This is the second installment of our ongoing series that spotlights
interesting cookbooks. Some will be new and familiar, chosen because we
think they're really good. Others will be highlighted as a means of
introducing you to cookbooks you might not know about -- and that we also think are really good. This week's selection was chosen because, um, it's summery.
"It's hard to improve on a piece of fruit. What nature has given, unadorned and uncooked, is already near perfect."
So begins Summer Fruit: A Country Garden Cookbook, a slender 94-pager with lovely photos by Kathryn Kleinman, an informative glossary, and more than 40 recipes that never mess with the inherent purity of summer stone fruits.
Author Edon Waycott used to make homemade jams and preserves from unusual organic fruit for Campanile Restaurant in Los Angeles. Summer Fruit was published in 1995, which puts its farm-to-table sensibility somewhat ahead of its time. There are recipes for starters, entrées, sides, desserts, beverages, cocktails, and preserves. A few examples: chilled fruit salad in watermelon syrup; poached pink peaches; sautéed shrimp with spicy apricot-ginger sauce; tempura peaches with lemon sabayon; and red plum sorbet. A recipe for apricot clafouti follows.
Summer Fruit is part of a series by Collins Publishers in San Francisco
that includes books about apples, berries, corn, greens, herbs, lemons, onions,
pears, potatoes, squash, and tomatoes. You can find a new copy at Amazon for about eight bucks. I am familiar only with the
Summer Fruit book.
The following recipe serves four to five people and is simple to make.
"A clafouti is a French custard and fruit dessert usually made with cherries. Because clafouti can be made with ingredients commonly found in most kitchens, all you need to add is wonderful ripe summer fruit for a delicious creation."
1 pound fresh apricots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup half-and-half or whole milk
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp cognac
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup less 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
Freshly grated nutmeg
Sifted confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Butter a one-quart shallow baking or gratin dish and arrange the apricots over the bottom. In a blender or food processor, combine the half-and-half, eggs, cognac, and sugar. Add the flour and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture over the apricots. Grate the nutmeg over the custard and bake in the center of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the clafouti is golden and puffed. Allow to cool for five minutes, sprinkle heavily with confectioners' sugar, and serve.