Even though many fruits are now available year 'round, summer and fruit desserts just naturally go together. Shortcakes, cobblers, crisps and just plain fruit are all a nice way to finish off a summer meal.

Another nice thing about fruits (other than their flavor, of course) is how well they work together. Almost any fruits can be used in combination with others.For shortcakes, just make your favorite cake or shortcake and serve with mounds of fresh fruit - plain or in combination, slightly sweetened if you desire - and top with a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream. Cobblers, too can be made with any thickened fruit, topped with your favorite cake batter and baked.

The following recipe for fruit crisp is the creation of Fred Halpert, executive chef at Brava Terrace in St. Helena, Calif.

The recipe calls for strawberries and peaches, but any seasonal fruits can be used, including blueberries, apricots and nectarines.

Warm and luscious, it could even be served as a special breakfast or brunch, too.




3 pounds peaches

3 pints strawberries

1 vanilla bean

2 tablespoons orange zest

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

4 teaspoons cornstarch

Warm Crisp Topping (recipe below)

Wash and remove pits from peaches; cut peaches into 1/4-inch slices.

Wash and halve strawberries; place in mixing bowl.

Slice vanilla bean in half; scrape seeds, discard bean.

Add orange zest and vanilla seed to fruit; toss and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sift together dry ingredients, sprinkle on top of fruit and mix gently. Press fruit into a low baking dish; bake at 375 degrees F for about 45 minutes or until fruit begins to soften. Top with Warm Crisp Topping. Makes 8 servings.

- From Chef Fred Halpert, Brava Terrace, St. Helena, Calif.


1 cup light brown sugar

3/4 cup butter, unsalted

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup almonds, sliced

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Mix brown sugar and butter together until combined.

Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together.

Mix flour mixture into the butter-sugar mixture and slowly combine with almonds and salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Sprinkle mixture over large area on sheet pan and bake at 375 degrees F for 12 minutes. Cool and chop coarsely. Sprinkle over fruit crisp and garnish with confectioners' sugar.