There is rarely a time when the large bowl in my kitchen is not filled with whatever fruity delights are in season. And when I’m worn out by my travels, it’s a delicious piece of fruit that I crave more than anything else to restore my good humor.
Of the many different types of fruit I love, it is the appearance of sweet, juicy plums at my local farmers’ market that excites me the most. This is not only because they are so good when eaten raw, but also because I love to cook with them.
I definitely picked up some new ideas for my kitchen from Iron Chef Symon and his recent challenger, Chef Tio, and I hope they will inspire you too to make even more of the huge variety of plums available today.
What are plums?
Plums, or prunus domestica, are part of the family of drupe fruits. This is a genus of plant where the seed is protected by a hard shell and, just like plums, includes peaches, cherries and almonds.
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Twice a month, we’re giving readers a chance to ask Food Network Kitchens’ advice about an issue they’re having with a dish. They can’t reformulate a recipe for you, but they’re happy to help improve it.
Question: “Is there a way I can use fruit that is not quite ripe yet?” — Kathleen Sefchick Dixon from Facebook
Answer: If you can wait a day or two, many fruits (such as bananas, pears, peaches, kiwis, tomatoes and avocados) will ripen quickly when stored in a brown paper bag, and even faster if you add a ripe apple or banana to the bag.
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You’ve juiced the lemons for your lemonade and into the trash the peels go. If you’re a lover of all things DIY, you know a DIY tabletop opportunity was just missed. This summer, as you’re setting the table for your next summer-lovin’ soiree, keep in mind that the freshest tabletop ideas may be as close as your kitchen counter.
Instead of stacking the table high with pricey candlestick holders, high-maintenance flower arrangements, you name it, use something that’s already in your kitchen: vibrant, colorful fruit. With some ingenuity and bare-bones expertise, you can transform a rind, peel or even the fruit itself into a stellar centerpiece.
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We’re teaming up with food and garden bloggers to host Summer Fest 2012, a season-long garden party. In coming weeks, we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. Today, we’re exploring plums.
Nothing says summer like plump plums, bursting with juicy sweetness at every bite. From yellow to green to red to purple, hundreds of plum varieties exist and it’s hard to resist enjoying them straight from the market. But when they do happen to make their way into your kitchen, uneaten, a plum-stained dessert is the perfect way to impress your friends and family any night of the week.
Before you get cooking, be sure to choose plums that give slightly to palm pressure, avoiding cracks, soft spots or brown discolorations.
Hosting a barbecue? Finish on a sweet note with easy-to-make grilled plums. Try Bobby’s Grilled Plums With Spiced Walnut Yogurt or Rachael’s Balsamic Glazed Grilled Plums With Vanilla Ice Cream. Either way, grilled plums — and grilled fruits of all kinds — will quickly become a summer staple.
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When we think of summer desserts, our minds turn to grilled plums, peach cobblers, fruit-filled pies and bowls of fresh blueberries and raspberries. The fruits of summer are ripe, sweet and juicy. They’re also pesky stain makers. As Tre Mitchell Wright, a fabric-care expert at Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science, points out, “Fruits were some of the original dyes; the longer they sit, especially on natural fabrics like cotton, the harder they’ll be to get out.”
Your best tactic for combating stains from fruits (both cooked and raw) is to first scrape any excess fruit off of the garment. If the garment is labeled “dry clean only,” don’t try to treat the stain. If washable, run the fabric under cold water to flush the stain out. Wring out the excess water and apply plain white vinegar to the stained area. Next work a laundry pretreatment or liquid detergent into the fabric with your hands and let it do its work for at least 10 minutes before laundering the piece using the warmest water the care label allows. If the discoloration remains after washing, try soaking the garment in a solution of color-safe bleach and then laundering it again.
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This Fourth of July, whether you’re hosting a holiday cookout or will be a guest at a backyard bash, Food Network has recipes for simple, patriotic party desserts to celebrate this all-American holiday. These fruit-filled, flag-inspired treats can be easily packed for spill-free and frosting smudge-proof car rides, and will be enough to feed a whole crowd of firework-happy friends.
Food Network Magazine’s Fruit-Tart Flag (pictured above) is the ultimate star-spangled sweet. Store-bought mini tarts are filled with sweetened mascarpone cheese and topped with colorful fresh berries. Best of all, these two-bite stripes and stars are easily transported in shoe boxes and can be assembled at the party.
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