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Cooking With Honey

Honey fritters
Courtesy of Touchstone
Honey fritters

Lastly, consider adding honey to your vinaigrette recipes. It won't take much to provide a hint of sweetness to partner with the vinegar's tart acidity. It would be a natural with any salad that feature fresh seasonal fruit.

You don't have to listen very closely these days for the sound of bees buzzing around your garden. It's the time of year when pollens are profuse (just check in with you allergies) and bees are busy making honey. And Chef Jerry Pellegrino will tell you, there's more to honey than just drizzling it on your buttered biscuits.

In Maryland, most of our honey comes from clover, tulip poplar, wildflowers, and asters. We produce over 100,000 pounds of the sweet stuff, and it's readily available at our Farmers Markets.

There are many obvious uses for honey: to sweeten tea, oatmeal or barbecue sauces. But there are a lot of more subtle uses as well.

Honey makes many appearances as a glaze, where its natural stickiness keeps it plastered to the food. As a glaze, honey is almost always combined with other flavors. Honey and mustard, lemon, lime, and ginger are obvious. Less obvious: garlic, browned butter, sriracha, and balsamic vinegar.

Typical preparations like honey glazed carrots tell the tale. Honey is melted in the skillet along with butter, mustard, and salt. The cooked carrots are added and tossed with the honey glaze, then baked for a short time. Very simple. A trendy idea would be to make a honey glaze for your roasted Brussels sprouts.

A glazed pork tenderloin is equally simple, although it calls for a few more ingredients. This time honey goes into a sauce pan along with soy sauce, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. The heated, blended mixture goes on the tenderloin after it has been initially cooked. The oven heat thickens the glaze and helps it infuse the meat.

A little more complicated is honey glazed salmon. You first use the honey in a marinade along with soy sauce, ginger and garlic. The salmon filets soak in it for a short time, and then are baked. The marinade is strained and brushed on the salmon after it has finished baking. You can use this technique with chicken as well.

Honey is often used in baking as a sugar substitute. Because honey has so much liquid, you need to cut back the other liquid ingredients or your batters will be too runny. As a substitute for sugar, the rate is 1 cup of honey equals 1.5 cups of sugar. The benefits are the more complex flavors that exist in honey, and its ability to moisten whatever the recipe may be. A honey and apple Bundt cake will be rich and moist as the two main ingredients shine. Honey plays a subtle roll in a honey ricotta cheese cake, where it is beaten into the cake batter. A darker honey like buckwheat, can act as a substitute for molasses. Apple honey pie takes on a richer deeper flavor with buckwheat honey instead of sugar.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.