Roasted Fruit Packages

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The sub header of my creatively named blog, the Chef Mimi blog, is “so much food, so little time”. I could have easily made it, “so many restaurants, so little time.”

Dining out may be my favorite thing to do. Like it’s my serious hobby. Whenever we have a travel destination, I’m researching top ten restaurants, new restaurant openings, best new chefs, and working online at open table.com for reservations.

Of course this is more challenging in major cities like New York. I’ve tried to get us in to ABC kitchen 5 times with no luck. And I start early.

One restaurant that has always been on my NYC list is Buvette – so much so that I bought the cookbook “Buvette – The Pleasure of Good Food” by Jody Williams, who is the chef and owner.

The restaurant, considered a gastrothèque, opened in 2010 and has received many accolades. Before opening Buvette, Jody Williams worked with such culinary notables as Thomas Keller and Lidia Bastianich.

When I first received the cookbook from Amazon, I bookmarked quite a few intriguing recipes, but one really called to me – Fruit in Parchment Paper.

For the recipe, Ms. Williams oven-roasts fresh and dried fruits in squares of parchment paper, much as how one would prepare fish. She serves the packages of fruit with cheese as an “unexpected alternative to the ubiquitous cluster of grapes that seem to accompany every cheese platter in the world!”


Except for serving a compote, a chutney, or aigre doux of fruit, I have never served roasted fruit as a cheese platter accompaniment. So needless to say I was excited. And being that it’s early summer, I have access to a good variety of fresh fruit.

Ms. Williams suggests mixing up the fruit to suit your taste. She suggests the combination of pumpkin, apples and dates. I’m saving that for next fall.

Fruit in Parchment Paper

2 tables of dried currants (I used dried sour cherries)
1/2 cup vin santo* (I used Sauternes)
1 apple peeled cored and thinly sliced
1 quince peeled cored and thinly sliced (I used plums)
2 tablespoons honey
A pinch of coarse salt
1/4 cup walnuts

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. In a large bowl soak the currants in the vin santo for at least 10 minutes. Once they’re a bit softened, add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.



Meanwhile cut out four 8″ squares of parchment paper. Evenly divide the mixture among the squares. Bring the edges of each square together and fold them over each other creating a continuous seal. ( I had parchment bags that I used.)

Place the four packages on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until the fruit smells fragrant and the paper is browned, about 15 minutes.

I almost made my smoke alarm go off roasting the fruits; so much of the syrup leaked through the bags and began smoking.


I paired the fruit with Mimolette, a smoked Raclette, and Saint-Félicien, along with some bread.


If you’ve never had Saint-Félicien, you need to get some. It’s mild, a little salty, and oh so creamy. It paired especially well with the fruit.

The fruit was also perfect for a torchon of foie gras I served that evening when friends came over (not pictured).


I understand that the parchment packages help steam-cook the fruits, but honestly they ended up being terribly messy.

In the future, I will place the fruit mixture in a large gratin pan, and roast at 375 degrees, maybe stirring once. That way, you don’t lose the syrup, and the fruit will still be cooked but also a bit more caramelized.


* Ms. Williams states that Banyuls, Port, or Sauternes can be substituted for the wine.

I’m already thinking of new fruit combinations…
Cherries apples dried apricots
Pears grapes dates
Peaches apples figs
And so forth

note: When I make this again, I will also chop the fruit. I think the smaller pieces will be easier to place on breads and crackers.

Fruit and Nut Crackers

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A while back I purchased these beautiful crackers from Whole Foods. I was visiting my daughter at the time and we paired them with cheese that night for a pre-dinner treat.

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The brand is Raincoast, and the crackers are $9.99 for 6 ounces – yes, a bit pricey. They have a few different varieties, but I don’t know how many exactly.
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Once home, I paired the leftover crackers with my faux Boursin this past July. The combination of the fruitiness with the goat cheese was just perfect.

Really, these crackers aren’t extremely sweet, even with the dried fruits. But there is just enough sweetness that they really add something to a cheese pairing of any kind.

