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Archive for October, 2011

Kiwiberries: A Delicious Supersnack!

The kiwiberry, also called hardy kiwi, arctic kiwi or baby kiwi, is a small fruit resembling the larger kiwifruit but without the fuzzy exterior; their skin is hairless. Unlike the kiwifruit, kiwiberries are not much larger than a grape, are often sweeter, and have an edible thin leathery skin. Packed with nutrients (they are the most nutrient dense of all the major fruits), the kiwiberry is very rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, and potassium. They are also naturally low in cholesterol, sodium, and fat, and high in fiber. Kiwiberries are a greenish-yellow color, and the inside of the fruit looks very similar to that of a kiwifruit. Like kiwis, they are acidic until ripe.

Kiwiberries originate from Northern China, Korea, and Russian Siberia, much like the kiwifruit.  It is a fast-growing, hardy, perennial vine, in need of a frost-free season of 150 days. Each vine can grow up to 20 feet in a single season! Because of their seasonal requirements, they are well suited for areas of the North East and North West, and in fact, have become somewhat of an invasive weed in certain areas because of their rapid growth.

In order to bear fruit, both female and male kiwiberry plants must be present. Vines start to flower in May, and fruit is available to harvest in autumn.  One plant can produce up to 100 pounds of fruit a year! The fruits are picked hard, and ripened off the vine.

After buying kiwiberries, keep them in the fridge for storing, and take out small bunches at a time to ripen on your counter. Eat them when they are soft and the flesh yields a bit. A small amount of wrinkling can occur with ripening, but don’t let this trick you into thinking its old it just means it will be perfectly sweet!

Kiwiberries can be used in a variety of ways, from being preserved as jam to being used as a marinade (kiwiberries are an excellent meat tenderizer). Try them in a salad, on a tart, or just pop them in your mouth as a delicious sweet snack!

Vanilla Poached Seckel Pears With Honey And Warm Spices

www.roostblog.com

(serves 4-6)

  • 10-12 seckel pears, washed
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 6 cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 cup of honey or more or less depending on how sweet you want the poaching liquid to be
  • 1 vanilla bean, split seeds scraped out (save the pod!)
  • water to cover

Place the whole pears in a stock pot and cover completely with filtered water. Add the spices, vanilla seeds and split vanilla pod and bring to a boil. Once at a boil reduce heat, stir in the honey and simmer until pears are very tender and the poaching liquid is very fragrant. About 30 minutes or so (I didn’t time it….I just served it when the whole house started to smell like Christmas!) When the pears are tender remove from heat and spoon some poaching liquid and two or three pears into bowls and serve warm

Tiny and Sweet Seckel Pears

Seckel pears are cute tiny pears that are only a few inches long with a round body and a small stem.  Their skin is an olive green with a dark maroon blush that sometimes covers the entire pear with a pale white to yellow flesh.  They are super sweet and have been described as sugar pears. 

An 18th century Pennsylvania farmer is credited with introducing the Seckel pear from a wild seedling.   The tree is naturally a semi-dwarf which is about 40-75 % the size of a standard pear tree and grows to about 10-16 feet.  Seckel pears are not grown commercially as much as other pears so don’t miss out if you find them in your grocery store.

Sweet Seckel pears are in season from late August through January.  As the Seckel ripens, the olive-colored skin takes on a matte finish and the red darkens. As we talked about before, pears ripen from the inside out.  Ripen at room temperature until the area near the stem yields to gentle pressure.  Make sure your pear has a stem on it because once the interior is exposed to oxygen it will start to decay.  Seckel’s  store best in the coldest part of your refrigerator.  You don’t want to ripen the pear first and then put it in the refrigerator or it will turn mushy. Unlike many pear varieties, Seckel’s don’t turn brown immediately upon cutting.

They are perfect for a snack in your children’s lunch, can be canned whole, delicious poached for desserts or roasted and served with meat.  They also go well with light cheeses such as Manchego that won’t over power the delicate sweetness of the Seckel Pear.

