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Candle Salad

Candle Salad

According to the blog from which I stole this, the woman who submitted the recipe makes it for her husband Dick. Yes, really. Once again, proof that the housewives of the 50’s and 60’s had a lot of repressed issues, Freudian or not.

Sunday Food Porn: Margarita Fruit

Margarita Fruit

Margarita Fruit

Hawt enough for ya?

The Remedy for Summer

That is what I call a Whiskey Bar!

That is what I call a Whiskey Bar!

Oh yes, that’s my idea of a whiskey bar all righty! And what’s more, it’s not just a figment of Tumblr’s imagination: you can really order these things. My own personal preference would be for rum, probably Mount Gay Eclipse Silver, which I had occasion to try recently and was impressed by, or Havana Club Anejo Blanco, which has tequla-like vegetal notes, and neither of which are very sweet.

In any case, it’s certainly worth trotting down to the dollar store (remember when they were five and dimes? No? Just me then? Everyone else this old is dead? Oh FINE!) and getting some molds and giving it a whack. Here’s a thumbnail recipe I’ve discovered online and haven’t tried yet, so if you do, let us know how it turns out.

each booze pop contains a full shot of liquor and a 3 to 1 ratio of mixer/juice.

Hmmm. Blackberry/tequila with mint? Mango/rum? Gin/blueberry? I may be busy quite awhile. When I moved to this godforsaken tundra, unrelenting heat was the last thing I was prepared for. Reporting back later this week; video of our latest Booze Swag Unboxing coming soon.

Cooking with Gin

Bombay Sapphire in Vancouver

Well, I promised it’d be different, didn’t I? Today we’re going to cover barbequeing with gin, just as winter’s setting in. Hey, brush the snow off the grill and fire it up; everybody loves playing with fire!

Todays foodie blog is a drinkie blog brought to you by the two times (so far, don’t be strangers, boys!) that Bombay Sapphire gin has invited me to their special tasting events with their global Gin Ambassador, Merlin Griffiths, a man who truly knows that the way to a blogger’s heart is through her liver.

Sure, Bombay makes a tasty cocktail, every discerning barfly knows that, and in fact it made three or four of them at the Spice Up the Summer event, but even more, it makes a pretty nifty ingredient in some surprising and creative dishes, courtesy of Rob Rainford, Canuckistan’s Guru of the Grill, author of License to Grill, and The Sister’s secret crush.

Like: Marinated, Grilled Tri-Tip Steak:

The gin replaces the vinegar and speeds up the marination process considerably, to say nothing of adding a savory herbal/floral bouquet of its own. The juniper in the gin goes amazingly well with grilled beef, particularly if you avoid the temptation to add those gimmicky and overwhelming mesquite chips to the grill. The result is a lighter impression, with delicate wafts of botanicals spiraling around the taste of the pure beef. Different, but definitely worthwhile

In Part 2 of the video, Rob gives the slickest secret of barbeque success I’ve ever seen. But I won’t spoil it for you: click and see what a man who’s good with his hands can do for your next meatfest.

And my favorite from the event, Leg of Lamb:

And the very bizarre, yet quite tasty, Smoked Honeydew Melon Soup, along with how to make a smoke pouch.

Round about the time they were serving the fourth cocktail, things got a little cross-talky, but hey, that’s how you know the party is a hit, right? At that point, Rob introduced the Bombay Sapphire Salsa Fresca that he’d made, and which I can highly recommend. Actually, a really good floral gin is not a bad substitute any time you’d use a high-end white tequila or even dry white Cuban rum. In this video, Merlin also goes over the critical ingredients for any successful cocktail.

And yes, of COURSE I have the cocktail recipes … coming soon.

All videos and image below courtesy of AHA Media. Top image courtesy Emme Rogers.

Bombay Sapphire in Vancouver

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The fruit of knowledge

fuji.jpgThe house is awash in apples – Fuji for eating; McIntosh, Macoun, and Granny Smith for cooking, plus a few more odd bins varietals.

Apple dishes that graced the Henry table in the month of October include cranberry apple crisp, cinnamon applesauce, apple pie with splash of lemon (and a splash of rye whiskey on the crust), apple compote made with orange juice, and at nearly every meal sliced fresh apples for dessert.

Johnny Appleseed, that great American (and yes, he was a real man), sowed seed down the Ohio River. Because his apple trees bore gnarly, sour little things, their principal use was for making hooch, a habit long lost in the 21st century. Today’s Calvados is too expensive and apple brandy is too rough.

Most persons of Mr. Henry’s acquaintance no longer prepare alcoholic beverages at home, but Mary and Michael made some up in the Catskills. They threw apples in a big metal bucket, let them rot, and cooked it up. The resulting clear, very alcoholic firewater was delicious but very hot, hot enough to trade with Indians in exchange for pelts.

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After drinking this particular firewater for a good while, Mr. Henry began to see more clearly. The apple’s significance took on new meaning, or else its meaning took on new significance. It’s hard to recall. As the serpent said to Eve, the apple is the fruit of knowledge.

It’s not only the fruit of fall, it’s the fruit of the fall from grace.

