Tag Archives: fruit

the food of our forefathers

Let’s close our eyes and imagine this monumental moment in American history: It’s July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress closes its session for the day and John Adams takes a moment to write his dear Abigail:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, curried quinoa salad, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

Yes, from our remarkable forefather, and determined by the democratic votes of dear Pear readers, this Fourth of July was one of cornhole, fireworks, and curried quinoa salad. You voted, I made it, neighbors loved it.

While a number of new foods and flavors crossed the Atlantic in the late eighteenth century, the combinations here were likely uncommon. If only I could time travel to Mr. Adams’ day and gift him with a subscription to Bon Appetit

curried quinoa salad with mango, bok choy, fourth of july

Curried Quinoa Salad with Mango

from Bon Appetit, makes 2 servings

1 cup quinoa (about 6 ounces)

1/4 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon mango chutney, chopped if chunky

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

2 cups chopped peeled mango (peaches are a perfect substitute)

1 cup chopped unpeeled English hothouse cucumber

5 tablespoons chopped green onions, divided

2 cups baby spinach, chopped

Note: I bought mango slices in the deli section, having not planned ahead for ripe mangos. I also recommend adding any or all of the following for extra sweet crunch: diced peaches, dried fruit (apricots or cranberries), red bell pepper.

It is important to rinse quinoa well before cooking. (I used the steam method and found it makes the quinoa too gummy). Cook quinoa in medium pot of boiling salted water (I used chicken broth for flavor) over medium heat until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Drain well and cool.

curried quinoa salad with mango, quinoa, le cruset, purple

Transfer to medium bowl.

curry powder, mango dressing

whisk, whisking dressing, blue bowl

Whisk oil and next 4 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

chopped mango, spring onion, scallion

diced cucumbers

dried apricots, chopped

Add chopped mango, cucumber, green onions, any other fruits and veggies you are including, and 1/4 cup dressing to quinoa; toss to coat. Divide spinach between 2 plates. Spoon quinoa salad over spinach. Drizzle with remaining dressing and serve. Or, toss it all together in a big bowl and serve the next day!

curried quinoa salad, mango, red pepper, scallion, dried apricot

I spent my Independence day crying to Mao’s Last Dancer, painting furniture for my music room, and serving this salad to new friends. (Even my father-in-law loved this salad!) How did you celebrate?

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a firenze frenzy

This Sunday, I plan to eat delicious snacks and salty things as an ode to my American culture. I have no plans, however, to watch sporting events. My lifelong indifference to athletics led only to my parents teasing me I would surely marry a man who wanted to watch football every Sunday. Well, I married a film major (brags blogger wife whose laptop rests upon a 4th edition of The Screenwriter’s Bible). We’ll probably take the day to enjoy our own movie marathon. And eat snacks.

Last Super Bowl Sunday, I was home sick and eating this. This year, I am on the rebound to good health and endorsing some healthy appetizers (inspired by serious steroid-related weight gain). These were such a smash at our housewarming in August, and a nice treat again this week at a neighborly happy hour. Tis not the season for tomatoes and strawberries—I know, I know—but grape tomatoes help make the most of this Tuscan treat.

Note: I made this for 50 guests with nary a leftover and multiplied the recipe by six. Because the toasts and topping make excellent leftovers, it is worth at least doubling the recipe. I also used a multigrain baguette the second time around, and it was fantastic.

Crostini di Firenze

from Desperation Entertaining by Beverly Mills & Alicia Ross

makes 20 crostini

1 baguette (at least 12 inches long)

1 large clove fresh garlic

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 lb. ripe strawberries (about 1/2 cup chopped)

1 lb. grape tomatoes, halved

5 or 6, fresh mint leaves (2 tsp. chopped)

Make the crostini

Turn on the broiler. Cut off one end of the baguette, then cut 20 slices, each about 1/2 inch wide. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast in the hot broiler about 3 inches from the heat source until golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove, turn the slices over, and toast until golden brown on the second side, about 45 seconds. Remove the toasted bread from the baking sheet and let cool to room temperature.

Mix the topping

Mince the garlic (on a microplane, or like this) and place in a small bowl. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk well to blend and set aside at room temperature until ready to serve. The vinaigrette and toast slices can be stored at this point for up to 8 hours. Cover the vinaigrette. Place the toast slices in an airtight container at room temperature.

