Cookbook Giveaway: Seasonal Fruit Desserts

Share:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on Tumblr

Fruit Desserts.Madison

Six years ago Deborah Madison started working on a cookbook she called “Desserts for the Pastry Impaired.”

“Pastry chefs are exacting people who have a deep sense about measurement and clean aprons,” she explains. “Cooking is more intuitive, more relaxed, with more opportunities to taste and adjust.” She wanted to write a less rigid book about desserts.

As she wrote the book, the focus gradually changed to fruit, a natural for someone with a bent towards produce. “When you’re working on a book it talks to you in different ways over time,” she says. Apparently it talked to the editor in a different way too. Madison found out her editor regarded her title as a placeholder. “That kind of changed things,” Deborah admits good-naturedly.

She was already three years into the project when it shifted, but that was fine. Seasonal Fruit Desserts: From Orchard, Farm, and Market stayed “in the background, although I was always working on it.” 

Here’s what she was doing in the foreground. She wrote three other cookbooks: What We Eat When We Eat Alone: Stories and 100 RecipesVegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen; and Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen.

No stranger to working on challenging projects in tandem, Deb had opened a restaurant during the first two years of writing her enormous reference work, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. It took another four years to finish. While managing a farmer’s market she wrote Local Flavors, visiting 100 farmer’s markets around the country.

This most recent cookbook about fruit desserts lent itself to a longer writing period anyway. Because the key ingredients were seasonal, sometimes she had to leave her home in New Mexico and travel to find particular fruits and work with them.

“New Mexico isn’t exactly fruit rich or dependable. If there’s a late freeze, it’s not uncommon to have a year in New Mexico without stone fruit,” she explains. Even the book’s photo shoot took place during two seasons: One in October, at the end of the stone fruit season and the beginning of fall fruits; and another in the spring.

“I like to think about a subject for a long time; travel and read and visit farmer’s markets and live a life that becomes a background for what I’m writing,” says Deborah. “One of the things that’s hard for food writers today with such involvement with blogs and social media is feeling like you have to be visible all the time and have a bottomless pit of ideas. But what I write about has to come out of my life, and that means taking the time to live it.“ 

Deborah’s gorgeously-photographed new book contains recipes for compotes, tarts and pies, cakes, cobblers and crisps, puddings and gelees, sauces, and fruits that go well with cheese. So if you’d like a copy of Seasonal Fruit Desserts, please write me a note about which fruit you love best and how you cook or bake with it.

Contest rules: You must live in the US (Sorry, fellow Canadians). One entry per person. I will pick a winner by April 19, 2010 and email that person. If the winner does not respond within a week, I will choose someone else.

Disclaimers: I’ve known Deborah for more than 10 years. Because she’s a friend, I am incapable of anything other than wild enthusiasm about her new book, hence this interview rather than a book review. I asked her publisher for a copy to give away on this blog.

Update: Winner is Lisa Waldschmidt. See her comment below.


  1. says

    Yes, I’d love a copy of Madison’s new cookbook. Her Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks ever.

    My favorite fruits are berries (whichever berry is in season and local).

    My favorite fruit dessert is a berry clafoutis. But I also enjoy turning berries into homemade sorbet, which I make on the tart side.

  2. says

    I have most of Deborah Madison’s other books, so I better get to ordering these most recent ones and of course the Seasonal Fruit Desserts book. I love that idea that it is “a less rigid book about desserts,” as that is how I cook…everything but dessert.

    Living in Japan, I’m not eligible for the cookbook giveaway, but I’ll answer anyway.

    About 15 years ago, we discovered an organic citrus grower who lived on a teeny island off Hiroshima. Her name was Mochizuki-san. Every winter I ordered a few cases of oranges to make marmalade. As time went along, she began to call us to ask how we liked the fruit that year. The thing is, she often called during Christmas dinner. Also, her Japanese is very, very “local,” almost a dialect, really, and quite difficult to decipher. “Mama!” she’d boom at the end of the receiver, then we’d have a fairly incomprehensible conversation before I’d just give up and pass the phone to my Japanese farmer husband.

    It turns out, her husband was hospitalized and she was lonely. And that’s how we became friends. She visited us one time and we made the trek to her island about a year later. Her husband has been dead for about 10 years and she is now about 84.

