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Peaches and berries make quarantine baking summery

Peach Pie With Duck Fat Crust
(Leslie Grow / For the Times)

With a troubling surge in COVID-19 cases, we’re heading back into the kitchen. I’m looking for the same comfort and joy that cooking gave me in the first round of sheltering at home, but now I want to grill and make fresh summery dishes. And, as always, I’m craving dessert.

Here’s a mix of long weekend cooking projects and quick weekday meals that celebrate Southern California’s great produce. And since bars are closed, don’t forget to make a batch of your own simple syrup for cocktails at home.

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

Time 45 minutes
Yields Makes about 30
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Think of these as a socially distant version of shortcakes. You can do a contactless dropoff of these cookies for the friends you would have been partying with this weekend.

Peach Pie With Duck Fat Crust

Time 2 hours plus cooling
Yields Serves 12

Duck fat makes pie crust extra flaky, and its savory richness makes juicy peaches taste even sweeter. If you don’t have duck fat, pile the filling in an all-butter crust or a shortening-butter one.

Summer Squash Chowder

Time 1 hour
Yields Serves 6 to 8
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Summer squash blends into creamy goodness and gets topped with crunchy bacon.

Summer Herb Meatballs with Avocado Dip

Time 30 minutes
Yields Serves 4

A blend of parsley, cilantro, mint and scallions adds freshness to these charred chile-flecked meatballs.

Chocolate Semifreddo

Time 5 hours
Yields Serves 12
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Want to make homemade ice cream but don’t have an ice cream machine? This super smooth semifreddo doesn’t require one.

Ask the cooks

I am writing from Cebu, Philippines. As you know, with COVID-19, baking has helped us cope. I must say, yours is the best burnt Basque cheesecake recipe I’ve ever made. I had to make my own crème fraîche as it is not available in stores. I followed several recipes from the internet and made mine from scratch using lemon. As a result, it made my cheesecake too lemony. Where did I go wrong?

— Johannah del Rosario

I’m so glad you enjoyed the cheesecake. I actually don’t use any lemon when I make crème fraîche. I stir together 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream and ¼ cup buttermilk in a glass container, cover and let sit at room temperature until the mixture is very thick. Depending on your kitchen environment, that can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. I like a very tangy crème fraîche. If you prefer a creamier flavor, use only 2 or 3 tablespoons buttermilk. Be sure to use cream and not milk for the best flavor.

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