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Fresh This Week Tips-August 5, 2011

BLACK FRIAR PLUMS

STORE: Refrigerating plums before they’re ripe results in a mealy texture, so allow firm fruit to ripen at room temperature up to 2 days, until the flesh is soft and the skins develop a silvery, powdery coating. After that, store them in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

PREP: Remove the pit by slicing all the way around the fruit, starting at the stem end. Rotate each half and the pit should come free.

USE: Plums pair well with both sweet and savory foods and make an excellent accompaniment for cheese, chocolate, and dessert wines.

PERFECTION APRICOTS

STORE: To ripen, keep apricots at room temperature in a paper bag until soft and fragrant. If you’re not eating them immediately, they’ll keep refrigerated in a paper bag for up to 5 days. Dried apricots can be kept in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

PREP: To pit an apricot, cut around the seam, then twist the 2 halves. The pit should pop out easily.

USE: Apricots are delicious in sweet tarts and other desserts, add a fruity touch to savory stuffings, and complement lamb, poultry, and pork especially well.

RASPBERRIES

STORE: Refrigerate unwashed in a single layer on a plate, covered loosely, up to 3 days.

PREP: Raspberries are very fragile. Right before using, rinse off with your sink sprayer or give them a quick dip in a bowl of water; don’t soak too long or they’ll get waterlogged and turn to mush.

USE: Raspberries are best eaten raw but also make delicious jams, muffins, and desserts.

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Fresh This Week Tips – July 26, 2011

KIWIS

STORE: Place unripe kiwis in a paper bag with an apple, pear or banana at room temperature for a few days. These fruits give off ethylene gas, which helps accelerate ripening.

USE: Packed with more vitamin C than an equivalent amount of orange, the bright green flesh of the kiwifruit speckled with tiny black seeds adds a tropical flair to any fruit salad. Of course, kiwis are also delicious eaten straight out of their skin.

PREP: Wash the kiwi and dry lightly with a paper towel. Cut the kiwi in half so that you have two oval kiwi halves. Hold one kiwi half in your hand and slip the tip of a metal serving spoon just under the kiwi skin. Slide the spoon along the curve of the kiwi to separate the kiwi fruit from the skin. Slice the kiwi half into 1/4-inch slices.

PEACHES

STORE: Even firm, unripe peaches are delicate, so handle them carefully to avoid bruising. Ripen hard fruits at room temperature, stem-side down, until the flesh feels soft when pressed and they begin to emit a subtle fragrance. Refrigerate peaches only after they’ve ripened, which can prolong freshness for up to 5 days.

USE: Try grilling or roasting peaches for an excellent accompaniment to pork, fish, and chicken.

PREP: If baking, look for freestone peaches, whose pits are easier to remove. To slice, cut through to the pit all the way around the seam, twisting each half to dislodge the stone. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice can prevent sliced fruit from browning. To remove the fuzzy skins before baking, submerge whole fruits in boiling water for 10 seconds, then slip off the skins.

ZUCCHINI:

STORE: Refrigerate, unwashed, in a plastic bag for up to 5 days.

USE: A component of ratatouille, zucchini is also good grilled, roasted, steamed, pan-fried, or raw. It also adds a boost to sweet breads and muffins.

PREP: Wash zucchini by gently rubbing them under cool water. Slice off both ends of the zucchini. Cut them into rounds, spears or half moons.

Start your morning off right with this interesting recipe, courtesy of Gojee.com, for Zucchini Pancakes.

RECIPE: ZUCCHINI PANCAKES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed

PROCEDURE:

  • Shred the zucchini and onion on the large holes of a box grater or in a food processor with the shredding disk. Place the shredded vegetables in a colander in the sink and sprinkle with the salt. Toss to combine. Let drain for 30 minutes, then pick up by the handful and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Place on a kitchen towel or double layer of paper towels.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, garlic, cheese, herbs, lemon zest, and pepper. Beat well with a fork. Add the drained zucchini mixture and mix together. Sprinkle the flour and baking powder on top and mix with a fork just until well combined.
  • Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy pan. When the oil is hot, drop the batter into the pan by heaping tablespoonful. Cook for about three minutes on the first side, until nicely browned. Flip and cook for about two minutes more. Place the cooked pancakes on a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with the remaining oil and batter. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt, sour cream, tzatziki or applesauce.

Enjoy!

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Fresh This Week Tips – June 7, 2011

PEARS

Store: Stand pears, unwashed, on their bottoms and let them ripen at room temperature for up to 5 days. When they’re ready to eat, the flesh on the neck will give a little when pressed. Refrigerate ripe pears for up to 5 days.