Vanilla Poached Seckel Pears With Honey And Warm Spices

Sugar Pie Pumpkins from Tutti Frutti

Fall is one of my favorite times of year as the weather turns colder, Halloween and Thanksgiving draw nearer and so does my desire to bake.  Everywhere you look pumpkins of all colors are begging to be carved, displayed on your porch or cooked in your favorite recipe.  The small and sweet Sugar Pie pumpkin with dark orange flesh is great to bake with and has a smooth texture.  It is very versatile and can be used in cakes, pies, muffins, pasta and even salads.

Pumpkins have been grown around the world for centuries.  They grow on every continent except for Antarctica.  The top pumpkin-producing states in the U.S. include Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California.  Pumpkins are one of the top crops in the United States and over 1.5 billion pounds are produced annually.  Interestingly, 95% of the U.S. crop intended for processing is grown in Illinois.  Pumpkins are planted in early July and need full sun. They take about 90-110 days to grow and are harvested when they have full color and don’t dent when you press a fingernail against the shell.  The Sugar Pie pumpkin averages about 5-8 lbs, and about 10” in diameter.  For the next two weeks we have them on special at Earl’s. Check out our weekly specials

Click here for easy and delicious Sugar Pie Pumpkin recipes

 

 

 

Sugar Pie Pumpkin Sweet and Savory Recipes

Pumpkin Muffins
Whole Living October 2011
Makes 12 muffins

  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree(see recipe below)
  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar, plus 2 tablespoons more for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush 12 jumbo muffin tins (each with a 1-cup capacity) with oil; set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk  flours, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda; set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk oil, pumpkin puree, yogurt, eggs, and 1 cup sugar to combine; add 1 cup walnuts and reserved dry ingredients. Mix just until moistened (do not overmix).  Divide evenly and spoon batter into muffin tins; sprinkle tops with remaining walnuts and sugar. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool 5 minutes in pan.

 

Pumpkin Puree
Cut the pumpkin in half horizontally, scoop out the seeds and stringy matter and rub the cut sides with oil.  Place the 2 sides face down in a roasting pan with one cup of water and bake at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes.  Once the pumpkin is cool scoop out the flesh and put it in the food processor until it is pureed.  Place a cheese cloth in a colander, add the puree and let it drain for about an hour.  Lastly squeeze out the remaining liquids until only the solids are left.

 

Maple Roasted Pumpkin Salad
Whole Living October 2011
Serves 4

  • 1/4 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 sugar pumpkin (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut in 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 pounds arugula (2 to 3 bunches, thick stems removed), washed and dried
  • 6 ounces feta cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread pepitas on a large rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven, tossing occasionally, until fragrant and beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside.  On a large, rimmed baking sheet, toss pumpkin with 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, red pepper, salt,and black pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until pumpkin is tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove garlic cloves from sheet pan; set aside. Drizzle pumpkin with 2 tablespoons maple syrup; toss to coat. Return to oven and continue roasting, tossing occasionally, until pumpkin is glazed, 5 to 10 minutes more; let cool.  Meanwhile, cut off root ends of garlic cloves; squeeze out garlic and mash to a paste with the side of a knife. Transfer to a large bowl. Add lime juice,  mustard, and remaining maple syrup; season with salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, add remaining oil in a steady stream; set aside.  Add arugula and pumpkin and toss to combine. Serve salad sprinkled with toasted pepitas and crumbled feta cheese.

 

Pumpkin Thyme Rigatoni
Whole Living October 2011

  • 1/2 pound rigatoni
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-size onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 small sugar pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
  • 2 cups chicken stock, or low-sodium canned
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a large pot of boiling salted water, add the rigatoni and cook until al dente.  Meanwhile, in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Stir in the pumpkin. Add the chicken stock and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the sauce is thickened and the pumpkin is fork-tender. Add the cinnamon, lemon juice, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss in the pasta and serve.

 

 

 

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