Greatfruits

Life is like a box of CSA produce: You never know what you’re gonna get.

We all know what to do when life gives you lemons, but what about grapefruits? Sure, you could give them the same treatment and turn them into grapefruit-ade, but it doesn’t have the same kind of ring. Simply topped with a sprinkle of sugar and brûléed for breakfast is a nice treat, but it feels like so much work to painstakingly dig out each little segment first thing in the morning. When all I want to do is just go back to bed, that level of effort is really asking a lot.

Best suited for advanced preparation, they’re a perfect match with chia pudding, soaked overnight and ready to enjoy no matter when the alarm clock rings. As both an ingredient and topper, the excess grapefruits infuse the whole elegant assembly with bright, citrus flavor. Perfumed with floral notes from orange blossom water and the distinctly spicy taste of cardamom, the pudding itself contains volumes of rich, complex flavor that far exceed the average bowl of oats.

Simple grapefruit supremes would be a fine topper for a simpler finish, but they take on greater substance when gently gelled with agar, straddling the line between jelly and compote. Full of zest to spark your enthusiasm for a fresh new day, grapefruit will suddenly become the shining star amongst the predictable array of seasonal produce picks.

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Whiskey Business

The Irish weren’t the first to turn malted barley into whiskey over 3,000 years ago, but they certainly propelled the distilled mash into the art form we know today. Baileys in particular is eponymous with the cream-spiked brew, ranking as one of the most recognizable, top-selling liqueurs worldwide. The brand itself has been around for less than 50 years, but you’d be hard pressed to find any bar without an open bottle handy.

That kind of success goes well beyond the “luck of the Irish.” Adapting deftly to the rise of dairy-free drinkers, Baileys Almande continues to make waves among the imbibers in the know. A subtly nutty almond milk base complements the notes of sweet vanilla, with a bracing whisky bite. You don’t need to be well-versed in mixology to appreciate that kind of indulgent blend.

Baileys isn’t the only option for luscious liqueur, though. Making your own at home is both effortless and economical. Taking a page from the original spirited tipple, my DIY approach incorporates a touch of cocoa and coffee for a gentle mocha kiss. Flawlessly smooth and creamy, a straight shot envelopes the palate like liquefied ice cream, with an extra kick.

Serve it thoroughly chilled, on the rocks, for an instant after dinner treat, or use it as the catalyst for bolder culinary experiments. From brownies to cheesecakes, French toast to hot chocolate, it’s an incredibly versatile ingredient in its own right.

Forget beer and seltzer; this is the real gateway drug to adult beverages.

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Feta Accompli

Feta, the stuff of myth and legend, has been a hot commodity since Byzantine Greece, first appearing in written record in Homer’s Odyssey. Loosely described as curdled sheep’s milk, it was the Cyclops that began what could be considered the first cottage industry business out of his cave.

Not to discount the early efforts of an innovative entrepreneur, I just can’t help but think it’s high time to stop following the herd. Over 6,000 years later, we ought to collectively crawl out from under that rock and start a new narrative for feta. No more sheep, no more strife.

Celebrating a robust 50-year heritage, Follow Your Heart may not have quite the same storied lineage, but they’re certainly out there making history. Introducing the very first dairy-free crumbled feta on the modern market, the “alternative” is one so good, it’s really impossible to justify traditional methods.

Firm, squeaky curds, briny and and slightly sour, like buttery unsweetened yogurt, they’re good enough to Greek out about. Each package contains diverse proportions of gleaming white morsels, ranging from nuggets the size of marbles to tiny specks akin to sea salt or coarsely ground pepper. This varied consistency is ideal for most applications; the smaller pieces evenly coat the vegetables, grains, or proteins in the mix, while the heftier chunks stand out for bold bites of concentrated cheesy flavor.

It’s a good thing there’s such a wide range of particle sizes, including such a fine spray that defies roving fingers, because it would otherwise be too tempting to simply eat out of hand.

This feta was born to be used in recipes, and not just salads, either. Blending Greek origins with Italian inspiration, it’s right at home in pillowy soft planks of fresh baked focaccia. Here, it gets mixed into the dough itself to infuse that distinctive umami flavor throughout, with more sprinkled directly on top for an irresistible browned surface. Nothing more is needed to dress up such a simple but bold bread, though it would be pretty incredible sliced in half and filled with your favorite sandwich fixings.

