Ripe, sweet fruit from Triangle farmers' markets is perfect as is: nakedly raw. Yet, to quote the playwright Oscar Wilde, "Nothing succeeds like excess." The following recipes from delish cookbooks skyrocket juicy produce into elevated territory that deserves attention.



The Mediterranean Table
Vibrant, Delicious and Naturally Healthy Food for Warm Days Beside the Sea
Compiled by Alice Sambrook;
edited by Miriam Catley
Ryland Peters & Small




Tomato, Melon and Feta Salad

Perfect food for hot-weather dining! Sweet melon combined with juicy tomatoes and contrasted with salty feta makes this a lovely dish. For a saltier contrast, substitute the feta with blue cheese and add sliced Parma ham. Serve with crusty bread to mop up every last drop of deliciousness.

1/2 Galia or other green-fleshed
   melon, peeled, deseeded and diced
1/2 cantaloupe melon, peeled,
  deseeded and diced
10 ounces tomatoes, sliced into wedges
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
Freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 ounces feta cheese, diced

Toss together all the melon and tomato pieces with the oil, vinegar and chives in a serving dish. Season well with pepper.


Gently mix in the cheese and serve at once.


Variation: Follow the instructions above, replacing the feta with 2 ounces of blue cheese, such as Stilton or Gorgonzola, crumbled into pieces, and then stir in 3 slices of Parma ham/prosciutto, shredded. Serve at once.


Makes 4 servings



Wild Rice With Artichoke, Peaches and Pine Nuts

Wild rice is actually an edible grass, which has a slightly nutty and chewy flavor. It forms the base of a great grain salad – just add your favorite veggies and a simple vinaigrette.


1 cup wild rice
1-1/2 cups artichokes soaked
   water, rinsed and drained
A bunch of freshly chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup chopped peaches


3 tablespoons walnut oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan or pot over a high heat. Add the wild rice, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Drain any excess water and set aside.


For the dressing, whisk together the walnut oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a large bowl.


Once the rice has cooled a bit but is still slightly warm, mix in the dressing with the artichokes, half of the coriander/cilantro, pine nuts and peaches. Serve with an extra garnish of coriander/cilantro.


Serves 2-4





FRUIT: A Savor the South Cookbook
By Nancie McDermott
University of North Carolina Press






Fresh Peach Chutney

I love the sunny color and piquant flavors of this British-style chutney. It pairs wonderfully with roast chicken, spicy shrimp curry, rice pilaf or anything sizzling-hot off the grill.


3 cups coarsely chopped ripe
1 cup coarsely chopped apple
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper,
   any color
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped candied ginger
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
1 1/2teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt


In a 3-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, combine the peaches, apples, onions and bell peppers. Stir with a large spoon to mix them well.


Add the raisins, candied ginger (if using), sugar, vinegar, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes and salt. Stir well. Bring to a lively boil over medium-high heat. Stir to coat all the ingredients evenly.


Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle but active simmer. Cook, stirring now and then, until the chutney has thickened a little, formed a pleasing syrup and developed its flavor, 30 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature.


Cover and store in the refrigerator up to 2 3 weeks.


Makes 3 cups



Blackberry Slump

What a forlorn little name for a simply delightful and homey dessert! Also known as a grunt, this simple treat begins with ripe blackberries simmered with sugar and a little flour to make a thick, jammy berry compote. Next you stir together a very soft biscuit dough and scoop it into walnut-sized dumplings, which you drop onto the sweet, bubbling berries and their luscious juice. Simmered briefly, the dumplings puff up nicely into pleasing pillows of berry-kissed dough. Serve your blackberry slump warm, and consider adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a dollop of whipped cream, or a generous pour of cream, half-and-half or evaporated milk.


For the blackberries:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-1/2 cups blackberries
1/2 cup water


For the dumplings:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup whole milk


To make the berry compote, combine the sugar, flour and salt in a medium saucepan or a small Dutch oven. Stir with a fork to mix them well. Add the berries and water and stir gently.


Place over medium-high heat and bring the berries to a gentle boil. Adjust the heat to maintain a lively simmer and stir well. Cook, stirring often, until the berries are surrounded by a thickened, shiny sauce, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.


To make the dumplings, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, and stir with a fork to mix them well. Toss the butter into the flour mixture. Using your hands, press and squeeze the butter to incorporate it into the flour mixture, working it until you have a dry mixture with pea-sized lumps. Add the milk and stir well to make a very soft dough, like biscuit dough only more moist.


Return the berry compote to the stove and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.


Adjust the heat to maintain the boil. Using two teaspoons or a tablespoon, scoop up the dough and drop it onto the bubbling surface of the berry compote, making walnut-sized dumplings.


When all the dumplings are in, reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer and cover. Cook undisturbed for 15 minutes or until the dumplings are dry and firm and cooked through. If you aren't sure they're done, remove and pull apart a large dumpling. Remove from the heat and serve hot or warm.


Note: While a slump is best served as soon as it is ready, you can cool it and keep refrigerated for one day. To serve, reheat gently, adding a few tablespoons of water to the sauce, which will have thickened.


Makes 4 6 servings




The Asheville Bee Charmer Cookbook
By Carrie Schloss
Agate Surrey






Lemon Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes

Adding ricotta to pancake batter gives you a super fluffy pancake with an almost creamy texture. Throw in some fresh lemon zest and blueberries and you have a rich, delicious breakfast treat. I always make a big batch of pancakes and refrigerate or freeze the leftover cooked ones. That way, I can have great pancakes in a flash, any time I want.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons acacia honey
1-1/2 cups whole milk ricotta
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
Zest of 1 large lemon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3-1/2 cups fresh blueberries, divided
1/4 - 1/2 cup blueberry honey


Place a griddle over medium heat (it will take about 5 to 7 minutes to reach the right temperature). Preheat the oven to 150 or 200 degrees.


