Season’s Greetings

Times Food Editor

If fruit is the apple of your eye, now is the time to make the rounds of the produce counter at your local supermarket and overindulge to heart’s content.

This is the time of year when my fridge and fruit ripening bowl both suffer from overkill. Try as I do to resist, by the time I reach the checkout counter at my local market, my basket is loaded with far too much of the season’s glorious fruits. A surreptitious perusal of other shopping carts nearby makes me feel better, however, as it proves I’m not the only one who can’t pass up the almost decadent array of fruits one finds gracing produce counters during the summer months.

Apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, a whole battery of melons--plus the usual apples and citrus fruits that we take so for granted--all entice us to overbuy. And to overindulge, if that’s possible, in the heady sweetness of summer’s bounty.

Unpacking one’s purchases at home may create some qualms about how to use everything up before spoilage sets in, but chances are we’ll manage. A ripe plum or peach can be tucked into a summer school lunch box as a special surprise. Or a small basket of chilled sweet cherries can be casually placed on a desk to boost the morale of the in-house bill payer as she or he busily gets about the business of watching the family bank account dwindle. A big bowl of mixed fruits strategically placed on the kitchen counter has even been known to woo the household chocolate freaks away from their usual snack choices. Keep fruit visible and you won’t have to worry about using it up before it begins to fade.


Snacking out-of-hand on fresh fruit is, of course, one of the joys of summer. But we’re rarely content to settle for simply eating fruit “as is” for any length of time. That great American pastime of always searching for something “new” seems to get in the way of such simple pleasures. Instead we end up looking for startling and unusual ways to serve these natural sweets that are with us all too brief a period.

And we do this in spite of the fact that some of the best recipes are oldies. It’s almost impossible, for instance, to find anything that tastes better than a fresh peach cobbler served warm from the oven. Or a fresh plum pie topped with a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream. These homey desserts may not be as glamorous as an eye-catching fancy French fruit tart, but they sure taste good.

Fortunately, most of the current crop reports indicate that a good supply of high quality fruits will be available all summer long. So that makes it easy. You don’t have to hurry. There will be plenty of time to indulge in both old and new treatments for your favorites. The following recipes should get you off to a good start.




Pastry for 9-inch pie

1/2 cup pureed strawberries

1 tablespoon cornstarch


1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/4 cup currant jelly

4 medium plums, sliced

2 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened


1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon orange juice

Roll out pastry to 12-inch circle and fit into 9-inch flan pan or springform pan. Pierce generously with fork. Bake at 400 degrees 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Cool.


For topping, combine pureed strawberries, cornstarch, lemon juice and currant jelly in saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring constantly with wire whisk. Add plums and cook over low heat 5 to 10 minutes or just until tender. Cool, then chill.

For filling, beat cream cheese with orange peel until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar and orange juice. Spread cream cheese mixture into cooled tart shell. Top with cold plum topping.

Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Remove pan sides. Makes 6 servings.




6 large nectarines

1/3 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar


1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Pastry for 1 double-crust 9-inch pie


1/4 cup butter or margarine

Slice nectarines. Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and lemon peel. Mix lightly with nectarines.

Roll 1/2 of pastry and fit into 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Spoon nectarine mixture into shell, mounding in center. Dot with butter.

Roll remaining pastry for top crust and place over fruit. Pinch edges to seal well. Cut 4 slits in top for steam to escape.


Bake at 400 degrees 45 minutes or until crust is brown and syrup boils with heavy bubbles that do not burst. Cool before cutting. Makes 6 to 8 servings.



2 eggs, beaten


1/2 cup oil

1/2 pint plain yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup whole-wheat flour


1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup shredded coconut


2 peaches, sliced

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Apricot jam, sieved, optional

Beat eggs with oil, yogurt and vanilla until smooth. Combine flours, sugar, baking soda and coconut. Mix into egg mixture to form batter.


