Real Food: Seasonal fruits sweetening up spring

By: Joanne Neft
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The rains have slowed down and it’s beginning to feel like we’re shaking hands with summer. Farmers market tables are groaning with spring onions, crispy asparagus, and one of the growers features several varieties of just-harvested mushrooms. Sounds like ideal ingredients for a quick and easy vegetable stir-fry. Now is the time to keep your eyes open for the first fruits of the season. Strawberries have been available for almost a month, and it’s time for cherries, always the perfect ending for a light spring meal. The question is: what’s the best dessert to serve? How about baking crisps, crumbles, cobblers, or buckles — all dessert variations for easy-to-prepare dishes that incorporate fruit. A crisp is made by mixing fruit with sugar and spices, and then topping it with butter, sugar and either flour or oatmeal, then the mixture is baked. A crumble is similar to a crisp, with a British twist. Crumbles call for the fruit mixed with sugar and spices on the bottom of the baking pan, then you make a topping of butter, flour and sugar. The topping for a crumble is often called a streusel. A cobbler is fruit topped with biscuit-like dough, then baked until the crust is golden brown and the fruit steaming. A buckle is an old American term for single layer cake made with fruit, mainly berries. Often the fruit is sprinkled on top of the batter before the cake is baked. It makes a very beautiful and unusual dessert. Learn more about Joanne Neft and Laura Kenny’s “Placer County Real Food” project and cookbook at ___________ Apple and Cherry Crisp 5 apples, peeled and sliced 2 cups regular red cherries, pitted ¼ cup sugar 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup oats ½ cup brown sugar ¼ cup flour ¼ teaspoon salt 4 tablespoons butter Vanilla ice cream Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine apples, cherries, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Place in a greased baking dish. Set aside. Combine oats, brown sugar, flour and salt in a small mixing bowl. Cut in butter until well mixed. Top fruit and bake until golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.