Personally, I am a fan of the raisin. I kinda dig their wrinkly little skins. I love their sweet chewiness. I enjoy biting into one in the middle of a big old oatmeal cookie--a fruity surprise. My friend, Nadine, loathes raisins. Shriveled grapes, she calls them. Yeah, I suppose they are shriveled grapes, but shriveled in a good way. Even Joon, from Benny & Joon calls raisins "humiliated grapes." And, while I am a fan of the film and think that betting on a poker game with items like a Salad Shooter and Pocket Fisherman makes for a Great Scene, I think that calling raisins Humiliated Grapes is taking things a bit too far. Schizophrenia is no excuse for Being Mean to Raisins.*
There is no meh when it comes to raisins. They do seem to be one of those Polarizing Food Items. You have anchovy lovers and haters, Brussels sprouts lovers and haters, and raisin lovers and haters. I guess I can see where the anti-anchovy and anti-Brussels sprouts factions are coming from, but I just don't get the whole "I hate raisins" thing. They are fruit. Hooray! They are 60% sugar. Double hooray! They contain antioxidants. Hooray! I'm not seeing the Down Side of any of those characteristics. If any of you guys out there are staunchly anti-raisin or can at least understand it, please enlighten me.
Fun Things to Do with Raisins
- Plump them up in alcohol. The raisins appreciate it, and so will you. Then, you can put them in your oatmeal cookies and have the Best Oatmeal Cookies Ever.
- Plump them up in fruit juice. If you're not a fan of alcohol, or you're twelve or something, fruit juice works nicely, too. Ditto, number 1.
- Dip them in tempered milk chocolate.
- Dip them in tempered dark chocolate.
- Mix them with some salted nuts and dip everyone in chocolate.
- Cook them down with some apples, alcohol, pinch of salt, spices of your choice, some vinegar and some caramelized onions for a chutney. No, I don't have a recipe--I just made up this idea right this very second.
- Cook them down with some alcohol (or juice) and a pinch of salt and maybe a splash of vinegar. When they're very soft, throw them in the blender or food processor and make raisin jam. It is Excellent on a cheese plate.
- Throw a handful of raisins in with your apples the next time you make an apple pie.
- Throw some in with the next pot roast you make and tailor your spices towards a Morrocan flavor profile (cumin, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, clove, etc). I don't think Americans think enough about putting fruits with meats, but raisins work well in savory as well as sweet dishes.
- Cook rice in coconut milk and stock. Throw in a handful of raisins and maybe some toasted nuts towards the end of cooking. Yum. Mix in some custard and call it rice pudding, or serve it as is--as a sweet/savory side.
- Throw some raisins on a salad.
- Bake a raisin pie.
- Cook them with some ground lamb and some herbs and spices and make little meat turnovers using some puff pastry or pie dough.
- Bake them into peanut butter cookies. If the combination is good enough for "ants on a log," it's good enough for a cookie.
- Stuff them in your face while watching television.
So, that's pretty much what I have to say about raisins. I'm not sure if I changed anyone's mind, but I hope I've been able to broaden you raisin lovers' horizons a little. Any more ideas for Interesting Raisin Usage? Let me know in the comments.
*If you want to see the Salad Shooter Scene, this is for you. Nadine got me this movie as a birthday present years ago. I wonder if she and Joon were trying to gang up on me. Anyway, enjoy.