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Dried Fruit and Nuts


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I love dried fruit and nuts.  

 

Fruitcake, of course.  Chocolate bark.  Maida Heatter's California Fruit and Nut bars. Granola.

 

What do you do with them?

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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I love eating dried fruit as-is, and I also like fruitcake. But, my favorite application is this recipe for Apricot Confections. You can make and store them for a month, so, they are great to just have around the house in case of unexpected guests. They are also great for holidays because you can get one item for your cookie platter out of the way super-early. They contain coconut, but, even people who don't like coconut seem to like them. I have made them vegan by subbing coconut cream for the SCM. Someday soon, I am going to try substituting ground nuts, a soft type like pecans or walnuts for the coconut.

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Christmas stollen.  Other fruit breads.  One of the regulars on The Splendid Table swears by stewing them enough to get soft, pureeing them and using them to boost sauces, pies or even stews.  I haven't tried it but I keep meaning to. Eating out of hand, of course.  I have a bad habit of buying more dried fruit than I can use, and then there it sits until it turns brown.  Another of my ambitions is to make stuffed cookies - like fig newtons, but with dried apricot or date or even pear filling.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I love eating dried fruit as-is, and I also like fruitcake. But, my favorite application is this recipe for Apricot Confections. You can make and store them for a month, so, they are great to just have around the house in case of unexpected guests. They are also great for holidays because you can get one item for your cookie platter out of the way super-early. They contain coconut, but, even people who don't like coconut seem to like them. I have made them vegan by subbing coconut cream for the SCM. Someday soon, I am going to try substituting ground nuts, a soft type like pecans or walnuts for the coconut.

A co-worker who was into making candies gave me this identical recipe in the early '70s. It is obviously a favorite.

 

I use a lot of dried fruit and nuts, especially around the holidays, for baking breads, cakes, and pies. One of my all-time prized recipes is this one for apricot chutney. Everyone loves it, and it is a versatile year-round staple in my house (make a good batch, freeze some, and keep some in the refrigerator. Bring to room temp. A great gift, too.

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I make various fruit and nut "sugar plums"  putting the fruit and nuts through a meat grinder  forming into slabs and then cutting into cube and finally rolling into balls or ovals, sometimes into "sticks" -

If they are sticky, they get a coating of grated dried coconut, fine nut meal to keep them from sticking together.

 

If you have "old" dried fruits that have become hard  DO NOT DISCARD THEM.   They can be "recovered"  by STEAMING so try this prior to tossing something that cost a lot of money.

 

Some combinations that I like - Apricot/Almond, Cherry/Almond, Fig/Walnut/Coconut,  Cranberry/Apple/Pecan, Date/Pistachio, Pear/Filbert, Peach/Cashew/Ginger.   In fact candied ginger goes well - in small amounts - with any of the combos.  And the date/pistachio is very good with the addition of candied orange peel. 

I've also added hemp hearts (shelled hemp seed) to some of these combos with excellent results.

 

I can't eat chocolate but chocolate bits, cocoa nibs can be added and the finished things can be dipped in chocolate - for those who like it.

 

This is a photo of  Apricot/Almond/Ginger and a close up of one before rolling in grated coconut.

post-17399-055132900 1293312535.jpg

post-17399-019864500 1293312953.jpg

Edited by andiesenji (log)
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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Oh! Maida's California Fruit and Nut bars are my favorite!  I always load it up with more fruit (like the recipe note says).  My favorite candy growing up was the Chunky bar; and while I'm not a big fan of raisins, put them in chocolate and I'll eat them ;)! While I am not a fan of dried cherries (out of hand, they taste like tobacco to me, but again, put them in chocolate and I'm ok with it!) I love that recipe with hazelnuts and cherries tossed in with the other fruits.

 

I love to experiment with biscotti and different fruits/nuts.  I've learned I don't care for walnuts in biscotti (they get too bitter) and macadamias were a pain to chop so I gave up on that Idea but I love apricot/almond, craisin/pecan, apricot/pistachio, cherry/hazelnut..

 

Those sugar plums look wonderful, Andiesenji!

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It use a focaccia recipe by Peter Reinhart and add dried cranberries and raisins (have also added dried blueberries) and divvy them into buns in my hamburger pans. No extra sugar as I find the dried fruit sweet enough. Once baked, I love them halved and toasted, spread with a good unsalted butter.

