Recipe: Essential Warm Stovetop Fruit

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Photo by Maria Robledo

This method works wonderfully for a many kinds of fruits such as pears, apples, peaches, nectarines, mangoes, plums, cherries, figs, and berries such as strawberries, raspberries or blackberries.

4 servings

    • 3 cups fresh fruit (peeled, pitted and/or sliced ½ inch thick as appropriate, singly or in combination, such as plums, raspberries, blueberries, peaches
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 1 to 4 tablespoons sugar, honey or maple syrup (depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
    • 1 vanilla bean (optional)
    • 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1 to 2 teaspoons dark rum, Kirschwasser, framboise, or Poire William (optional)

In a medium saucepan, combine the fruit, water, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. With a thin, sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise in half. Scrape out the seeds and add the seeds and pod to the pan. Cover and cook over moderate heat until the fruit releases its juices, 2 to 4 minutes.

Taste the fruit for sweetness and add more sugar if necessary. Then stir in the lemon juice to heighten the flavor. Uncover and cook over high heat until the fruit is tender and the juices are syrupy, about 2 minutes longer. Discard the vanilla bean and stir in the alcohol if desired. Serve warm.

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Sally Schneider writes The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog about improvising as a daily practice. Her cookbook The Improvisational Cook is now out in paperback. More

Sally Schneider is the founder of The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog that inspires you to devise, invent, create, make it up as you go along, from design and cooking to cultivating the creative spirit. It's been called a "zeitgeist-perfect website." She is a regular contributor to public radio's The Splendid Table and the author of the best-selling cookbooks The Improvisational Cook and A New Way to Cook, which was recently named one of the best books of the decade by The Guardian. She has won numerous awards, including four James Beard awards, for her books and magazine writing.

Sally has worked as a journalist, editor, stylist, lecturer, restaurant chef, teacher, and small-space consultant, and once wrangled 600 live snails for the photographer Irving Penn. Her varied work has been the laboratory for the themes she writes and lectures about: improvising as an essential operating principle; cultivating resourcefulness and your inner artist; design, style, and food; and anything that is cost-effective, resourceful, and outside the box.

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