Unadorned fruit is the ultimate dessert - perhaps with a bit of cheese for contrast and complement and a liqueur for sipping. A whole peach with juice dripping down your arms, a watermelon wedge staining your ears, blackberries eaten with a touch of blood from the thorns' pricks are all exemplars of such perfection. But cooked recipes using fruit makes an excellent dessert (or side dish) too - Peach Cobbler, Strawberry Gastrique and Blackberry Ice Cream are all wonderful when the fruit is locally grown and absolutely fresh and still pretty good when the fruit is purchased frozen.
Don't flinch! Adding spicy, smoked chili peppers to a peach and then grilling it may strike you as a bad idea, but it's really not. It's a wonderful idea and absolutely delicious. You can make the peaches as spicy as you want but the chili pepper really accents the peaches' sweetness. and, topped with lightly sweetened mascarpone, the cheese melts down into the luscious halves.
We don't usually think of tomatoes as a fruit but in fact tomatoes and peppers are both fruit. Oddly enough, the tartness of green tomatoes is reminiscent of peaches or blackberries, so in this case they taste distinctly fruity - albeit not sweet.
I'm particularly fond of stewed apples, an incredibly easy dish to prepare even when you get fancy as I do here. You could serve these hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert and they're great wrapped in buckwheat crepes with a dollop of mascarpone cheese, but I like them as a side dish.
Couscous and dried fruit? I've had more than one eater draw back from the idea of pasta (and couscous is a form of pasta) and something as sweet as fruit. Nevertheless, over the years I've been making and serving it I've only had one or two people not like it and, in fact, this is a very Arabic recipe in character even though I made it up. It is particularly good with chicken or Cornish hens.
Peach cobbler may be my favorite dessert. Oh, I love desserts using apples and pears, cherries and figs, strawberries and blueberries. But each year I look forward to locally-grown peaches more than anything else. My favorite dessert is peach cobbler with a biscuit dough crust. Hot out of the oven, scooped into a bowl, and drizzled with plain, unsweetened heavy cream, this is the food of the gods.
The rich color of this blackberry ice cream recipe is matched by its rich, creamy and slightly tart flavor. Here in Tennessee we won't see fresh local blackberries until at least the middle of July, but there are a couple of local supermarkets that carry blackberries "imported" from elsewhere, and even frozen blackberries will work. If you wished, you could substitute raspberries for the blackberries - although I don't like them as well.
This recipe for Strawberries in Puff Pastry began where the recipe for Kicking Strawberry Shortcake up a Notch left off. First, I decided to use frozen puff pastry shells, which have a buttery flavor and a delicate crunch. Then instead of whipped cream I elected to use mascarpone. I added a strawberry puree to the recipe and then flavored everything with a touch of Amaretto. Your taste buds will think they've died and gone to heaven.
This rhubarb/apple crisp is an even better combination than rhubarb and strawberries because apples can handle rhubarb's tartness with more aplomb than strawberries. It only took me 10 minutes to make and 45 minutes to cook because I already had streusel topping in the freezer waiting for just such a quick, weeknight dessert. Topped with plain whipped cream it was a light and not-too-sweet ending to the meal.
These Individual Blueberry Crisps take no more than ten minutes to prep (provided you have my basic Fruit Crisp Struesel on hand) and cook in 25 minutes making them a great weeknight dessert. But don't reserve them for dessert, they make a great breakfast too. Personally, I usually just pour some heavy cream (or even milk) into the dish, but you can add whipped cream or yogurt.
This recipe for a Pineapple-Lime Tart was my entry in an online contest for tart recipes. I didn't win, but I was really pleased with the results, nevertheless. The pineapple and lime complement each other beautifully, the mascarpone is a wonderfully rich base, and the puff pastry makes it easy.