Lark Books, 50 College Street, Asheville, N.C. 28801.
Phone (704) 253-0467; Fax (704) 253-7952, or toll-free (800) 284-3388.
Published 1996. 144 pages. Hardcover. 7-1/2 by 10 inches. 200 color photos, recipe index and list of recipes by fruit. $19.95.
(Price/availability info may have changed since original publication of review.)
Andreas Miessmer is an experienced gourmet cook with a serious interest in the fruit kitchen, particularly with exotic fruits, now more readily available in local markets. Fabulous Fruit Cooking begins with a chapter on "Fruit Basics," describing some 45 fruits in detail, including tips on purchase, storage and preparation. The remainder of the book is devoted to 85 superb recipes featuring exotic fruit such as cactus pear, cape gooseberry, cherimoya, guava, loquat, lychee, mango, mangosteen, rambutan and tamarillo. A good place to start is the Exotic Fruit Salad, composed of pink grapefruit, oranges, mango, honeydew melon, mangosteens, tamarillo and kiwi.
Another fruit combination recipe is "Mustard Fruits." In addition to dry mustard, white wine vinegar and sugar, the following fruits are used: mango, papaya, pineapple, star fruit, nashi and lime. The mustard fruits are paired with slices of cold roast beef, garnished with seasonal salad leaves. They can also be put in sterile glass containers and sealed for later use up to six months.
Other fruit concoctions are also put up in glass containers for later use: quince chutney and mango chutney. The recipe for quince chutney includes pink grapefruits with an interesting combination of spices, garlic and shallots. The mangos are combined with red currants in a chutney that is paired with sirloin steak.
In "Veal in Lemon Mangosteen Sauce," mangosteen segments are only heated up with the veal in the sauce, not completely cooked, to maintain their delicate flavor, before the whole is served over noodles. Another interesting combination is the "Pork Steak with Hazelnut Crust and Tamarillo Sauce," where the lightly breaded nutty crust pairs beautifully with the taste of the fruit sauce.
And for those looking for not so rare fruit, I recommend the "Pears and Grapefruit Salad with Cooked Ham." The fish recipes are particularly enticing, among them Flounder and Salmon Roulade with Cherimoya Sauce, Red Snapper with Fried Guavas and Curried Risotto, and Mahi-Mahi with Tamarillos and Wild Rice.
A note about fried fruit: Miessmer seems to go wild in this direction. I have eaten tempura vegetables, but I do not remember tempura fruit. This may not be to your taste either, but the idea is intriguing. Examples include fried banana, kiwi, peach and grapefruit (paired with halibut steak), nashi fritters (paired with red snapper), and deep-fried strawberries (as a dessert with chilled strawberry soup).
If you like Peach Melba, you might want to try Miessmer's "Marinated Peaches with Raspberry Sabayone." Other desserts that look particularly interesting are the fruit sorbets and granitas, the latter made from passion fruit and pomegranates. My personal favorite is the "Tamarillo Sorbet with Gin," combining tamarillos with blood orange juice and lime juice, sugar syrup and gin.
This attractive cookbook provides inspiration for recipes you can improvise beyond what is written down. Be prepared for a fruit adventure that is not for the faint of heart or the calorie-challenged.