Turn about 1/3 of batter into greased 6-cup ring mold. Mix peaches with cinnamon and place 1/2 of mixture on top of batter. Layer with another 1/3 batter, then remaining peaches. Top with remaining batter.

Bake at 350 degrees 40 to 50 minutes or until wood pick inserted in center comes out clean. Fruit layers should remain moist. Let cool 10 minutes in pan, then invert and cool on rack. Serve with sieved apricot jam. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


1 medium pineapple, peeled and cut in chunks


2 cups cherries, pitted and sliced

1/2 cup Port

1 angel food cake

Whipped cream, sweetened, if desired


Combine pineapple and cherries in bowl. Cover with Port and let stand, covered, in refrigerator overnight.

Immediately before serving, slice angel food cake into individual servings. Top with fruit mixture and dollops of whipped cream. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


2 cups pitted and halved sweet cherries


1 cup Port

2 (3-ounce) packages cherry gelatin

2 cups boiling water

1 tablespoon lemon juice


Sour cream

Grated lemon peel, optional

Combine cherries and Port in small bowl. Cover and chill 2 hours. Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Drain cherries, reserving Port.

Combine reserved Port and lemon juice. Add cold water to equal 1 1/2 cups. Stir in gelatin. Chill until partially set.


Fold in cherries and spoon into stemmed glasses. Chill until firm. Garnish with dollop of sour cream and lemon peel. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


2 quarts pitted tart red cherries

2 cups sugar


1/3 cup water

2/3 cup lemon juice or 1/2 cup white vinegar

1 quart club soda or water, or 1 pint fruit ice or sherbet, optional

Combine cherries, sugar and water in large saucepan. Cover and simmer until mushy, stirring occasionally. Cool. Cover and let stand overnight.


Strain, add lemon juice and adjust sweetness as desired. Pour into bottle, cover and refrigerate until needed.

Serve plain over ice or fill half a tall glass with Shrub, add ice and fill with club soda. Or pour into serving glasses and top with scoop of fruit or sherbet. Makes about 8 servings.


3 medium nectarines


1 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice


1/8 teaspoon salt

32 chocolate wafers (2 1/4 inches in diameter)

Angelica strips, optional

Finely chop 2 unpeeled nectarines to measure 1 cup. Thinly slice remaining nectarine and set aside for decoration.


Beat cream until barely stiff. Fold in honey, ginger, lemon juice and salt, then add chopped nectarines.

Top each wafer with slightly rounded tablespoon of cream mixture and stack together in groups of 4. Decorate with sliced nectarine and angelica strips. Chill until serving time. Makes 8 servings.




2 medium nectarines

4 egg yolks

2 tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup orange juice


1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Slice nectarines into 4 dessert dishes. Set aside.

Combine egg yolks, sugar, orange juice and vanilla in saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, beating constantly with wire whisk or egg beater, 5 minutes or until thick and lemon colored. Do not boil.

Remove from heat and continue beating 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon over nectarines in dessert dishes. Serve hot. Makes 4 servings.



10 large fully ripe peaches

1 cup sugar

Peel and slice peaches to measure 10 cups. Place peaches in large saucepan. Add sugar and bring mixture to boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour mixture into blender container and puree. Cool to lukewarm.


Meanwhile, prepare smooth, level drying surface in full sunlight. Cover baking sheets, jellyroll pans or other flat surface with plastic wrap.

Pour peach puree onto prepared surface, spread to 1/8-inch thickness and let dry in sunlight. Drying may take 20 to 24 hours. Bring puree inside at end of day and finish drying second day. Or drying may be finished indoors. Set sheets of fruit on baking pans in 150-degree oven and leave door open. Fruit is dry when puree can be peeled off plastic easily.

For storing, roll up leather with plastic wrap. Wrap in more plastic wrap and seal tightly. Leather will keep at room temperature about 1 month, in refrigerator about 4 months, in freezer 1 year. For eating, cut into strips.



2 cups plums, sliced

Juice of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 orange

Dash salt


3/4 cup sugar

2 cups milk

Cinnamon Plum Sauce

Combine plums, lemon juice, orange juice, salt, sugar and milk in blender. Puree until smooth.


