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Margaret Pilgrim

Spice or no spice in fruit dishes

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I grew up on the California coast, surrounded by strawberries, apples, apricots, peaches, berries of all kinds.    We used fruit at its peak and without adulteration.   I never, ever add spice to a fruit pie or cobbler or, heaven forbid, compote.    But many, maybe most people do.     I remember almost bursting into tears when presented with a huge punchbowl of fresh fruit at a French country inn.    They brought it to the table to serve.     Cherries and every kind of berry you could think of.   Paradise.    Then I took a bite and all I could taste was cinnamon.    It ruined it for me.     Same for pies.   So that's my hang up.     Spice to me is a cover up for over the hill product.

 

What do you prefer?

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When the fruit is first class...leave it alone.

Apples in the middle of winter can do with cinnamon.

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My Sicilian BIL insists on putting lemon juice on all fruit, drives me crazy. If the fruit is ripe, thats what I want to taste. When he is cutting up fruit for dessert I have learned to ask for a portion to be set aside, plain, before he drowns it.

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"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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Some people just overdo lemon.  ina Garten seems to add loads of lemon juice or zest to everything.  I don't like that much lemon, too tart  and overwhelming for my taste.

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I agree that cinnamon is often over-used, but I do like a bit of nutmeg with blueberries and ginger with peaches if I'm cooking them.

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Posted (edited)

Strawberries need maceration and the resultant juice if served with shortbread, I think. Not exactly a spice, but a modification.

 

Cinnamon in apple pie is no crime to me.

 

And a little salt never hurt anything that's sweet.


Edited by gfweb (log)
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Cinnamon with apples is ok. Apples without cinnamon are also ok. I have had wonderful curried fruit, but it's an occasional thing. I will confess to a fondness for strawberries macerated in a bit of sugar and white balsamic vinegar.


Don't ask. Eat it.

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I have no problem with a small knob, the size of your fist, in a fruit pie.   Well slightly smaller.


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43 minutes ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

I have no problem with a small knob, the size of your fist, in a fruit pie.   Well slightly smaller.

 

Dare I ask knob of what?

 

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Setting aside the unfortunate cases where a spice is overwhelming, I don't see any reason why a variety of fruit preparations can't be used and enjoyed.  My favorite peach grower has varieties that he'll be bringing to the market from now into October.  Sure, I'll enjoy them on their own to savor their perfection.  I'll also make simple cobblers or tarts with a bit of lemon zest and a pinch of salt but I'll also put them into spicy salsa, in salads with tomatoes and buratta and a basil vinaigrette and every sort of peach popsicle I can think of, including my signature version with bourbon and ginger.   Perfect fruit will only make those carefully spiced things better!

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Indeed every food presents multiple treatment opportunities for a cook.    it is interesting to me to read about others' tastes and inventiveness.    I don't have to like a flavor spectrum to appreciate it.    To me, it's interesting how our pasts mold our presents,.   How one person's mandate is another's aversion.   

 

ETA, lemon is a different and very interesting flavor.    I cannot get enough of it, especially Meyer lemon, while DH finds any hint of lemon "sour".     interestingly, he doesn't find most vinegars particularly sour, especially compared to lemon, spoon per spoon.

 

As someone said, we aren't a melting pot.   We are a tossed salad.


Edited by Margaret Pilgrim (log)
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I'm the only person I know who puts freshly grated nutmeg on green beans. It's wonderful.   And, apple anything must, as a minimum, have cinnamon in it.

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13 minutes ago, ElsieD said:

I'm the only person I know who puts freshly grated nutmeg on green beans. It's wonderful.   And, apple anything must, as a minimum, have cinnamon in it.

 

Well, you've met another! My mom, omas, and I all put freshly grated nutmeg on green beans. I will often add nutmeg to cooked spinach. Also in agreement to the addition of cinnamon to cooked apples.

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19 minutes ago, curls said:

 

 

Well, you've met another! My mom, omas, and I all put freshly grated nutmeg on green beans. I will often add nutmeg to cooked spinach. Also in agreement to the addition of cinnamon to cooked apples.

