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If the Recipe Calls for Fruit

If the Recipe Calls for Fruit

BlackberriesA positive sign of a family-friendly dish: there's fruit in the recipe. We can exhale now that we have a reprieve from the Picky Eater Police. Unlike our kiddie experiences with many veggies, there's no need to hide, conceal or disguise fruit as ingredients -- even bright indigo blueberries or fuschia-colored raspberries --  in some of our favorite meals and desserts.

From apple cobblers and turnovers to pumpkin-filled dumplings and pies, we love cooking and baking with fruit (and, yes, pumpkin is a fruit). Admittedly, our efforts can be a mixed bag of trial and error, but the learning curve is actually part of the fun. Besides, the kids get a kick out of watching a pear, fig or plum get peeled, diced, stewed, boiled, mashed, puréed and/or preserved into another item that they like to eat.

They'll eagerly help us sift flour, knead and roll dough, and laugh at our humbling kitchen mishaps. In turn, we get our own thrill out of spying on them as they hawk the oven timer, impatiently waiting for the beeping announcement that their work is about to be rewarded.

Fruity recipes have a similar effect at the office, transforming rational adults into giddy, ravenous teenagers. Whenever a coworker, who's a pâtisserie wizard, brings her lemony cream rolls, loaves of banana bread or cherry-almond cakes, there's a mad dash for paper plates and plastic forks. A gleeful summoning cry echoes down the hall like popped bubble wrap: "Donna baked!"

If only our own kitchen feats could be equally wonderful, rather than leaving the kiddos just, well, wondering at times. We're getting there, though, and fruit is taking the lead. Just last week we sampled the most magnificent fruit bars that had merely a ribbon of date paste.

Ah, yes, simple, uncomplicated fruit being reinvented as fillings, layers, compote, sauces and such -- yet another example of the ordinary becoming extraordinary. No wonder kids and adults alike will stop abruptly, frozen mid-step, upon smelling a heavenly fruit dish. When the recipe calls for fruit, in reality, we think the fruit's calling us.

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