Pour mixture into ice cube tray and freeze until outer edges are firm but center is slushy. Transfer to chilled bowl and beat until smooth.

Return to ice cube tray. Freeze until firm. Serve with Cinnamon Plum Sauce. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Cinnamon Plum Sauce

1 pound plums, sliced


1 cup sugar

1 stick cinnamon

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons lemon juice


2 tablespoons water

Mix plums with sugar in saucepan and let stand to form juices. Add cinnamon stick and simmer gently until fruit is tender, about 10 minutes.

Mix cornstarch with lemon juice and water. Stir into sauce. Cook, stirring, until sauce thickens. Chill. Serve over Fresh Plum Freeze.



5 cups pitted, sliced plums

1/2 cup sugar

Place plums in saucepan. Add sugar and bring to boil, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Boil 3 minutes.

Pour mixture into blender container and blend until smooth. Pour puree through fine strainer and discard bits of skin. Set aside to cool.


Meanwhile, prepare smooth, level drying surface outside in full sunlight. Cover 2 (15x12-inch) baking sheets or pans with plastic wrap. Pour strained puree onto prepared surface and spread to 1/8-inch thickness. Let dry in sunlight. Drying may take up to 24 hours. Bring pans inside at end of day and finish drying second day. Or drying may be finished indoors. Set baking sheets in 150-degree oven and leave door open. Fruit is dry when puree can be peeled off plastic easily.

For storing, roll up leather in plastic wrap. Wrap in more plastic and seal tightly. Leather will keep at room temperature about 1 month, in refrigerator about 4 months or 1 year in freezer. Makes 2 (15x12-inch) sheets.


1 pound plums


1 large peach, peeled and sliced

Granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups milk

4 eggs


2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup flour

Powdered sugar

Slice and pit plums. Arrange plum and peach slices in buttered 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.


Combine milk, eggs and vanilla in blender and blend 2 seconds. Add flour and 1/4 cup granulated sugar and blend 5 seconds at high speed. Pour batter over fruit.

Set casserole in middle of oven and bake at 350 degrees 1 1/2 hours. Fruit will rise to top during baking. Cool slightly and dust with powdered sugar.

Serve warm or cool. Makes 8 servings.




4 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 teaspoons orange juice

1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel


1 teaspoon minced crystallized ginger

1/4 teaspoon sugar

Dash salt

6 medium nectarines


Combine cream cheese, orange juice and peel, ginger, sugar and salt and blend thoroughly. Cut lengthwise wedge from each nectarine. Remove pits. Fill nectarines with cream cheese mixture. In center of cream cheese mixture, insert thin slice of nectarine cut from removed wedge. Makes 6 servings.


10 to 12 large peaches

1/2 cup butter or margarine


1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

2 eggs

2 cups granulated sugar


1/2 cup boiling water

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups sifted flour

1 teaspoon baking powder


Dash salt

Ice cream or whipped cream, optional

Peel peaches, cut in quarters and arrange in 13x9-inch baking pan. Dot peaches with butter, then sprinkle on brown sugar and lemon peel.

Beat eggs until light colored. Gradually add granulated sugar and beat thoroughly. Stir in boiling water and vanilla.


Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to egg mixture and blend well. Pour batter over peaches.

Bake at 375 degrees 55 to 60 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and stiff when touched. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream. Makes 10 to 12 servings.


3 eggs


3 tablespoons milk

2 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup flour

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


4 cups cut up plums

2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups oats

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

Whipped cream or ice cream, optional


Beat eggs lightly in bowl. Stir in milk, granulated sugar, flour and nutmeg. Gently fold in plums and tapioca. Pour into lightly greased 13x9-inch pan.

Mix together melted butter, cinnamon, salt, oats and brown sugar. Sprinkle over plum mixture. Bake at 375 degrees 40 to 45 minutes.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Makes 8 to 10 servings.