Monday, March 2, 2015

My Favorite Food on the Planet: Custard Apples (Cherimoya)

Hello to you dear readers, how have you been this year? I've never felt better! I'm so excited to write this post, because I have a new favorite food to share with you! So many of the blog posts I read (and write) focus on recipes, and from what I can see, that is what people want, even need. But honestly, I don't live like that. I don't follow recipes, I wouldn't thrive within a lifestyle that required that of me in order to achieve success! I thrive on a genuine admiration of the foods that love me back just the same, and I cannot wait each and every day to get my hands dirty and play with them! Yes! That's right. You heard me. I play with my food! I think everybody should! It brings my life such immense pleasure in doing so. Most of the food I eat is as simple as unpeeling it, cracking it open, and diving in spoon first. 

With that in mind, I want to share with you a little more of me. Meet my newest passion, the Custard Apple! It is, officially and unequivocally my favorite food on planet Earth. Hands down. Bar none! 

How we met: My wonderful husband is always coming home with fresh "kills" to deliver at my feet as little love presents like the good rough and tumble cave man that he is, haha, but this one blew. My. Mind. Like, whoa! At first sight, I was a little underwhelmed. They looked like big turtle shelled balls, appeared dense and mottled, and they smelled like...well let's be honest here, feet. Dirty feet. They felt mushy. He had bought me about six of them. Ahhhh! Smile! Look grateful! "Ohh Baby! Thank you! I love you so much! You're the best!" Hehehe

Despite my apprehension I really was so thrilled to have an opportunity to try them! I really was grateful. In the back of my mind, I was terrified of not liking them, of wasting them. Rare (for the typical American market) tropical fruit is usually not cheap. I always worry about wasting his money, do you get like that when you're shopping too? Thoughts of my experience with a particular spinet melon come to mind. Shudder!  You see something you would love to try but are too afraid you won't like it, and the thought of it in the garbage combined with the price scares you off! I'm sure it's not only me! 

Exactly. Well, one of my new goals on this blog is to help you through that, to show you unique and rare fruits and veggies too, inside and out, using the Creator's recipe as my guide. I want to teach you to cut it, how to eat it, when its in season, how to pick one (or ten!) out and try my best to describe its flavor so you can widen your food horizons!

Recipe not required. 

Without further ado, please feast your hungry eyes on this beauty!

The Custard Apple, or Cherimoya is the fruit of the Annona Cherimola tree in the Annonaceae family, also known as the sour'sop family. I hope I'm getting that right? Ha! Many trees of the same genus make similarly named fruits, making the actual fruit I have here possibly confusing to find. To save yourself from confusion, you'll want to see the name "Cherimoya" on the little fruit sticker to verify you have the one I am featuring.

The Cherimoya is grown primarily in South America, and was originally called Chirimuya by the Inca people who were lucky enough to have lived in the Andes where it grew naturally. Other English names followed, to include Chirimoyo, Momona and Kelemoio to name a few. The fruit ripens in the winter to spring, when it is at its peak. The ideal fruit will be baseball sized or larger, slightly heart shaped, a rich green hue, with mottled darker patches. The skin will have a scale like appearance, and smell deeply of musk, almost to the point of being off putting for some. Feet! Hehe. That's how you know you have a good one! It should feel soft in your hand, like a very ripe pear. Don't be afraid of a soft cherimoya! That is where the custard texture comes from. 

The fruit is ripe even when firm, with the darkened patches, and still delicious, but the truest decadence is experienced when you allow it to fully ripen into a rich creaminess you'll be sure to crave long after they go out of season. The fruit is cut in half, and served on a plate in my house, with a little side dish for spitting out the large smooth glossy seeds inside. Yes, you have seeds to spit! Trust me, being one who usually rejects fruit that has seeds that need that kind of treatment, I find this fruit more than worth it's trouble! 

The white flesh is delightfully sweet, rich and creamy and reminds me of a floral vanilla custard, with beautiful nuances of pineapple, mango, and fresh palate cleansing apple on the finish. So many layers, like a fine wine. Ahhhhh. 