    She sends us boxes of oranges, tangerines, native Japanese grapefruits, lemons and a variety of native citrus never seen in the U.S.. So citrus is my flavor for desserts. Usually lemon, but often orange or tangerine. The season is of course early winter to late spring, but we occasionally get the random windfall box or perhaps a box of something she has kept in storage. And we feel fortunate indeed that Mochizuki-san is still growing such intensely flavored citrus. For now.


    • diannejacob says

      What a beautiful essay, Nancy! When I read the part about “fairly incomprehensible conversation” I laughed out loud.

  3. says

    Hi Diane, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone was published in 1997, no?

    I love cooking with persimmons. They can be used for sweet or savory, for crunch or soft gooeyness, with mild or loud flavors. Very versatile.

    Thanks for writing about Deborah Madison’s new book. So interesting to get a glimpse into her creative process. I’m a big fan of hers!

    • diannejacob says

      Yes. thanks for the correction. I even have the book and did not check the date!

  4. athena says

    FRUIT ! LOVE them…. but what to do with them…?
    We are making GREAT efforts to focus more and more on just eating vegetarian meals, we still eat meat, but it gets harder and harder to digest after not having it on a daily basis anymore.
    So, I remain very hopeful and open …
    We buy 99% organic…!!
    Would LOVE to win a GREAT cookbook
    have the best day

  5. says

    That sounds like a great book to have around!

    My favorite fruit, in baking, is probably blueberry. i love that they have no seeds, that they are just big enough to squeeze between your teeth and when they do, they ooze juices tasting of summer. even better is when those juices ooze out during baking – yyuuuuummmm! i make cakes, muffins, scones, even savory sauces with blueberries, blueberry-lemon jam and lots more!

  6. says

    Deborah Madison is new to me. And so is many many cuisines, dishes, desserts, fruits, flavors; I always feel run out of time.. there is such a huge list of ‘things to do’, places and foods to explore!

    I am new to the western food world. Back where we grew up, fruits were/are mostly eaten just like that. Fresh, after a heavy meal, for breakfast, on fast days. Fresh fruits (occassionaly juiced) – that make our day. No compote, no poach, no caramelised, no FROZEN fruit. Only fresh fruits from the farmers market (no super store). But with Dorie Greenspan, with Julia Child, and with several other Gurus, I have tumbled into their kitchen and discovering how cinnamon enhances the flavor of apples, how a little nutmeg warms up a pumpkin. How adventurous! At times I feel like little Alice in Dessertland and there’s a long long way to go.

    Would a Deborah Madison encourage and boost me?

    Stars, guide my way.

  7. says

    Oh wow, this book sounds fantastic! I am really looking for new seasonal concepts.

    It may sound boring, but I am still a loyalist to bananas. I have them daily in a morning smoothie, but I also bake them into a naturally sugar-free banana bread. Everyone simply loves it, and it is something you can actually eat for breakfast without getting a sugar rush (and crash).

  8. Candace says

    I like what she says about living “a life that becomes a background for what I’m writing,” That’s not easy to do unless you’re willing to place yourself out into the huge expanse of a strawberry field with its endless rows of berries. You get there as early in the morning as possible, while the dew is still on the plants. The leaves caress you while you gather the huge succulent berries and the rich brown earth on either side of the row points the way.

    It’s also fun to pick blueberries. A tin coffee can works best for this. The berries make this funny “ding” as they hit the inside of the can. Then, the first thing after you’ve gathered your bounty for the day is contemplate the huge blueberry pie that you’ll make when you arrive home, using cinnamon, of course. I have a friend who once owned a blueberry farm. She shared this secret: cinnamon brings out the best in the blueberries. She’s right.

    Then there’s raspberries. The leaves are a little more prickly and don’t feel so nice against your skin, so it’s a good idea to wear a long sleeved shirt. Raspberries make wonderful freezer jam, by the way. There is nothing like it. It’s great for making raspberry bars with an oatmeal cookie base, a layer of jam and the remainder of the dough sprinkled on the top. These are my son, Zack’s, favorite cookie bar, by the way.

    Peaches are also fun to pick. You get to “hand pick” your idea of the perfect, sun-ripened peach. What could be better than that? All you need to do when you get home is to devour one straight out of the box. You might want to slice some up for the rest of your family, though, and serve them with fresh whipped cream. Yum!

