refreshing rhubarb lime cocktail

Almost fourteen years ago my son was born in Minneapolis, on a freezing day in May. When we took him home for the first time, I remember carefully treading my way along the walkway from the garage to the side door. Carefully because I was still wobbly from an emergency C-section, but also because the ground was patched with ice and clods of snow.  [Read more…]

prosecco pears and vanilla bean ricotta

You know what they say about fruit. It’s a gamble, especially now in these last (and not a little brutal) days of winter.

I’m always glad to meet and eat a pear, though. They hold up much better in cold storage than apples, and seem to be created for poaching, their flesh turning silky smooth and luscious.

Wine-poached pears are a great winter dessert, and kind of sexy too. You have to admit pears have the most graciously voluptuous outline in the fruit world, with the possbile exception of peaches and figs.  [Read more…]

chopped kale salad with hot smoky dates

I would love to eat a fresh date, preferably right now while taking in the sight of an azure Mediterranean sky through a spray of palm fronds. Today, instead of that, I have muted gray winter light (a chance of snow, they say) and some dried dates.

In Miami, where I once lived, huge majestic date palms were planted all around the grounds of fancy hotels and private homes, and at one of my favorite public spaces anywhere, the Fairchild Tropical Gardens. I’m pretty sure the clusters of brilliant yellow fruit that would sometimes appear on the trees were not good to eat. Date palms are natives of hot, dry desert places.

They’re grown in the humid zone of South Florida, often dug up and imported there from other places at huge expense. But while they can flourish on South Beach like sunbathing debutantes, it’s not their ideal climate for fruit-bearing.

I’ll have to wait until I’m in a place like California in winter to bite into a fresh date, an experience that Alice Waters describes in Chez Panisse Fruit as “soft yielding flesh, with a mildly sweet, rich flavor entirely different from that of the hard, wrinkled and cloyingly sweet dates in the package.”

Medjool dates are dried dates, but far from hard and dry, I think. They have a rich quality – kind of luscious really – plump and tender inside. And you can find them in almost every well-stocked market in the produce section at this time of year.  [Read more…]