Results tagged fruit from David Lebovitz

The Melon Washer

washing charentais melon

I happily eat raw-milk cheese. I’ll dive into steak tartar without any fear. And heck, I drink horse milk like it’s going out of style. (Actually, if someone could tell me that drinking horse milk never was in style, that’d be great, so I can stop drinking it…) But I have a confession to make: I wash melons.
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The Reines-Claudes Plums Have Arrived!

apricots & reine claude plums

It’s that time of the year—the season for Reines-Claudes plums in France has arrived!

These little green fruits, no larger than a marshmallow, are perhaps the most delicious fruits in the world. Don’t let the army-green color fool you in to thinking these plums might be tart or sour. If you get a good one, reines-claudes plums (also known as Greengage plums), are the sweetest, most succulent piece of fruit you’ll bite into.

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Baba Ganoush Recipe

French people often drink apéritifs before dinner, but rarely cocktails. Americans who come to Paris are often perplexed when the waiter asks them: “Vous desirez un apéritif?” and a few minutes later, they’re handed a glass of red Martini & Rossi instead of the straight-up, dry martini that they thought they had ordered.

And another heads-up: tourists are equally perplexed when the check arrives and they find that that dinky demi-flute of kir Royale costs more than their main course.

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Vin de pêche: Peach Leaf Wine

In the south of France, they’re pretty generous with les glaçons. It’s never any problem to get ice cubes, which are often brought to the table heaped in a bowl, and sometimes even already added to the rosé for you by the barman.

iced rosé

Contrast that with Paris, where a drink with ice may have one puny cube roughly the size of a Tic-Tac, languishing on the surface, tepidly melting away. Which I’ve always attributed to a couple of factors:

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Pickled Sour Cherries Recipe

griottes

Believe it or not, there’s much more to France than Paris.

Or so they say. I obviously don’t get out much, but last year when I went to Camp Cassoulet, also in attendance was Jennifer of Chez LouLou. Although all who were invited I knew previously, she was the only one I didn’t. Brave girl!

LouLou lives in the Southwest of France, which I think it just beyond the 13th arrondissement. (I haven’t tried to take the métro there, but that’s where I think it is…isn’t it?)

She’d written up an intriguing recipe on her blog for Sour Cherries with Bay Leaf and bookmarked the page, assuming I wouldn’t see sour cherries in Paris: they’re about as hard to find here as they are in the states.

griottes

So when I saw fresh griottes, I almost lunged at the stand, and walked away with 2 kilos (about 4½ pounds).

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Red Wine-Poached Rhubarb Recipe

Rhubarb with White Chocolate Ice Cream

A couple of years ago, I was invited to do a demonstration at the Greenmarket in New York City. I jumped on the chance, since I love that market, but as the date closed in, I got a message informing me that they didn’t have a kitchen…although they did have a single-burner hot plate.

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Respect Your Elderberries: Elderberry Syrup Recipe

peacheselderberries.jpg

During the summer, like everyone else in Paris, I get outta town for a long break. I often visit friends who live in the country in nearby in the Seine-et-Marne, a region a little over an hour from Paris.

You probably know about the famous cheese from there, brie de Meaux, which is sold in big, gooey rounds at most of the markets in the area. There’s a big one on Sunday mornings in Coulommiers, but I prefer the smaller but better market on Saturdays, in the town of Provins, which features actual producteurs, the folks who grow and sell their own fruits and légumes.

strawberriesunwashed1

Elderberries are pretty prolific and although I’ve not seen them in any markets, the friends who I stay with have a huge tree and if you’re a spry climber, you probably can pick more than you know what to do with all at once.

The difficulty in preparing elderberries, or as they call them in France, sureaux, are picking the tiny berries off the microfiber-like stems. (Earlier in the season, the blossoms can be turned into elderflower fritters or elderflower syrup.) The berries appear in spidery tufts on the farthest end of the branches and I nearly chopped down my friend’s tree trying to get the ripest berries way-high up at the top. And I almost killed myself using their pre-war ladder…and that’s pre World War I, mind you.

Elderberries

But I need to keep busy even when I’m relaxing on vacation, which is my very own French-American paradox, and when I saw the giant elderberry tree practically awash with tiny purple berries behind the house I was staying at, I couldn’t resist hauling out the ladder and spending a good couple of hours clipping away. Unfortunately the berries that caught my eye were higher up than I thought from down below, and I ended up perched too-high up on that rickety ladder with a saw and clippers, risking my life for the little buggers.

Sureaux

The gorgeous syrup is great in a glass of sparkling water over ice, dripped some over plain yogurt, atop a bowl of vanilla ice cream, or use it to make an lively kir. And hello pancakes and waffles! You can also use the berries to make Elderberry jelly.

Cooking Elderberries

Once you get them down off the tree, the fun just keeps coming and coming. You need to pluck the little purple berries off the branches. But too often a little bit of the delicate stem usually comes off with them and that needs to be removed if you’re going to toss them in a compote or a crisp. It’s picky work, but the rewards are delicious.

Elderberry Yogurt

Elderberry Syrup
Makes 1 quart (1l)

Make sure the cookware you’re using is non-reactive and your clothes are stain-friendly. If you use an aluminum pot, it’ll get stained and the next batch of mashed potatoes you make may come out pink. Ditto for spatulas and anything else to plan to use to stir the syrup while it’s cooking.

If you live somewhere where huckleberries are available, you could use them instead.

  • 2-pounds (1kg) elderberries (see note below), woody stems removed and rinsed
  • 4 cups (1l) water
  • 2½ (500g) cups sugar
  • one nice-sized squirt of freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1. Put the elderberries in a large, non-reactive pot with the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low boil and cook for 15-20 minutes, until tender and soft.

2. Pass through a food mill, then discard the skins.

3. Pour the juice back into the pot (I use a fine-mesh strainer again at this point, but I’m crazy…), add sugar, and cook at a low boil over moderate heat for 15 minutes, until the syrup has thickened. Add a spritz of lemon juice. Cool completely.

4. Pour into a bottle or jar and store in the refrigerator.

Note: Some varieties of elderberries are not meant for consumption and none should be eaten raw, especially the leaves. I remove all of the hard, woody stems as well before cooking. For more information, Cornell University’s Department of Horticulture has guidelines, noting the fruits are used in “…pies, jellies and jams.” If you’re unsure if your elderberries are edible, consult your local cooperative extension before consuming.

Storage: In the refrigerator, I’ve kept this syrup up to one year. If it shows any signs of mold, scrape it away, and bring the syrup back to a full boil again.

quince and granola

Crisp Topping Recipe

Crisp Topping

There’s something about a warm fruit crisp with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream melting alongside that most people are unable to resist. And who doesn’t love pulling that heavy baking dish, fragrant with the aroma of sweet seasonal fruit, out of the oven, with the rich fruit juices bubbling, with the heavenly smell of the buttery, nutty topping?

Really, what’s not to like?

Well…the dart-in-the-butt is that if you let it sit for any length of time, what you’re left with is a baking dish of fruit topped with solidified mush. And that, my friends, is what’s not to like.

So I came up with a plan—To put the crisp back in crisp topping.

Ever since I came up with this recipe, it’s become the only one I use and is a summertime staple around chez David. Even though there’s perhaps nothing easier to prepare in a moment’s notice, I like to keep a batch in the freezer for an impromptu fresh-fruit crisp, so you can easily double the recipe and freeze Part deux for the next time.

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