 

I use it in cooked spinach also.  I see you have/had omas as have I.  Maybe it is a Dutch thing?  At least, that's my background.

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If you get sick of cinnamon (I did) try cardamom. It works anywhere cinnamon works, and I find it doesn't overwhelm apple flavors as much.

 

Also herbs can be a natural match for fruits. They can complement without hiding anything. Try apples with basil. Or thyme. Peaches and basil are also nice.

 

The over-reliance on lemon with fruits drives me a bit nuts. One problem is that unless you live in central California or southern France, the fruit you get will usually have been picked before it's perfectly mature, and will already be tart. 

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Notes from the underbelly

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Posted (edited)

I think certain flavorings can amplify, rather than mask, the flavors of fruit. Ginger with stone fruit, for instance (or almonds, which aren't quite a spice). I also love a tiny, tiny, tiny hint of rose with strawberries.

 

That said, too often any of these flavors are added too heavily.

 

My pet peeve is actually over-mixing of fruits -- I know folks love strawberry and rhubarb together, but to me the flavors of each get lost. Ditto for a lot of "mixed berry" concoctions that aren't as good as a single berry.


Edited by dtremit (log)
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1 hour ago, ElsieD said:

 

I use it in cooked spinach also.  I see you have/had omas as have I.  Maybe it is a Dutch thing?  At least, that's my background.

Yes, Dutch background for me too. 🙂

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4 hours ago, ElsieD said:

I'm the only person I know who puts freshly grated nutmeg on green beans. It's wonderful.   And, apple anything must, as a minimum, have cinnamon in it.

Rachael Ray is a big fan of adding a little nutmeg when cooking greens. She's Italian so her ethnicity doesn't match yours. She also adds it to any and all white sauces that she makes.

My mom would "can" peaches every summer. She'd cook the peaches with some nutmeg and cinnamon and freeze it in milk cartons. She'd make peach cobbler on Winter holidays and it was a lovely taste of summer.

But with fresh peaches at the height of the season, she'd serve them sliced and ice cold with no spices. Refreshing!

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If we're talking savories, I always add some fresh nutmeg gratings to ragu sauces.   

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4 hours ago, ElsieD said:

 

I use it in cooked spinach also.  I see you have/had omas as have I.  Maybe it is a Dutch thing?  At least, that's my background.

 

Yes to nutmeg in spinach, but my introduction was Marcella Hazan's spinach & ricotta gnocchi from 1973's Classic Italian Cookbook.  Gnocchi and pork braised in milk were my favorite birthday dinner requests growing up.

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In a few days I'll be making an annual apricot pastry-Apricot Clafouti with Five-Spice and Black Pepper.  The spice flavors aren't overpowering just enough to bring up the apricots to something more than fruit baked in custard.  

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Posted (edited)

I just got hooked on this a few weeks ago and while was never a fan of adding salt to fruit, these salt-lime-chili crystals are great sprinkled on mango, melons, pineapple and also cukes, jicama, radishes.  Makes the best rim for a tamarind margarita (and probably others).  

tajin.jpg.af6abb0bbc96bb77c220fe1c78f45550.jpg

 


Edited by gulfporter (log)
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21 minutes ago, gulfporter said:

I just got hooked on this a few weeks ago and while was never a fan of adding salt to fruit, these salt-lime-chili crystals are great sprinkled on mango, melons, pineapple and also cukes, jicama, radishes.  Makes the best rim for a tamarind margarita (and probably others).  

 

 

Lots of Tajín fans around here!  TJ's been selling their own version of Chili Lime Seasoning for some time, too.

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Posted (edited)

For over a decade we have enjoyed the free spiced jicama sticks that many bars in MX serve (though rarely in our neck of the MXN woods).  I tried at home to replicate them, using lime juice and various spices and never got it right.  A few weeks ago I got a tamarind margarita and the rim had the BEST spice mix...nice salty crunch, some heat and a good sour.  I asked the waiter what he used and he came back with the Tajin jar.  Duh....I have seen it in the spice aisle for years but never knew what it was. 

 

It is addictive.  We put some on grilled corn on the cob last night and it was fabulous.  


Edited by gulfporter (log)
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