Fruit desserts

Although it may vary widely in shape and color, fruit is one of nature's most magnificent blessings for its flavor, aroma and appearance.

One of nature's most wonderful gifts, fruit has been consumed with zest from the moment it first appeared on earth. Able to address the eye and the palate as well as the soul, fruit has always succeeded in being one of our most valuable sources of nutrition, and one that can usually be eaten without any need for cooking.

THE ANATOLIAN FRUIT GARDEN
In pre-industrial society fruit was accorded far more importance than it is today, because nutritional sources were not so numerous and fruits and vegetables constituted the chief ones. As history's two most powerful empires, the Roman and the Ottoman, continued to expand their boundaries, they took all the fruits and vegetables they grew at home with them to the new lands. At the same time they adopted the fruit that was new to them in the territories into which they spread, further enriching the diversity of agricultural products. Spreading to the Asian, European and African continents, the Ottomans scientifically studied the various kinds of fruit native to those varied climes and succeeded in raising them in Anatolia as well, with the result that culturally rich Anatolia, which played host to so many civilizations throughout history, also excelled in the culture and cultivation of fruit.
The need to eat is perhaps the most powerful of the human instincts. Many products found in nature ensure that this instinct continues to be regularly satisfied. And among the products consumed, fruit is one of the most important. Because it can be consumed without cooking once it is ripe, fruit enabled our ancestors to survive before they discovered fire. And fruit today continues to be one of the most indispensable elements of our diet.
Modern food experts and culinary artists are expending strenuous efforts to create dishes that address both the human eye and heart and the palate. But any naturally growing fruit already offers itself as an incredible ready-to-eat dish and source of energy. Even the world's greatest master chefs would be hard put to attain such a level of taste.

WONDERFUL IN EVERY WAY
The fact that most fruit is short-lived and spoils quickly has motivated humans to come up with methods of preserving it. Long before refrigeration was invented, people used their intelligence to preserve fruit. They dried it and either used it in desserts and main dishes, or consumed it as a snack. They boiled it to make jams and jellies. And they invented fruit juices and vinegars.
As quintessential fruit connoisseurs, the people of Anatolia invented 'pekmez' (Turkish-style grape molasses) and 'pestil' (thin dried layers of pressed fruit pulp). Before sugar, people used 'pekmez' as a natural sweetener and an alternative to honey. 'Pestil' too is an unforgettable creation. Made from a medley of fruits, mainly grapes, it not only used to be eaten as a sweet but was also mixed with water to make 'pestil' syrup. I last encountered this syrup, which was so popular with the Ottomans, in Egypt where I was told it was a legacy from Ottoman times.
Fruit continues to spruce up our tables and gladden our eyes today. Nevertheless I'm a little doubtful sometimes that we are making sufficient use of this most lovely of nature's gifts. Scientists and food experts say that fruit should be the centerpiece of the table for a healthy life, and they are surely right.


Recipes

Hamali
Ingredients:
4 sheets of filo pastry
(as for baklava)
50 gr strawberries
30 gr raspberries
30 gr blackberries
30 gr purple mulberries
For the filling:
50 gr semolina
500 gr milk

For the syrup:
750 gr sugar
500 gr water
juice of 1/4 lemon

Preparation:
Pour the milk into a pot with the semolina and cook, stirring constantly until it forms a dough. Then cool. Cut the filo leaves in squares and place the dough-like filling in the middle of each one using a spoon. Sprinkle with the berries. Fold the filo leaves in four and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake at 170C for 30 minutes. Drizzle with the syrup and serve when cool.

Fruit Meringue
Ingredients:
7 egg whites
500 gr granulated sugar
As desired fresh pineapple
As desired strawberries
As desired sweet cherries
As desired blackberries

Preparation:
Whisk the egg whites with the sugar for 1-2 minutes over very low heat. You can also use an electric beater for this. Beat until white and foamy. Pour onto a 20x20 cm baking sheet and bake at 100C for 30 minutes. Let cool. Cover with the fresh fruit and serve.

Black Forest Fruit Baklava
Ingredients:
4 sheets of filo pastry
50 gr raspberries
30 gr purple mulberries
50 gr strawberries
30 gr sour cherries, pitted
50 gr blackberries

Syrup:
750 gr granulated sugar
500 gr water
juice of 1/4 lemon

Preparation:
Spread the filo leaves out in four layers. Mix all the fruit together and dump into the middle of the filo leaves. Turn the ends in and then roll up. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake at 170C for 30 minutes. Cut into equal pieces with a knife, drizzle with the syrup and serve cold.

Fruit Tart
Ingredients:
250 gr flour
125 gr butter
White of 1 egg
75 gr powdered sugar

For the filling:
50 gr strawberries
50 gr raspberries
50 gr mulberries
50 gr sour cherries

Preparation:
Mix the flour, butter, egg white and powdered sugar to form a dough. Roll out with a rolling pin, arrange the fruit in the center, turn up the sides of the dough and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 150C for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar.