Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


Apricots, Apriums, Plumcots, Pluots & Plums

Am I the only one that's confused by exactly what the difference is between a pluot and a plumcot?

Heck... It was only very recently that I discovered the existence of the aprium.

As it turns out, pluots and apriums aren't just recently popularized fruits. They're the result of hard work by the Zaiger family of Modesto, California, who for the last 30 years or so, have been quietly marrying apricots and plums — among other stone fruits — in an effort to create crazy new fruits (with Zaiger-registered trademarks, of course) for the marketplace.

As it turns out, apricots, like plums are actually members of the same species, Prunus. Who knew? Well, apparently the Zaigers knew.

In general, I find any in-season stonefruit to be so delightful, a recipe is hardly necessary. Just a napkin, please.

That said, you can dress up any stonefruit just a bit by making a quickie summer pastry with it. For little tartlet, don't even fuss with making up a pastry base. Just thaw some puff pastry, mount it with macerated fruit (use whichever ones you happen to run across) and bake. Voila! Stonefruit perfection.
Plum/Apricot Tartlets (Servings Vary)

Frozen puff pastry (thawed)
1 Apricot, Aprium, Plumcot, Pluot or Plum per serving (cut in 1/2" slices)
1/2 tsp sugar per fruit
1-2 shakes ground cinnamon (optional)

1. Heat the oven to 400°F.
2. Cut 1 4"x 4" puff pastry square for each serving. Rewrap and freeze any remaining puff pastry.
3. Place pastry squares on a baking sheet.
4. Stir sliced stonefruit, sugar and cinnamon (if using) in a mixing bowl.
5. Pile sugared fruit in the center of each pastry square, leaving a 1" pastry border.
6. Fold up the edges to create casual pastry cups around the fruit, and bake for 30 minutes, or until pastry is golden.

As you can imagine, these are really nice served warm with plain yogurt, crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream.


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FoodLink Roundup: 05.19.08

Cupcake's Link Roundup
Last week, Cupcake was hiding out at historic Rye Playland in Westchester County, NY. Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Post your guess in the comments.

A chicken in every pot belly
"it is I think one of the very best of the ancient, rustic slow-cooked standards, and everybody should have it at least once or go to the grave wondering why they hadn't"

Sneaky restaurant tricks
I know this article is supposed to be spun as a consumer rights piece, but I kind of view it as "How restaurants stay in business during tough times." It ain't easy, folks.

Liberians drop rice for spaghetti
High rice prices drive a new interest in spaghetti... with lots of chili sauce, of course.

The cost of food: Facts and figures
It's dismal data... but oh how I love an infographic!

Ideas We Love: The Donut Cake
Wedding? We don't need no stinkin' wedding... Let there be donut cakes for everyone!

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Goal 6: Unlock the Salad Code

My boss loves it when I make salads for our department lunches. He's not really into vegetables (he usually claims his favorite veggie is either the potato or the onion), so it's kind of a nice compliment when he takes a big portion of salad.

I find it disturbing, however that he believes there's some kind of magic behind making a good salad. Shouldn't a set of basic salad skills be one of the rights and responsibilities befitting a modern citizen? (Just behind the our rights to participatory government and free speech, of course.)

Salads shouldn't be relegated to the corner as "virtuous" food alongside culinary misfits like alfalfa sprouts, rutabaga and wheat germ.

Though they invariably contain heaps of healthful vegetables, salads are often quite fatty. In my book, salads really have more in common with the food of jubilation than the food of deprivation.

Granted, while I worked in a garde manger position, I did spend nine months of my life doing little more than making salads at high speed. One could say I have a certain expertise in the area.

The thing is, most people have been buffaloed into believing salads are not only virtuous but maybe even difficult.

I'm here to tell you it's not true, and I'll prove it with an infographic. Whee!

I've broken down some popular salads based on their major components. You'll note that the pattern is pretty easy to follow...
    1. Take a bowl of the lettuce of your choice.
    2. Sprinkle on a sweetly savory component, such as roasted red peppers or cherry tomatoes.
    3. Chop up an herbaceous component.
    4. Add crumbled/diced cheese or boiled egg.
    5. If you wish, add cooked beans or a diced protein.
    6. Dress with a harmonious vinaigrette.
    7. Toss and serve.

Salad Chart

Just remember... every salad you make is an opportunity for a party on your plate.

Miss any of the previous resolutions? You'll find #1, #2, #3, #4 & #5 linked here.

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Pete: Gastronomic Overachiever

chocolate chart
Barkeep, serve it up hard and bitter!

You've probably tried one of Pete's beers. A longtime homebrewer, Pete Slosberg's now ubiquitous Pete's Wicked Ale launched out of the basement in 1986 and has since bubbled up into a whole hoppy, happy family of award-winning brews.

You'd think Pete would be happy with being a well-known national brand. You'd think Pete would kick back and pop a cap, admiring a job well done.

Apparently, you'd be wrong. Waiting on line at the checkout last night I discovered beer-brewin' Pete's been moonlighting. Doing what? you ask. A pizza shop? Nope. Hot dogs? Nope. High-end vodka? Nope.

The wicked one left the brewery to ferment on its own and went to culinary school to start up a second career as a chocolatier. Under the pseudonym
Cocoa Pete, the intrepid everyman's gourmet tries his hand at crowd pleasin' chocolate products in an attempt to stock America's shelves with something better than the waxy packs they pump out of Pennsylvania.

I was sucked in by the Caramel Knowledge bar, a dark chocolate (joy!), caramel and coffee confection that fuses three of my favorite vices in one four-mounded "bar." The pieces conveniently break off into dome-like chunks reminiscent of a quartet of caramel-filled dark chocolate igloos.

I had one of the sections last night (one rich, sweet chunk was about as much as I could take at a go) and it was, indeed far more satisfying for a dark chocolate lover than its closest comparison, the Cadbury Caramello.

If you really, truly prefer milk chocolate, I'm sorry, and this may not be the bar for you, but Pete's site allows you to download a groovy chocolate 101 flavor chart, so you can compare what you already know you like to what you might possibly like.

My favorite aspect of Pete's new venture, however, is the "Bill of Rights" under the Chocolate Rights section of his website. That document that should be required reading for anyone stepping close to the rack of nasty chocolate bars at the convenience store. At the very least, it should be posted on the sides of waxy chocolate bars like the Surgeon General's warning.

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