Review of Summer Berries & Autumn Fruits by Annie Rigg

Summer Berries, Autumn FruitsAnnie Rigg is a freelance food stylist and a prolific cookbook author. Her latest endeavor, Summer Berries & Autumn Fruits: 120 Sensational, Sweet & Savory Recipes appears to be the most beautiful of her collection, in my humble opinion. I have a few of Rigg's previous titles and this one seems to be a larger body of work and the selection of recipes are more varied. It may very well be that I need to pull out her titles and refresh my memory.

This title is a page turner - as I was reading it I found myself looking forward to the next recipe or beautiful photograph. Each page has a dish more fabulous than the last. The whole combination of sweet and savory with regard to berries and fruit dishes is appealing to me. I've always been a fan of brightening up a main course with citrus or adding fruit to bring another flavor to a protein entrée.

Recipes are organized by variety of fruit utilized starting with Citrus; Berries & Soft Fruit; Stone; Tropical; and Orchard, which is almost seasonal in nature. Selections vary from the usual suspects of cakes, cookies and pies but also include curds, marmalades, jams, bitters, salads and savory dishes.

From the first recipe, Bergamot and Mandarin Mini Financiers, I was taken with the different flavors she employs as well as the gorgeous photography by Tara Fisher. By the third recipe, Chocolate Orange Delice, which looks like it could be in the window of a French pastry shop, I knew this book was a keeper.

Orange Scented Churros with Caramel Orange Chocolate Sauce, Portuguese Lemon Tarts, and Lemon and Almond Roulade with Red Currants and Raspberries are a few of the dessert variety of recipes. Examples of savory recipes are: Lamb Kofte with Cherries, Turkish Pide with Lamb and Pomegrante Seeds and Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Fried Beef are standouts.

Ruby Grapefruit Curd, Seville Orange Marmalade with Whiskey and Ginger (a personal favorite of the author), and Pickled Redcurrants are tasty ways to preserve nature's bounty and enjoy a favorite flavor out of season. Rigg's recipes spark inspiration and I look forward to playing with more flavor combinations in my cooking.

I tested two recipes in this title - the Portuguese Lemon Tarts and the Lemon and Poppy Seed Madeleines. Portuguese Tarts have been on my culinary bucket list to make for quite a while and I welcomed the opportunity to mark that task as completed.

The dough for the Portuguese Lemon Tarts is very similar to puff pastry and while it takes a few hours of hands-off chill time - it was easy. I've made rough puff pastry before but this was my first attempt at a laminated dough. This is not a humble brag - this is an out and out full fledged brag: I made puff pastry and it was fabulous. Over the last few years, I have conquered pie and pastry crust and I never thought I would make homemade puff pastry but thanks to Annie Rigg - I can check that off my list as well.

The lemon custard for the Portuguese Lemon Tarts was a breeze. I wish the authorPortuguese lemon tarts would have specified an estimated time for thickening the custard. In my case it was about 15 minutes, but for someone who hasn't made custard before an approximation would be helpful. One other little thing that gave me pause is when water is used in a recipe, it isn't listed under the ingredients. I like to double check and prep in advance to have everything ready. If you are like me, read the recipe in total before proceeding. Not a major fault and I do know some authors don't list water as an ingredient but in a baking book it is helpful. My tarts were outstanding but those gorgeous little brown spots typical of a Portuguese tart never appeared and after 16 minutes (the recipe calls for 12 minutes) I was afraid I was going to burn my pastry. I tried putting them under the broiler for one minute and even sprinkling a little sugar with a brulee torch, but no. Regardless of that missing element - this pastry was perfect in every way and the custard was tangy and not overly sweet. I made only 12 tarts and will use the leftover custard to make a pie this week. The second log of pastry will be used to make a beef wellington type dish with leftover pot roast.

Lemon & poppy seed madeleinesAs a fan of lemon and poppy seed as a combination, the madeleines were another easy choice. Since moving to Colorado, I have made madeleines twice and while they were delicious they were off in texture. Madeleines will be made frequently in my home now that I have a recipe that works well and now that I know I can fill them with all sorts of deliciousness.

All in all, Summer Berries & Autumn Fruits earns a spot on my shelves and deserves a spot on yours as well.

Photos for test recipes by Jenny Hartin. Jenny is an enthusiastic home cook who lives in Colorado, owns the website The Cookbook Junkies and runs the Facebook group also called The Cookbook Junkies. The Facebook group is a closed group of 30,000 cookbook fans - new members are welcome.

