Pineapples - They're Not Apples That Come From Pine Trees!

It's the middle of winter and the apples are mealy, the pears are tasteless, and all the fancy imported fruit is travel-weary and expensive. You're getting very tired of bananas...

Pineapples can help. Most of ours come from Hawaii and Central America, and many are flown in overnight. You have a good chance of finding a sweet, juicy specimen even in the February doldrums. But if you can't, try a can. Pineapple survives canning better than almost any fruit, and the canned version doesn't have any of those pesky, spiny leaves.

A whole pineapple looks intimidating, but it's easily transformed from a prickly, unwieldy menace into manageable yellow chunks. First, cut off the tops and bottoms. Then quarter (vertically) the barrel-shaped innards. Cut off the fibrous core and the peel, and slice what's left.

Then you can add it to almost anything - dinner, breakfast, dessert...

Ripe pineapples are usually more yellow than green, have leaves that pull out easily and, most importantly, smell like ripe pineapple. Your nose is your best pineapple-picking guide.

  • Layer pineapple, whipped cream, and shortcake for a 3-layer dessert.
  • Try a classic - pineapple upside-down cake.
  • Make a salsa with chilies, peppers, pineapple, and lime juice.
  • Add crushed or chopped pineapple to your morning oatmeal.
  • Brown pineapple and apple slices in butter, roast 10 minutes in a hot oven, and serve with duck, pork, or game.
  • Add chopped pineapple to a chicken curry about a minute before you remove it from the heat.
  • Pineapple and coconut are made for each other. Serve pineapple with shredded coconut, or soaked in coconut milk, and top with a sprig of mint.
  • Soak pineapple chunks or slices in a mixture of 1 part sugar, 1 part liqueur (Cointreau and Kirsch work well), then roast at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.
  • Drizzle pineapple slices with balsamic vinegar and grill or roast. Serve with poultry or game.

Pineapple may not feel as good as a vacation in Fiji but, hey, at least it's not another banana.

Grilled Pineapple with Rum Caramel & Pecan Toffee

Rum-spiked caramel and crunchy toffee bits turn grilled pineapple into a tasty dessert!

Toffee:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup pecans

Caramel:
2 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp dark rum
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 fresh pineapple, sliced in rounds, core removed
vanilla ice cream

1) Prepare the pecan toffee: Line a sheet pan with foil and set aside. Place sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, occasionally using a pastry brush to wipe down the sides and giving the pot a swirl, until the mixture reaches a pale golden color, approximately 6 minutes. At this point, add the pecans, swirl to mix and continue cooking for another minute or two. Remove from heat and pour onto the prepared sheet pan. Allow to cool completely, then remove from foil and chop it up coarsely.

2) Prepare the rum caramel: In a small pot over medium-high heat, bring the brown sugar, dark rum, butter and vanilla extract to a boil. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Allow to boil, without mixing, until the syrup has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.

3) Grill the pineapple: Lightly oil your grill and place the rings of pineapple over high heat. Grill on each side for 2-3 minutes, giving each side a 1/4 turn so you get some nice grill marks. If it's not grilling season, you can still make this dessert by popping the pineapple under the broiler for 5-7 mins.

Arrange 2 or 3 slices of the pineapple on a plate, top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, drizzle with the rum caramel and sprinkle with the pecan toffee.

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