Pastry chef Nicole Rucker shares the art of a good pie

We humans are creatures of contrasts. We obsess over “clean” eating and swear off gluten, sugar and butter. We also treasure the comfort of satisfying sweetness. Pastry chefNicole Rucker knows the value of the latter. As the owner of the Los Angeles restaurant Fiona, she’s created what has been called by the LA Times the best lime pie recipe. Her new cookbook “Dappled: Baking Recipes for Fruit Lovers,” which she shared on “Salon Talks,” goes beyond that humble citrus, delivering a killer array of dessert ideas for your favorite fruits — including the wily tomato.

“Tomatoes—everyone talks about how sweet and delicious they are,” Rucker told Salon. “There’s not much difference between stewed tomatoes with biscuits and something more appropriate for people to consider dessert like a table fruit. It has to be how you frame it.”

And though it’s easy for even skilled cooks to be intimidated by baking, Rucker says, “If you really want to impress people, I find making a really good crisp or a cobbler is a perfect way. People are expecting something a little fancier when you invite them over, and you put this rustic thing on the table. If the guts are made of really good fruit and you’ve seasoned it well and you add a little salt to it, it’s really impressive.” But she adds, “The message of the book is that you impress people by carefully choosing some fruit and wowing them with how perfect and ripe it is — and doing as little as possible to it.”

And if you find baking and the idea of working with fruit intimidating or hard, watch the episode above to hear Rucker’s advice on where to get started.

About “Salon Talks”

Hosted by Salon journalists, “Salon Talks” episodes offer a fresh take on the long-form interview format, and a much-needed break from the partisan political talking heads that have come to dominate the genre. “Salon Talks” is a destination for information through conversation. Viewers can expect discussions with A-list actors, artists, authors, thinkers, and newsmakers as we explore the full range of the human condition. The show streams live on Facebook and Twitter and each episode is published in full on

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