Stew of Red Summer Fruit

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From the Essential Pépin tv series, Episode 112: Fruit Fete

Basil lends a delightful fragrance and a slightly licorice taste to this stew. A tasty hodgepodge of red summer fruits, it can be made in winter with fruits such as bananas, apples, and oranges. The dessert even improves after one day in the refrigerator, when the juices thicken slightly and the flavor of the fruit becomes more intense. It will keep for several days. —Jacques Pépin

Serve with warm slices of brioche or pound cake and ice cream or crème fraîche.

Depending on the ripeness of the fruits, you may need to increase the cooking by 30 seconds.

Serves 8 to 10


1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1/3 cup pomegranate juice
1 cup mellow dry white wine (such as Chenin Blanc or Gewurtztraminer)
1 cup crème de cassis
1/4 cup strawberry jam
1 pound firm red Santa Rosa plums (about 10), pitted and cut into wedges
1 pound Bing cherries, pitted
4 large fresh basil sprigs, tied in a bundle with kitchen string
1 pound seedless grapes
1 pound blueberries
1 pound strawberries, washed, hulled, and cut into wedges

1 pint sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
Fresh mint leaves, preferably with flowers, for garnish

FOR THE FRUIT: Combine the pomegranate, juice, rind, white wine, cassis, and strawberry jam in a stainless steel saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for about 1 minute. Add the plums, cherries, and basil, bring to a strong boil, and boil for about 1 minute.

With a slotted spoon or a skimmer, remove the fruit from the boiling liquid and put it in a bowl. Put the basil back in the cooking liquid and add the grapes. Return to a boil and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer the grapes to the bowl, and add the blueberries and strawberries to the saucepan, with the basil. Return the mixture barely to a boil, remove the fruit, and add it to the bowl.

Drain as much juice from the fruit as you can and return to the saucepan. (You should have approximately 3 cups.) Boil the juice to reduce it to 2 cups, and pour it on top of the fruit, with the basil. Let cool, then remove and discard the basil. (The fruit can be made ahead and refrigerated for several days; serve cool, not cold.)

FOR THE SAUCE: At serving time, combine the sour cream and sugar with the water in a bowl and mix until just slightly liquid.

Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the juices from the fruit onto each plate. Swirl about 1 tablespoon of the sour cream in a design in the juice, using a spoon or the point of a knife. Spoon the fruit into the center of the plates, arranging it attractively. Decorate with mint flowers, if you have them, and leaves, and serve.

Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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