September, my favourite month, is a little mixed up. It brings a relief from the heat of the summer one minute and a promise of winter to come the next. It’s the time of year when I want barbeque, beer and ice cream on Saturday and roast chicken dinner with gingerbread and hot chocolate for dessert on Sunday. That’s why September is the perfect month to read Out of the Orchard; Recipes for Fresh Fruit from the Sunny Okanagan by Julie Van Rosendaal. Many of the tree fruits featured in these recipes are in season in our area right now. There are recipes for light, fresh dishes perfect for those lingering summer days of September but you’ll also find comfort foods that warm up the cooler days and get you in an autumn frame of mind.
Julie Van Rosendaal is a long time food writer and editor, and a CBC Radio food columnist. Her blog, DinnerwithJulie.com, is a great way to spend an afternoon and get you inspired in the kitchen. You’ll also find information about her other published cookbooks, including one full of recipes for the family dog.
The author lives in Alberta but spent many summers in the Okanagan Valley of BC. The focus of the book is apples, but it includes more than 80 recipes for peaches, cherries, plums and apricots.
Part of the fun of tree fruit recipes are the wonderful names they have. It’s a testament to their versatility, taste and ease of preparation that they are so well loved, and named. There’s the slump (also called a grunt) or the clafouti, a cobbler or a crumble, a pandowdy and a gallette. They have
been used to make desserts fun and fancy for, I suspect, as long as there have been fruit trees and fire.
What drew me to this book was the idea of a entire book of fruit desserts, two of my favorite words that are only made better when put together. However, I was delighted to find that there were a number of savoury recipes that had never occurred to me. Sure, roast pork and applesauce is classic for a good reason but apples and salmon? The Cider-roasted Salmon with Thyme is a divine inspiration. The cider reduces quickly and is the perfect sweet, tangy counterpoint to the rich fish. Roast this in the oven on a cold day or on the BBQ in summer, it’s the best of both worlds.
The Puff Pastry Plum Tarts are fantastic for two reasons. The first is that I love plums but never know what to do with them. And I have a weakness for easy recipes that look as if you spent hours in the kitchen. These tarts work exactly that way. Store bought puff pastry is not a cheat, it’s just good time management. It creates a beautiful little boat to hold the elegantly arranged fruit. Tarted up (if you’ll excuse the expression) with whipped cream, ice cream or marscapone and a sprinkle of cinnamon, these can be elegant desserts or decadent brunch treats.
Apple (or peach, or cherry) pie may not be considered fine dining, but it’s hard to think of something I’d rather have for dessert on a late summer evening while I’m sipping a cold drink and thinking about my Christmas shopping at the same time.
Tracy Turlin is a freelance writer and dog groomer in London. Reach her at email@example.com
Recipes from Out of the Orchard: Recipes for Fresh Fruit from the Sunny Okanagan © Julie Van Rosendaal 2016. Reprinted with permission of TouchWood Editions
Puff Pastry Plum Tarts
Makes 4–6 tarts
Thawed puff pastry is easy to roll, top with juicy fruit, and bake into individual tarts that can be served in the morning as a sort of extra-fruity Danish, or for dessert with vanilla ice cream. The recipe is easily doubled and works well with fresh apricots, too. If you like, spread a layer of sweetened cream cheese or mascarpone on the pastry and lay the sliced fruit on top.
½–1 package puff pastry, thawed but cold
¼ cup (60 mL) sugar
2–3 Tbsp (30–45 mL) sliced almonds
2–3 plums, pitted and thinly sliced
1 egg, beaten (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out ¼-inch (6 mm) thick (or less) and cut into 3- to 4-inch (8–10 cm) squares.
Place the squares on a parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with about half the sugar and all of the almonds, then top with thinly sliced plums. Fold the edges over about ½ inch (1 cm) and, if you like, brush with some beaten egg.
Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.
Cider-Roasted Salmon with Thyme
I hadn’t considered the possibility of apples with salmon until writing this book. Turns out the reduced cider is delicious over the roasted fish and takes about as much time to cook down to a syrup as it does to prep and cook the salmon.
1 cup (250 mL) apple cider
1¾ lb (875 g) filet fresh salmon or steelhead trout
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2–3 sprigs fresh thyme
Heat the apple cider in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat and simmer until it’s reduced to about a quarter and has the consistency of runny syrup.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Put the salmon or steelhead trout skin side down on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and pull the leaves off of a few sprigs of thyme to sprinkle overtop.
Roast for 15–20 minutes, until the fat rises to the surface and the fish flakes at the thin end but is still moist in the middle. Serve drizzled with the reduced cider.