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Plum Gorgeous: Recipes and Memories from the Orchard Hardcover – July 19, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Fruits that are bright, colorful and downright PLUM GORGEOUS star as the ingredients in Romney Steele's delectable ode to orchard fare." --More Magazine

"A love letter to California's delicious fruit, with artful type, charming photographs, whimsical drawings and lots of fun recipes." --Santa Rosa Press-Democrat

"A beautiful love letter to stone fruit at the prime of ripeness, complete with stories from the orchard, little poems and proverbs singing their praises, and of course, lavishly illustrated and elegant seasonal fruit recipes for both sweet and savory dishes." --Serious Eats

"As it is practical and inspiring.... Plum Gorgeous will make you want to find the best fruits of the season and include them with every meal of the day." --Seattle Weekly blog Cooking the Books

"If a cookbook can be romantic, this one surely is. 'Plum Gorgeous' is the essence of simplicity and yet one of the most sophisticated books to cross our desks this year." --The Oregonian

"Charming memories are interspersed with mouthwatering photographs of an artsy, old-fashioned nature and inspiring sweet and savory recipes covering all the seasons...lovely." --The Post and Courier, Charleston, SC

"The recipes are wonderfully imaginative, appealing, easy to follow, and utilize fruit for all parts of a meal." --Kitchen GadgetGals

While Plum Gorgeous is first and foremost a cookbook, filled with 60 super-seasonal recipes, with such beautiful photographs and food styling, as well as extensive headnotes to the recipes, it feels like much more than the average cookbook. Steele captures a time and place in her own life - and fills the book with such a clear aesthetic sense - that a mere cookbook jumps into the world of the truly aspirational. We, too, would like to sit around her table, lathering raspberry rhubarb rose petal jam on everything in sight.

About the Author

Romney "Nani" Steele is a writer, a cook, a visual artist, and a food stylist. As the granddaughter of Bill and Lolly Fassett, creators of Nepenthe Restaurant, she grew up at the family business and opened Cafe Kevah, located on the grounds of Nepenthe. She lives in Oakland, California, with her two children, Trevor and Nicoya.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449402402
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449402402
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #845,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Baker on July 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I would give this book a 10 out of 5 if possible. Plum Gorgeous by Romney Steele is not just a memoir, or just a cookbook, or just of food photo book, it is simply all of those things and more. It had the ability to bring back my memories of the smell as you walk out the backdoor to the orchard, in the heat of the summer, and smell only ripe peaches. And not just any peaches but those varieties that you barely see any more, like the Fay Elberta. It brought back the memories of the canning of summer's bounty with my grandmother, jams, fruit, pickles and more. The scent of the fruit pies coming out the oven with beautiful lattice tops.

I must warn, do not read this book while hungry. You will want to run out and get all the ingredients to several or maybe all the recipes she shares with us. I am making the "Marmalade Chicken" for dinner this evening. I love that she also offers alternative items to substitute based on the weather or time of the growing season. The photography in this book provided by Sara Remington is eye candy for all food lovers, and created "artist envy" in me.

This is a book that I will gift to those I know who love to cook, those I know who love to eat good food that stimulate all their senses, and to all the artists I know. I urge everyone who reads this book to not keep it to themselves, pass or gift this bounty just as you would a wonderful sumptuous meal for 10.

Thank you, Romney Steele, for keeping the spirit of the orchard in California alive. You are what my husband fondly calls a "true California sunshine girl" because you appreciate, and have created works of art out of nature's bounty so abundant here in California.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on July 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Plum Gorgeous is a great book about recipes using fresh fruit and is organized by season. Each chapter has a few basic recipes, for example the lemon curd recipe in the spring chapter, and then a way to use that for an actual dish. In the case of the lemon curd, it was delicious sounding blueberry lemon compote.

The spring sections starts with citrus fruits. I loved the sound the recipes like honey lavender lemonade. I guess I should clarify that, I like the sound of something besides straight lemonade but I could forgo the lavender. There are even basic recipes with a twist like orange pistachio sables (butter cookies). There was also a Moroccan orange salad that looked awesome in the picture.

The is another section that sort of falls between both spring and summer and is all about recipes with berries. Recipes such as strawberry, nasturtium and cucumber salad had my mouth watering. A little more complex than some of the earlier recipes in this book, they didn't sound too difficult. Other unique recipes in this section include the raspberry rhubarb rose petal jam and the blueberry lemon thyme risotto. I am going to have to try the risotto since it seems I'm on a risotto kick recently.

The third section is summer fruits and contains mostly recipes dealing with plums. Things like plum soup, plum pork chops and plum and lavender jam can all be found in this section. There were also other fruit recipes including duck with cherry salsa and a few recipes for peaches, apricots and mangoes. While some of the recipes are just variations (apricot mango chutney) on others I've seen, I don't think there is anything wrong with that.

The last section is all about fall fruits. There were recipes with figs, apples and pears.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jill Clardy TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I received this book a few weeks ago, read it cover-to-cover immediately, and have continued to pick it up and leaf through the pages, enjoying the gorgeous photography and imagining the dishes I will try to recreate when our local farmer's market opens again later this month.

The title "Plum Gorgeous" perfectly describes the photography and recipes and writing. The author makes cooking and food presentation a sensual, visual art. On page 6 Romney writes: "Lemons make me happy, seeing them on my table in a Moroccan bowl with turquoise edging. The shiny ovals remind me of living at Henry Miller's house, the jumbled oasis down the hill from the orchard, the redwood table at the center of the room where I would always place that bowl and fill it with lemons from the tree. My ode to joy." I also enjoy the perfect beauty of fresh lemons and frequently keep a pile of them in a cobalt blue bowl in my kitchen.

All of the recipes feature fresh fruit and produce from the garden, but with the ubiquity of farmer's markets these days, I should be able to find the seasonal ingredients. Some of the recipes that look appealing to me include "Moroccan orange salad", "strawberry, nasturtium and cucumber salad", "olallieberry pie", "blueberry lemon thyme risotto", "lavender-brined pork chops with grilled spiced plums"' "honey-glazed duck breasts with cherry salsa" and so many others. I have tried a couple of recipes and they are well written, easy to follow and completely reproducible by a cook with even modest skills.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jody A Cafferata on November 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Romney 'Nani' Steele's 'Plum Gorgeous', her second life narrative cookbook, the fruition of season after season of coastal rural planting, harvesting, preserving, alchemical evolving of the miraculous nourishment nature offers to us, renders me giddy. Occasionally by happenstance one may find one's self turning off of the main route out here in the U.S. West, meandering up or down a narrow rutty dusty road to nowhere , seemingly, only to enter an undeniable garden of Eden and, if one is smiled upon by the happy forces, one is allowed to live there. 'Plum Gorgeous' not only takes you there but guides you on a participatory sensual journey to a rarified kingdom. Not only that, the recipes are accessible and forthright, historic and scrumptious in an old worldy way. The book is alive with spirits of the ridges so brew 'of the essence' tea, spin some real old school vinyl, stoke the fire, light the candles and start cooking with the best of the west.
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