Monday, October 29, 2012

What the heck to do with a pomegranate! :)

Pomegranates are my favorite fruit. They're tart, sweet, delicious, and packed full of antioxidants, which means that they help fight the free-radicals in our bodies that cause cancer. They're also one of the only fruits in which the seeds are the only edible part, and the first time that I tasted one was my initial life-changing food experience.

When I was very young, my aunt flew home for Christmas with a pomegranate from California. At her request, I threw on an apron and became thoroughly enthralled by the sheer magic of cutting into one of these miraculous orbs. As I helped her remove the glistening seeds, I felt like a treasure hunter who had discovered a collection of jewels hidden behind the twists and turns of a tricky labyrinth - the yellowish pith that tried with all it's might to prevent me from claiming my prizes. I pulled and pushed and stained my clothes, and with every *plink, plink* of the seeds as they cascaded into the bowl, I was more enamored. They glowed like coals in firelight, like a bowl full of rubies! I put one in my mouth and was startled by the POP! that set off a refreshing firework of tart and sweet as I chewed. I was in love. I was thrilled by this encounter. I wanted more.

To this day, I am still excited when I see the first display of pomegranates in the grocery store during October. In fact, when they showed up this month, I hummed "It's the most wonderful time of the year..." as I passed through the produce section. Sometimes they show up in late September, but they're never good that early. Pomegranates are best October through December (sometimes October is still too early, though), and you want one that is firm with a deep red rind. If the rind is not richly-colored, the seeds inside will be virtually colorless and extremely tart. At this stage, the pomegranate looks more cream/pink than red, the seeds don't come out easily, and you should just keep walking if these are all that's available. Blemishes on the surface are ok as long as there aren't any cracks, black spots, or squishy parts.

Now, to the fun part - getting all those seeds out! Go put on an old t-shirt and an apron, because little droplets of magenta will go flying (and will stain clothing!) as we remove the seeds.

Ok. Ready? Good! Now, I've tried it several different ways, but this way is the easiest, fastest, and cleanest. I needed to get the seeds out as quickly as possible once, and this just seemed like the most logical method.

 1. Stare at your pretty pomegranate. Sooo pretty.

2. Cut your pomegranate in half horizontally with a large knife. For stability, lay it on it's side and hold it steady by the stem!

3. Stare at the pretty seeds inside. Ooooooooh...

4. Lay both halves down on your cutting board with the seed sides down.

5. With your big chef's knife, cut both halves into quarters.

6. OOooooh. Pretty.

7. With both hands, gently bend opposite sides of each piece with your thumbs and press against the center of the rind with your other fingers. The pith will spread and bare the clusters of seeds.

8. Over a bowl or plate, continue to pull the layers of pith away from the clusters of seeds, and begin to gently rub/pull the seeds to loosen them. They should fall off easily. If they don't, just keep digging and have a little patience.

Discard the pith off to the side as often as you can to make the seeds more accessible.

9. As you work, pieces of pith will stick to your seeds. Simply pick through your bowl to remove them when you're finished.

I promise you'll get faster and less messy the more you do this! :)

You'll be amazed by how many seeds come from one little pomegranate! And who knows... if you bring one to Christmas, you might just inspire a little girl to become a chef someday. :)

You know how the current trend in EVERYTHING edible is pomegranate with blueberry? Well, that's mostly because both are packed with antioxidants, but also because they taste wonderful together! 

Have you had pomegranate seeds and blueberries with Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey or caramel sauce? Well, try it! You'll swoon. And because it's so healthy, there's no guilt. :) Great way to take care of sweet cravings, and your body will thank you for it!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fruit Pizza, My Signature Dessert

My signature dessert, "Fruit Pizza"!
No Place Like Home ~ Gourmet Personal Chef Services

Grilled Scallops with Roasted Tomatoes and Lima Beans

Grilled Scallops with Roasted Tomatoes and Lima Beans
No Place Like Home

Cookie dough hoarding for the holidays!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

My Blueberry-White Chocolate Cookie Dough
As the holidays get closer, my clients order items to freeze and have on hand for easy entertaining. Not only does this save them time and energy, but it also makes relaxing and enjoying their guests possible! :) 

Today, I prepared, portioned, and froze 2 large batches of cookie dough, and I'd like to share the easy process with you so that you can relax AND enjoy warm homemade cookies with your loved ones this holiday season.
Slice Slice Slice
Chop Chop Chop

4 to a bag for easy portioning!

Step 1: Prepare your cookie dough and press onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Be sure to make an even and THICK layer of dough.

If your baking sheet is too large for the amount of dough you have, you don't have to press to the edges!

When you have a thick and even layer, pop the pan into the freezer and freeze until solid.

Step 2: Once the cookie dough is frozen solid, remove it from the freezer.

With a large (and sharp!) knife, carefully cut the dough into 4 even portions.

Trim each of the 4 sections into even squares.

(Save the scraps from trimming for snacking while you work!)

Step 3: Once you have each of the 4 portions cut into even squares, slice them into even bars.

Step 4: Line up the bars, turn them, and cut into even cubes.

Step 5: Bag in small numbers for easy
portion control (I did 4 per bag) and
freeze with heating instructions. Be sure
to label with what kind of dough you made, too!

This is a great activity to have kids 
help with, though you should be the 
one wielding the big knife. :)

Enjoy the holidays this season by making
your life a little easier and vastly more
delicious with this quick and easy technique!

About Me

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Executive Chef and Owner of No Place Like Home in Louisville, KY. Writer, actress, chef, professional cook and professional eater.