn’t involve polenta, but I thought it needed something to absorb the broth.  Polenta was definitely the right choice, since it’s a little sweeter than rice or potatoes so it compliments the grapes nicely.    Mashed potatoes might work with this, though I think they might be too earthy for such a fruity dish.   Though, you could always go for Miracle Whip macaroni salad.

Braised Pork with Grapes and Balsamic over Creamy Polenta

Ingredients

For the pork

 1 3 1/4-pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed, cut into 3 equal pieces
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
8 large shallots, halved, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 3 cups)
3 cups seedless black grapes (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 large fresh sage sprigs
4 large fresh thyme sprigs
2 large fresh rosemary sprigs

For the polenta

1 cup polenta
3 cups water, broth, or a mix
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat.  Add pork to pot and cook until browned on all sides, about 13 minutes total.  Transfer pork to plate; discard fat in pot.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in same pot over medium heat.  Add shallots and grapes; sauté until shallots are golden, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.  Add sugar; sauté 30 seconds.  Add vinegar; bring mixture to boil and cook until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.  Add broth, all herb sprigs, and pork with juices from plate.  Bring to boil. Cover pot and transfer to oven. 

Braise the pork for 1 hour.  Using tongs, turn pork over and continue braising until meat is very tender, about 45 minutes longer. 

Meanwhile, make the polenta.  Bring the water, broth, and milk to a boil.  Add the polenta and the butter, and reduce to a simmer.  Whisk the polenta in thoroughly to make sure there are no lumps.  Keep the pan on simmer, whisking every few minutes, for approximately 25 minutes, or until it reaches your desired consistency.

When the pork is done, remove it from the oven, and using slotted spoon, transfer pork to platter; tent with foil.

Remove herb sprigs from pot and skim fat from surface of cooking liquid.   At this point, the grapes should have completely disintegrated, leaving you with a rich, flavorful broth.  Boil that over high heat until thickened.  The recipe suggested boiling for 7 minutes, but I had a lot of liquid in the pot, so I boiled it for about 15 minutes.    Season sauce with salt and pepper.   Pour over pork and serve.  Or, just place the pork back in the liquid and serve everything from that pot.

Spoon the polenta into shallow bowls and serve the pork and broth over everything.

It does not make for the most elegant presentation, but it definitely tastes wonderful.  If I were cooking this for guests, I might sprinkle some fresh thyme over the dish to give it a bit more color.

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The recipe suggests pairing the dish with a 2003 Rosenblum zinfandel.  By sheer coincidence, we had a Rosenblum zinfandel on hand, just a later year and a different vineyard.  But, close enough to justify opening it. 

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It went perfectly with the dinner.  If you can’t get your hands on a Rosenblum wine, I would definitely recommend sticking with a zinfandel.  The dish is fruity, and the peppery zinfandel compliments it nicely.

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The one produce item that seems in short supply here on the west coast is cranberries. Being a Massachusetts native, I love me some cranberry sauce, so this has been distressing. I’ve been searching for these things for a month now, since they are widely available on the east coast in late September. They finally appeared in my neighborhood grocery store this morning, much to my relief. They were a little banged up from their cross country journey, but they worked. I’m amazed that cranberries don’t seem to be grown out here. Don’t they have bogs in California?

Pomegranates, however, do seem to be particularly plentiful around here. Two were included in our farm share box last week, so I set out looking for fun ways to use them. I think that I once saw pomegranate cranberry sauce in a magazine – probably Food and Wine or maybe Martha – but I can’t remember where, and pretty much just made this one up. It turned out delicious, and, like all cranberry sauce recipes, it is incredibly easy to make.

Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients
1 bag of cranberries (about a pound)
Seeds from 1/2 of a pomegranate
Juice from 1 orange + enough water to make 1 cup of liquid
2/3 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses

I found the molasses at a speciality Spanish and mediterrean grocery store. If you can’t track any down, I’d substitute pomegranate juice for the water, and possibly reduce the sugar to a half cup or so. Honestly, it’s kind of hard to screw up cranberry sauce, once you know the basic recipe is 1 bag of cranberries, 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of sugar, so just work with what you’ve got and just adjust the amount of sugar based on what liquid you use and your own personal preference.

Directions

Put the cranberries, juice, water, sugar, and pomegranate molasses in a pot and bring to a boil.

Simmer for 8 minutes or so, then add the pomegranate seeds.

Simmer for an additional 2 minutes, then let the sauce completely cool to thicken.

That’s it. That is how easy it is to make homemade cranberry sauce. Yum.

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