Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Save Schleppy Fruit by Stewing It

Guest blogger Amy Friedman coined the wonderful term "schleppy fruit" to describe fruit that has gone around the bend: mealy apples, fibrous oranges, grainy raisins. Too often people toss these sad specimens, when it is very easy to rehabilitate them by cooking them. Amy's recipe for fruit preserves is a fine example. We also like to make stewed fruit.

We don't really like to call it stewed fruit, as that sounds like something they feed people in nursing homes. On the other hand, it does contain prunes—or "dried plums," as they have been rebranded in recent years—so who are we kidding? The fact is, it tastes great, and it's a wonderful way to use up schleppy fruit.

All you need is some fresh fruit, some dried fruit, some liquid and a little bit of time.

Typically, we have three or four or five mealy apples on hand, as well as a couple of dried-up tangerines or oranges. We usually have at least part of a bag of frozen cranberries. Thanks to Costco, we also have a store of dried fruit that can include prunes, raisins, dried cherries, and/or apricots. We mix and match these depending on what's on hand, but the result is always weirdly the same.

First, cut the apples into bite-size chunks, and toss them into a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Cut up prunes, if you're using them, and add them too, along with a cup or so of cranberries (if you have less than that,  that's fine). Add some dried apricots or raisins if you like. Add a little bit of liquid—orange juice, pomegranate juice, or even water—just enough to keep things from sticking. Then let the mixture cook for about half an hour.

You'll end up with a not terribly attractive fruit mush that will taste delicious, especially under a spoonful of Greek yogurt. And everyone who turns up their nose at your grandma-sounding "stewed fruit" will ask for seconds.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Goat Cheese and Beet Dip

We attended a birthday party recently where one of the guests brought a delicious roasted beet and goat cheese dip. Even the beet-haters loved it, so we asked for the recipe. Turns out it was from Dave Leiberman of the Food Network.
The flavor of the beets is enhanced by roasting the beets and by the addition of chives and thyme. Here's the recipe:


  • 2 medium beets, leaves trimmed, or 1/2 pound roasted beets from deli or salad bar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4-ounce goat cheese
  • 1 small bunch chives, finely sliced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Crostini, crackers or bread sticks


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
If using raw beets, wash them clean of sand and dirt. Set aside to air dry or dry well with a towel or paper towel. If using roasted beets, proceed to food processor step.
Toss the beets in a mixing bowl with oil, thyme, a few pinches of salt and about 15 grinds of pepper.
Turn the beets out onto a baking sheet and roast until fork tender, shaking the pan occasionally to insure even cooking, about 40 minutes.
Remove beets from oven and set aside to cool. (You can do this up to a couple days ahead of time if you store them sealed in the refrigerator.)
Remove and discard the skins from the beets. Cut beets into quarters. Add the beet quarters to a food processor or blender. Pulse a few times until beets are roughed up into small but still chunky pieces.
Dump the blended beets into a serving bowl. Crumble the goat cheese into the beets and add the chives and lemon juice. Toss together and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve with crostini or breadsticks.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Gorgeous Veggie Centerpiece

For a recent dinner, our friend Chris Stinson dispensed with flowers and made a beautiful centerpiece featuring ruffly green kale, svelte red peppers, and curly leaves of purple cabbage. The deep colors and rich textures of the vegetables combined for a mouthwatering still life and put us much more in the mood for dinner than any flowers could have. At the end of the evening, Chris split up the centerpiece and gave the goodies to her guests. Naturally, we made kale chips.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Freaky Freekeh (Yes, You Read that Right)

We thought we knew every edible grain that the planet had to offer, but guest blogger Amy Friedman proved us wrong. Check out her recipe for freekeh (also known as "farik." (This is also a good example of the "try, try again" approach to cooking.)
Amy writes:
I did some experimenting a few weeks ago with freekeh, which is smoked, unroasted wheat (the same kind that's used for bulgur). Some friends had raved about it, so we bought some, but I hated it—just thought it tasted awful. So I decided to think up a way to make it palatable and came up with a solution that wound up being quite tasty.  Last night I cubed some chicken breasts and mixed them in, and it came out great. It's good on its own or as a side dish or quick lunch. (Next time I'll see if diced tofu works in there.) I suspect any hearty grain would work in the mix—just substitute cup for cup.

Freaky Freekeh

1 c freekeh, soaked per instructions
1 medium chopped onion
3-4 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1 8 oz can creamed corn
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
½ cup (appx) chicken broth
olive oil for sautéing
spices to taste: white and black pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, cumin, fennel

Sauté onions and mushrooms in olive oil for three to five minutes over med-high heat.
Pour in creamed corn, continue to sauté until combined and starting to simmer.
Pour in diced tomatoes, continue to sauté until combined and starting to simmer.
Pour in the grain, stir to combine.
Pour in the chicken broth. Should feel like a thick-ish stew, not watery. Use less broth if it starts to get watery – you can add more later. 
Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the grains seem cooked through.