Eat your prunes! Puree, butter take fat role in recipes


June 22, 1994|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Special to The Sun

What is prune butter or prune puree that I have recently seen as a recipe ingredient used to replace some of the fat?

A: Prune butter is similar to apple butter -- the juice and fruit of prunes have been cooked down to a thick, spreadable consistency. Prune puree is simply pitted prunes that have been pureed in a food processor or even mashed to give a thick consistency. Prune baby food is another product that can easily be used to replace fat in baking.

Q: Is there a technique or process to keep eggplant from absorbing excessive oil when it is sauteed?

A: To prevent eggplant from absorbing too much oil when sauteing, first make sure the eggplant is salted then drained for 30 minutes before cooking. There are other techniques that reduce oil absorption while still giving flavor. You may want to try quickly blanching the eggplant in boiling water, drying with a paper towel and then sauteing in a pan heated with a minimal amount of oil. Always use a nonstick pan. Also, eggplant slices or cubes can be sprayed with non-stick vegetable coating (spray the pan or foil as well), sprinkled with herbs and spices and then baked in a moderately hot oven (375-400) for about 12-15 minutes.

When getting ready to saute, make sure the pan is hot before adding the fat, non-stick vegetable coating or the food. If you start with a cold pan, the fat or coating will smoke or cook away and you will end up cooking the interior of the food to a point of dryness before you get the browning that gives the outside that flavorful crispy coating. Test the temperature of your pan by dropping a bead of water in it; it should sizzle and evaporate in seconds.

We'd like to hear from you. Send your questions to: What's Cooking, c/o Food & Home, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Although personal replies are not possible, questions of general interest will be answered in this column.

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