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I use both nuts and dried fruit frequently in savory dishes - basmati rice with dried cranberries, dried apricots and pecans, pork tenderloin with dried apricots, apples and pears hydrated in a white wine sauce, stuffed peppers with currents and cashews - and I could go on. I frequently throw a handful of nuts into salads with fresh apples,pears or dried cranberries. And of course I use them for many of the above mentioned sweets and breads - especially stollen and chocolates and confections at Christmas.

Elaina

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If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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This thread just reminded me of a pork stew with dried apricots and raisins that I haven't made in forever. And as I remember it was really good. Time to revisit that recipe.

Elaina

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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Oh! Maida's California Fruit and Nut bars are my favorite!  I always load it up with more fruit (like the recipe note says).  My favorite candy growing up was the Chunky bar; and while I'm not a big fan of raisins, put them in chocolate and I'll eat them ;)! While I am not a fan of dried cherries (out of hand, they taste like tobacco to me, but again, put them in chocolate and I'm ok with it!) I love that recipe with hazelnuts and cherries tossed in with the other fruits.

 

I love to experiment with biscotti and different fruits/nuts.  I've learned I don't care for walnuts in biscotti (they get too bitter) and macadamias were a pain to chop so I gave up on that Idea but I love apricot/almond, craisin/pecan, apricot/pistachio, cherry/hazelnut..

 

Those sugar plums look wonderful, Andiesenji!

Sugar plums vary in color from pale amber (the apricot/almond to nearly black - the black fig ones, while "white" figs are much lighter unless combined with dark nuts or other fruits.   I forgot to add that there are several "boiled" sweets made with dried fruits, usually with some honey and various spices and herbs.  I used to grow horehound and use it in a fruit candy with apples and pears.  Haven't thought of that for years.

 

Somewhere in my old recipe cards I have an ancient recipe for fruit and nut brandy balls - I'm allergic to alcohol so couldn't eat them but many years ago used to make them to send to my dad who loved them and demanded a tin of them every year before Christmas and "enough" to last him through his birthday on Feb. 2... 

The recipe was passed to me by a relative who, during prohibition, made her own peach brandy for holiday cooking.  Her father had been a pharmacist and had a small distillation apparatus which she used to great effect before, during and after prohibition because Livingston, county, KY, where I was born and raised was a "dry" county and so were the adjacent counties.  No sales of liquor or any alcohol for that matter, except thru a pharmacy "for medicinal purposes!"

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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If you ever stumble across that recipe for fruit and nut brandy balls, Andie, I'd love to have it. I bet I'm not alone in that wish. :-)

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Excellent ideas, thank you.

 

Andiesenji, can I ask why use a meat grinder rather than a food processor?

 

Do you plump the fruit or otherwise prepare it before you grind it?  Do you press it into a baking dish, like a 9 x 13?  Do you let it set before forming the balls?

 

 

Maida Heatter’s California Fruit Bars

 

1 generous cup of dried fruit – apricot, fig, date

4 large eggs

1 pound box brown sugar (2 1/4 cups)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

7 ounces (2 cups) walnut halves

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

 

Line a jelly roll pan with foil and butter it.

 

Cut dried fruit into small pieces.

Steam over simmering water for 15 minutes.

Uncover and set aside.

 

In a 3 quart saucepan beat eggs, add sugar and mix.

Place over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir and scrape until sugar melts.

Remove from heat.

Add salt, vanilla and flour one cup at a time.

Whisk until smooth.

Stir in fruit, then nuts.

 

Pour evenly into pan and smooth.

Bake 15 minutes until golden brown with a shiny top.

Cool, cut and wrap individually.

Edited by Lindacakes (log)
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I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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I do a lot of salads with dried fruit and nut combinations.  Lynne Rosetto Kasper turned me on to candied orange peel in salads, and candied orange peel and hazelnuts is especially good.  Candied lemon works, too.

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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Excellent ideas, thank you.

 

Andiesenji, can I ask why use a meat grinder rather than a food processor?

 

Do you plump the fruit or otherwise prepare it before you grind it?  Do you press it into a baking dish, like a 9 x 13?  Do you let it set before forming the balls?

