CELEBRITY CHEFS ON FRUIT:
A Cooking Tip from Great Pies & Tarts: Over 150 Recipes to Bake, Share, and Enjoy by Carole Walter:
Testing Fruit: When you want to know if a particular fruit is a good candidate for a pie or a tart, here is my "secret" for testing it for moisture, texture, color, and flavor.
Peel, core, and cut an apple (as an example) into 1/4 inch slices. Place the pieces in an ovenproof glass dish (about 8-ounce capacity). Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar, and bake it at 350 degrees F. for 15 minutes, or until the juices are bubbling. Let the fruit cool for at least 15 minutes, then invert it onto a small plate. Note the amount of liquid that is present and how well the apple slices retain their shape. If it is of importance, check their color, and finally, taste them for flavor.
If the fruit is not too watery or mushy, use it for baking. Adjust the sweetening in the recipe to your taste, adding a touch more lemon juice if the fruit needs a lift. If the fruit is on the watery side, add a bit more thickening to the filling. I have used this method primarily for apples and pears, but you can test the waters with other fruits as well.
A Cooking Tip by Deborah Madison
HOW TO PEEL AND SECTION CITRUS FRUITS: This method works for any citrus fruit, from a petite lime to a giant grapefruit. First, slice the polar ends so the fruit will stand steadily. Then, using a small, sharp knife, work in a zigzag motion from top to bottom to remove strips of peel, pith, and outer membrane to expose the pulp. (You'll have to angle your knife at the top and bottom.) Continue working your way around the fruit until it's entirely peeled.
Next, hold the peeled fruit firmly in your hand over a bowl. Notice the membranes that separate the sections; they look like white lines. Slide your knife flush against the membranes surrounding each section of fruit, working in a V pattern; when the cuts meet at the bottom of the V, the section will slide into the bowl. Repeat with the sections that are left. When you're done, squeeze any remaining juice into the bowl.
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