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Guilty Pleasure

27 Jul

DSC_7931Not once, but twice, I was recently served bananas in a savory dish purported to be made with plantains. I was so disappointed to taste the cloying sweetness of a cooked banana when I was hoping for an exotic starch. I decided I needed to buy a plantain and cook it myself.

The only way I have ever eaten plantains were the plantain chips I had when visiting my folks and sister when they were living in Panama. So when I brought home this green banana-on-steroids fruit it sat in my kitchen for a few days while I pondered what to do with it. Last night I began searching for recipes online. It was then that I learned that plantains taste blandish and starchy when they are green but turn sweetish when they turn yellow. Yikes! My plantain was halfway between green and yellow. I wanted to cook it up before it got too sweet.

I opted for a traditional Latino dish called tostones. I followed this recipe and they turned out great. And guess what? They tasted like a homemade version of the plantain chips I so loved to eat during my visits to Panama. Since they were deep fried in oil, tostones will not become a regular treat and my search for plantain recipes will continue.

But today they were a welcome guilty pleasure.


Natural Phenom

1 Dec

It’s not nearly as striking as the half red/half green apple I read about recently in the British press, but I was duly impressed with this specimen I brought home from the local grocery store.


I took some photos of it and then I ate it.

Juicing the Passion Fruit

25 Sep

Passion Fruit

Making Passion Fruit Juice

Passion Fruit Nectar

Passion Fruit Nectar

So there I was with two dozen passion fruit, ripening to wrinkles and turning my kitchen into an aroma factory. I had plenty of time to consider what I would do with these fragrant fruits that had literally dropped in my lap. (Well, almost literally…they had dropped into the backyard.)

As I don’t seem to do anything these days without consulting the internet first, I began googling and came across a number of You Tube videos about what to do with passion fruit. One fellow advocated just plain eating them: you slice the fruit in half, scoop out the innards, then eat juice, pulp and seeds all together. I thought I’d give that a try. It was then I discovered just how tart passion fruit is. And I hated eating the seeds.

Another video demonstrated how to make passion fruit juice. Cut them open, scoop them out into a blender, add lots of sugar, blend gently so you don’t chop up the seeds, pour out through a sieve to get the juice and leave the seeds behind. I tried that with the remainder of my passion fruit. I found that the pulp held rather tenaciously onto the seeds so I kept pulsing the blender more and more. Ooops, I think I over did it. Some of the seeds had begun to get chopped up. I strained the juice as best as I could. Nearly two dozen fruits yielded about a cup of rather thick nectar with little tiny bits of seed floating in it. Well, if you can eat the seeds whole, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to drink up these tiny bits.

So now I’ve got a rather tart nectar. What next? One friend suggested adding sugar, heating it up and reducing it into a syrup for pouring on top of vanilla ice cream. Tasty as that sounded I rather tended towards turning the nectar into a tropical cocktail.

I found plenty of tropical fruit cocktail recipes on the internet but I was lacking most of the ingredients. This is when I ventured into the dangerous territory of recipe experimentation. The first night I added pomegranate juice to the passion fruit juice, stirred in some sugar and added the only liquor we have — bourbon. I had expected the concoction to turn into a blood orange color, but no, it became a decidedly unappetizing muddy brown. But rather tasty, nonetheless.

The next night I challenged my hubby to come up with a cocktail. He simply added the whiskey to the passion fruit juice. We had to add sugar to cut the tartness. Then I added a bit of coconut milk to smooth the drink out a bit. Again, rather tasty.

I shall be checking the back yard regularly now for more heaven-sent passion fruit.

Backyard Harvest

16 Sep

A pile of passion fruit

The fruits of my labor

Passion Fruit in a Potted Plant

Some of the passion fruit landed in potted plants.

Passion Fruit and Palm Tree

One got wedged in this palm.

Bowl of Passion Fruit

The Cream of the Crop

Every year a large black walnut tree would drop scores of nuts in our backyard at our home in Maryland. It was an ongoing chore through the summer and fall to gather those nuts. We didn’t even eat them. They were bitter and nasty tasting. Sadly that walnut tree was taken out recently by Hurricane Irene.

Here in Israel we have another type of harvest to make. High above one wall of our backyard runs a passion fruit vine. We don’t know who planted it. Considering the mass of tangled vines and branches back there it’s hard to tell if the vine is rooted in our yard or our neighbor’s.

As I was weeding the other day (a chore I had been putting off) I came across a few passion fruit on the ground and gathered them up. Then today I went out to see if there were any more passion fruit. I was astounded at the number of fruit lying in our yard. Not only were they lying on the ground, some had landed inside plant pots. One had even become wedged in a palm tree. It was like going on an Easter Egg hunt.

I gathered the fruit into two plastic grocery bags. In all, I had gathered 8.5 lbs. of passion fruit! This was not counting the ones that had withered and rotted away already. I sorted through the fruit and discarded many that had been gouged or otherwise damaged. Those that passed my quality control inspection weighed a total of 2.5 lbs.

Now I just need to wait for the skin of the fruit to turn wrinkly — that is when they are ripe and ready for eating.