Thanks to the increased availability of fruits from Chile, fresh grapes, peaches, nectarines, plums and pears can be combined with California strawberries for a winter or early spring menu.
For a light ending to a chilly weather meal, try a warm fruit saute that's lightly spirited with orange liqueur. A dab of Lemon Creme Fraiche or vanilla ice cream makes a cold creamy contrast.
WARM WINTER FRUIT SAUTE
1/4 cup butter, preferably unsalted
3 tablespoons orange liqueur or freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup seedless red or green grapes or mixture of both, halved
2 peaches or nectarines, about 1/2 pound, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sliced strawberries or raspberries, fresh or frozen
Lemon Creme Fraiche or vanilla ice cream
Melt butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Stir in liqueur, water and sugar. Bring mixture to simmer. Add grapes and peaches, then reduce heat to medium. Cook, basting with sauce until fruits are just warmed through, about 2 to 3 minutes, being careful not to overcook. Add berries last 30 seconds of cooking. (If using frozen berries, add them partially frozen.)
Serve warm fruit in shallow bowls or on small plates. Decorate with mint leaves. Spoon on Lemon Creme Fraiche or serve with small scoop of ice cream. Makes 4 servings.
Note: If nectarines or peaches are sliced ahead, sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning.
Lemon Creme Fraiche
1 cup whipping cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Sugar or mild honey
In small bowl stir together whipping cream, lemon juice and grated lemon zest. Let mixture stand at room temperature until it thickens slightly, 4 to 8 hours.
Chill until serving it will thicken more. Season to taste with sugar. Makes about 1 cup.