Today's tip

Italians love prunes.

Prunes, dried plums, are used both in savory and sweet dishes. Italians are big consumers of dried prunes. They are in such demand year-round— for snacking, cooking, and baking—that today Italy ranks as one of the world’s biggest importers of prunes.  They stew them with apples, quince, and other winter fruit to make a compote. You can have prune ice cream, prune Danish, or prune strudel. I love to stuff a pork roast with prunes soaked in bourbon, and throw a few into the accompanying vegetables to sweeten and enhance the flavors. Or in crostatas (tarts) and cakes. After opening a package of prunes, store them in a sealed jar in the refrigerator or a cool storage place.