I love summer because it gives me the opportunity to work with fresh fruit. There is nothing I love more than the bounty that comes from our strawberry patch and all of the trees that our neighbor so generously shares from her orchard. I was very excited to be sent a copy of Fruit by Nancie McDermott for review. I used the book to make a delicious strawberry bread from the book with some of the harvest from our strawberry patch.
Fruit collects a dozen of the South’s bountiful locally sourced fruits in a cook’s basket of fifty-four luscious dishes, savory and sweet. Demand for these edible jewels is growing among those keen to feast on the South’s natural pleasures, whether gathered in the wild or cultivated with care. Indigenous fruits here include blackberries, mayhaws, muscadine and scuppernong grapes, pawpaws, persimmons, and strawberries. From old-school Grape Hull Pie to Mayhaw Jelly–Glazed Shrimp, McDermott’s recipes for these less common fruits are of remarkable interest–and incredibly tasty. The non-native fruits in the volume were eagerly adopted long ago by southern cooks, and they include damson plums, figs, peaches, cantaloupes, quince, and watermelons. McDermott gives them a delicious twist in recipes such as Fresh Fig Pie and Thai-Inspired Watermelon-Pineapple Salad.
McDermott also illuminates how the South–from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Lowcountry, from the Mississippi Delta to the Gulf Coast–encompasses diverse subregional culinary traditions when it comes to fruit. Her recipes, including a favorite piecrust, provide a treasury of ways to relish southern fruits at their ephemeral peak and to preserve them for enjoyment throughout the year.
About the Author:
Nancie McDermott is a food writer and cooking teacher specializing in the cuisine of Thailand, where she spent three years as a Peace Corps volunteer. Her food articles have appeared in numerous magazines, and she is the author of the perennially popular cookbook, Real Thai.
This is not what one could call a comprehensive cookbook as it is a relatively small volume but it does offer a number of different takes with a southern slant on cooking with fruit. The chapters are not broken down by season as many cookbooks of this ilk tend to be but rather by fruit. It does offer some of the more unique fruits not often seen in recipes like pawpaws and persimmons. There are also a goodly number of savory recipes including fruit which I just love to see as I often include some when I have it available in my dinners.
The recipes are well developed and well written which makes them easy to follow. My biggest issue with this cookbook is a total lack of pictures. If it’s frustrating for as experienced a baker as I am, I can only imagine what it would be like for an inexperienced cook. In fact, were I in a bookstore I would probably not purchase this book due to the lack of photos. I know they are expensive to produce but with a cookbook they make all the difference.
There are a number of recipes I’m looking forward to trying and the strawberry bread recipe is going to become a staple for me. Despite the lack of photos I suspect I’ll be turning to this little book quite often over the summer.
Debbie Gooch’s Fresh Strawberry Bread
Makes 2 loaves
2 cups whole strawberries
3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups plus 1 TBS sugar
1 TBS ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs, well beaten
sugar in the raw, optional
Preheat the oven to 350°
Coarsely chop the strawberries and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with the 1 TBS sugar and stir. Set aside.
Generously butter 2 9 x 5″ loaf pans
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the 2 cups of sugar, the salt, cinnamon, and the baking soda.
Add the pecans or walnuts and mix to coat with the flour.
Gently stir in the strawberries until they are well distributed.
Whisk the oil and beaten eggs together.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined.
Evenly divide the batter between the two buttered pans.
OPTIONAL: sprinkle with sugar in the raw
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 – 50 minutes until the loaves have risen and a tester comes out clean (NOTE: my loaves took closer to 1 hr. 10 minutes to bake)
How Was it?
This is a really lovely sweet bread. I will admit I was a little leery after first reading the recipe but I followed it and it made a moist bread that is not too sweet. If anything, the next time I will add more strawberries.
The cinnamon comes through and it pairs beautifully with the sweet fruit. I can see this becoming a regular in my baking routine. The base batter will work well with almost any fruit so there will be experiments.
Other Fruit Recipes:
- 2 cups whole strawberries
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups plus 1 TBS sugar
- 1 TBS ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs, well beaten
- sugar in the raw, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°
- Coarsely chop the strawberries and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with the 1 TBS sugar and stir. Set aside.
- Generously butter 2 9 x 5″ loaf pans
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the 2 cups of sugar, the salt, cinnamon, and the baking soda.
- Add the pecans or walnuts and mix to coat with the flour.
- Gently stir in the strawberries until they are well distributed.
- Whisk the oil and beaten eggs together.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined.
- Evenly divide the batter between the two buttered pans.
- OPTIONAL: sprinkle with sugar in the raw
- Bake in the preheated oven for 45 – 50 minutes until the loaves have risen and a tester comes out clean (NOTE: my loaves took closer to 1 hr. 10 minutes to bake)
- Cool on a wire rack before removing from pan.
- These loaves do freeze well and are even tastier the next day.