  9. says

    How wonderful to get to talk about Deborah Madison! I’ve known her since a mutual friend brought her for dinner at my house in the mid1980s and I use her big vegetarian book all the time. My favorite fruit? That’s a hard question. It is usually whatever is about. But then again, maybe it is black Mission figs which I learned to love when I lived in Sonoma and could pick them off the trees when they were half dried in October. The sugars were concentrated and when made into whole fig preserves with lots of lemon and crystallized ginger?! Well! They make an amazing dessert on fresh sourdough with thick cream cheese or creme fraiche. Or poach them with wine and fresh rosemary. Or oven-dry them with herbs and spices and balsamic vinegar and then serve them with a cheese course. Figs remain special to me now that I live in the city and must buy them by the basket. Now their price makes them even more special and the thrill of a trip to Sonoma or out to Davis to forage for figs increases the thrill and enhances the flavor of whatever I make with them. Last time we foraged, I came home with several freezer bags of figs and use them as a filling for old-fashioned oat bars.

  10. Cheri says

    Living in Ohio, we are blessed with many juicy fruits. We are lucky to have blackberries, strawberries and raspberries growing wild around the edges of the woods we live in. What prickly “fun” to forage for those little gems. We keep it simple with those, like in yogurt & granola or snacking with a cookie.

    If we had to choose, I guess that blueberries, cherries, peaches, plums, and apples would be our favorites.
    Keeping in mind that I come from Amish country, we enjoy crisps, cobblers, brown betty’s, and the like. The book that you describe above sounds like it will be a wonderful addition to the way I bake. (not too fussy) Since your cookbooks are what we refer to the most, “Seasonal Fruit Desserts” will be a welcome addition to the shelf (no matter if I win it or buy it).

  11. says

    What a good idea for a book! I’d love to have it on my shelf.

    After the long Chicago winter, I’m desperate for blueberries to come into season. I could eat a bucket of them just plain, but dearly love them for their versatility. Pork loin with blueberry-cumin sauce is a favorite, as are wild mushrooms with blueberries and thyme; but for desserts, I love nothing more than a bowl of thick, homemade yogurt with gingered blueberries on top.

  12. says

    Raspberries, blackberries and apricots are my favorite fruits in desserts, often starring in pies and cobblers from my kitchen. Most people don’t believe me when I say the best crust recipe is from the 1950’s Betty Crocker. It’s her ‘shortcut recipe’ made with oil. I’ve taught many novice bakers to bake pies with the recipe and they’re always successful!
    I love what Deborah said about bloggers and the incessant need to be visible with an endless list of ideas. Thanks for introducing your friend to us!

  13. says

    I’ve got ‘Local Flavors’ by Deborah Madison which I rediscovered on my cookbook shelves recently. As a general rule I do not like cooked fruit, I like to eat them fresh. But since reading this entry, if I had to pick, and more strongly put, what I crave at this moment is a plum tart done right. Haven’t had it in years that perfect tartness indebted in dough, just a perfect bite!!

  14. Brigette says

    Peaches. My favorite way to prepare them is simply, in a cobbler, served with vanilla ice cream.

    I was raised by my grandparents, who loved to garden and cook with fresh foods. Every year we would drive to farms in Kansas to pick our own fruits.

    My grandmother was also a pastry chef at a truck stop cafe (and the dishwasher!). She could make the most delicious desserts in record time, from scratch.

    My childhood memories of going to farms to pick our own foods then watching my grandmother create wonderful dishes from them made a lasting impact on how I view food and the process of preparing food. She made her food with love: for those people in her life that she cared about and for herself, because she received so much joy from the process (therapeautic in a sense). She passed that joy on to me, and I am so thankful for that.

    @brigettebrugada (twitter)

  15. Julia says

    Gravenstein apples announce the coming of autumn. You rarely find them in grocery stores; their lumpy and pale exteriors don’t stack neatly in Whole Foods displays. But these homely beauties make the best, BEST best apple pie. My mother buys a case each September, peels and slices them, tosses the slices with sugar and cinnamon, and freezes them in pie-ready quantities. Frozen Gravensteins are the first bit of “stocking up for winter,” in Mom’s house at least.

    • Candace says

      I agree. There are just no better apple for fall pies. Funny, one late summer/early fall I did what your mother did. I just froze the apple mixture in pie pans and then tranferred them to freezer bags. Worked great!

