Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Food

June 24, 2014

Lee Ward: Fresh fruits and veggies are something to celebrate: 6/24/14

ASHLAND — One of the many great things about the summer months is fresh fruits and vegetables.

To celebrate the season of fresh foods, June has been dubbed National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month.

This month, the vegetables that are in season are corn and lettuce. The fruits in seaons are watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, cherries, blueberries, peaches and apricots.

One of my favorite June fruits is transparent apples. I’m worried they’re going to become extinct because they’re so hard to find and so many people don’t know what they are.

Also known as transparent apples, the greenish-to-yellow apples are available only in June. They’re very tart and rather small and are the best for baking.

I cook them with butter, water and sugar (sometimes a little cinnamon), put them in individual-sized containers and freeze them.  

One popular way to make use of fresh fruit is in a smoothie, which makes a nutritious and digestible meal on a hot day.

It’s the perfect time for one of my favorite combinations: cantaloupe and peach with some Greek yogurt, skim milk and honey.

My favorite old standby smoothie brings banana and strawberry together.

There’s not much need to get fancy with fresh, in-season fruit. It’s delicious and sweet and juicy. However, if you must show off your culinary skills, here are a few ideas.

CHERRY PIE CUPS

1 package of ready-made pie crusts (or make homemade)

21⁄2 cups pitted and halved fresh sweet cherries (about 3⁄4 pound)

2 tablespoons white granulated sugar

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons milk or cream

coarse-grain sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray eight muffin cups with nonstick spray.

Roll out ready made pie crust until it’s a bit thinner. Use a plastic tupperware-type bowl as your “cutter” to cut out 5-inch rounds. You should be able to cut out 8 rounds from a package of pie crust (re-roll scraps, if needed). Line 8 muffin cups with the rounds, pressing in lightly.

Place filling ingredients in a medium bowl and toss. Scoop into crust-lined cups.

With leftover pie crust scraps, cut out decor for the tops of the pie cups- stars, stripes, whatever you’d like. Crimp the edges of the pie cups.

Brush them lightly with egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar — the chunky, sparkly kind of sugar if you have it.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes (watch closely since baking time will depend upon how thinly you’ve rolled your crust). Cover lightly with foil during baking if they're browning too quickly. They should be lightly browned (like the photo above) with the filling slightly bubbly.

Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely (or serve warm). Serve with whipped cream and blueberries, if desired.

SOURCE: RecipeGirl.com

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Don’t let the idea of making this sherbet scare you away. This recipe, taken from Southern Living’s December 2004 edition, doesn’t require special equipment and the ingredients are pretty standard, too.

BLUEBERRY SHERBET

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed

1 cup fat-free buttermilk

1⁄2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Garnish: fresh mint sprig

Process first five ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a 9-inch square pan; cover and freeze 4 hours or until firm.

Process frozen mixture, in batches, in a blender until smooth. Cover and freeze 4 hours or until frozen. Garnish, if desired.

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“The Joy of Cooking” is my go-to cookbook — and the website ain’t bad, either.

In my search for different and delicious ways to enjoy the fruits and vegetables of the season, I ran across the nearly unbelievable recipe for roasting cantaloupe.

The author of the article admits many readers will consider it “cuilinary heresy,” roasting a cantaloupe, but insists it’s delicious. Don’t think I won’t try it.

ROASTED CANTALOUPE

(Times and amounts vary depending on the size of the cantaloupe.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Wash, cut in half and remove the seeds from a cantaloupe.

Cut into wedges and then into cubes.

If you like, toss the cubes with a little sugar, to the tune of 2 tablespoons.

If the melon is a very sweet one, it will not need the extra sugar. If it’s on the watery side, though, adding a little sugar helps with the caramelization. Vanilla sugar is a lovely addition, and if you ever use vanilla beans, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have some vanilla sugar tucked away in your pantry. If you don’t have any, make some. It’s a nice little secret ingredient to have on hand.

Roast until the melon begins to look a little shriveled and has started to caramelize, about 20 minutes. Cool completely. Serve over oatmeal, yogurt, ice cream, custard, or anywhere else where you need mild fruit accompaniment.

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Readers are encouraged to send questions about food and cooking; I’ll try to find the answers. Also, if you’re

looking for a specific recipe, send your request, or if you can offer a recipe to someone looking for something specific, please send email to lward@dailyindependent.com.

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