Unfortunately,  I discovered these bad boys just as the season was coming to an end, so unfortunately unless you are very lucky, you and I will be waiting until next winter to find them again. Kind of tragic, no? But at least now you have them in your mind, and the next time you are lucky enough to see them, you will know exactly what you must do! 

They might not be completely gone! There might still be time. Have you seen them in your market? If so, go out and grab one! Or two! Or a case!! Enjoy, and think of me.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Nutritarian Tubetti Rigati Corn Pasta Marinara

So today I am going to commit what must be a blogger crime: a posting fly by! Yes, my friends, I am about to rush out of the house, but my lunch ended up so amazing and comforting, I just knew I had to share it even if my post is a bit vague. You can jive with that, right? I mean, in my kitchen, I cook mostly with my eyes, sense of smell, and lastly, taste. I don't measure. I just throw stuff wildly together (imagining tomatoes and garlic airborn hehe) and pray that it's edible. And most of the time, lucky me, it is! 

Today was one of those. Enter, the pasta craving. I don't care how long anyone has been a Nutritarian, every now and then, we miss the fun factor of eating pasta! Little bites of childhood memories fill my mind, splotches of spaghetti sauce on the table, crinkled napkins, the smell of sweet and salty sauces and meats wafting through the kitchen into the living areas of the house, beckoning the family together by their noses! hehe Good memories. It's just fun! So, today with my limited time and a bag of 100% corn pasta at the ready, I set out to make a fast food meal, nutritarian style!

So, the sauce. It had to have a creamy mouthfeel without oil, substantial flavor without salt, and fresh ingredients. Not easy to pull off, you might think. Not so! My trick today came thanks to our Excalibur Dehydrator and the last season of veggies from the garden and from our local organic farm share!

I've had mason jars filled to the brim with dehydrated tomatoes of all kinds from the ridiculous avalanche of tomatoes this fall. I also had copious amounts of homemade dried red peppers, dried dill, and dried mushrooms.

This got me thinking, why not just fill the vitamix with a bunch of these, mainly tomato, add some homemade garlic powder, onion powder (in a hurry, remember?) coriander, sage, oregano (lots) chipotle pepper, smoked paprika, fresh basil and a healthy splash of balsamic vinegar, some hot water from my water dispenser and vitamix the heck out of it? So I did!

It was AWESOME! The dehydrated veggies really added a ton of flavor and creaminess I did not expect to have without adding any nuts or seeds to my recipe. The pasta was cooked in a jiffy, add some sauce and.....

VOILA! Om nom nom. Good eats on the fly! I'll be back later to add a proper recipe to the best of my ability, but really, what I hope to do here at Blissful Nutritarian more than anything else, is to empower you to play with your food, and recapture all the joy in cooking healthy fare that won't kill you (another snicker) that you may have longed for when you made the switch. After all, we have ups and downs. What better way to have more ups than downs than to understand your ingredients, and not NEED recipes? It's food science! It's wonderful. It's delicious.

I'm out the door, Ciao!


AS PROMISED, BACK LATER! See BELOW for the "recipe" the way I threw it together:

Jemoiselle's Nutritarian Tubetti Rigati Corn Pasta Marinara
Serves 1-2

All Approximated Ingredients
1-2c dehydrated tomato slices (cherry and heirloom)
1/2c dehydrated red yellow and green bell peppers
1/4c dehydrated mushrooms (optional)
1-2c very hot water (mine was 160ºF)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (no added sugar)
1 tsp dehydrated dill 
2-3 leaves fresh basil
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried rubbed sage
1/2 tsp garlic powder (ours was homemade, oh my gosh you must try that!)
1/8 tsp chipotle pepper powder
1/8 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 pkg of Tubetti Rigati 100% Corn Pasta

Let's make some pasta!
For the sauce, Vitamix all ingredients except pasta until extremely smooth. Adjust with water for thickness desired, if necessary. Taste, adjust for spices. Faint because it's amazing! Set aside. 

For the pasta: Boil water in a small sauce pan and add pasta, cooking for approximately 8 minutes until al dente. Plate and top with sauce, and garnish with a fresh basil leaf or two if you like!