  16. says

    There’s no picking one fruit, because it depends on what’s in season. It’s why there are so few chocolate recipes on Kitchen Parade, it has no ‘season’! That said — I am much partial to blueberries, cranberries, rhubarb, apples, peaches. Oh wait, there I go again.

    PS Didn’t know you were a fellow Canadian. Me, half but much connected.

  17. says

    That’s easy- the fruit I love best is the mango. I love using it in simple ways, like for making smoothies. Raw mango is wonderful for pickling and for making tangy drinks and for mango rice and mango dals.

  18. Lisa Waldschmidt says

    I saw Deborah Madison speak at an old run down lodge in the Cuyahoga National Forest on a snowy weeknight just days after I had moved to Akron, Ohio from Northern California. It was a poorly lit hall with folding chairs and a rickety podium. I felt so far away from my friends and my life in California. I was still a little shell shocked over the whole move – one that was never in my plans to make until life and the bad economy forced it on us.
    After she gave a great speech on eating locally, about her life in Arizona and her years spent in California I approached her. I told her I had recently moved from the West Coast. She was instantly sympathetic and so sweet. I felt like here was someone who really understood what the move had been like for me. No more the year long bounty of the Marin Farmer’s market. No more stopping at roadside stands to buy a pound of huge cherries and eating them all in the car while I drove. No more tiny organic strawberries we couldn’t resist buying to eat as we walked through the Sunday morning market, knowing they would never make it home and into a tart. We sounded like to ex-pats talking of home. She was so genuine and warm to a stranger.
    I will make her fresh strawberry tart that is sure to be in the cookbook and Ms. Madison and I will both know it would have been even more amazing with those little organic strawberries from that guy’s truck off the 101 but she will be happy that I searched out the Ohio farmer here who sells his at the weekend market with the same love and passion as that guy in Marin only the berries are a little larger and not quite as sweet but still great and local and perfect for a tart.

  19. says

    Huckleberries! I grew up eating them–our family would head to the hills and pick buckets of them in late summer, but now I live far from abundant huckleberry country so I hoard my little freezer bags of them for months to make them last. Would love some fresh ideas on parceling them out!

  20. says

    This looks like such a wonderful cookbook. I love fruit desserts. In the fall I crave apples. Warm apples with cinnamon call my name that time of the year. Of course, when spring and summer hit, I am all citrus! Lemon poppysead loaf, lemon tarts, and lime pie. They just remind me of sunshine!

  21. says

    Deborah Madison ROCKS! I would love her cookbook. Every gem she writes is filled with wonderful recipes: clearly written, local foods, healthy and just downright delicious.

  22. says

    Dear Fig, favorite fruit of my life, where are thou?
    Last year I baked Mission figs topped with small pieces of farmer’s cheese that I had made. Delicious, but also a reminder of my current limited access to the beloved fruit. Baskets lined with fig leaves and full of ripe, juicy fruit are a thing of my past. Sigh! I console myself with berries, readily available and so versatile. Blueberry sorbet is a winner and also apple and blueberry preserve.

  23. says

    I rarely cook fruit. I like them fresh, as is, in season, when they taste the best. Cooking changes them. Turns them into something else. When I do cook ’em, I’ll make a crostata with apples or berries. Another oportunity to cook fruit is when they are about to get old. I miss my grandma’s fruit compote but have no idea how she made it.
    Fruit aside, I found many words of wisdom in this post about taking the time to live and to write.

  24. says

    How exciting to know there’s another Deborah Madison cookbook to be had! :)

    I love fruit in general, and use it often at our house. Almost every day we have fresh fruit chopped into a green salad or served as a side dish. We usually have wine at night, and often a frozen fruit smoothie in the morning. Strawberries, blackberries, apples, pears, fresh figs (yum!) — of all the fruit I love, though, perhaps my favorite puts in its appearance during the summer months — peaches. I love them fresh, in pies or tarts, as part of white peach sangria, but especially in freshly made ice cream.

  25. Adanna says

    My favorite baking fruit is apples. By August, I’ve pulled out my make-every-year apple recipes and am waiting for the weather to cool down enough to bake. But then there are blueberries in summer — it wouldn’t be summer without Mom’s Blueberry Coffeecake.