Use: Pears take well to baking, roasting, sautéing, or poaching in wine; when cooking, use the pears that are still most firm.

Prep: If you’re serving uncooked pears, cut them just before using; sprinkle the flesh with lemon juice to prevent browning.

PEACHES

Store: Even firm, unripe peaches are delicate, so handle them carefully to avoid bruising. Ripen hard fruits at room temperature, stem-side down, until the flesh feels soft when pressed and they begin to emit a subtle fragrance. Refrigerate peaches only after they’ve ripened, which can prolong freshness for up to 5 days.

Use: Grilled or roasted peaches make an excellent accompaniment for pork, fish, and chicken.

Prep: If baking, look for freestone peaches, whose pits are easier to remove. To slice, cut through to the pit all the way around the seam, twisting each half to dislodge the stone. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice can prevent sliced fruit from browning. To remove the fuzzy skins before baking, submerge whole fruits in boiling water for 10 seconds, then slip off the skins.

STRAWBERRIES

Store: Pick through the berries and discard damaged or moldy ones. Wrap the container of remaining unwashed berries loosely in a plastic bag or paper towel and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Use: Strawberries are perfect in pies, just right in jams, and a sweet-tart touch in salads. But they’re at their best raw, served at room temperature, topped with freshly whipped cream.

Prep: Wash the berries and trim the caps just before using.

STRAWBERRY PEACH SMOOTHIE Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen unsweetened sliced peaches
  • 1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar (For a healthier approach we recommend substituting 1-2 tablespoons of raw honey.)
  • Dash ground cinnamon

Directions

  • If desired, set aside a few strawberry slices for garnish. Place the remaining berries in a blender; add peaches, yogurt and sugar or honey. Cover and process until smooth.
  • Pour into chilled glasses; sprinkle with cinnamon. Garnish with the reserved berries. Serves: 2.

*Recipe taken from Taste of Home

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Fresh This Week Tips, Week 11.14.10

Pinova Apples
STORE: Pinova apples are crisp and juicy with dense flesh. Their mild, well-balanced sweet-tart flavor improves in storage so don’t worry about using them right away. Just store your apples in the coldest part of your refrigerator and use within two months.
PREP: Wash your apples prior to eating under cool water. Peel, core and chop them for your desired recipe.
USE: This apple is good for eating out of hand and cooking. Why not enjoy a healthy dessert by making a simple apple crisp with oatmeal, a little organic evaporated cane sugar and sliced Pinova apples? http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=11935

Pomegranates
Though the ancients used pomegranate skin and bark for medicinal purposes, only the seeds are edible. Fresh pomegranate is usually available from September until January.

STORE: When refrigerated in a plastic bag, pomegranates will keep for up to 2 months.
TO SEED: Wash fruit under cool running water. Slice off the top and the tail of the pomegranate. With a sharp paring knife, score as you would to peel an orange. Submerge pomegranate in bowl of cold water (so any juice that sprays out won’t get on your clothes- pomegranate juice stains) and peel away rind. Break into sections, and pull seeds from the pith with your fingers. Drain seeds in a sieve and throw away the pith. Be sure to drain well.
USE: Pomegranate seeds can be safely stored in the refrigerator or even frozen, for later use. However, this fruit is so delicious that it is most often consumed in one setting. Have you eaten YOUR pomegranate, today? The seeds are a brilliantly colorful addition when tossed on a salad. Check out this website, dedicated to only pomegranates for more recipe ideas and preparation tips http://pomegranates.org/recipes.html

Persimmons
STORE: Store ripe Fuyu persimmons at room temperature for up to three weeks. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to two months. Persimmons are ripe when they turn a dark orange, they will still be fairly firm.
PREP: Prepare ripe persimmons by hulling them (cutting out their top and its attached flesh), slicing, and peeling them. Remove and discard the large black seeds as you encounter them.
USE: Add sliced persimmons to a salad, whip up a smoothie or make a festive persimmon pudding.
Image from blog.fatfreevegan.com.

Lactinato/ Green Kale
STORE: Wrap unwashed kale in paper towels and keep it in the crisper of your refrigerator for up to five days. You can also freeze your kale by washing, chopping and storing in it in a freezer bag.
PREP: To wash kale, submerge it in water and swish around to remove dirt. Break or cut off tough stems and chop to your preference.
USE: Kale can be steamed, blanched, boiled, braised, stir-fried, or sautéed. Lacinato kale (also called dinosaur kale or tuscan kale) is especially delicious when added to a minestrone soup or cooked in extra virgin olive oil with garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes and salt.