Because Whole Foods is a four-hour round trip for me, I decided to make these little guys myself. How hard could it be?!!

This was a first for me – I typically make yeasted breads myself to pair with cheeses, like my fruit and nut bread or olive bread.

But these are simply dense little quick breads, that were then sliced, and toasted. I couldn’t wait! Most of the fun was picking out the fruit and nut combination. I decided on sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, flax seeds, dried plums, dried cranberries, and cocoa nibs.

They turned out fabulously. I had to freeze them so I wouldn’t keep eating them! But you know I’ll be pulling them out of the freezer come the holidays…

Fruit and Nut Crackers

1 cup dried fruits – I used half cranberries and half diced plums
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup flax seeds
1/3 cup cocoa nibs
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups rice milk or dairy milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup rye flour
1 1/2 cups white flour

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease 3 little pans – mine were approximately 3 1/2″ by 7 1/2″ bi 2 1/2″ inside diameter.

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
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In a larger bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the rice milk.
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Then add the brown sugar and molasses and whisk well.
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Add the rye flour and whisk to combine.
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Then change to a wooden spoon and add the 1 1/2 cups of white flour. Stir just until combined.
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Add the bowl of fruits, seeds, and nuts, and stir just until even distributed.
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Divide the batter in between the three pans.

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Bake for approximately 25 minutes. They will look like this:
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Let the breads cool completely. Reduce the oven to 300 degrees.

Slice the breads as thinly as possible.
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Then place them on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven for about 30 minutes.
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They will then look like this.
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Toast the remaining slices, if you can’t do them all at once in the oven. You should end up with approximately 68 crackers.
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Today I served the crackers alongside Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk. It’s a washed rind cows’ milk cheese that’s really soft. It’s not as “pourable” as a French Époisses, but it’s still fabulously soft.
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It was really good with these crackers.

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Sugarplums

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The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads…

I would love to have visions of dancing sugar-plums in my head, but I don’t know what they look like! And of course, there’s really no such thing, from a fruit standpoint. But I recently came across a recipe for Sugarplums on the Food Network website, and I was intrigued.

Turns out there have been candies/confections called Sugarplums around for a long time, and they’re all like this recipe (I’ll post the link to the original recipe I discovered at the bottom of this post.) They involve fruits and nuts, and they’re rolled into balls.

So there’s no real sugar plum, but nonetheless this recipe was something I knew I had to play with. I just had to make Sugarplums! And, of course, I just can’t leave a recipe alone, so here’s is my version, and it’s quite delicious!

Sugarplums

6 ounces Brazilnuts
6 ounces dried plums
4 ounces dried apricots
4 ounces dried figs, stemmed
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon anise seed
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 cup honey
Turbinado sugar or Swedish pearl sugar*

Weigh out the Brazilnuts and all of the dried fruit, then place it all in the jar of a food processor. Pulse until on the coarse side, but not too coarse. You need all of it to be able to stick together.

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Place the mixture in a bowl and set aside.

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In a small bowl, sieve the powdered sugar with the cinnamon and cardamom. Then add the poppy seeds, anise seeds, and fennel seeds. Give it all a stir and set aside.

When you are ready to finish the Sugarplums, have the nut-fruit mixture, the powdered sugar mixture, and two latex gloves handy. Place the turbinado or the Swedish pearl sugar in a small bowl. I used both because I wanted to experiment with both sugars. Also have a rack handy on which to place the Sugarplums.

Add the honey and the powdered sugar mixture to the fruits and nuts. Put on the gloves and begin mixing everything together. Mix extremely well.

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Roll the sticky mixture into balls and dip in the sugar. Then place on the rack. Continue with the remaining fruits and nuts. This recipe made about 20 Sugarplums.

note: I really liked the look of the Swedish pearl sugar for the holidays.

another note: These are really sweet. I don’t think there’s any getting around it, because you need the dried fruits, the powdered sugar, and the stickiness of the honey. Definitely make these for your favorite sweets lover!

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Sugarplums Recipe

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