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ALL ABOUT FOOD:Peachy ideas for stone fruits

A few years ago we wrote an article about the perfect peach.

This article might be titled “The Imperfect Peach.” This has been a particularly good season for stone fruit and the Laguna Farmer’s Market has featured a plethora of tasty varieties at reasonable prices.

Many of you may have bought more than you could chew and find yourself with a bowl or refrigerator drawer filled with overripe fruit that you would really hate to throw out but are reluctant to eat. On the other hand, you may have fruit that is too hard or not sweet enough.

What to do? What to do? All About Food to the rescue!

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First of all, pick by scent. If it doesn’t smell, it isn’t sweet. Refrigerate peaches, plums and nectarines only when they are fully ripened.

As an accompaniment to meats, baked, broiled or barbecued peaches are delicious and easy. Here is a recipe for peaches with vanilla and black peppercorns that can be served with roast chicken or pork or even with ice cream or cake.

Broiled peaches or nectarines

8 peaches, pitted and cut in half

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1 tablespoon melted butter

GLAZE

1/2 cup orange juice

2-3 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

5 tablespoons rum, orange liqueur or peach schnapps

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

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1. Preheat oven to 425°

2. Toss peaches in melted butter. Place in baking dish, hollow side up. Bake uncovered 5-10 minutes until soft.

3. Combine glaze ingredients in saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until syrupy, 5-7 minutes

4. Remove peaches from oven. Raise temperature to broil.

5. Pour glaze through strainer over peaches

6. Sprinkle peaches with brown sugar and broil 3-5 minutes until caramelized.

Easy Plum Cake

2 cups of pitted plum halves or apricot halves

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¼ cup sugar

zest of one lemon (optional)

1 stick of butter

1cup sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 375°

2. Arrange plums in the bottom of a buttered or pam sprayed glass baking pan (7x11 or 9 inch square). Sprinkle with a ¼ cup sugar and zest.

3. In a mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Keep beating while adding lemon juice.

4. In a separate bowl sift flour, add baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

5. Add flour mixture to mixer and beat only until blended

6. Spoon batter over plums.

7. Sprinkle with brown sugar and walnuts. Bake 45 minutes. Serve warm or cool.

Baked Fruit Compote

1½ pounds of halved, pitted mixed fruit

½ cup sugar

½ cup water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

zest of one lemon

1 tablespoon orange liqueur, rum, brandy or any booze on hand (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°

2. Place fruit in baking dish.

3. Mix sugar and water in saucepan. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon juice and zest and pour over fruit.

4. Cover and bake for 15 -20 minutes.

5. Taste for sweetness. Add more sugar if needed.

6. Serve as a side dish with meats or poultry or over ice cream.

Here is an easy way to make a soft-serve ice cream/gelato without an ice cream maker. The recipe comes from Russ Parson’s new book “How To Pick a Peach,” which is available at Laguna Beach Books.

Peach Gelato

3 pounds of peaches, peeled and pitted

½ sugar or more to taste

½ cup mascarpone, crème fraiche or yogurt

1. Dice peaches, the smaller the better as they will freeze faster and the gelato will have a finer texture

2. Arrange the pieces on a baking sheet and freeze solid, about 2 hours.

3. Put frozen pieces in a food processor with the sugar and mix briefly. Add the mascarpone and pulse until smooth.

4. Freeze in a small container for 30 minutes before serving.

If it freezes solid, process it again briefly before serving.


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