Fruits: Some fruits – even soft summer fruits – tend to be more palatable cooked than uncooked, but most require only light cooking to bring out their full flavor. Gentle poaching, grilling, or baking will maintain flavor, color, and shape. Fruits can be baked just as they are, as in the case of baked apples, or wrapped in pastry bundles to cook gently and retain the flavor.
Always prepare fruits just before baking, since most of them soon start to brown and lose vitamins when they are exposed to the air.
• Sprinkling spice: Mix 60 g dark brown sugar with 1 tablespoon (5 ml) ground cinnamon, and sprinkle over fruit for a sweet and spicy glaze.
• Adding chocolate: Bake bananas until their skins turn black, then slit down one side and spoon in melted chocolate. Eat this delicious dessert right from the skins.
• Baking peaches: To bring out the flavor of slightly underripe peaches, bake them in their skins, whole or in halves, in a hot oven for approximately 20 minutes. Slip off the skins of the fruits before serving.
Baking Whole Apples
Scoring skins: Use a canelle knife or an ordinary knife to score the skins of the whole, cored apples before baking so that the fruits cook without splitting. Sprinkle lemon juice on the apple to prevent browning.
Quick Apple Fillings
• To bake apples with a tasty filling, remove the cores but leave them unpeeled. Pack the hollowed centers with a ming before baking.
• Using almond paste: Chop almond paste and dried apricots, and pack into the centers of cored apples. Sprinkle with lemon juice.
• Crumbling cookies: Lightly crush macaroons or gingersnaps, and mix them with chopped almonds or walnuts. Spoon into apples.
• Stuffing with nuts and dates: Make a stuffing for apples from chopped elates and walnuts. Spoon maple syrup on top before baking.
Making Pie Fillings
Thickening juices: To thicken juices in fruit pie fillings, toss the prepared fruits in a little cornstarch. If sugar is to be added, mix it with the cornstarch before adding to the fruits to distribute it evenly.
Baking Whole Oranges
Wrapping In Foil:Remove the peel and pith from oranges, and slice into rings. Reassemble on foil squares, and add a pat of butter and a dash of liqueur. Wrap in foil and bake in a hot oven for 10 minutes.
• Wrapping pears in pastry Cut long, thin strips of puff or shortcrust pastry, and spiral around peeled pears, leaving the stems exposed. Brush with milk, and bake in a hot oven until the pastry is golden.
• Topping apples Bake whole apples until almost tender, peel off the skins from the top halves, spread stiff meringue over the peeled parts, then bake in a hot oven until the meringue is golden.
• Making phyllo bundles Halve and pit plums or apricots, then put a blanched almond in each cavity. Put halves back together, and wrap in phyllo dough. Brush with oil, and bake in a moderate oven until golden.
Fruits can be poached by cooking gently in syrup until they are just tender. Cook over low heat to retain flavor and prevent the fruits from falling apart. To make a purée, poach fruits until soft, and beat with a wooden spoon or prepare in a food processor until smooth.
• Counteracting acidity Reduce the acidity of rhubarb and improve its flavor by poaching it in orange juice or sprinkling it with ginger.
• Using lemonade Poach apple slices in leftover lemonade and white wine.
• Adding tea Use a scented tea such as Earl Grey for poaching dried fruits to make an exotic fruit compote. Add a few cardamom pods or star anise for a rich, spicy flavor.
• Oven-poaching fruits Allow the flavor of fruits to develop to their full intensity by poaching them in a tightly lidded dish in a cool oven for approximately one hour.
Using a microwave Pour water or fruit liqueur and lemon juice over the apricots. Cover, Then cook on High 4-5 minutes, turning halfway through. Slip off the skins, and serve apricots in the juices.
Serving Poached Pears
Slicing Into A Fan: Poach whole pears, peeled but with stems on, in wine or sugar syrup until tender. Drain and cut into very thin slices, almost through to the stem end. Press lightly to fan out the slices.
Grilling And Barbecuing Fruits
Grilling fruits is an excellent way of bringing out their sweet, ripe flavors – and almost any fruits can be cooked using this method. The dying heat from a barbecue after cooking the main course is ideal for grilling fruits brushed with spicy glazes or wrapped in foil bundles.
Grilling Peach Halves
Adding lemon juice Sprinkle fresh peach halves with lemon juice before grilling to prevent the flesh from browning.
Adding a topping: Top fresh or canned peach halves with a spoonful of ricotta or mascarpone cheese, sprinkle with a sweet spice such as cinnamon, allspice, or anise, and grill until the cheese bubbles.
Glazing Brush pineapple pieces with a mixture of equal amounts of melted butter, rum, and brown sugar. Then grill.
Skewering wedges: Cut pineapple lengthwise into quarters, remove the core, and cut between the skin and the flesh, leaving the flesh in position. Slice the flesh, secure with skewers, and barbecue.
• Using skewers: Thread strawberries onto bamboo skewers, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Then grill.
• Marinating fruits Soak peach or apricot halves in brandy for 30 minutes before grilling.
Making exotic kebabs: Mix chunks of exotic fruits such as mangoes, kiwi fruits, guavas, and kumquats on skewers, brush with butter, then grill.
• Using rum butter: Use leftover rum or brandy butter as a glaze for grilled fruits.
• Serving with sweet toasts: Grill slices of fruit with slices of buttered brioche or raisin bread, and serve together, sprinkled with cinnamon.