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SATSUMA MANDARINS are most often eaten out of hand because they are so easy to peel, thanks to their very loose skin. Their bite-sized, sweet, juicy segments are nearly seedless. Characteristically Satsuma harvests yield a wide variety of fruit sizes from the same tree, giving them a whimsical feel. Their sweet flavor is unaffected by their size. Great in jellies and preserves.

They provide sweet citrus notes so are exceptionally delicious in salads when paired with fennel, blue cheese and other bold flavors. Chefs enjoy incorporating the flavors of Satsumas into mild fish dishes including Halibut, flounder and rock fish.

STORAGE: Store in a cool dry place, or in your refrigerator.

Mandarin Orange Vinaigrette – This simple vinaigrette recipe is deliciously different, and goes together in just 5 minutes. It gets an additional tang of flavor from mandarin orange juice. Yield: about 3 cups, 6-8 servings. 3/4 C. Cider vinegar, 3/4 C. Mandarin orange juice (juice of 6 to 8 Mandarin oranges), 2 T. Red wine vinegar or good quality balsamic vinegar, 2 T. Brown sugar, 1 Shallot clove, minced, 1/4 t. Kosher salt, or to taste, 1-1/2 C. Extra-virgin olive oil, Place cider vinegar, Mandarin orange juice, red wine vinegar (or balsamic), brown sugar, shallots and kosher salt in a blender or food processor. Pulse to combine. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady, thin stream through the feed tube. Process until thoroughly blended.

Serve at once, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Keeps for up to 1 week. If the dressing separates while standing, simply shake it well to recombine before serving. This vinaigrette may be served cold or warm over salad greens. It is especially good with spinach salads!

RED & GREEN COMICE PEARS are among the sweetest and juiciest of all pears, and are a favorite in holiday gift boxes and baskets. The red and green pears only differ in the appearance of their outer skin color. Their flesh is silky soft, and can best be described as creamy in texture, abundantly full of juice, and very sweet. For many pear lovers, Comice is the pinnacle variety of pears.

The sweet buttery flesh can find no better compliment than when served with soft ripening cheeses like Brie, Camembert or any of the blues. It is their extreme juiciness that earns them such high marks for eating freshly sliced, but also makes them a poor choice for cooking.

RIPENING & STORAGE: Any green color on the skin of a Comice may take on a slight yellow hue as the fruit ripens. However, color is not the best determination of ripeness.

Best to check by applying gentle thumb pressure near the stem end. When the fruit gives slightly, it is ripe and ready to eat. A fragile fruit, take care to handle gently. Bruising may not be apparent right away, but can show as the fruit ripens. If a comice appears bruised, it doesn’t necessarily indicate damage to the interior.

Comice Pears Stuffed with Blue Cheese- 3 T. Fresh lemon juice, 1-1/2 T. Honey, 3 T. Port wine, 2 ounces Blue cheese, room temperature, 3 T. Low fat cream cheese, room temperature, 2 Large ripe Comice pears, Mint sprigs for garnish. Combine lemon juice, honey and Port, set aside. Put blue and cream cheese in a small bowl and mix until completely combined.

Core pears, leaving whole. With a paring knife or small melon baller, scoop out a little more from the center of the fruit, being careful not to crack or split them. Cavity should be about 3/4″ wide through the center of the pear. Carefully fill with blue cheese, packing tightly. Peel pears, slice in half lengthwise. Put each half, cut side down, on each of 4 small plates.

Drizzle 1-1/2 tablespoons of Port dressing over each pear half. Garnish each plate with a mint sprig.

Tip: Though it sounds strange, the pears are stuffed before peeling. Comice are so juicy, they are harder to handle when peeled!

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Tracie Burket
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