Cook the Book: 'Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard'

It may have hit American bookshelves earlier this summer, but there isn't a better time than the dog days of late August to open up Nigel Slater's Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard. Slater's tome elegantly details preparations for all manner of fruits grown in and around his orchard in England. "I wanted to produce a collection of recipes that were useful and delicious rather than extraordinary and seasoned with the zeal of the evangelist. I hope I have the balance right."

Indeed, he does. Not only is it easy to prepare a full-on fruit feast without coming close to a sugar coma but Slater's mellow, easygoing voice makes for a fun and informative read. Think of Slater's book more as a guide to utilizing fruit to its greatest potential than a strict textbook of technique. His recipes often contain casual, conversational directions calling for "handfuls" of this or a "large piece" of that. This tone is perhaps a bit of an adjustment, but its vagueness encourages the cook to experiment and make each recipe his or her own.

This week, we're making the most of late summer fruits in a variety of savory dishes. First, we're turning plums into A Hot, Sweet Plum Chutney. Next, we'll pair stone fruit with pork two ways in A Salad of Summer Leaves, Cured Pork, and Cherries and Crisp Pork Belly, Sweet Peach Salsa. A Salad of Game, Grapes, and Verjuice will round out our salad repertoire, and then we'll finish things up with an elegant dish of Duck with Figs and Barolo.

Win 'Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard'

Thanks to the good folks at Ten Speed Press, we have five (5) copies of Ripe to give away. All you need to do is tell us your favorite summer fruit and your favorite way to eat it in the comments below.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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