Rinse and drain the strawberries thoroughly. Remove the leaf caps of the strawberries and cut the berries in half. Place the strawberry halves on a cutting board and chop coarsely to 1/4-inch pieces. Put the strawberries in a mixing bowl with the chopped tomatoes. Rinse and dry the mint leaves; finely chop and add to the fruit mixture. The strawberry-and-tomato mixture can be refrigerated and covered up to 2 hours.

Assemble the firenze

Whisk the vinaigrette to remix, pour over the fruit mixture and stir well to blend. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your preference. Arrange the toasts on a serving platter and spoon the topping onto each slice.

Let the crostini stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving to allow the vinaigrette to penetrate the bread. They will get soggy if standing too long, so better to assemble in batches—I promise, even in the midst of a party, this is a breeze. They will go fast.

Click to some other favorite dips and appetizers from A Pear to Remember

Jalapeno-Feta Dip

Mushroom Turnovers

Watermelon-Feta Bites

Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers

5-Ingredient Trail Mix

Smoked Paprika Chickpeas

Savory Tartlettes

Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Stuffed Peppadews

Roasted Red Pepper Dip with Pita Chips

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pears well with meals

I promise you would not need a fancy-schmancy pot to make the following, but it adds a little fun if you do. Allow me to introduce my birthday and Christmas surprises, Mademoiselle Plum and Monsieur Pesto:

 

I grew up on applesauce, and that’s not a criticism. Sometimes on our drives home from Grammy and Pop-pop’s house, we stopped at Catoctin Orchards for jars of cider, applesauce, and other fresh goodies. I’ve had a thing for homemade applesauce ever since.

Tried the peel, slice, core, simmer with juice technique—it’s a long wait. If you have a casserole dish with a tight lid, this apple-pear sauce will make itself. With a friend and two peelers, this is especially fun.

A quiet New Year’s Eve with close friends just screamed for roasted pear sauce, and here it is, dear readers, a side dish for the years to come. Because this is ideal for breakfast, dessert, and an accompaniment to of each course, double the recipe below, as we did.

Roasted Apple and Pear Sauce

from Ina Garten, makes 2 quarts

zest and juice of 2 large navel oranges

zest and juice of 1 lemon

3 lbs. sweet red apples (8 apples, any kind will really do)

3 lbs. ripe Bosc pears (7 pears; do use Bosc)

1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

peel leisurely at the kitchen table with a friend, you would never believe this is work

Place the zest and juice of the oranges and lemon in a nonreactive Dutch oven (or large covered casserole). Peel, quarter, and core the apples and pears and toss them in the juice. Lindsey’s note: I core the apples very quickly by peeling, quartering through the stem, and—with the quarter flat on the board—making a diagonal slice just beyond the seeds and stem. This preps the fruit in one swift step.

Add the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon and cover the pot.

Bake for about an hour and a half, until the apples and pears are tender. Mix with a whisk until smooth, but still a little chunky. Serve warm or at room temperature. Or eat right from the fridge.

this pear sauce isn't so bad with beef brisket, grilled haricots vert, and potato-brie gratin

 

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as seen on tv

Television I adore: Frasier, Monk, I Love Lucy, Arrested Development—anyone sensing an off-air theme here? I mention this little trivia because Pear readers love to discuss reality cooking shows, and I’m saying it again: I simply don’t watch them. Remember when I judged Iron Chef? I’m not competitive in nature, whether we’re talking about my flute playing or putt-putt game. I don’t watch much food tv anyhow, with our new condo kitchen far from living room viewing potential, and I prefer to spend my time in there. Listening to LPs.

Back in the day, when we lived in our apartment (you know, two months ago), I would come home from work, throw on my apron, and saute simultaneously with Ina. My routine has changed, but one particular television recipe stuck in my mental taste buds all this time. So I finally attempted Claire Robinson’s White Pizza.

“Attempted” is a joke, because a first grader could create this 5-ingredient wonder with equal success.

And Andrew had a cow it was so good—not one complaint over the lack of pepperoni.

This would be a smashing appetizer. Add it to the repertoire, folks. Fab.u.lous.

Easiest White Pizza

God Bless You, Claire Robinson, serves 4

garlic-flavored olive oil

1 lb. ball pizza dough, thawed

3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup whole milk ricotta

2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano leaves, more for garnish

Never a fan of fresh oregano, I insist you try it in this context. This is how oregano was meant to be enjoyed. If your mother-in-law’s wild oregano bush is not so close by, you’ll just have to grab one of those fresh herb packs in the salad section. Trust me. Do not skip the oregano.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third of the oven.

