Thursday, May 8, 2008

101 uses for dried fruit puree

Well, maybe not quite 101, but I promised some more ideas about how to use the puree of apricot, prune, and raisin that sweetens the muesli recipes I recently posted, so here goes.

Before we get started, I wanted to say again that this puree was inspired by a similar one that was part of the Bircher Muesli recipe from delicious:days. I think I mentioned that in the text of my previous post but forgot to give the nod when I typed up the recipe.

And on a different introductory note: yes, I do realize that dried fruit puree looks like poop. Let me tell you, my husband was a little alarmed the first time he saw an ice-cube tray full of it sitting in our freezer. (Freezer contents in houses I have previously lived in have included a dead storm petrel and several tupperware containers full of assorted insects, so I guess he had reason to be concerned.) And now that we have broached the subject of poop, I will say that ever since Monkey started eating a spoonful of this stuff with breakfast every day, she has not had any trouble in that department. So if you (or more precisely, I hope, your baby) are feeling the effects of too much rice cereal, I highly recommend dried fruit puree as a tasty cure. (There, yes, I just blogged about my kid's poop. But I have managed to avoid the subject for nearly four months, so really, I think you should consider yourself lucky.)

Anyway, on to topics of conversation more appropriate for the table....

I think the fruit puree would be delicious in this carrot variation on muesli from A Veggie Venture, which I'm dying to try. In fact, Monkey has already had the baby version of this recipe; substitute an equal quantity of pureed carrots for the applesauce in my Baby Bircher recipe and call it (because I can't resist) Baby Bunny. She might like it even better than the apple version, to be perfectly honest.

And of course it would also be good stirred into either oatmeal or yogurt on its own. Sweet and fruity with no refined sugar--take that, YoBaby!

Spread it on toast fingers for a snack for the baby, or pair it with peanut butter for a sandwic for toddlers on up. Add it to pancake or waffle batter (or maybe heat it up with some maple syrup to go on top). Use it in a quickbread or carrot cake.

And then there are the savory possibilities. Combined with some braised alliums and a bit of vinegar, the puree could be a player in a nice chutney. Throw it in with some cooked carrots and a pinch of cumin for glazed carrots--doesn't that sound pretty? And--this is going to be a bit vague, because I don't know a thing about cooking meat--I'm pretty sure you could also add some to a skillet after deglazing to make a rather sophisticated sauce for chicken or pork.

But more simply, it's delicious spread on a cracker and topped with a thin slice of aged cheese (that's Parmigiano-Reggiano in the photo above). The high proportion of apricot in my version of the recipe gives the puree a sunny flavor that's especially nice paired with the cheese's bite. If you wanted to get really fancy, you could add a bit of mustard to the puree for an impromptu mostarda.

I didn't invent the pairing of dried fruit and cheese, of course, but I am pretty tickled to have figured out, quite accidentally, how to do it on the cheap. This puree is not much different from the stuff they were recently peddling at my local grocery store, asking $6 for about a quarter-cup nubbin. (Six dollars! And it didn't even look any less like poop* than the homemade version!)

*Hey, if I'm going to talk about poop in a post I may as well go all out, right?

Anyway, I think I may try to keep this stuff on hand, even after Monkey outgrows the habit of eating a bowl full of mush for breakfast.

And here, to save you a click, is the recipe once again:

Dried Fruit Puree

Adapted from delicious:days

Most any combination of dried fruits could be used in this puree (I'd like to try adding some candied ginger, too); just use an equal volume of fruit and water.

1/2 C dried apricots
1/4 C prunes
1/4 C dark raisins
1 C water

Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer, covered, over low heat for about 20 minutes or until the fruits are very plump and tender. Let cool a bit and then puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.

This puree keeps in the freezer for quite a while, but (due to the high sugar content, I think) it may not freeze solid. Test this out before tying up an ice cube tray!

No comments: