That's right. Tom's Crazy about the holidays and holiday produce. He'll be the first to tell you that all stockings should be stuffed with a Clementine and all cheer is charged iwth roasted chestnuts. That's why he's cherry-picked these specialities for you!
We call this sweet little seasonal number Tom’s darlin’. A cross between an orange and a Chinese mandarin, it is extremely easy to peel (kids love this), sweet, juicy and virtually seedless. Tom buys them by the box and adds them to just about everything — fruit and vegetable salads, rice dishes, sweet potatoes, desserts and more! You didn’t hear us say, “Jello!”
Chestnuts Rule the Roast
According to Tom’s impressive wealth of produce knowledge, chestnuts come in two types: castagne, which are small and often flat sided, and marroni, which are rounded, firm, and larger. Both should be selected for their glossy, smooth shells and firm, heavy roundness. He recommends you store them in a ventilated plastic bag in the refrigerator and roast them with the first frost (meaning, given Pittsburgh weather in December, immediately).
How To Roast — A Simple, Satisfying Holiday Tradition
Tom assures us that roasting chestnuts is a snap. First, puncture each chestnut nut once or twice with an ice pick or knife. This keeps steam from building up inside the shells, which can cause the nuts to explode (we won’t go there).
To roast, preheat oven to 300ºF and roast for about 15 minutes. You can also roast over an open fire, using a long handled popcorn popper or chestnut roaster.
Once your chestnuts are roasted, Tom suggests lining a large bowl with paper towels. Place the hot roasted chestnuts in the bowl and cover with a cloth for approximately 2-4 minutes to make them easier to peel. Serve hot with apple cider and a Charles Dickens passage.
picked ripe in Chile during their peak harvest (when our cherry trees are wintering), these cherries are heavy in the hand, meaty, sweet and juicy. Tom advises to select those that are firm and dark with green stems, which indicate freshness.
Some other not-so-well known perks of eating cherries in December? One cup, or about 21 fresh cherries provides a good source of vitamin C, potassium and some fiber. They also contain the antioxidant, anthocyanin, which has been thought to reduce the risk of some cancers, aid in heart health, and possess anti-inflammatory properties. No wonder Tom’s so sweet on them!
Maradols are a sweet, distinctly delicious tropical fruit grown primarily in Central America and Mexico. Their skin is yellowish-green, and the flesh, bright red — sweeter than any other papaya and pretty for your holiday dishes. Tom eats them raw with a squeeze of lime juice and a dusting of chili powder, or dices them with Mango, red onion and chili peppers to make a fiery sweet salsa. But they’re also sublime cooked with poultry or pork.
When buying Maradols, Tom tells us to look for yellowish-green skin that yields to gentle pressure when held. Once home, avoid refrigeration because chilling lessens the Maradol’s flavor. If you refrigerate, do it only after the papaya has ripened fully and then serve within a day or two. Ideally, ripen at room temperature until the papaya become fragrant — the aroma just a whiff of sweet things to come. Welcome 2021!