The Cowgirl Chef: Dip into the season’s fruit basket

06/04/2014 12:00 AM

06/03/2014 11:59 AM

Well, finally. The gang’s all here. Tart, bright red stalks of rhubarb. Fat, juicy strawberries. And my favorites of summer’s fruity parade: blueberries, blackberries and Texas peaches, to be eaten on their own, or mixed and matched and gobbled up in cobblers, crumbles, pies and tarts, for dessert, middle-of-the-night snacking and next-day breakfasts.

The great thing about these sorts of recipes is that the fruits are easily combined for something different (a friend of mine told me recently that his mother made rhubarb-blueberry pies) or you can exchange completely different fruits in the recipes themselves, which means they act as a base for whatever is in season.

For instance, I plan to try the rhubarb crumble recipe this summer with peaches and blackberries. Likewise, the chocolate tart, which is fabulous on its own and a great dessert served year-round, can be topped with anything that tickles your fancy — fresh raspberries are a good match, but what about apricots? Oranges or tangerines, when they’re in season? Ditto with the blueberry turnovers. You can fill them with whatever you’ve found at the market that day.

As many recipes as I already have, and as many as I read, dog-ear, find online and try to imagine or alter, I’m always on the lookout for keepers — recipes that are easily adaptable to what I’ve got on hand and with what’s available right then.

Sure, there are some that work exactly as they are — I love the combination of nutty brown butter, brown sugar and bourbon with peaches specifically, but that will likely lead me to consider using brown butter in another recipe for a nutty note or adding booze in another dessert — so I’m still borrowing from one to imagine something new.

The process of discovery is part of the fun of baking, even when it’s already so hot I should really be sitting next to a pool with an iced drink and a rhubarb bar (or three).

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