 

 

Maida Heatter’s California Fruit Bars

 

1 generous cup of dried fruit – apricot, fig, date

4 large eggs

1 pound box brown sugar (2 1/4 cups)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

7 ounces (2 cups) walnut halves

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

 

Line a jelly roll pan with foil and butter it.

 

Cut dried fruit into small pieces.

Steam over simmering water for 15 minutes.

Uncover and set aside.

 

In a 3 quart saucepan beat eggs, add sugar and mix.

Place over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir and scrape until sugar melts.

Remove from heat.

Add salt, vanilla and flour one cup at a time.

Whisk until smooth.

Stir in fruit, then nuts.

 

Pour evenly into pan and smooth.

Bake 15 minutes until golden brown with a shiny top.

Cool, cut and wrap individually.

I use a food grinder because I like the texture/consistency of the product much better because when I tried it with a food processor, I got a really gummy (not in a good way) result with some stringiness in some fruits - especially figs - that the meat grinder breaks up. 

I  have some photos of part of the process and as soon as I find them in iPhoto, I will post.

 

Early on I used the hand-cranked meat grinders as were used in my grandmother's kitchen but in the '70s when I began grinding my own meats making sausage and etc., I got an electric meat grinder and found it worked a treat on the fruits - I was doing large batches back then because that is also when I began my limited catering part-time and people loved the "sugar plums" and not just for the end of year holidays. 

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Here are a few photos of working one type of fruit/nut blends.  (I use gloves)

 

These are the pear/filbert with coconut.

fruit balls 1.jpg

 

These are fig and pistachio

fruit balls 3.jpg

 

This is a portion of a blend I have been kneading and then rolled into a "rope" to cut into segments.

HPIM3714.JPG

HPIM3715.JPG

 

The next photos show the difference between dried fruits that have dried too much and how they look after being steamed.

Figs (white)

HPIM3685.JPG

HPIM3686.JPG

 

Pineapple

HPIM3683.JPG

HPIM3684.JPG

 

Some pears in the steamer after the "first pass" - they need a bit longer.

HPIM2282.JPG

Can't find the "after" photo.

 

And these are peaches and nectarines that were steamed and then cooked in syrup to make glacé fruits.

HPIM1565.JPG

The steaming shortens the time needed in the syrup by many hours. 

 

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Absolutely stunning pictures, thank you.  I guess I need a meat grinder.  The attachments for Kitchen Aids are fairly easy to get hold of, do you know anything about them? 

 

I mean the old, all metal ones, from eBay.

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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I had a large Northern Tool meat grinder but sold it and bought a much smaller unit made by Waring and it works fine.

 

I have several of the old KAs and the metal meat grinders.

 

I bought one of the "plastic" ones three or four years ago for my new (at that time) KA and the gears on it "froze" the second time I used it so I tossed the entire piece of crap.

 

I also have several of hand-cranked ones, some antique, some just "vintage" that I could always use in a pinch, except now when I'm not supposed to be doing anything "vigorous" with my arms. 

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Recipe for Brandy balls.

 

Aunt Hattie Anne's Brandy balls.


1 cup mixed dried fruit, minced very fine
1 cup ground pecans  (coarse grind)
1 cup crushed spice cookies (or gingersnaps if you have to use store-bought)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup brandy (or bourbon)

Mix everything together and store for 10 days.

Use a teaspoon to portion out, form into balls and roll in powdered sugar or jimmies or candy beads.
(or whatever works for you)  My Aunt's choice was limited back in the '40s.
 

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I use dried fruits and nuts when I make mole'.  I freeze leftover bits and pieces of the fruits and nuts that accumulate over time from other recipes, then add whatever I have to my next mole'.  

 

We lived in Central Mexico for 5 years where I wrote a recipe column in a monthly expat magazine using local ingredients from our local tianguis (open air market).  

 

I was lucky to meet and have lunch with Diana Kennedy.  While her cookbook recipes are specific and detailed, she readily admits that Mexican home cooks tend to use 'what's available.'  I can attest to that as when I would meet and talk to the local women in our village about recipes, there was rarely any measuring device in their kitchens, nor did they ever seem to make the same exact recipe twice!

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