Lemon and Poppy Seed Madeleines

This is a multi-cultural bake if ever there was one, with a nod to France from whence the buttery madeleine originated, a wink to the US and Eastern Europe for the addition of poppy seeds, and a cheeky grin to Great Britain for the nifty use of lemon curd. Madeleine pans can vary in size and shape, so the number of cakes that you'll get from this recipe will vary according to whatever pan you're using. They are best eaten on the day of making.

Makes about 20Lemon & poppy seed madeleines

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon poppy seeds, plus extra for scattering
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of sea salt
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
12-15 teaspoons lemon curd (see page 33 for homemade)
For the lemon glaze
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, plus extra if needed

Melt the butter and use a little to grease the inside of the madeleine pans, ensuring that you get it into every groove and corner. Dust with a little flour, tapping out the excess, then pop in the fridge while you prepare the batter.

Sift the flour and baking powder together in a bowl, stir in the poppy seeds, and set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a hand-held mixer), beat the eggs, sugar, and salt for about 5 minutes (longer if using a hand-held mixer) until thick, pale, and doubled in volume. Add the zest and mix to combine.

Using a large metal spoon and a figure-eight action, fold in the sifted dry ingredients. Carefully pour the melted butter around the edges of the bowl and fold in. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Drop a rounded teaspoon of batter into the middle of each madeleine indentation and gently spread to fill, leaving a little dip in the middle.

Spoon a scant teaspoonful of lemon curd into the dip and cover with a little more batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 12 minutes until well-risen and golden.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze: Whisk together the lemon juice and confectioners' sugar until smooth. You want the glaze to be thick enough to just coat the back of a spoon, so add more sugar or a drop of water to adjust the consistency if necessary. Turn the madeleines onto a wire rack, let cool for a couple of minutes, and then brush with a little glaze and finish with a light scattering of poppy seeds.

Portuguese Lemon Tarts

My pastel de nata, or custard tarts, aren't quite classic, as they are laced with lemon, but hopefully they are simpler to make. The pastry dough, which is similar to puff, takes a bit of forward planning and needs to be started the day before you plan to bake. Nothing, in my opinion, compares to homemade, but if you're short on time, then store-bought all-butter puff pastry would make an acceptable substitute. They are best eaten on the day of making.

Makes 20 to 24Portuguese lemon tarts

For the dough
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
a good pinch of sea salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

For the filling
1 1/2 cups whole milk
juice of 2 lemons
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 level tablespoons cornstarch
6 large egg yolks

Equipment
Two 12-hole muffin pans or similar-sized individual pie pans

Start by making the dough: Pour the flour into a mixing bowl, add the salt and 3/4 cup cold water, and mix until you have an almost smooth dough. Lightly dust the work surface with flour, remove the dough from the bowl, and knead very briefly until smooth. Pat into a square, cover with an upturned bowl, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Lightly dust the work surface with flour again and roll the dough into a neat rectangle three times as long as it is wide (about 18 x 6 inches) and with one of the shorter sides nearest to you. Mentally divide the rectangle of dough into thirds-each third a rough square shape-and spread 9 tablespoons of the butter evenly over the middle third. Fold the bottom third up to cover the butter and the top third down to make a neat square shape. Turn the dough 90 degrees clockwise so that the open flap side is now on the left. Roll into a rectangle again and fold the bottom third up into the middle and the top third down again. Carefully wrap with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Lightly dust the work surface with flour and again roll out the dough into a rectangle (about 18 x 6 inches). Fold and roll the dough as before, then chill again for 1 hour.

Lightly dust the work surface once again and roll out the dough into a neat rectangle about 16 x 20 inches. Spread the remaining butter over the surface, being careful not to tear the dough. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a tight spiral log, trim the ends, and cut the log in half to make handling easier. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and chill for about 4 hours or overnight until firm.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the milk, ⅔ cup cold water, and the lemon juice slowly to just below boiling point. In a bowl, whisk the lemon zest with the sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks. Pour in half the milk mixture, whisk until smooth, then return to the pan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until it has thickened and no longer tastes of cornstarch. Remove from the heat, pour into a clean bowl, and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool, then chill until needed.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Lightly dust the work surface with flour and cut the dough logs into 1/2-inch thick slices. Roll out each one to a thin disc about 4 inches across. Press the dough into the pans so that it comes up the sides. Don't worry about trimming off the edges. Scoop a rounded teaspoonful of the custard into each hole. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 25 minutes until the filling is tinged with brown and the dough is crisp and golden.

Leave in the pans for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack until cold.

Summer Berries & Autumn Fruits by Annie Rigg (c) 2016 Kyle Books, and the photographs (c) Tara Fisher.

1 Comment

  • lsgordon  on  7/19/2016 at 6:14 PM

    Awesome review of the cookbook! I'm now going to purchase the cookbook now!

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