feast magazine article

feast magazine, october 2014: rambutan + ginger-poached pear sorbet.

feast magazine, october 2014: rambutan + poached pear sorbet.

It’s been a busy weekend, friends: in the last 48 hours, I painted my entire bedroom, picked 25 pounds of apples (none of which will go to waste, I assure you), and somehow managed to land my marshmallow fluff banana cream pie in a Buzzfeed slideshow. Also, Alice Medrich followed me on Twitter and I almost stroked out with excitement because I have mad respect for that woman. In the meantime, Feast Magazine expanded their coverage, celebrated the launch at Knife & Pork in Kansas City, and WON AN EMMY for the August 2013 episode of Feast TV at the Mid-America Emmys. And yes, I did shout that, because I’m super proud of them.

And about that expanded coverage; that means more pages, more restaurants, more recipes, more everything. Have you subscribed yet? You should. Oh! And right now, there’s a giveaway going on for a free subscription, so enter. Did you see the part where I said more recipes? I thought so. In the October issue, you have Sweet Potato Pub Cheese with Yukon Gold Potato Rounds (hello!) and a Pork Bahn Mi with Homemade Mayo (when is a bahn mi bad? Never, that’s when). You also have my magazine girl crush Christy Augustin of Pint Size Bakery showing you how to make Missouri Pecan Financiers with Spiced Pear Butter, which I will be making as soon as I can get my pear-loving hands on the ingredients. That girl means business with her desserts, and I love that about her.

And then there’s me, bringing it home with my weird ingredients. This month, I work with an ingredient that’s all-around delightful: please allow me to present nature’s troll doll, the rambutan.

feast magazine, october 2014: rambutan + poached pear sorbet.

I mean…right?

I would guess that out of all the Mystery Shopper columns I’ve done, this one was my most interesting to date. I had never seen a rambutan in real life before, much less tasted one, but I am mostly up for whatever when it comes to food, although Mr. Table finds that more than a little disturbing, but he won’t even eat mushrooms.

Turns out rambutan is pretty gettable: at least in cans, in international markets, where the sheer amount of asian fruit packed in juice and inserted into cans is almost overwhelming. Longan, mangosteen, really anything you want, right there for the taking, which is great, because importing these types of fruits can be tricky. Rambutan, for instance, must ripen on the tree for it to be good, so getting it from Point A to Point B? Not always easy.

But doable, just the same: if you have a favorite asian or international market near you, or a Whole Foods, you’ll see fresh rambutan hit the shelves a few times a year, in small quantities. And don’t worry about the spines this time: the prickly pears may be hazardous to your hands, but rambutan spikes are bendy like rubber. You’ll want to look for bright fruit ranging in color from magenta to burgundy: if they’re brown, it means they’re days away from being past their prime. Picking around in the bin is worth it because you’ll get the freshest of the bunch.

feast magazine, october 2014: rambutan + poached pear sorbet.

I highly recommend you try these: rambutan have a slightly gelatinous, wiggly little texture, like a jello version of a grape with no outer skin. They have this really beautiful, muted floral flavor, and it’s not hard to get addicted to them. I like them solo, because their flavor is so unique; with that in mind, my recipe for them is simple, and showcases their flavor in the best way I could think of, aside from just popping them in your mouth.

Sorbet: appropriate any time of year. Ice cream is also, but to a lesser degree: I’m never going to turn it down, but I crave it less in cooler temperatures. Sorbet I could eat anytime, day or night, because it’s more about the flavors than it is the chill, at least for me. I think this sorbet is about as October as you can get without throwing pumpkin or apple pie into it: it pairs the rambutan with fresh pears poached in ginger syrup, and that’s basically it. The texture of the pear and the rambutan give the sorbet an almost creamy consistency, and the ginger gives it just a hint of spice: very background, but present. Bonus: this recipe works just as well with canned rambutan as it does with fresh, which leaves with no options but to make this immediately.

I’m going to level with you: most recipes aren’t for everyone. there’s always people who will gravitate towards some things and away from others, based on their own preferences. This sorbet? Hard to imagine someone not instantly loving this. I’m not horn-tooting here, but it’s so subtle, but with this great, distinctive flavor at the same time: hard to explain unless you taste it firsthand, but I’m really hoping you try this. Look at it this way: it has minimal ingredients, almost zero hands-on time, and it makes something you can eat for dessert, or between courses, or sitting on your porch on a Tuesday afternoon. Don’t fight this one: you’ll love it. Toot, toot.

You can find the recipe for your new favorite sorbet, Rambutan + Ginger-Poached Pear, here, and as always, head over to Feast’s website to explore what’s going on here in the Midwest. There’s been a little reno going on over there too, and I’m sort of in love with the whole look of it; the scripty fonts used for each section of the site are particularly fetching, and I think you’ll agree.

Guess what? I made a pumpkin thing, and something to go with the pumpkin thing, and something to go on top of the thing which goes with the pumpkin thing. What’s more? I bet you’ve never made this particular pumpkin thing. That’s up next. See you soon. Until then, have fun looking at beauty shots of rambutan.