In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the acacia honey, ricotta, eggs, buttermilk, lemon zest and vanilla. Pour the ricotta mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture. Mix well with a large spoon until the ingredients are just incorporated. Set aside.


Once the griddle is hot and just beginning to smoke, grease it with nonstick cooking spray.


Pour 1/4 cup of the batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Place about 12 of the blueberries on each pancake. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until you see bubbles on the top and the bottom is lightly browned. Gently flip the pancakes (you don't want to smash the blueberries) and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until they are cooked through and lightly spring back to the touch.


Repeat this process until you have used all of the batter. Reserve the extra blueberries (you should have about 1 cup left) for the garnish. To keep the freshly made pancakes warm, place them on a platter in the oven as you continue to make the rest.


To serve, place two or three pancakes on each of four plates. Top each serving with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the blueberry honey and garnish with 1/4 cup of the remaining blueberries. Serve immediately.


Store leftover pancakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.


Makes 4 servings


Blackberry Mead Poached Pears With Honey Ricotta

I usually use a nice red wine to poach pears, but the mead, mixed with some fresh berries, adds a unique flavor and gorgeous color. Served with some ricotta and a drizzle
of blackberry honey, this is a flavorful, eye-catching dessert.


2 cups blackberry mead
3/4 cup blackberry honey, divided
Peel of 1 lemon
Heaping 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blackberries, smashed
2 cups water
4 ripe but firm Bosc or Anjou pears, peeled and cored
2 cups whole-milk ricotta


In a medium saucepan, combine the mead, 1/2 cup of the honey, the
lemon peel, the blackberries and the water. Carefully stand the pears upright in the liquid and bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until a paring knife can be easily inserted into the pears.


Remove the pan from the heat and let the pears cool in the cooking liquid. Cover and refrigerate the pears until they are completely chilled. Remove the pears from the cooking liquid; discard the cooking liquid. Before serving, let the pears come back to room temperature.


To serve the pears, place 1/2 cup of the ricotta in each of four small bowls. Drizzle each bowl with 1 tablespoon of the remaining blackberry honey, top
with a pear and serve.


Store leftover cooked pears separately in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.


Note: Mead is often sold at farmers' markets, although you can usually find it at liquor stores, too. If you can't find blackberry mead, try this recipe with a different kind.


Makes 4 servings




Eat Drink Live
150 Recipes for Morning,
Noon and Night

By Fran Warde
Photography by Debi Treloar
Ryland Peters & Small






Nectarine Tart

The combination of crumbly, sweet pastry tart and slivers of juicy nectarines makes for a sensational blend of delicate summer flavors. It would also be good with fresh plums.

1-2/3 cups plain/all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter,
   cut into small pieces
1 cup icing/confectioners' sugar,
   plus extra for dusting
2-3 egg yolks
10-12 nectarines or peaches,
   about 3 pounds
Vanilla ice cream, to serve
8-inch loose-based tart pan


Put the flour, butter and sugar in a food processor and blend until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and blend again until it forms a dough ball.


Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.


Knead the pastry briefly to soften, then roll out the pastry into a large circle at least 2 inches wider than the base of the tin. Use the rolling pin to help you carefully lift up the pastry and lay it over the top of the tart pan.


Gently press the pastry down into the pan, making sure there are no air pockets, then use a sharp knife to trim off the excess pastry.


Chill the tart shell for 15 minutes.*


Cut the nectarines or peaches in half, twist to remove the stones/pits, then cut the fruit into slices. Remove the chilled tart shell from the fridge and, working from the outside, arrange the nectarine or peach slices in circles on the pastry, until all the fruit has been used.


Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300 degrees and cook for a further 40 minutes until the fruit is tender and golden and the pastry is crisp.


Dust the tart all over with icing/confectioners' sugar then serve hot or cold with scoops of good-quality vanilla ice cream.


*Note: This pastry is very fragile, but don't despair. Just line your tart pan as best you can, and then add extra pieces of pastry to patch up any cracks or holes.


Tips: Instead of vanilla ice cream, serve with a generous dollop of Greek yogurt drizzled with honey. Use small tart pans, about 3 inches in diameter, to make individual tarts.


Serves 6-8


Watermelon Granita

On a warm summer day, this granita is cooling and very refreshing to eat. The fresh ginger gives it a subtle but delicious twist.


2 pounds peeled and seeded
   watermelon flesh
3 inches fresh ginger, peeled and
   finely diced, to serve


Check that all the seeds are removed from the watermelon, then put the flesh in a blender and purèe until smooth.


Transfer to an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions until crystallized and firm. Alternatively, put the fruit purèe in a plastic box in the freezer and, every 20 minutes, remove and break up the ice crystals with a fork. Repeat at least 3 times to achieve a good, firm consistency.


When frozen, serve the watermelon granita in chilled glasses, topped with the finely diced ginger.


Serves 4




Fair Foods
The Most Popular and Offbeat Recipes
From America's State & County Fairs

By George Geary
Santa Monica Press


Tri-Berry Spiked Shakes

Made with fresh berries, these colorful shakes are delicious treats on hot days.

2 pints fresh mixed berries
   (strawberries, blackberries and
2 scoops vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Chambord liqueur


Place berries, ice cream, sugar and liqueur in a blender. Fill the remainder
with the ice and blend until smooth.


Serve cold in tall glasses.


Serves 4