Just because we are in the dead of winter and the land seems barren and fruitless doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of a fruitful diet and consume only leafy greens and veggies burying themselves underground. There are winter fruits that thrive in January when your taste buds were thinking all is lost and there are no sweet fruits left in sight. Fear not; these fruits are here to sweeten your winter.
- There is such a wide variety of oranges to choose from, including navel, mandarin, clementines, and even the beautiful blood oranges. Eat them fresh, or squeeze their juice to drink, make a dressing, or marinate chicken or meat.
- Mangoes grow in so many different places with seasons that overlap that they are almost always in season somewhere. If you purchase mangoes that are not yet ripe, submerge them in a container of rice to speed up the ripening process. Eat mangoes fresh or cut up into salads, make a mango chicken, add them to jasmine coconut rice or a sweet rice pudding, or make a smoothie or mango lassi with the pulp.
Lemons and limes. Nothing makes your food taste fresher than adding fresh citrus like lemons and limes. Use the juice and the zest to get the most intense citrus flavors. There are regular lemons and Meyer lemons, which are hybrids of lemon and orange. There are regular limes, key limes, and finger limes. Finger limes are different in that the pulp looks like tiny little beads full of tart lime flavor. Use these citrus fruits for drinks, salad dressings, or meringue pies.
- Quinces can be eaten raw; they just need to be ripened for longer than most produce to become sweet. Sometimes they are placed in a paper bag and whacked with a mallet in order to release the sweet juices. They can also be cooked, which softens the flesh and turns it pink and sweet. Quince is a close cousin of apples and pears, but more bitter with a sweet aroma. Many times it is added to apple or pear recipes, such as for pies or cakes. It can be added to a stew for an interesting flavor since it holds its consistency.
- A persimmon might be the new fruit you’ve tried during the Rosh Hashanah meal, but persimmons are actually winter fruit. There are two kinds: Hachiya and Fuyu, the latter of which are easier to eat raw because they ripen faster while still keeping a sturdy flesh. Persimmons are ripe when the stem pops off easily. Although the skin is edible, it does have an astringent taste, so scoop out the flesh or bite it like an orange to enjoy this fruit the most. Use persimmon fruits for a winter fruit salad or added to a vegetable salad, muddled in drinks, or in muffins or an upside-down cake.Â v
Coconut—Lime Rice Pudding With Mangoes
4 Tbsp. sweetened shredded coconut
Â½ cup Arborio rice
2 cups water
2 cups coconut milk
â…“ cup sugar
zest of 1 lime, divided (half mixed in, half for garnish)
2 Tbsp. (divided) sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
1 small ripe mango, diced
2 Tbsp. roasted almonds or unsalted cashews
Place the shredded coconut in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Shake the pan gently by the handle back and forth for 2—3 minutes to toast evenly until the coconut is golden. Set aside.
Add rice, water, coconut milk, and sugar to a medium saucepan, stirring well, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and let the rice bubble gently for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The rice should be plump and the pudding should be thick and creamy. Test the rice to make sure it is cooked through but still slightly firm.
Remove from heat. Stir in half of the lime zest and toasted coconut. Let cool slightly, place in individual serving dishes, and garnish with fresh mango, remaining toasted coconut, nuts, and a pinch of lime zest.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.