Brush the pizza pan/pizza stone with oil. (Homemade garlic oil: heat several crushed cloves of garlic in oil over low heat  until fragrant). 

On a work surface, using your hands (or, who are we kidding, a rolling pin), press the pizza dough into a large flat disk and transfer it to the greased pan. Using your fingers, press the dough out until it has stretched to the perimeter of the pan. Create a dough “lip” around the outer edges of the pan. Brush the entire surface of the dough lightly with garlic oil and pierce the bottom of the crust all over with a fork, to prevent bubbling.

Evenly spread the mozzarella over the crust. Using 2 spoons, dollop teaspoon-sized mounds of ricotta evenly over the mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and evenly sprinkle the chopped oregano over the top.

Bake in the lower third of the oven until the crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly and browning on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes before garnishing with additional oregano—serious about this—and slicing into 8 pieces.

I served this with a very simple salad of romaine and dried figs. Drizzle lightly with equal parts balsamic vinegar and agave nectar whisked together. One of those unexpected Linventions that complemented this light meal. It might sound dainty (and risky for a pepperoni-loving spouse), but Andrew returned for thirds.

What’s your favorite pizza topping?

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sweet birthday balsamic

Hello old friends (and new)! We moved fully into our new home in a mere 8 days, but are still without internet—hence the lack of recent posts. With the new school year and grad school semester in full swing, you might notice increasing last-minute, budget-friendly recipes. Because, let’s face it, that’s all we all have time for these days.

Sometimes the most pleasant bites come from last-minute refrigerator raids—remember our blue cheese crackers? When we received an invitation to Michelle’s birthday dinner (friend since 1st grade, on a historical note), I knew I could not show up with just Bonnie and Clyde—the pewter birds I purchased earlier.

Michelle, her brother Steven and their cousins joined me for a Saturday morning market trip to savor the scenery I’ll miss most about summer.

Including this massive melon.

So here they are friends, gobble ’em up before we embrace the season of squash.

Balsamic Watermelon Bites

inspired by Feast on the Cheap, adjust the size according to your crowd

watermelon, cubed into 1-inch pieces

feta, diced

fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

balsamic vinegar, at least 1/2 cup

Balsamic reduction, a fabulous and easy syrup, can last for some time in the fridge, so better to make more and drizzle the rest over salad or other fruits and veggies. In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup (or more) balsamic vinegar over medium heat. Swirl the vinegar occasionally and keep over moderate heat until it reduces by about half. You’ll know it’s ready when the syrup coats a spoon, or the pan surface upon tilting. Set the syrup aside, off the heat.

Use a small measuring spoon to scoop out a portion in the center of each cube.

Pour the syrup about halfway into each cup.

Nestle the feta cubes gently atop the pools of syrup and sprinkle the platter with fresh mint.

This is quick and less-messy when assembled directly on a large serving platter covered in wax/parchment paper or a paper towel. Gently slide the watermelon off before serving—these also travel wonderfully when wrapped tight in several layers of saran.

Appetizer? Dessert? You decide. A sweet birthday tweet treat. Right, Michelle?

Which piece of summer will you miss most?

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I’m not in right now, but if you leave a message…

I’m a guest writer! You can find my latest recipes and post over on Anilia’s health and home blog: A Little Inspiration. Today, I’m writing about pistachio pesto, a 5-minute plum salad, and sharing the yellow roma tomatoes I submitted to the 2011 Virginia Grown farmer’s market photo contest! Click over to read, and see you back here soon 🙂

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fruit roll-ups

Wow, the 125th post on A Pear to Remember. Let’s start at the beginning—of the day, that is. Americans face abundant breakfast options for a sweet start to the day:

 

It’s a shame my lactose intolerance means I can’t pile those whole grain Reese’s puffs in a bowl of cold milk—surely you know my love for cuisine inspired by late-night desserts? Because I can’t enjoy milk and cereal (finding lactaid “milk” intolerable), and I get awfully bored with repeated meals, I’ve been concocting interesting dishes to supply my morning calories.

As part of my Nutrition graduate studies, this summer I’m fully engrossed in Introduction to Epidemiology—you can imagine the fuel one needs to take those exams… and I don’t mean in the form of “Hot Fudge Sundae” pop-tarts. So I wrapped up a sweet, high-fiber, high protein breakfast that satisfies until my beloved lunchtime study break.