But isn’t a good apple worth the trip?

At breakfast…

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John Updike writes in his final book Endpoint:

                                              Perhaps
we meet our heaven at the start and not
the end of life.

If Updike is remembered only for a single line, this should be the one.

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Although Mr. Henry’s rejoinder may not achieve the eloquence of Updike’s iambic pentameter, here goes:

At breakfast you may eat the sweet
you left untouched the night before
and greet the day’s beginning with
the satisfaction knowing that
tomorrow you’ll have more.

The sweet in question this week is Mr. Henry’s favorite dessert from a platter of figs: prunes stewed in red wine with sugar and cinnamon. On yogurt it transports you to a heavenly realm.

The season is early for pit fruit – peaches, plums, nectarines. White peaches in the market aren’t bad but cannot approach the sublime aromas they exude in August.

Citrus in June has faded a bit from the high quality of springtime Indian River fruit, but pineapple remains a dependable choice. Its palate-cleansing acids encourage good digestion leaving the stomach full and the mouth clean.prunes.JPG

Breakfast is the one moment of the day when something sweet is genuinely appropriate. Coffee’s bracing bitterness seeks balance in a delicate, sophisticated sweet. Instead of an icky, oily gut bomb like a doughnut or a Danish, reach for plum tart, apple pie, banana bread.

Even the morning mayhem brought to you by The New York Times cannot defeat the genuine thrill of such a breakfast. It’s a transcendent experience – life’s promise in each mouthful. Plus, you have the whole day ahead of you to walk off the calories.

White balsamic

How hot was it last weekend? It was so hot that Mr. and Mrs. Henry had to trade favors to decide who went out to buy food. Ice cream melted during the walk home from the store. Black cherries which at the store were perfectly firm arrived home warm and soft. To make sure the bay scallops survived the blistering march up Broadway from Citarella, Mrs. Henry, ever the rugged survivor, packed blue ice in her grocery sac before setting out.
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Firing up the oven was out of the question. Some sort of savory salad seemed wanting. Mrs. Henry fried diced bacon and saved a little fat in which she seared the scallops. She tossed white beans (bottled, Italian) with fresh baby spinach in a vinaigrette made with white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and lemon. Topped with diced mango and bacon bits, the dinner salad was the perfect reprieve from the day’s punishing heat.

Made from sweet trebbiano grape juice, not from wine, white balsamic vinegar is fruity and distinctly less acidic than red vinegar. It won’t overwhelm a mild dish like scallops or potato salad. Its sweetness also obviates the need to add sugar.

Mr. Henry’s delicate constitution presents a different category of challenge. Although he likes the taste of raw garlic, onion, green pepper, and scallion, his stomach responds repeatedly with complaints. If he roasts or braises these thoroughly, he can eat them in small quantities. But what if you want the taste of raw onion?
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Heaving only one or two sighs of exasperation, Mrs. Henry arrived at a neat solution for a potato salad eaten over the infernal weekend.

She finely diced a Vidalia onion and let it quickly pickle in salt with a liberal dose of her white balsamic vinegar.

onion_vidalia.jpg

When combined with hot potatoes the pickled onion wilted, yielding its sharpness without denying its flavor. Celery added crunch. Flat parsley added color. A dab of Dijon mustard, a splash of olive oil, and a tablespoon of sour cream generated a creamy potato salad that looked as if it were made with mayonnaise but tasted lighter and fresher.

As for the soft cherries, she threw them whole into a great pot, added a tablespoon of turbinado sugar and a half cup of sake(!). After bringing them to a boil, she let simmer for half an hour until the cherries were plumped and the sauce caramelized. Cooled they became a delectable dessert and breakfast treat all the more remarkable for their unexpected spiciness – a hint of cinnamon, a suggestion of prune, the possibility of sherry. No one guessed the presence of sake.

Next time Mr. Henry will try stewing fruit in white balsamic. It’s sure to work.

Banana mini-muffins

Now is the time of bounty, the season when little baskets in the market brim sinfully with berries so ripe you cannot in good conscience pass them by. They must be rescued and carried swiftly home to be consumed before sun-up.

From Mexico there are mangoes too broad to hold in one hand and giant red papayas nearly too broad to hold in two. Yellow peaches have arrived from local orchards as have blackberries the size of gumballs. All types of summer squash are perfect.

Amid such abundance, Mr. Henry hesitates to complain. These days, however, bananas, nature’s most perfect food, are rather too small and too ripe. Here is Mrs. Henry’s peerless recipe for banana mini-muffins. They freeze wonderfully.

mufffins.3.jpg
Cream together 1 stick of butter and 1 cup of sugar.
Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time.
Mix dry ingredients:
1 cup unbleached white flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup wheat bran
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Mash 3 ripe bananas with 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Add dry ingredients to butter/egg/sugar.
Add mashed bananas.
Add ½ cup plain non-fat yogurt.

Lightly grease mini-muffin pan. (If preparing large muffins you may elect to use silicone cups.) Bake in convection oven at 350 degrees until brown, about 10 minutes.

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