Some fruits are at their best when eaten fresh, while others reveal their truest and most delicious flavour when cooked. Understanding how to enjoy fruit at its peak of flavour—whether it’s lightly sautéed, poached, baked, braised, or roasted—is the key, and this cookbook for home cooks shows you how.
Simple Fruit inspires home cooks to explore and enhance the flavours of fruit throughout the year. Each recipe applies a cooking technique that wakes the senses with the distinct flavour characteristics of the fruit. Simple Fruit is a fresh way to approach fruit.
The 50 recipes in this book are organized seasonally and by type of fruit, with a focus on bringing out the best flavour in the fruit. Whether it’s Vanilla-Roasted Rhubarb, Strawberry Pavlova, Cherry Hand Pies, or Grilled Apricots with Brown Butter and Maple-Tamari Glaze, Simple Fruit encourages and inspires readers to explore the unique flavours of cooked fruits, and gives them options to create a variety of seasonal desserts.
Fruits include rhubarb, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, marionberries, tayberries, peaches and nectarines, apricots, plums, apples, pears, cranberries, citrus and dried fruits.
The pavlova has a romantic history. Created by an Australian pastry chef for Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova while she was performing in Australia in the 1920s, the dessert was described by the chef as being as light as she was. A traditional pavlova is topped with fresh strawberries, kiwi, and passion fruit. Although I’m not generally a fan of eating hard-baked meringues, I thoroughly enjoy this dessert with its combination of flavours and textures—tangy fruit, rich whipped cream, and crisp, chewy meringue. I have also paired this pavlova with roasted rhubarb—a perfect combination.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 recipe Vanilla Roasted Strawberries (recipe follows)
For the meringues:
1½ cups (300 g) sugar
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
6 egg whites at room temperature
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the whipped cream:
1½ cups (340 mL) heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
- Prepare the roasted strawberries.
- To make the meringues, preheat the oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment (add a little nonstick spray or butter underneath to keep the parchment from slipping).
- Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.
- Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until the egg whites are just beginning to foam. With the mixer running, add the sugar-cornstarch mixture in four parts, waiting about 5 seconds between each addition, until all of it is has been added. (Adding the sugar too fast will deflate the egg whites, but adding the sugar too slow won’t allow the sugar to dissolve correctly.) Turn the mixer to high speed, and continue whipping the meringue to stiff peaks. The meringue should be shiny and create a firm pattern in the bowl. Stop the mixer and test the meringue by dipping your finger into it. The peak should stand straight up on your finger. Add the salt and mix at medium-high speed for 3 minutes. This stabilizes the meringue and helps the sugar dissolve. Add the vanilla and mix at medium speed.
- Portion the meringue into six mounds about 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Using a tablespoon, spread each meringue to about 4 to 5 inches in diameter, making a divot 3/4 inch deep by 2 inches wide in the middle of each meringue (to hold the cream and fruit later). You can make any size meringues, but remember that smaller meringues will take less time to bake.
- Bake the meringues for 40 minutes, or until they are dry and crisp on the exterior. The meringues will feel dry after about 30 minutes, but continue baking them another 10 minutes to ensure the interior is baked. If the meringues start to colour, lower the temperature to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Keep in mind that in wet or humid weather, meringues can be finicky. You may need to bake the meringues longer to get to a crisp stage. Pavlova meringue interiors should be soft, like a marshmallow. Cool the meringues at room temperature. If you are going to store them, move them to an airtight container and stack the meringues between parchment as soon as they are cool. They will hold for about 2 days. (Moist air will cause the meringues to soften.)
- When you are ready to serve, whip the cream with the sugar to medium-stiff peaks. Put a dab of whipped cream on each plate, and then place the meringues on the plates. (The whipped cream is a plating trick to keep the meringue from sliding around as you take it to the table.) Fill the indentations of each meringue generously with whipped cream. Divide the roasted strawberries among the pavlovas, drizzling the juice over the top, and serve immediately. You can also build the pavlovas ahead and refrigerate them for up to 30 minutes before serving.
Vanilla Roasted Strawberries
Makes 4 servings
6 tablespoons sugar (or less, if you prefer)
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, or ½ teaspoon ground vanilla bean, or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Pinch kosher salt
4 cups (454 g) of strawberries, hulled and halved
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Combine the sugar, vanilla bean pulp and pod, and salt in a large bowl, and use your hands to work the vanilla into the sugar. Add the strawberries and toss to coat. Spread the strawberries on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Roast the strawberries for 15 to 20 minutes, gently stirring or shaking the pan halfway through, until the fruit is tender to the touch but not falling apart. (Stir the fruit gently one time.) The roasting time will change depending on the size of your fruit pieces.
- Cool the strawberries to room temperature, and serve with the extra juices. The fruit will hold refrigerated for 5 days.
*(c)2020 by Laurie Pfalzer. Excerpted from Simple Fruit: Seasonal Recipes for Baking, Poaching, Sautéing, and Roasting by permission of Sasquatch Books.