GARLIC BRUSH-UP

(Dec. 9) You’ll get the most mileage out of your garlic if you don’t store it in a plastic bag or container and keep it out of the refrigerator.

Store it in a dry area with lots of air circulation. If you store it in a mesh bag, don’t hang it near the stove. It doesn’t like heat.

If you serve garlic raw, the flavor potency depends on whether you use a garlic press to crush the cloves or mince them with a knife. You get a stronger flavor if you use a press.

The size of the bulb also determines garlic potency. Smaller ones are much stronger than large ones.

If you’re having problems with aphids growing on your indoor plants or herbs, use garlic as a pest repellent.

HEALTHY HOLIDAYS

Throughout the holiday season, find ways to balance culinary festivities with healthful menu options. A savory baked apple with toasted walnuts brings together the color and flavors of the season for a brunch or light supper entree.

To make a batch, cut the tops off the apples to use later as caps. Scoop out the inside of the apples with a melon scooper and reserve the apple flesh for the stuffing. Since you will bake the apples, select such baking varieties as granny smith, rome, braeburn or gala.

Brown, crumble and drain low-fat turkey sausage, removing the casings, and set aside.

Sauté finely chopped shallots in 2 tablespoons of fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth. Add brandy or white balsamic vinegar and more chicken broth. Stir in thyme and allow the herb flavor to infuse into the sauce. Stir in thin strips of spinach, multigrain bread torn into small pieces, chopped toasted walnuts and the sausage. Add the chopped apple flesh to the mixture.

Spoon the stuffing into the apple shells and spoon 1 tablespoon more of chicken broth into each stuffed apple for moisture. Place the apple caps over the stuffing, cover them with aluminum foil and bake them until the apples are tender but not mushy.

There only are 179 calories and 9 grams of fat per serving in this recipe from the American Heart Association’s Simple Solutions educational program for women sponsored by the California Walnut Commission, Sacramento.

BURST OF BRIGHTNESS

Add sprinkles of red to your green salads during the holidays with pomegranate seeds. The fruit is in season through December. Here are the pure pomegranate facts:

  • Each pomegranate contains 840 seeds.

  • Only the seeds and their juice are edible.

  • Store the whole fruit at 32-41 degrees.

  • Store removed seeds in the refrigerator for up to six days.

  • Freeze the seeds in single layers, then transfer to airtight containers and keep frozen for up to six months.

  • Freeze the juice in ice trays for future use in drinks or sauces.

  • To remove the seeds, lightly score the rind in several places. Break the sections apart under water, separating the seeds from the membrane. Skim off and discard the membranes and the rind. Finally, pour the seeds into a colander, drain and pat dry.


Source: Pomegranate Council

MARK YOUR DATES

Here’s an opportunity to win a recipe contest and one of several prizes in the fourth annual California Date Chef Competition.

Send an original recipe featuring California dates to the California Date Administrative Committee, Indio, by Jan. 23. A panel of professional chefs will select the top 12 finalists based on preparation skill required for the recipe, degree of difficulty, originality and the best use of dates. The 12 finalists will compete in the chef competition on Feb. 22 at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort and Spa in Indian Wells, Calif.

At the competition, a distinguished panel of food experts will judge the recipes and select a Best of Show winner to receive $1,500. The judges also will select first-place winners in the appetizer, entree and dessert categories to receive $1,000 each. Later in the day the public will be allowed to sample and vote on their favorite recipe. The winning chef will receive The People’s Choice award.

For an official entry form and competition rules, visit the California Date Administrative Committee Web site at www.datesaregreat.com or call (800) 223-8748.

ENDIVE

Dress up your salads and garnishes with the white, red and deep red varieties of endive.

The lettuce comes from the chicory plant and is related to radicchio, treviso, escarole, frisee and green curly endive. It’s different than Belgian endive in that it’s grown in the U.S. and is crossed differently with chicory, says David Barbrack, a representative of California Vegetable Specialties Inc., Rio Vista, Calif. The company has produced endive since 1983 and offers year-round supplies from its 30,000-square-foot production facility.

Endive adds a bitter, crunchy flavor when served raw in salads. The flavor neutralizes when the vegetable is cooked. Select from the three varieties offered by California Vegetable Specialties:

  • California Pearl is white as a result of growing in complete darkness.

  • Belles Rouges is red and is a cross between white endive, treviso and red Italian chicory. Its shape is similar to hearts of romaine lettuce.

  • Endigia is a deep red variety that is a cross between white endive and chioggia chicories from Northwest Italy.


SHOW YOU CARE

To help make nutrition and health a marketing emphasis, consider offering your customers the brochure “3 Steps to a Healthy Lifestyle.”

The three steps outlined in the brochure are balance, physical activity and moderation. In concludes with tips to help watch your calorie and fat intake.

Download a copy of the brochure from the National Restaurant Association, Washington, D.C. at www.restaurant.org/pdfs/fsan/3_steps_brochure.pdf.