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  • Reply natalie @ wee eats September 29, 2014 at 3:07 pm


    This whole thing just sounds AMAZING – Rambutan and ginger are like, hello, duh, then you throw some poached pear in and IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE! Like, I never would have thought of it on my own but I bet that they play so well together!

    • Reply shannon October 14, 2014 at 7:54 am

      I know, right? And Feast did win the emmy, albeit not for the episode my recipe was featured in, but a great episode nonetheless. I feel like i’m still a winner. 🙂

      it’s really so, so good: pear and ginger make the whole thing happy, i feel like: maybe this is my new fall food.

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats September 29, 2014 at 3:08 pm


    • Reply shannon October 14, 2014 at 7:54 am

      i got sooo nervous when it happened. still nervous.

  • Reply Deb|EastofEdenCooking September 29, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    Your fall is off to a very exciting start! You go girl! While the rest of us have fallen into the local pumpkin patch you amaze us with Rambutan sorbet! Keep on soaring, there’s no reason to stop now!

    • Reply shannon October 14, 2014 at 6:03 am

      It feels like it’s a big Fall this year, Deb, for sure! And not to worry: i’ve already done my fair share of hanging out at the pumpkin patch, and i’m sure i’ll do more of it in the near future. 🙂

  • Reply John@Kitchen Riffs September 30, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Haven’t gotten the latest Feast yet, but I will. 😉 Glad they’re doing so well. And you too — you rock! Fun stuff — thanks.

    • Reply shannon October 14, 2014 at 7:55 am

      Thank you, John! This Feast was a doozy; much bigger and lots of coverage from all over: a fun read for sure.

  • Reply Willow @ Will Cook For Friends September 30, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    All of the flavors! I swear, you and I are in sync. I was just thinking about rambutans when I saw this hit my feed. Sorbet is definitely the perfect way to highlight the flavor, and ginger poached pears? Well, those are pretty much pure genius all on their own. I already know I am going to love everything about this sorbet. Also, I was super psyched to see Feast expanding their reach. Now they just need to stretch on over to Michigan… 😉

    • Reply shannon October 14, 2014 at 7:56 am

      I’ve noticed people keep drawing pictures of rambutans at your suggestion and it makes me so happy! We usually are in sync, though, right? I don’t know if it’s our similar weather patterns or that we just like similar things, but our tastes tend to go in the same direction at the same times of the year – a fact which i love. 🙂 I’ll talk to them about expanding to Michigan; onward and upward! 🙂

  • Reply Monica September 30, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    The single shot of that scoop of sorbet gets the job done. I just want it! I have not been neglecting pears this past year and I’m happy to see recipes for it, especially in such a unique combination. And ‘yay’ for you and Alice Medrich. Thank her for her famous brownie recipe for me, would ‘ya? ; ) She is such a wonderful teacher and as a chocoholic, I double adore her.

    • Reply shannon October 14, 2014 at 6:02 am

      You know, Monica, this sorbet was so achingly simple to make that i felt no need to gussy it up in the photos, because it just wouldn’t make sense. 🙂 If Ms. Medrich and i become besties, i’ll be sure to thank her for those brownies for you. She is such a great teacher, for sure: gotta love it when people take the time to really sort out the details and make them doable, and i dig that about her.

  • Reply Carla October 2, 2014 at 7:28 am

    Oh rambutan! Being from the Philippines rambutan is almost always available year round. My husband and daughter loves it. Me not so much.

    • Reply shannon October 14, 2014 at 5:58 am

      Rambutan is so great! Such fun to work with. You know, Carla, i’m getting to know more and more about fruits from that region (just with research for the column and frequenting international markets around here) and it’s really magical what grows in Asia. Like fairytale fruit, almost. I’m a fan, but i can totally see how rambutan may not be for everyone; just looking at the inner texture sorta creeped Mr. Table out, but he’s prone to that. 🙂

  • Reply Ashley October 2, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Awesome, as always!!! I really want to give my cat a few rambutans and see what she does with them. I’m betting batting them around the house for me to find months later, lodged under the couch or behind a table. Thank goodness the spines are bendy! And that’s crazy cool that Alice Medrich is following you! I love her and am so excited about her flour cookbook coming out. I have an out of control “alternative flour” collection that needs immediate help.
    PS – I eagerly await your pumpkin thing with another pumpkin thing and some thing. 🙂 Sounds intriguing and delicious!

    • Reply shannon October 14, 2014 at 6:00 am

      Oh they’d end up under your sofa in NO TIME: wayyyy too much fun for cats (they actually look like cat toys now that i think about it.) SAME! Seriously the amount of flour stock i have here is out of control: inevitably purchased because a) i was curious or b) i had a specific project in mind, and then it’s like, dozens of little bags with clips on them forever. 🙂 It will be nice to put them to good use.

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