Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cooking with fruit: it's sweet

As part of my new year's resolutions, I have been trying to cut down on my red meat consumption and eat less crap. While eating the foods I haven't been eating and restocking my kitchen, I managed to find a spare hand and mouth to discover the joys of cooking fruit.

I've learned that you can basically cook any kind of fruit you've seen in a dessert with any kind of sweetener and it'll taste good. Some ideas below:
  1. Caramelized bananas. Chop the desired amount of banana into one-to-two-inch pieces. Mix a small amount of butter (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) with brown sugar on medium to medium-high heat. Once the sugar melts into the butter, add bananas and cook for a few minutes until they are brown and have the desired level of softness. Make sure to stir during the process.
  2. Cinnamon apples. Cut peeled apples either into slices or small chunks. Add 3/4 cup of wine of your choice to a shallow pan. Add one to two tablespoons of honey. To enhance the taste, add a stick of cinnamon and a few cloves and remove them before adding apples. I also experimented by adding a Thai chili for a few minutes while making the syrup. This changed the aftertaste in an interesting way. Cook until the wine is reduced to a small amount (the amount of syrup you would add to cook the apples). Add apples and cook on high heat until the liquid is almost gone and the apples are soft. Stir apples, sprinkle cinnamon. I enjoyed eating this with Greek yogurt. (Instead of a wine and honey syrup, you can use butter and sugar or olive oil and honey.)
  3. Poached pears. Peel pears, cut into halves and scoop out the core. Make a syrup as you would for the apples. (I used Calvados, an apple brandy, and added candied ginger, cardamom, and dried cranberries for additional punch. Since the pears tend to be very sweet, something sour like cranberries is good to balance out the sweetness. Alternatively, you could make a syrup from wine or port.) Add pears to the syrup and cook, covered, on low heat until they are soft and flavored. I ate this with kefir, a cultured milk product.
Since I have developed a sudden and extreme interest in cooking, this is not the last you will hear. Up next: my favorite vegetarian dishes.

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