Colorful cookbooks sweeten end-of-August finds

It’s the scuffed red shoes – the ones on the cover of Tessa Kiros’ “Apples for Jam: A Colorful Cookbook,”  the grabs you squarely in the heart and holds on tight. I wore a pair of shoes like these when I was a little girl and so did my daughter.


Now, I admire similar shoes on the feet of my young granddaughters. Whatever the appeal, the red shoes speak to the book’s enchanting format  of categorizing recipes for “families, for young people, for old people, for children, for the child in all,” according to color. Kiros’ recipe for Lemon Rice Pudding with Roasted Peaches, for instance, appears in the white (for rice) section and another, for Pomegranate Sorbet, in the pink.

As in Kiros’ other cookbooks, such as “Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes,” “Venezia: Food and Dreams” and “Foods from Many Greek Kitchens,” the book is a triple-hit of mouth-watering recipes, charming stories and jaw-dropping photographs.

Equally brilliant (and colorful) is Romney Steele’s “Plum Gorgeous: Recipes and Memories from the Orchard,” a July release  by Andrews McMeel Publishing. This cookbook is captivating not only for its recipes and images, but  for the sweet way Steele chronicles memories of her time living in orchards.

As you enjoy the pleasures of an end-of-August market, look for foods you may not have experienced before, such as tart fresh red currants or sweet, creamy “donut” peaches.

For more recipes or information  about either cookbook,  including how to purchase information, visit the publisher’s website at

Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at

Almond Meringue with Rose Cream and Red Currants

From “Plum Gorgeous: Recipes and Memories from the Orchard,” by Romney Steele, photography (including cover) by Sara Remington, cover design by Lisa Berman/Andrews McMeel Publishing (

1/3 cup whole almonds
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
5 egg whites
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons orange flower or rose water*

Red Currant Sauce
1½ cups red (and/or white) currants, plus more for garnish
3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
Drop vanilla extract or orange flower water

Rose Cream
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar or warmed honey
2 teaspoons rose water, or more to taste
Unsprayed rose petals, for garnish
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Draw two 8-inch circles on parchment paper with a pencil and lightly grease the areas with butter or neutral oil, like canola. Place on a large baking sheet.

To make the meringue, coarsely grind the almonds with 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a food processor. In a stand mixer using a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy. Add a couple tablespoons of sugar and beat until the whites begin to peak. Gradually add more sugar, beating until the whites are glossy and almost tripled in volume but not stiff or lumpy. Beat in the vinegar and flower water. Dust the sugared almonds over the top and quickly fold in by hand to incorporate. Loosely spread the meringue onto the marked parchment, allowing it to loop and swirl. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven, and immediately reduce the temperature to 250 degrees. Bake for 1 to 1½ hours, until the meringues are fairly set and no longer tacky to the touch.

During baking, lower the temperature even more as necessary to maintain an even heat and avoid excessive browning, and occasionally rotate the baking sheet so the meringues bake evenly throughout. The meringues should be fairly white to light tan. Cool the meringues on the baking sheet in the oven with the door slightly ajar for a few hours, up to overnight. Meringues crisp up as they cool. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep in a cool place for up to 3 days, or freeze for longer storage.

To make the currant sauce, stem the currants and place in a saucepot with sugar to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook until the berries burst and the mixture becomes saucy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and transfer to a small bowl.  Let cool before using.

To make the rose cream, whip the cream with the sugar until soft peaks form. Beat in the rose water, adding more to taste. Spread the cream loosely on top of the bottom meringue. Drizzle half of the cooled red currant sauce over the cream, stirring some of it through the cream to create a swirled effect. Top with the other meringue, spreading with more cream and sauce. Garnish with whole currants and rose petals and dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar. It’s best if assembled within a couple of hours of serving.

*Kitchen Ade Note: Find rose flower water in gourmet food stores, or via on-line sources, such as Serves 8 to 10.

Plum Blackberry Sorbet

From “Plum Gorgeous: Recipes and Memories from the Orchard,” by Romney Steele, photography (including cover) by Sara Remington, cover design by Lisa Berman; Andrews McMeel Publishing (

1 pound plums, pitted and chopped
1 cup blackberries or black currants
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon cassis
About 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Simmer the plums with the blackberries, sugar, and about 1⁄4 cup water (more or less depending on the ripeness of the fruit) in a small saucepan over low heat until soft and pulpy, 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool slightly, then puree and press through a sieve to remove seeds and skin. You should have about 2 cups puree. Stir in the cassis and lemon juice to taste. Chill thoroughly, then churn in an ice cream maker. Freeze until hardened, about 1 hour. Serves 4.

Lemon Rice Pudding with Roasted Peaches

From “Apples for Jam: A Colorful Cookbook,” by Tessa Kiros,  photography  by Manos Chatzikonstantis; styling, Michail Touros; art direction, Lisa Greenberg; illustrations by the Mice/Andrews McMeel Publishing (

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 scant cup short-grain rice
5 cups milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
½ vanilla bean, split in half
Freshly grated nutmeg
¼ cup superfine sugar, plus a little extra for the pistachios
½ cup pistachios, skins removed
Soft dark brown sugar, for sprinkling
3 peaches, pitted and halved
6 small blobs of butter

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, add the rice, and stir gently to warm it. Add the milk, cream, lemon zest, vanilla bean, and nutmeg, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer steadily for about 10 minutes, stirring quite often to make sure it doesn’t stick. Add the superfine sugar and simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring as before.
Meanwhile, toss the pistachios with a dash of the brown sugar in a small pan and roast in the oven until they are just crisp in places. Put the peaches in a baking dish, cut side up. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar over each peach half and top with a small blob of butter. Roast without turning until the tops are golden brown and the peaches are still in shape but with some juices bubbling.  Just as the rice is tender and creamy, but with quite a bit of milky liquid left, remove it from the heat and serve in flat bowls. Serve with one or two peach halves with a little juice drizzled here and there and a small pile of sugared pistachios. This is good warm or cold. Serves 6.


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