Monday, April 26, 2010
Seasonal Fruit Desserts
One thing that blogging has done for me is change a lot of my thinking about food. I used to be a hardcore bargain hunter and cheapest was best. I've come to realize that quality has to be one of the factors in the equation. Is it really a bargain to get strawberries at $1 a pound if they are are lifeless, with the flavor and texture of styrofoam?
I recently received a copy of a book that epitomizes this philosophy - Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison (yes, the same one who wrote Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone). The whole book is filled with information on picking, storing, and using fresh, local, varietal fruits and nuts. Each page has information nuggets about the ingredients and makes fascinating reading all on its own.
Varietal was a new concept to me, but Deborah is passionate about the fact that all plums are not the same and a Winsap is not a Gravenstein is not a Jonagold, and knowing the difference between varieties can be the difference between an OK dessert and a wow dessert that packs a flavor punch.
The recipes range from simple bowls of fresh fruit to pies, tarts, cakes, cookies, and puddings, and the book is packed with gorgeous photos that had me drooling as I turned the pages. I wanted to make dozens of recipes right then! But there was a problem. Seasonal + Fresh + the Pacific Northwest in April = not a lot of fresh fruit to choose from. The farmer's markets aren't open yet and all my garden has right now is tulips.
So instead of fruit, I chose to make the cookies that used up my Black Walnut stash from my freezer. Like all the recipes in the book it was fairly simple, but yielded delicious cookies that were soft as they came out of the oven, then crisped up as they sat, begging to be dunked in a cup of coffee.
As spring swings into summer I know I'll turn to this book again and again for classic, simple recipes to turn the fresh fruits of the season into beautiful desserts.