Sunday, July 31, 2011

Review: Plum Gorgeous

Summary: Inside Plum Gorgeous, Romney "Nani" Steele follows her successful cookbook-memoir My Nepenthe with 60 seasonally inspired recipes that celebrate the "romance of fruit." Capturing the essence, beauty, and deliciousness of cooking with seasonal fruits, Steele offers simple and seductive recipes that intertwine with the seasons in which each fruit is harvested.

Savory recipes like Coriander Steak with Blackberry Vinaigrette and Kumquat Couscous Salad with Fried Haloumi Cheese are presented alongside sweet treats like Passionfruit Chocolate Truffles and Plum Soup with Basil Ice Cream. Interspersed throughout Plum Gorgeous are beautiful, full-color photographs by Sara Remington and reminiscences from the year that Steele spent living in an orchard in Big Sur, along with fruit lore and select notes on handling and preserving fruit.

In an accessible but imaginative way, Plum Gorgeous beautifully reveals the many layers and flavor profiles of fruit while celebrating the memories inspired by each season's beauty and bounty. -- Andrews McMeel


When I first opened the package containing the cookbook PLUM GORGEOUS: RECIPES AND MEMORIES FROM THE ORCHARD by Romney Steele, I was a bit confused. I initially thought it was an entire cookbook of plum recipes. I was surprised that there could be a cookbook this thick (about one inch) of just food made with plums. However, as soon as I started skimming through the book, I realized that this cookbook is full of recipes from orchard-grown fruits. I guess I missed that subtitle on the front cover!

The most immediate thing I noticed about PLUM GORGEOUS is that it is an absolutely beautiful cookbook. There are so many wonderful photographs scattered throughout this book, and everything looks so bright and fresh... and healthy. I love that most of the recipes had corresponding pictures, and even if there weren't photos of the finished recipe, there were usually artful photos of the ingredients. PLUM GORGEOUS is so darn pretty that you could keep it out as a coffee table book.

As far as the recipes go, the cookbook is divided into the following chapters: Oranges of Memory and Other Citrus, Still Life with Berries, Plum Gorgeous, and Beauty & Windfall. As you can see, there are a wide variety of recipes and some for each growing season. I found many of the recipes to be very interesting, but they also had some hard-to-find/unusual ingredients. I guess I'm just a simple girl at heart. However, there were quite a few that I'd love to try including the Meyer Lemon Curd, the Rhubarb Sorbet with Strawberries in Syrup, Cherry Clafoutis, and the Heirloom Tomatoes and Peaches with Burrata. I have a feeling that I would enjoy most of the recipes in this cookbook. The issue is that I want someone else to prepare the food for me!

In addition to all of the amazing photographs and recipes, this cookbook also includes a lot of the author's personal recollections. She mentions that she just couldn't write a traditional cookbook. She wanted to capture "the memories, dreams, places, and poetry that come with the journey." I think her personal touches to the cookbook made it extra-special for me.

I admit that there weren't a ton of recipes that I was dying to try. Not because they didn't look good, but rather they had some unusual ingredients or they were just a little more difficult than I normally attempt. So, I decided to make the Blackberry Polenta Muffins. I was drawn to this recipe because I love blackberries, but also because the ingredients were ones that I normally have on hand. In addition, the Blackberry Polenta Muffins seemed pretty healthy.

The recipes called for a combination of all-purpose and whole-wheat flour along with some cornmeal which gave it a nice little crunch. It also seemed like there wasn't too much sugar for twelve muffins -- only 2/3 cup of brown sugar. The recipe was extremely simple and in less than a half hour, I had some beautiful (and very yummy) muffins. And I loved that they were chock-ful of huge blackberries!


PLUM GORGEOUS is just that... a plum gorgeous cookbook. I recommend this cookbook for individuals who love cooking with fresh and unique ingredients.

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this beautiful cookbook.

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16 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I love blackberries and think those muffins sound delicious!! I agree that the cookbook is pretty enough to leave out on your table.

Karlie said...

I love your plate!!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Wow, I love blackberries AND polenta, so I think I have to check out that recipe!

TheBookGirl said...

Fruit is my dessert of choice -- way more so than chocolate, so I'm delighted to see a cookbook dedicated to the use of orchard fruits. I also like that the author included so many personal recollections; like you, I think that makes a cookbook particularly special.

Laura Fabiani said...

I can understand the frustration of hard-to-find ingredients as I once also reviewed a similar cookbook that was simply gorgeous with all the pics and extra details about the country but it wasn't practical for my family. This sounds like the perfect cookbook for gourmet cooks though.

Beth Hoffman said...

I love making recipes with fruit and this one sounds wonderful. Those muffins you made look divine!

Sandy Nawrot said...

My family loves fruit desserts. And that book is gorgeous! Peaches and berries in pies and cobblers will cure whatever ails you. I'm off to see if my library has this one.

Rose City Reader said...

Looks wonderful! And thanks for including the link to the Cherry Clafoutis. That's a dessert I like to make, but can never remember how to spell to look up a recipe!

Rose City Reader

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

Oh wow -- this is SUCH a beautiful book -- just wow, honey!

Joy said...

That is such a pretty cookbook! And those muffins look lovely. I've never had blackberries in a muffin, but I could imagine that would be quite good.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I do not do a lot of cooking with fresh fruit but would love to try. This is a book I would like to explore around in.

Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews said...

I think I'd just sit this book out to look at it! Gorgeous cover!!

Beth F said...

We have blackberries growing in the yard -- and these sound wonderful.

Col (Col Reads) said...

I am such a sucker for cookbooks with gorgeous photos, that I have a feeling if I met this book in person, I would wind up buying it! Thanks for the review.

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I love a cookbook with gorgeous photos. Those muffins look very tasty! Corn meal is a different ingredient to use in muffins but I could see it working. I may keep an eye out for this cookbook in the library!

fiction-books said...

Hi Julie,

I have to say that soem of the ingredients for your muffins were a little unusual to say the least, but they look fantastic and hopefully tasted just as good.

I am not a particularly adventurous cook these days and I think that tracking down some of these more obscure ingredients might put me off a bit, but it sounds like a great 'coffee table' book, that will draw many comments from your visitors.

Yvonne