Straight from the Hive: Classic Recipes for an Ancient food

honeynutsaladHoney is an ancient food, of that, there’s no doubt. And, it’s an odd food–the nectar of a flower digested by an insect. Honey is made up of fructose, glucose and water. It’s not suitable for infants, so the National Honey Board suggests that parents not feed honey to babies. Honey may harbor a kind of bacteria that is dangerous for infants, but benign for older children and adults. And when you hear of bears fending off angry bees to steal honey, it’s not the honey they’re after, but the brood. The young immature bees are pure protein.

Although many recipes offer suggestions for substituting sugar with honey, it’s not always easy. Try first to halve the amount of sugar and add honey. But keep in mind that honey isn’t simply a sugar substitute but a delicacy of its own. It has a range of 300 flavors–from eucalyptus to wildflower nectars. The lighter the color, the milder the flavor will be. For example, clover will be milder than alfalfa.

HONEY BAKED NUTS IN A WINTER GREENS SALAD

Nuts such as walnuts or pecans will form a caramelized crust when baked in honey for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Try two tablespoons of honey for ½ cup of nuts. If you’d like them to be spicy add a pinch of cayenne pepper. Serve the sweetened nuts with fruit salad. Try the spicy and sweet nuts in a winter bitter greens salad, with vinaigrette dressing and shavings of blue cheese.

Serves one.

  • 2 cups of winter greens: spinach, arugula, radicchio, sliced radishes, Belgian endive
  • Shavings of blue, Roquefort or Gorgonzola cheese
  • ½ cup honey-baked large walnut or pecan pieces
  • Vinaigrette dressing: 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste.

CORNISH BAKED HENS IN LEMON AND HONEY

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Cornish hens

Combine all ingredients and pour over the hens. Place the leftover squeezed lemons in the cavity of the hens. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until the juices of the hen run clear.

GRILLED SALMON WITH HONEY

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • kosher salt, about 1 teaspoon, or to taste
  • 1 pound of salmon fillet
  • lemon wedges

Mix brown sugar and honey. Sprinkle the skinned side of the salmon with brown sugar and honey mixture. Then sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Grill the skinned side first and the brown sugar and honey will form a rich lacquer glaze. Check frequently so that the brown sugar, honey mixture does not burn. When it reaches a brown glaze, flip the salmon gently and finish cooking with the skin closest to the fire. Grill thoroughly and serve with a wedge of lemon.

HONEY BUTTERS:

Pistachio nut butter: Roast 1/4 cup pistachios at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Chop finely and add to 1/2 stick of butter and 3 tablespoons of honey. Serve over roasted or steamed carrots, sweet potatoes or baked onions.

  • Combine five peeled carrots, one peeled and quartered sweet potato and one peeled and quartered yellow onion in a baking pan. Coat with honey butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees or until vegetables are tender. Vegetables may also be steamed and then coated with honey butter. Serve immediately.

Orange zest butter: 2 teaspoons of finely chopped orange zest (preferably from organically grown oranges) to 1/2 stick of butter and 3 tablespoons of honey. Serve with scones or biscuits.

Helpful websites

  • www.nhb.org, the National Honey Board is filled with facts and anecdotes about honey.
  • www.honey.com contains recipes for cooking with honey.