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A Few Sweet Solutions for Surviving Summer in the City: Introduction

Find out about my dessert special at L'Ecole or as David called it, "Summer on a Plate."

While I am fortunate enough to have parents that live in a desirable summer destination, that does not necessarily mean I have the time to get out to Shelter Island to enjoy it. While many of my friends (along with what seems like most the city) empty out to the Hamptons on Friday nights, I’m still in class at the French Culinary Institute. But don’t feel bad for me (I’m sure you didn’t anyway), I only have 3 weeks of school left, and I just went through what has become in many ways probably my favorite station, pastry.

This past week I had a short break from work, and a rare amount of free time for just having fun in the kitchen, and focus on school. I looked at a lot of books for ideas, but I brought in one of the most beautiful cookbooks in my collection, David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert to share with Chef Annamaria Kosa, to get some inspiration for specials at L’Ecole. She loved the book as much as I do, David has some really great recipes, but the photos are absolutely incredible. Every single dish is nothing short of drool inducing. Bright colors, varying textures, shiny, sugary, sticky– these are desserts that you want to eat, not just look at in a bakery window.

While sometimes hot days and nights– and the looming possibility of being seen on a beach– can sometimes turn people off of dessert for the summer, it is prime season for utilizing fresh fruits in their peak. Pies, tarts, cobblers, shortcakes, ice creams, and sorbets are all easy ways to use fruit in sweets, and can be surprisingly light and refreshing. While I can’t say a good pie is either of those, I also can’t trust anyone who refuses even the smallest sliver of a strawberry-rhubarb or cherry pie, dripping with fruits vivid ripe cerise syrups, covered in flakey tender crust. Summer berries, melons, and peaches are so beautiful and flavorful on their own, it doesn’t take a lot of fuss to enjoy them, but combined with new and unexpected flavors, they can be the star of some very sophisticated dishes.

Could you resist a bite?

I have been experimenting with different fruits over the past few weeks and plan to share the recipes I have come up with over the next few days, including strawberry-rhubarb lattice-topped pie, rhubarb-ginger linzer cookies, and a basil-infused mascarpone tart with strawberries and black pepper. Tomorrow I will start with the dessert special Chef Anna and I came up with inspired by David’s recipe for Watermelon Sake Sorbet, so stay posted!

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