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Italian Sweet Treats From Emporio Rulli

Friday, 23. November 2012 5:25

A fruitcake even fruitcake haters will love. A holiday specialty from Emporio Rulli.

After stuffing ourselves silly on Thanksgiving, it’s hard to fathom attacking more sweets.

But the Bay Area’s Emporio Rulli makes it so very hard to resist.

Especially when it comes to Italian specialty confections such as panforte and cialde wafer cookies, of which I just received samples of both.

I remember years ago during the winter, getting in line at a bakery in Siena, Italy, where panforte is a specialty. I had no idea why everyone was queued up, but I fell in behind everyone, hoping something wonderful awaited at the front. When my turn finally came, I bought what everyone else was buying — panforte. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I unwrapped it and took a bite. My expression fell immediately as I realized I had just spent money on a dreaded fruitcake. Not my fave, to say the least.

But Emporio Rulli’s version just might make a fruitcake believer out of you, as it did me. Unlike the one in Siena that was sticky, gooey soft, the Emporio Rulli one is extremely chewy and crunchy — more along the lines of a hard nougat. You’re hit with the unmistakable fragrance of oranges the minute you unwrap the round that’s studded completely with almonds, hazelnuts, apricots, candied orange peel and citron.

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Category:Bakeries, Fruit, General, New Products | Comments (8) | Author:

Bruce Aidells Part I: Turkish Lamb Shoulder Plus A Food Gal Giveaway

Monday, 19. November 2012 5:25

A lamb dish strewn with pretty pomegranate seeds for the holidays.

If there’s one cookbook that I always recommend homecooks have on their shelf, it’s “The Complete Meat Cookbook” by the Bay Area’s meat expert, Bruce Aidells.

I’ve cooked numerous recipes out of it. I’ve also referred to it countless times for information on meat cooking times and the differences between various cuts. It’s a carnivore’s best one-stop resource.

So, I was counting the days for Aidells’ new version, “The Great Meat Cookbook” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), to be published.

It’s been more than a decade since Aidells, the founder and former owner of Aidells Sausage Company, wrote that first book. The new meat book is even more comprehensive. It’s updated with information on the “grass-fed” label, heirloom pork varieties, and includes recipes for not only lamb, beef, veal and pork, but bison and goat. What’s more, there are hundreds of handy-dandy color illustrations of just about every cut of meat you can think of, making it easier to pick them out at the grocery store.

The recipes span all-American comfort to global-inflected dishes. When I received my review copy of the book, it was the recipe for “Turkish Pomegranate-Glazed Lamb Shoulder Chops and Carrots” that caught my eye first.

First, I love lamb. Second, it’s such a pretty dish with jewel-like pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and fresh green herbs strewn over the chops.

Pomegranate seeds -- as pretty as rubies.

Third, the folks at Pom Wonderful had just sent me samples of their newest product, Pom Poms fresh pomegranate seeds or arils. Yes, they’ve eliminated the messy, stain-inducing task of digging the seeds out of a whole pomegranate. The new Pom Poms come in both 8-ounce and a 4.3-ounce sized containers. The latter even has a fold-able plastic spoon included so you can just open the container to start enjoying them.

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Category:Enticing Events, Fruit, General, Meat, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (5) | Author:

Best Apple Cake EVER — Courtesy of Pastry Chef Joanne Chang

Tuesday, 6. November 2012 5:25

The apple cake to end all apple cakes. Sheer perfection.

Throw out all those other apple cake recipes. Even the ones handed down to you by relatives (Sacrilege, I know. But you’ll get over the guilt.)

Because the only one you need is this one.

How incredible is this apple cake?

My husband, who doesn’t even like apples (Is there such a person?), took one bite and mid-chew mumbled, “This IS good! And you know, I don’t even like apples.” (Uh, yup, duly noted.)

The name, “Apple Snacking Spice Cake,” doesn’t even do it justice. That moniker conjures up a simple after-school cake baked in a square pan, and cut up to eat out of hand.

That is not this cake.

Rather, this cake is round, tall and the color of dark caramel. It is jam-packed with fruit, too. The batter is quite thick. In fact, it’s almost more apples than actual batter. If that weren’t enough, there’s also a full cup of toasted pecans in it, too. For good measure, there’s also a big handful of raisins. I actually used dried mulberries instead because I love their date-like taste.

A profusion of apples and pecans in every slice.

The result is a cake, in which every bite is a riot of apples and nuts, as well as warm spices of ginger, cloves and cinnamon. But don’t think this cake is too moist like a dreaded fruitcake. Nope, it’s tender and its moistness level is just right. What’s more, when it bakes up, the top of the cake gets that heavenly crisp, crackly texture we all can’t resist.

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Category:Bakeries, Chefs, Fruit, General, Great Finds, Recipes (Sweet) | Comments (29) | Author:

The Beauty of Roasted Grapes

Friday, 2. November 2012 5:26

See those lovely roasted grapes? They make this salad something special.

What happens when you roast grapes?

Magical things.

They stay intact, and shrivel just a little. Their natural sugars concentrate and caramelize, creating an explosion of wine-y, sweet juice when you pop one into your mouth and bite down.

They’ll spoil you, because eating a fresh grape just won’t be the same anymore.

Here, try for yourself in this easy dish of “Arugula Salad with Roasted Grapes.”

It’s from “Seriously Simple Parties” (Chronicle Books) by veteran cookbook author Diane Rossen Worthington, of which I received a review copy.

And who couldn’t use more seriously simple entertaining ideas with the holidays upon us?

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Category:Fruit, General, Recipes (Savory), Recipes (Sweet) | Comments (16) | Author:

Three Sweet Treats in Los Angeles

Thursday, 18. October 2012 5:25

Fonuts "Hawaiian'' donut (front) and "Banana Chocolate'' (back).

LOS ANGELES & VICINITY — During a quick weekend trip down to Southern California recently, my sweet tooth got a major workout at three stellar places.

First up, Fonuts, the donuts that are almost guilt-free. That’s because they’re not fried, but are baked or steamed. Moreover, many of them also are vegan or gluten-free.

Fonuts of Los Angeles is the creation of Waylynn Lucas, formerly pastry chef at  The Bazaar and Patina, both in Los Angeles; and voice actor Nancy Truman.

The donuts, about $3 each, have a moist, tender crumb and a texture akin to a tea cake or muffin.

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Category:Bakeries, Chefs, Donuts, Fruit, General, Great Finds, Travel Adventures | Comments (9) | Author: