Eat This Now for the Week of 12/09/14


Eat This Now | December 9th, 2014

Specialty PearsRed PotatoesShallotsPomegranatesKitchen Tip of the Week

Best if used by 12/16/14

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Specialty Pears

Peak Season    Best Flavor

For Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years – or simply for good ol’ seasonal eating – it’s nice to celebrate with special fruit, like gourmet Pears. Impress your friends and family (and taste buds) one of these specialty variety Pears from Oregon and Washington for sharing as a gift, with wine and cheese, or in a recipe.

Comice Pears: Often called the “Christmas Pear,” sweet-tasting Comice are famous for being included in gourmet fruit baskets, including Harry & David’s line. The fruit is wide around the middle and has a short neck. The skin can be all green or have a red blush. Comice are easily scarred or nicked up, but it rarely affects the succulent flesh inside. Inside, Comice Pears ripen to a creamy, buttery texture that is also juicy – the ultimate dessert pear. Check the neck for ripeness with gentle thumb pressure.

Seckel Pears: These little guys are super sweet! Sometimes called “Sugar Pears,” Seckel Pears are tiny pears that are have a crisp, sugary flesh that ripens to creamy with a tiny core. They’re fun to serve as garnishes, mini desserts, snacks for the lunch box or use for pickling. Dipped in Chocolate, perhaps?

Forelle Pears: One cool-looking pear, Forelle are smaller than most varieties, yet bigger than Seckels. What sets them apart is their long neck, beautiful auburn blush over green skin and red freckles. Like Bartletts, Forelle change color as they ripen. The green parts of the skin turn yellow. This Pear is sweet, a little tangy and the texture stays fairly crisp even as they ripen, and it goes excellent with wine and cheese.

Holiday Pears (Top, L to R): Creamy-sweet Comice, Crisp & flavorful Forelle, Tiny & sugar-sweet Seckel.

Red Potatoes

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Smashed Red Potatoes, Boiled Red Potatoes with Butter, Roasted Red Potatoes and Herbs… what’s your winter Red Potato recipe of choice? Their colorful skin adds vibrancy to dishes. Red Potatoes are ideal for roasting, boiling for salads and mashing because of their high moisture content. For frying? Not so much. So, if you’re making Potato Pancakes (Latkes) this week, you may want to go for Russet, White or Sweet Potatoes.

Peak season shipments of Red Potatoes from the Northwest have been very nice this November and December – deep red, tender skin – and priced affordably. Store Potatoes in a dry, cool, dark place. The refrigerator, however, is too cold for storing Potatoes.

Recipe: Roasted Red Potatoes and Shallots

Here’s a cozy recipe that will have your kitchen smelling fantastic as the cold winds blow outside this winter!

  1. Chop 5-6 large size washed Red Potatoes into bit size pieces.  Leave the skins on.
  2. Peel then rough chop 1-2 Shallots (1 large Yellow or Sweet Onion can be substituted for Shallots)
  3. Toss Shallots and Red Potatoes in 2 tsp Olive Oil in a large mixing bowl
  4. Season with 2 tsp Penzy’s Northwoods Seasoning, re-toss to coat (rosemary, thyme, coarse salt, black pepper could be a homemade substitute)
  5. Spread out in 9×13 glass pan.
  6. Roast at 375 F for 60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes for the first ½ hour

Peak season shipments of Red Potatoes from the Northwest have been very nice this November and December.


Peak Season    Best Flavor

Want some extra flare for your sautéed Brussels Sprouts or Green Beans? Maybe a refined flavor for the mirepoix (diced carrots, celery, onion cooked in butter) as the base of your stuffing mix or soup? Use Shallots! Organic and Conventional Shallots are in peak season right now and are fantastic to use for winter recipes and holiday dishes.

Shallots taste somewhere between Red Onion and fresh Garlic – like a regular Yellow Onion with more flavor, a little spiciness, and yet are mild enough to use raw in vinaigrettes or anywhere else you use Onions. Unlike Onions, tear-shaped Shallots don’t grow in one bulb, but a collection of “cloves” covered with brown to purple, papery skin.

Shallot Tips

  • Select Shallots that are firm and are free from strong odor or sprouting.
  • Store Shallots in a cool, dark place like the pantry for a week or so, or on your kitchen counter for several days.
  • Recipes! Find 3 simple recipe ideas for Shallots HERE.

Like a slightly spicy Onion that’s a little garlic-y and has tremendous flavor: Shallots!


Peak Season    Best Flavor

Last call for fresh Pomegranates! Get them while they are at their BEST! Fresh Pomegranate season in California is at its peak and will be soon winding down for this year, making December the last time until next fall to enjoy this fresh, domestically grown fruit. December is also the best time of the year to find convenient packs of fresh Pomegranate Arils already removed from the whole fruit – scoop and enjoy!

The delicious prize inside a fresh Pomegranate is the juicy, sweet, bold flavored arils (seeds encapsulated with sacs of juice). You eat the arils whole. These arils are fantastic by themselves as a flavorful snack – juicy, sweet, a little tangy then crunchy. The taste is somewhere between concord grape juice and cranberry juice on the sugar to acid scale, but deliciously unique, robust. Pomegranate arils can also be used to top a salad, in yogurt parfaits, with desserts or cocktails, and of course for juicing. Me? I love them as a delicious snack!

Pomegranate Tips

  • Select fresh Pomegranates that are firm and heavy, a sign of juice content.
  • Scarring on the skin or how big or small the Pomegranate size is really has no impact on the internal quality of the fruit.
  • Late season Pomegranates typically have dark red skin color and can sometimes look “beat up” – though they’ll be good inside
  • Store Pomegranates in the fridge for best shelf-life, but they’ll last for a week or so on the counter too as an interesting, decorative centerpiece.
  • Super-food Pomegranates are an ancient fruit but have been in the news lately for their health benefits.
  • Here are some Pomegranate recipe ideas.

December is your last chance to enjoy the best tasting peak season fresh Pomegranates.


Kitchen Tip of the Week

How to open a Pomegranate

If you decide to hack open a fresh Pomegranate on a cutting board and then pry the membranes apart, get ready to clean up your crime scene – I mean, kitchen. There will be juice splattering on your cutting surface and surrounding area, and likely on you. These are the two methods I use in my kitchen for speed and to avoid big messes:

Aqua Method

You’ll need a knife, large bowl of water and a colander.

  1. Slice the crown off the top.
  2. Score the skin making 4 cuts from top to bottom.
  3. Open the Pomegranate over the bowl of water.
  4. Pull the arils from membranes under water to keep the splatter to a minimum.
  5. The arils sink and the membranes float – strain and you’re done.

Deseeder Tap Method

One of my favorite kitchen gadgets is the “60 Second Pomegranate Deseeder” I came across this product a several years ago. This old archive video shows me testing it. I still use this thing… because it works!

  1. Halve the fruit.
  2. Put it face down on the deseeder grate and tap (or slap) out the arils with a heavy utensil onto a plate. Voila.
  3. Tap Deseeding Method

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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