My initial attraction to persimmons is always immediate, as I love their rich coral orange color. Although several varieties are widely available in most markets in the U.S from October through February, they are not used in baking nearly as much as many other winter fruits. They have a delightfully sweet and slightly astringent taste. We’ve added dates for some added sweetness and texture, along with fresh ginger and allspice to add a little complexity to the flavor. These bars are addictive, with a unique flavor that always leaves you wanting more….
Dolma, dolmeh, sarma or dolmades (plural) are fabulous little stuffed vegetable rolls, the most popular being those wrapped in grape or cabbage leaves. Thought to have originated in the Middle East and adapted by surrounding regions including the Balkans, the Caucasus, Russia, Central Asia, both Turkey and Greece like to lay claim to its origin. Modern day dolmades are readily accepted as one of the shining stars of ‘Mediterranean cuisine’. Dolmades are a classic example of regional and historical adaptation, utilizing whatever vegetables, grains, spices and scraps of meat that were readily available. Although the vegetarian versions are referred to as fake or lean dolma, there is nothing fake about the tangy flavor of these bite-size morsels, made with fresh dill, pine nuts and lemon. The perfect finger food appetizer (mezze) or side dish, dolmades are a favorite party or picnic food, as they can be made a day or two ahead and store well in the refrigerator. The added bonus is that they are gluten-free….
Tea has been my lifelong beverage of choice, hot or iced. Whether it be my wake-up cup in the morning, a pick-me-up during the day or a calming, non-alcoholic nightcap, I can’t imagine a day without tea. I guess you could say I’m a dyed-in-the-wool tea lover, which is why I’m always looking for ways to incorporate my favorite tea blends into favorite foods, both sweet and savory. If you love French baked goods (is there anyone who doesn’t?), then you’ve probably savored madeleines. Simple to make and classically French, these little shell shaped cakes with the signature ‘bump’ gained literary fame in Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. With a tender, sponge cake center and distinctive crispy veneer, they make the perfect medium for flavoring with tea infusions. Madeleine recipes often include the addition of lemon zest, a natural pairing for Earl Grey tea. The key ingredient of this beloved black tea is bergamot, a cross-bred bitter orange and sweet lemon/ lime with subtle floral notes that perfectly complement the madeleines’ citrus notes. …
When I first tasted preserved lemons many years ago while in the Middle East, their piquant, salty-sour taste and soft, meaty rind were nothing like I had imagined it would be. I was instantly hooked, thinking of all the different ways I could incorporate their complex flavor into modern day dishes. Preserving lemons is an age old technique practiced by many cultures, especially when availability of citrus was limited by season. They are an essential ingredient of many traditional Moroccan and North African dishes, revered by the Chinese for their healing properties and are the basis of a popular drink in Vietnam. Wonderfully versatile, they are one of my ‘secret ingredients’ in many of our grain and pasta dishes, salad dressings, sauces, and meat stews. Uber easy to prepare, they only require a bit of patience during the fermentation period. But so worth the wait….