August 20, 2004
fruit salad with attitude
Wednesday, August 18
It was a bit cooler today (compared to the past several days), and I made fruit salad. I don't often make fruit salad, but this isn't just an ordinary fruit salad; roasted fruit salad. Doesn't sound very summery, but it actually is - the recipe, by Trish Deseine in her book mes petits plats preferes (2002, Marabout), calls for peach, red plum, fig, and grape, all of which (except for grape, for which I don't know because I see grapes all year around) are in season now.
Luckily, I had found figs were on sale at one of my local stores (they are pretty expensive over here, specially those "imported" from California), so I took this chance and got all the fruits listed above, plus blackberries (they were on sale, too).
The fruit salad, as its name Salade de fruits rotis au beurre sale implies, is a "salad" of fruits roasted with salted butter. But I usually buy unsalted butter as I use butter almost exclusively in baking, so I just used the unsalted butter and simply sprinkled with French sea salt. I also substituted unrefined sugar for cassonade, a kind of French brown sugar that I couldn't find in my neiboughood.
A casserole of rinsed, pitted and cut up fruits sprinkled with sugar, butter, and salt went to the oven and cooked for about 20 minutes, and came out beautifully; the smell of slightly burnt and caramelized butter and sugar was so sweet and mellow I couldn't resist picking up some fruits, still sizzling hot, and popping them into my mouth... hhhhhot, and ssssweet. I instantly loved it.
Now, other than its own uniqueness for "fruit salad", another reason the recipe caught my eyes was a small note; as a serving suggestion, it mentioned good vanilla ice cream and creme anglais infused with laurel leaves. Laurel leaves for creme anglais? I read the line twice, and mildly startled with that idea. I had never heard of such a thing, but another recipe in the same book also uses bay leaves for poaching figs in port. I was being very curious and decided to give it a try.
Since I could not find a recipe for creme anglais infused with laurel, I just put a bay leaf in the milk for the cream. It was my first time to make creme anglais for the past ten years or so and I have to say I was being a bit nervous - and I messed up. I was being carefully trying not to have the cream curdled up, but it did; the recipe for creme anglais in the book used milk and cream, and no cornstarch, and I omitted cream - that could have been a factor. Anyways, as I couldn't bother to make another batch of creme anglais from scratch, I took a short cut and put the bay leaf in a very small amount of whole milk and added it to mascarpone cheese to make some cream thing. Good enough.
I thought the salad was best eaten hot right out of the oven. Although it can just be reheated later, it could get a little soggy over time. Either way, it is definitely better hot/warm, as it tasted a bit too heavy to me when it was cooled to room temperature, perhaps because of butter. Hot dessert with cold sauce (or vice versa) is always my favorite, and it was so with this one - sizzling hot fruits with cold cream sauce made a hearty dessert, even though it might not sound so appealing to those of you who are currently suffering through a truly unbearable summer....
By the way, laurel miraculously worked good with the sweet cheese cream (and the bodgy creme anglais as well, I tasted it a bit before saying goodbye to it). I am sure the sald would have been just as good with cream without bayleaf (such as vanilla ice cream), but a slight scent of laurel was really pleasant and I think it was nice.
posted by chika at: 8/20/2004 08:31:00 AM