Jun 4, 2014

Cooking with GRAPES

Seedless White Grapes
Grapes are one of those fruits we’ve gotten used to seeing in grocery stores all year long, even here in Hawaii. Actually Hawaii has been growing grapes for the production of wine and brandy since 1815, under the watchful eye of King Kamehameha 1. In 1856, King Kamehameha IV licensed the growing of wine grapes under the condition that the wine or brandy produced from the grapes not be sold to any native of his kingdom.  

One significant problem with growing grapes in a tropical climate is that there are few areas where it will get cold enough for the vines to have a true dormant phase, so bud break can be unpredictable and difficult to manage. Today there are only two commercial wineries in the Hawaiian islands. 

Nearly all American-grown fresh grapes are grown in California and are picked by hand. Grapes are generally categorized by color and all colors have seedless varieties available. Most people just eat table grapes just as they are, but because of their sweetness, they work very well in many recipes. Here are a few to try:

Salmon with Shrimp & White Grapes
A perfect blend of flavors using salmon and grapes. The sour cream sauce, and sweet grapes play nicely against the richness of the salmon and shrimp. Oh so French, enjoyed here in Hawaii.

4 salmon fillets (or steaks)
20 large shrimps, with head and shells, deveined
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups seedless white grapes, peeled
3 shallots, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup concentrated shrimp shell stock
1 tablespoon sour cream
salt and pepper
fresh dill for garnish

Peel the shrimp and take off the heads and shells. Put them in a medium sized pot and barely cover with water. Add one teaspoon of salt and bring to a simmer without the lid on. Reduce the liquid to 1/3 cup. Strain and discard the shells. Save the liquid.

Peel the grapes. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan and add chopped shallots. Cook slowly until soft. Add deveined shrimps, let them cook for 1 minute on each side until pink, then add grapes, wine and 1/3 cup of shrimp stock. Let the sauce reduce to half. Add sour cream, salt and pepper to taste.

At the same time, in a large non stick pan, cook the salmon in 1 tablespoon of olive oil about 2 minutes on each side, or longer if you like the salmon well done.

Place salmon on plates, arrange shrimp and grapes, all around, then pour the sauce on top. Garnish with dill. Makes 4 servings.

Chicken-Spinach Salad with Greek Yogurt 
and Red Grapes
This delicious chicken fruit salad makes use of Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. The sweet taste of grapes and apple take this chicken salad over the top.

4 bone-in chicken breast
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use Voskos brand)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup red or black seedless grapes, cut in half
1 Granny Smith apple, diced
1 large bag of baby spinach, stems removed and chilled
1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans for garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons black sesame seeds for garnish

Preheat you oven to 350˚F. Drizzle each chicken breast with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add to a foil lined baking sheet and bake for about 35 minutes until fully cooked. Set aside to cool until room temperature.

Once the chicken has cooled pick all the meat off the bone and add it to a bowl of an electric mixer. Add in yogurt and celery. Mix the chicken on medium/low speed until shredded and mixed. Stir in the grapes, and apple. Add more yogurt if needed and season with salt and pepper. To serve, lay out a bed of chilled baby spinach leaves onto each chilled salad plate and top each plate with equal amounts of chicken salad. Garnish with chopped toasted pecans and black sesame seeds. Makes 4 servings.

Pork Tenderloin with Grape Sauce
I love pork tenderloin because it's easy to cook and there are so many ways to serve it, plus it's always lean, tender and juicy. 

2 cups red grapes
1-1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1/2 cup Madeira wine
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Position racks in the middle and lower third of oven; preheat to 425°F.
Place grapes on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast on the lower rack, shaking the pan occasionally to turn the grapes, until they are shriveled, 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, rub pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and brown on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn the pork over and transfer the pan to the top oven rack. Roast the pork until just barely pink in the center and an instant-read thermometer registers 145°F, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board to rest before slicing.

Place the pan over medium heat (use caution, the handle will be hot), add shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add Madeira and cook until reduced by half, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in broth, thyme and mustard; bring to a simmer. Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl and stir into the pan sauce. Cook until thickened, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in the grapes. Serve the sliced pork with the grape sauce. Makes 4 servings.

Grape Chutney
A beautiful chutney to serve with roast pork, chicken or turkey.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup minced shallots
2 cups halved seedless purple or red grapes
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add grapes, sherry, vinegar, mustard seeds and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the grapes have broken down, 10 to 20 minutes. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

Red Grape Upside Down Cake
Want something different to serve at your next dinner party, try this delicious and beautiful red grape cake!

Ingredients for the topping:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 3/4 cup or about 2 pounds red seedless grapes
1/4 cup orange juice

Ingredients for the batter:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Use a 9-inch round or an 8-inch square cake pan with 3-inch sides. To make the topping, place the butter and brown sugar in the cake pan. Place the pan on a stovetop burner over low heat and melt, stirring with a wooden spoon. When the sugar has melted, after a couple of minutes, remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Scatter the grapes evenly in the bottom of the pan and drizzle in the orange juice. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

To make the cake batter, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Add the egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each one to make sure it is thoroughly incorporated. Gradually add the dry ingredients and the milk in stages: mix in about a third of the flour mixture, followed by about half the milk; mix in another third of the flour, then the rest of the milk; finally, add the last third of the dry ingredients.

In another large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites and the cream of tartar. Beat the whites until they form firm peaks. Fold the whites into the batter in two batches. Pour the batter over the topping in the prepared pan and bake until the top is slightly brown and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 50 to 60 minutes. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving plate. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with a little orange liqueur, if you like. Makes one 9-inch round cake or one 8-inch square cake; serves 8

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