Fresh produce lets you stay in touch with the seasons

October 21, 1992|By Isabel Forgang | Isabel Forgang,New York Daily News

Americans give short shrift to their vegetables. But we ar getting better, says food writer Jeannette Ferrary.

The growing popularity of green markets and countryside farm stands has inspired supermarket managers to spiff up their produce sections, as well. Now we find such out-of-the-ordinary items as sunchokes, jicama and persimmons a regular part of the fruit and vegetable scene.

But though these foodstuffs may be on the shelves, a lot of people still don't recognize them on sight, much less know what to do with them. And so Ms. Ferrary, together with fellow Californian Louise Fiszer, who runs a cooking school and cookware shop, decided to write "Sweet Onions & Sour Cherries: A Cookbook For Market Day," Simon & Schuster ($25).

It's always best to use produce seasonally. That's when everything tastes the best, says Ms. Ferrary. To help you do that, here are some recipes from "Sweet Onions" that have a seasonal flavor.

Pear-potato bisque

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

4 tablespoons butter

4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

L 4 pears (Anjou, Bartlett or comice), peeled, cored and diced

1 shallot, chopped

4 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

chopped fresh chives for garnish

In a large saucepan, heat butter. Saute potatoes, pears and shallot for about 5 minutes. Add stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Puree with cream in food processor or blender. Reheat and serve with a sprinkling of chives.

Sweet-and-sour grape chutney

Makes 2 cups.

1 onion, chopped

1 pippin apple, peeled, cored and chopped

1 pound green seedless grapes

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/4 cup golden raisins

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 45 minutes. Cool to room temperature and store, covered, in the refrigerator.

Note: This relish, which will keep for two months, is great with poultry and pork.

Halibut with apple curry salsa

Makes 4 servings.

4 tablespoons oil or butter

4 halibut steaks, about 3/4 -inch thick

salt and pepper

1 small onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 large apple (McIntosh, Jonathan or Red Delicious), cored and chopped

1 small tomato, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon sour cream

fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate, cover with foil, and keep warm.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the same skillet and heat. Saute onion, celery and apple until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato, curry powder, coriander, turmeric and flour. Cook for 2 minutes.

Add stock, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until thickened. Stir in sour cream.

Return fish to pan and cook over low heat for about 4 minutes. Serve garnished with cilantro.

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