Image from chow.com.

Green Onions
STORE: Store green onions in a plastic bag in your crisper for five to seven days. Be sure to keep them away from fruits and veggies that absorb odors easily like mushrooms, corn and apples.
PREP: Rinse your green onions in cold water; trim off roots and the very tops of the greens. Dice into thin or slightly thicker rounds depending on your preference. Don’t be afraid to use the entire green onion!
USE: Green onions, also called scallions, make an excellent garnish to soups, salads, noodle or rice dishes. Check out the Farmgirl Fare blog for recipes that showcase the wonderful flavor of green onions: http://www.farmgirlfare.com/2008/06/wanted-your-favorite-recipes-ways-to.html. Scroll down to the comments section of her post to see what her readers have to say–scallion pancakes, pickled scallions and green onion soup, yum!

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Fresh This Week Tips, Week 11.7.10

Fresh This Week Tips, Week 11.7.10

Pink Lady Apples
STORE: Store in the crisper of your refrigerator for up to one month.
PREP: Just wash and eat (or use in your favorite recipe).
USE: Your Pink Lady apples are best for eating out of hand, using in pies or adding a sweet crunch to salads.

Image from http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com

Concorde Pears
STORE: Set your Concorde Pears in a bowl on the kitchen counter to ripen. To test for ripeness, gently push on the stem. If it gives a little, your pear is ready to eat. Once ripe, pears may be stored in the refrigerator.
PREP: Wash pears in cold water and keep them whole, slice them or chop them.
USE: The dense flesh of the Concorde pear makes it ideal for cooking since it holds its shape and flavor when baked, poached or used in jams. Concordes are also very slow to oxidize when cut, making them an excellent choice for salads.

Image from: http://theproduceguy.blogspot.com

Cucumbers

STO RE: Store wh ole cucu mbers, in a plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 10 days.
PREP: Wash thoroughly before using, peel (if desired) or cut into half moons, rounds or spears.
USE: Eat cucumbers raw, add them to salads, sandwiches, make a Greek tzatziki or pickle them. For a light lunch, make cucumber sandwiches: http://thepauperedchef.com/2006/02/cucumber_sandwi.html! Don’t forget to brew a pot of tea in true English fashion!

Leeks
STORE: Store your leeks lightly wrapped in plastic wrap to contain odor and moisture. Don’t trim or wash them before storing. Keep them in the crisper of your refrigerator for up to one week.
PREP: World renowned chef, David Lebovitz shares photos and beautiful articulation to explain the process of preparing leeks: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2009/03/how-to-prepare-leeks-1/. We’ll let him take the stage! Enjoy!
USE: Leeks are related to the onion, yet have a milder, mellower taste. Use your leeks in any recipe that calls for onions. Try out this delicious and home-warming Smashed Potato and Leek Soup: http://www.klesickfamilyfarm.com/main/box-of-good/recipes/smashed-potato-and-leek-soup

Cherry Tomatoes
STORE: Ripe tomatoes should be stored at room temperature and used within a few days. Never refrigerate tomatoes as the cold temperature kills the tomatoes’ flavor.
PREP: Cherry tomatoes are much smaller than regular tomatoes ranging from the size of a thumb tip to a golfball. Leave them whole, half or quarter your cherry tomatoes depending on your recipe or desired use.
USE: Cherry tomatoes can be tossed into a salad or grilled, baked or broiled and added to pastas, pizzas or eaten as a side dish. We suggest tossing your cherry tomatoes with a little minced garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice, putting them in a baking dish and letting them bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Baking your tomatoes will bring out the natural sweet flavor and provide a great base for simple dinner dishes.

Image from: http://makeitfromscratch.blogspot.com/

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Fresh This Week Tips, Week 10.17.10

Spitzenburg Apples
STORE: To store, keep apples as cold as possible in the refrigerator.
PREP: Gently rub the apple as you run warm water over it to clean. Peel and cut your apple into slices or cubes. To prevent apples from browning, brush with a lemon juice-water solution (1 cup water mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice).
USE: This dessert apple is great for cider, apple pies or eating out of hand. It is also rumored to have been a favorite of President Thomas Jefferson!

Bartlett Pears
STORE: Keep pears in a cool, dark place until ripe. To test for ripeness, gently push on the stem. If it gives a little, your pear is ready to eat. Once ripe, pears may be stored in the refrigerator.
PREP: Wash pears in cold water and keep them whole, slice them or chop them.
USE: Bartlett pears are delicious eaten out of hand, but are also great choices for canning or baking.

Beets
STORE: Separate your greens from the beets and keep them in separate plastic bags in the refrigerator. Leave an inch of the greens to prevent flavor loss and bleeding. The beets should last for about a week, but use your greens as soon as possible.
PREP: Scrub your beets and rinse the greens before using.
USE: Beets can be roasted, baked, steamed or eaten raw. The Klesick family loves to boil the beets, quarter them and eat them while they’re still warm with a bit of butter straight out of the pot! Be sure to sauté, steam or braise the tasty greens with a little olive oil and salt.

Cauliflower
STORE: Store cauliflower for up to one week in your crisper covered by a plastic or paper bag.
PREP: Keep whole and chop off ¼ inch off the stem or cut the head into bite-sized florets.
USE: Steam, roast, bake or stir fry cauliflower. Be careful not to overcook!  For a simple, delicious pizza, try this “pizza” with cauliflower crust recommended by a customer (great for those eating gluten free).

Fennel
STORE: Store fresh fennel in the refrigerator crisper. It should keep fresh for about four days, but try to use it as soon as possible for the best flavor.
PREP: Wash your fennel thoroughly to remove all dirt. Don’t be afraid to use all parts of the fennel in cooking: the base, stalks and leaves. The ideal way to slice your fennel is to cut it vertically through the bulb.
USE: Fennel is the unique, crunchy, licorice-tasting vegetable used commonly in Mediterranean cooking. When paired with juicy oranges, the fresh flavor and crisp texture of the fennel really shines. Try this festive Fennel and Orange Salad from kiss my spatula. You can also use fennel leaves as an herbaceous seasoning to entrees or soups.

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Fresh This Week Tips 9.26.2010

DAPPLE DANDY PLUOTS

STORE: Your pluots will continue to ripen once off the tree. Turn them upside down and leave them on the counter away from the sun. When ripe, store them unwrapped in the refrigerator for up to three days.

PREP: If stored in the refrigerator, remove your pluots before eating and let them return to room temperature. They taste much better this way. Rinse and leave whole, slice into wedges or cut into chunks.
USE: These sweet Dapple Dandy Pluots can be eaten out of hand, as a fresh topping for yogurt, dehydrated into dried pluots or made into jam. You can also experiment by substituting them for plums in recipes (afterall, they are the delicious hybrid of the plum and apricot).

KEITT MANGO

STORE: Keep your mangoes in a plastic or paper bag in the cupboard. The Keitt mango changes color from an orange-ish green to a bright green when ripe. A ripe mango will yield to gentle pressure. Once ripe, refrigerate for up to 1 week.
PREP: Using a sharp knife, slice around the stone. Cut a checkered pattern onto the cut mango. Flip the skin inside out and slice the cubes into a bowl.
USE: The Keitt mango is larger, sweeter and less fibrous than other mangoes. They can be eaten whole or used in desserts and curries. For a delicious morning treat, enjoy a mango smoothie: a combination of diced mango, a banana, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1 cup of orange juice and ice cubes. Blend till frothy!

JUMBO RED ONIONS

STORE: Store your red onions in a cool, dry place (not in the fridge as they will go soft). They will keep for several months. Once cut, wrap them up in the fridge and use within two or three days.
PREP: To prepare your onion, begin by cutting off the top and removing the papery skin. To chop, cut your onion in half and slice vertically from top to bottom and horizontally. To slice, trim the root off, then cut in slices moving from the root end towards the top. Leave as slices or separate each one out into rings.
USE: Enjoy your red onions raw in Greek salads or on turkey sandwiches. If you aren’t a fan of raw onions, add them to a stir fry, pickle them or try a new twist on the old classic with French Red Onion Soup. http://www.gourmet.com/recipes/2000s/2008/09/redonionsoup

TOMATOES

STORE: Store unripe tomatoes in a paper bag until ripe. Store ripe tomatoes in a cool place for up to 5 days.
PREP: Wash tomatoes in cold water before use. Slice tomatoes vertically for salads and sandwiches to prevent the juice and seeds spilling out. To peel your tomatoes, cut an X on the bottom of each tomato and blanch.
USE: Tomatoes are wonderful accompaniments to salads and pastas. Chop tomatoes and add them to a simple pesto pasta. You’ll get beautiful color and fresh flavor with one easy step!