Jody Adams’ Fresh Fruit With Balsamic Pepper ‘Syrup’

These last couple of weeks have been fairly hectic, trying to meet 2 week agile sprint/scrum schedules at work.  In trying to think ahead to the holiday menus, I needed to think of what to do for dessert.  I suddenly remembered a dish that I’d done years ago when Chef Adams came out with her Rialto (now closed) cookbook in 2002. It looked ‘exotic’ and accessible enough that I thought I might give it another go.  When I first did this dish, I thought the amount of black pepper was a little bit strong so I’d figured it might be judicious to cut back a little bit.   The recipe can be found on p. 335 of In The Hands of a Chef.   The ingredients list read:

Ingredients for the balsamic ‘syrup’ – black pepper, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar

For the balsamic pepper ‘syrup’ –
3 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 c packed brown sugar
2 t of fresh ground black pepper – I used 1 here

Assembling the ingredients for the ‘syrup’

Blend all the balsamic ‘syrup’ ingredients in a medium bowl

Completed sauce/syurp for the fruit

For the fruit being ‘macerated’
2 bananas cut into 1/2″ thick slices
1 pint strawberries, washed, hulled, halved (lengthwise) (I used about 1/3 pint)
1 pint raspberries, washed (I used about 1/3 pint)
1 pint blueberries, washed (I used about 1/3 pint)
blackberries, washed (I used about 1/3 pint)

Collecting the berries together

Place the fruit into a bowl, add the syrup, toss gently and let sit for 15 minutes before serving

Adding about 3 tablespoons of the balsamic ‘syrup’ to the fruit


Letting the fruit macerate

I then got the fruit (and a little of the syrup) into dessert glasses garnished from Whole Foods cookies.

Finished desert with cookie strawberry/blueberry jam sandwiches

When I explained to my wife what the dessert was, she was as skeptical as Chef Adams first was about dressing the fruit with vinegar.  But after tasting the dessert my wife’s eyes lit up with the pleasant surprise.  Chef Adams comments that the macerated fruit goes well with whole milk Greek yogurt.  But this made me think of three things: Chef Ming Tsai’s Tropical Fruit Parfait (Simply Ming, p. 267), Three Vinegar Syrup (Simply Ming, p. 162), Pineapple Salsa (Blue Ginger: East Meets West Cooking, p. 246).  So this means I could use the Three Vinegar Syrup instead of just the balsamic vinegar in Chef Adam’s recipe.  At that point, dessert would be an assembly of (from the bottom of a beer glass): dark berries macerated in the vinegar syrup, then yogurt, then the pineapple salsa, another layer of yogurt then the macerated strawberries/raspberries and then a touch of granola or shortbread cookie.  Thank you Chef Adams and Chef Tsai  for sharing your recipes!


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