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Ripe: a fresh, colourful approach to fruits and vegetables
By Cheryl Sternman Rule
Running Press, Philadelphia
This is a hardback that will appeal to two categories of reader: those with an artistic bent, who expect cookbooks to be easy on the eye as well as packed with delicious ideas, and those who regard fresh seasonal produce as the most important part of our diet.
The author starts by telling us that this is not a healthy “eat your greens” treatise, that she knows that we have been told umpteen times we should eat more fruit and veggies because of their healthy properties, and because they “ tread lighter on the earth” and are more ethically sound than meat and cost less.
She suggests, instead, that we gorge on a wide range of quality produce because they are flavourful, versatile and delicious. The concept of this collection developed after she was shown a portfolio of stunning shots of fruit and vegetables in stages of production, from field to table. Paulette Philpot was the photographer behind the lens, and her work in this book is a fine tribute to her talent.
Colour is an important facet of fresh produce, and is used to group recipes into chapters, illustrated by close-ups of the raw product with a recipe. The pages are tinted according to the dominating colour, which starts with red to go with pictures of and suggestions for using beetroot.
Rule is an amusing writer with forthright opinions – not many cookbook authors will admit to a dislike of boiled beets as “…this makes them taste too much like feet… “ which is why she recommends using them raw or roasting them, and offers a single salad as recipe.
Blood oranges follow, with an easy dessert, and her no-cook cherry finale is an easy summer winner. Cranberries, radicchio, radishes and raspberries precede red peppers, rhubarb and tomatoes, with watermelon slushie making the final red offering.
Orange is next, opening with apricots and finishing with spiced caramelised yam wedges. In between, butternuts, carrots, peaches, papaya, mangoes and persimmons feature in salads, starters, smoothies and more.
In the yellow section there’s a recipe for chocolate-flecked banana buttermilk pancakes, American brunch treats to try over long weekends, while lemons, corn, pineapple and onion are used in simple recipes that let the flavours of the fruit or vegetable dominate.
Apples, artichokes, asparagus and avocados lead the green field, preceding bok choy, broccoli and brussel sprouts, while cucumbers, edamame (young soy beans) and kiwi fruit are treated simply. Leeks and limes, Swiss chard, spinach and zucchini complete the greens, while the next group focuses on produce that is purple or blue. White fruit and veggies make the final chapter.
This collection of Californian classics and innovative culinary ideas is vegetarian, will appeal to those who don’t like spending much time in the kitchen, and others who prefer to admire beautiful food photographs with their feet up. - Weekend Argus