Walnut and Ricotta Breakfast Wraps

a regular Linvention, makes four wraps

6 walnuts

3 tbsp. ricotta cheese (low-fat if you prefer)

1/4 cup chopped strawberries (other berries or peaches; fresh and frozen work)

2 whole wheat tortillas

optional, tasty garnishes:

cinnamon

fresh mint

With a food processor

Blend berries, ricotta, and walnuts. Add a splash of milk or juice to loosen if necessary.

Without a food processor

Combine thinly sliced berries, ricotta, and walnuts (crushed into very small pieces) in a bowl.

Taste your ricotta-fruit mixture and adjust to your liking. Spread the mixture onto each tortilla, sprinkling lightly with cinnamon/mint if using. Roll tightly and slice each in half at a diagonal. Enjoy with coffee or juice!

photos from here, here, and here

Andrew and I have been obsessed starting our day with Newman’s Own Special Blend medium roast. What’s your favorite morning beverage?

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the money sandwich

selknlkn

slkegnlskeng

Oh it’s not an expensive lunch. It’s slang, people.

Urban dictionary.com defines money for the modern age:

money (adj.) of unusually high quality; very good; excellent

This wine is money.

I’m not re-writing the English language, just keeping you in the know. But I am interested in redefining the ol’ lunchbox sandwich. I brought this to work much of the past school year and it kind of became my trademark. Then a few friends started making it themselves, and one teacher offered me money (that’s old-fashioned currency) to make it for her.

Favorite bread, preferred apple, sharp cheese and you’re all set. The lovely surprise I’ve found taking this sandwich on the go is the mayo’s acid keeps the apples from browning. An addicting, fresh take on lunch—ideal to take anywhere (including my favorite vineyard happy hour, where the wine is so money).

Apple Cheddar Sandwich

inspired by a wonderful sandwich I had at Arena’s Deli in Rehoboth

fresh sandwich bread

sharp cheddar

tart apple (such as Granny Smith)

mayo or mustard

optional add-ons:

romaine or butter lettuce

alfalfa sprouts

Slice the apple very thin with a sharp knife (a mandolin makes this a faster job in the morning hours). Spread your favorite condiment on the bread, layer the apple, cheese slices, and greens (if using).

That’s it!

Perfect with unsalted kettle chips. And pickles—plural because I require a minimum of five. It is also truly the same time commitment as PB & J, and a far better conversation piece.

Talk about a *scrumdiddlyumptious pantry find!

What’s your favorite sandwich?

h

*from Urban dictionary.com: scrumdiddlyumptious (adj.) a word originally coined by Roald Dahl, a kickass author of books that ruled many a childhood; extremely tasty

This chocolate bar is scrumdiddlyumptious.

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a berry delicious Fourth

You remember I don’t bake, right? Fear of diasters + actual diasterous results prevent me from trying too frequently. You would not believe how flat the almond-blueberry “muffins” I made for company last weekend, yeesh.

So how about a do-able dessert endeavor?

I want everyone to have a memorable and safe fourth of July, and surely this calls for a patriotic pie. Andrew and I will be attending a big neighborhood celebration in his hometown. I am re-posting my favorite festive treat from last year’s celebration in Pennsylvania, because you must make it this year. In case you need a reminder why:

1. It’s really easy (think: add. stir. eat.)  

2. With a food processor, it’s fast and mess-free 

3. You can make it in advance (and make lots of people really happy when you two show up)  

4. The majority of ingredients are nutrient-dense–antioxidants, dietary fiber, whole grains, monounsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals (a few points over other desserts you may be considering…)

5. It travels and keeps very well  (though there will be fights for the last piece; sneaking down before breakfast was my tactic)

      

Fresh Berry Tart with Toasted Nut Crust

Vegetarian Times

crust   

1/4 each whole almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts   

1/4 cup whole-wheat flour   

1/4 cup sugar   

1/4 tsp. salt   

6 tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, diced   

1 large egg yolk   

filling   

1/2 cup light sour cream   

1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt   

2 tbsp. light brown sugar   

1 tsp. vanilla extract   

1 cup blueberries   

1 cup raspberries (or halved strawberries)   

1/4 tsp. grated orange zest   

1 tbsp. orange juice (from the same orange)

other goodies to get the job done

food processor

9″ tart pan with removeable bottom (other reasons you need this pan)

 

FOR THE CRUST   

Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat a 9-inch tart pan with cooking spray.    

