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Cookbook Review--"Seasonal Fruit Desserts" by Deborah Madison & Yogurt Swedish Cream with Warm Berry Sauce

Posted May 14 2010 3:01am
As many cookbooks as I own and as many as I get to review, there is always a special delight when a gorgeous new cookbook comes across my desk, like the newest book by celebrated vegetarian cook and author Deborah Madison . " Seasonal Fruit Desserts: From Orchard, Farm and Market " has Madison switching her focus from vegetables to fruit in 175 different recipes that make the most of nature's bounty.

The book shares Madison's passion for local, ripe and in-season produce, and starts out with informational chapters on Ingredients and Techniques and Kitchen Equipment, and then offers A Few Basics like pastry for pies, tart dough, perfect whipped cream and maple sugar. The book covers a wide variety of fruit or fruit-friendly desserts from Fresh Fruit, Fresh Fruit in Syrup, Roasted and Sauteed Fruit and Classics You Can Count On (crumbles, crisps and simple cakes). Then it moves into Country Pies and Tarts, Dried Fruit, Nuts and Preserves, Puddings and Gelees, Cheese and Dairy Desserts, Five Cakes to Go with Fruit, and finally, Sauces from Fruit.

Reviewing this book for the Cookbook Spotlight event, hosted by Cath at A Blithe Palate , we were tasked with reading the book and cooking one recipe from it for the review. With so many delicious-sounding recipes, the choice was difficult to make. I was all set to make the Right-Side Up Cake, using the Almond-Corn Flour Cake as a base and maybe some caramelized pineapple. Then, healthier me thought the Quinoa Pudding with Dried Cherries and Cranberries would be a great option. Finally, a couple of warmer days had me craving something cool, smooth and creamy and the Yogurt Swedish Cream topped with some Warm Berry Sauce became my choice.

A Swedish Cream is similar to a panna cotta and this one uses yogurt, milk and cream. In the recipe Madison gives the option of richer or lighter milk options--depending on how decadent you want the finished product to be. (I used a low-fat Greek yogurt, heavy cream and whole milk). The Warm Berry Sauce cooks assorted berries (I used a combo of mostly strawberries (local), along with a few frozen wild blueberries and some fresh organic raspberries and blackberries), in a bit of butter and maple sugar, and then adds a touch of flavoring or liquor (I used orange flower water).

The result--a creamy, sweet and tangy pudding that just melts in the mouth. The berry sauce was the perfect accompaniment, especially with the added floral nuances from the orange flower water. The dessert went together quickly and easily--the hardest part was waiting for it to set. This is a wonderful dessert for a spring or summer evening, especially when consumed outdoors. I will make this again--I think it would also be fun with a tropical fruit topping or made into a fall favorite with some chopped cooked apple and the Apple Cider Syrup recipe from the book.

One of the things I like most about "Seasonal Fruit Desserts" is the amount of variation Madison encourages, making suggestions for different fruits, or even the sugars that can be used. Since I am trying to reduce the processed white sugar in my diet, it was nice to have the option (and the proper amount) to use agave in the Swedish Cream recipe. Madison's vast experience, suggestions and stories are throughout the book, making it a pleasure to read as well as to cook from. Recipes are straightforward, everything in the book seemed extremely "do-able" and there is a good balance between company-worthy desserts and casual family favorites. The book is beautifully photographed and visually appealing--although not every recipe has a picture, many of them do. As with Deborah Madison's other books, this is a thoughtful, well-written cookbook that I am happy to add to my collection. It is a perfect book for fruit lovers, dessert lovers, locavores and really anyone who loves delicious, beautifully prepared food.

Mahalo to Cath and to the publishers for sending me this copy of "Seasonal Fruit Desserts" to review. Cath will be rounding up the Cookbook Spotlight event on her blog sometime after the 16th, so stop by to visit her and to see what others thought of the book and the recipes they made.

Happy Friday!
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