Soft, tender, and buttery slabs of flat bread would be hard enough to resist, but when each slice has morsels of compellingly salty feta embedded into every bite, no amount of willpower stands a chance. Give in and take a big bite; as your teeth sink into the crisp, caramelized crust, pushing past toasted garlic and aromatic herbs, you’ll wonder why you don’t bake bread everyday. That is, until you polish off a pan in record time, perhaps. It might be dangerous to make a regular habit. The feta is both the cherry on top, and part of the essential foundation. No other cheese will do, and certainly not one made from conventional dairy.

Follow your heart, mind, and stomach to a better feta. This will go down in history as yet another innovation that makes milk moot.

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Rose Gold Standard

Restless nights turn into bleary-eyed mornings, turn into days of drudgery and afternoon lulls. Better double up on the coffee just to keep going, right? It’s a satisfying quick fix with reliable results, but a hasty solution that often comes back to haunt as nighttime drags on. Sleep becomes more elusive, more coffee is needed to fill the gaps, and so the vicious cycle deepens, like the cavernous craters beneath furrowed brows and tired eyes.

Don’t get me wrong; I love caffeine, but it’s clear from our long, tumultuous relationship that it does not love me back. Though I’d never contemplate relinquishing my morning shot of espresso, it’s the second and third pull that get me into trouble. I’ll start shaking like a leaf long before my brain gets the message to wake up, which only arrives when I turn in for bed.

Nothing can replace a full, proper night’s rest, but that’s at least more feasible when caffeine isn’t interfering with normal sleep cycles.

Basic hydration can do wonders for mood regulation and overall health, so just drinking enough throughout the day goes a long way. That’s why I’m drinking more turmeric lattes, served over almost equal parts ice while the summer heat is on, please.

We all know that turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting free agent, but it takes a team to win at this daily game. Coconut milk brings medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) to the playing field, which are easily digested as an immediate source of energy. Maple syrup on the other hand, offers a slower burn than processed white sugar, to prevent a deleterious crash later on. Spices like ginger and black pepper are simply invigorating flavors, like lemon juice, which can brighten any recipe.

Rosewater, delicate flower that it is, may seem like an inauspicious recruit, just like the tart and tangy hibiscus blossoms included in the brew. Sustained energy is all about playing the field, and these two make up a killer defense. We’re talking antioxidants galore which may lower blood pressure and help regulate glucose. Though they failed to turn my drink a blushing shade of Millennial pink, their subtly sweet flavors reinforce the meme-worthy title.

Most importantly, no matter how much (or how little) uninterrupted sleep you enjoyed last night, this canary-yellow latte is downright delicious. The subtle, natural energy boost is just an extra little win.

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Midnight Cravings

There’s no accounting for midnight cravings. In the dark of night, after all reasonable people have long since retired to their beds, strange things can happen in an unguarded kitchen. It’s a crime of opportunity, based as much on cravings as availability; the resulting creations are a whole different sort of guilty pleasure. Guided by a vague desire for something savory, restricted to the contents of a poorly managed pantry, there’s no telling what Frankenstein foods could be wrought from the scraps.

Originally devised by those same conditions in a faraway land, the medianoche literally translates to “midnight,” and is so named for its popularity in Havana’s night clubs, served sometime around the witching hour. Similar to a Cuban sandwich, it traditionally layers various forms of pork, mustard, Swiss cheese, sweet pickles on bread; all staples you could easily dig out of a mostly bare kitchen on a whim.

Granted, I’m not exactly out late partying when this nighttime hunger gnaws away at my stomach. Quietly shuffling around in my pajamas, I’d much rather pile all those goodies into a bowl than try to manage a handheld stack. Uncoordinated in my finest hours, my ability to eat neatly declines precipitously with every passing hour. Sandwich fillings would stay between the bread for approximately 2.5 seconds before ejecting unceremoniously onto the floor at that rate.

That’s why the concept of a bread salad is so ingenious. It’s the full sandwich experience that you can eat with a fork, no muss, no fuss, and no judgement. Perhaps the contents are still a bit unconventional, but this is one crazy concoction I wouldn’t hesitate to share in the light of day.

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