Spread nuts on a baking sheet and toast in oven 10-12 minutes, until browned.   

Pulse nuts, flour, sugar, and salt in food processor until the nuts are ground to powder.   

A side note about cubed, chilled butter. This is really key in certain baking recipes. When I worked in a bakery, I was cubing 20 lbs. of butter for endless cookies and scones. Ah, memories. Cut your butter with a sharp knife at the beginning of your recipe and return the cubes to the fridge until the recipe calls for them.   

Add butter to food processor and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.   

Add egg yolk and pulse until moist clumps form.   

    

    

   

As you can see, the mixture seems really crumbly. Press the dough into the bottom and sides of your prepared pan.   

A flat surface, like the bottom of a measuring cup, is the best way to ensure an even surface. The nut mixture doesn’t seems like quite enough for the edges, but it’s just right once the bottom is even.   

Your malleable, nutty crust should be about 1/4-inch thick.   

   

Now here’s a fantastic crust technique so you’ll never need pie weights. Pierce the crust well with a fork and freeze for 30 minutes. This keeps the crust from poofing up without the mess of foil and weights and other complications. Who loves simplicity??   

Adjust the oven temperature to 400F. Bake the frozen crust for 12-14 minutes, or until golden. Cool.   

FOR THE FILLING   

Whisk together the sour cream, yogurt, brown sugar, vanilla, and orange zest in a bowl.    

Toss berries (or fruit of your choice) with the orange juice in a separate bowl.    

(Please, please don’t skimp on the orange zest, it really makes the tart special).   

Spread the sour cream mixture into the crust with a spatula. It didn’t seem like enough filling to fill the tart, but it is just enough so scrape every drop from the bowl!   

I really want to experiment with peaches on the next round of this tart, but it is ideal for berries, as they are less likely to brown or bleed color into the sour cream mixture while resting in the fridge for a few days. Nonetheless, the acid of the orange juice kept my strawberries fresh for the mere day and a half the tart lasted among company 😀   

Spoon the berries over top a little at a time, until the sour cream mixture is evenly covered. (No one says it can’t be a little artistic, though)! It really does look beautiful however you arrange your fruit—yet another thing to love about this beautiful dish. I also sprinkled additional zest over the finished tart.   

Refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes before serving. And take my advice, cut thin slices—my tart somehow fed twelve, but we would have loved seconds.   

 

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mixing it up

I love munching, especially on sweet and salty things. I am American after all. My sister-in-law and I, as she substitute taught for me recently, exchanged the following text messages:

Maggie: Found dried fruit in your desk drawer. Can I have some?

Me: Please! Help yourself!

Maggie: I see there is only fruit left in the peanut butter cup trail mix… nice Lindsey.

But let’s cut to the chase: since I saw my friend Claire make this superb snack, I’ve been desperate to eat whip it up myself. A sedentary grad student (points to self) hardly burns sufficient calories reading, typing, blogging, thinking. Did this hinder my eating a quarter of the batch?? No.

When the hubs, along with The Woodsboys, embarked on a 35-mile hike, I had fun making little portions for each of the guys. That is, what was left at this point. With enthusiastic man-approval, the WoodsBoys’ declared this recipe their top-pick.

Oh, did I forget to mention it’s no-skill, 20-minutes, 5-ingredient trail mix??

And it’s pretty.

Pumpkin Seed Dried Cherry Trail Mix

from Claire Robinson, makes about 6 cups

2 cups pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas)

1 cup slivered almonds

3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

6 tbsp. pure Grade B maple syrup

1 cup dried cranberries or cherries

(plus coarse salt)

Note: Purchasing the nuts and seeds in bulk (at Whole Foods or another grocer) makes this snack very affordable.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In a large bowl, toss the pumpkin seeds, almonds, and sunflower seeds and the syrup until evenly coated. Spread the nuts and seeds out, in an even single layer, on the lined baking sheets and season with salt to taste.  Bake the nuts, stirring several times with spatula or wooden spoon, until just golden, about 20 minutes.

Cool the nuts completely on the pan, then add the cherries and toss to combine. Store cooled trail mix in an airtight container at room temperature. Or put in cute baggies to send off with those nuts who like sleeping in the rain with the bugs…

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