Ah, stone fruit. It's truly the sweetness of summer, especially when you take a bite out of a ripe peach or nectarine and the juices dribble down your chin like when you were a child. It's the perfect peach pie or apricot crumble. A scented nectarine skinned and gently bathed in a syrup of lemon verbena. A tart plum upside down cake. There are endless ways to prepare stone fruit. Poach them. Grill them, cut into pieces and turn into a dessert kabob with pound cake (a la my cooking instructor friend Lorri Allen). Cook them into preserves.
With all these options, how do you pick one or two dishes? I had some ideas, but then I went to the Little Italy Mercato last Saturday and got to talking with my friend Mary Palmer of Taste Cheese. She mentioned a dish created by her friend Don Heiser of Firehouse Gourmet: Grilled peach parfait.
Basically, you grill peaches, chop them up and mix in agave syrup and nuts -- maybe some dried fruit, too. Then layer the mixture in a parfait dish with slices of burrata cheese, all topped with a sprig of mint.
That sounded delicious and different. So, off I went back home with peaches and burrata to play with this idea. And, while I love the burrata, I could also see replacing it with homemade vanilla ice cream, mascarpone, or vanilla- or honey-flavored Greek yogurt.
Grilled Peach Parfait
4 peaches (preferably freestone so the flesh will separate easily from the pit)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons agave syrup or honey
1 teaspoon Cointreau
1 teaspoon Sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 pint blueberries or combination of berries
6 ounces Burrata, cut in thick slices
Mint or edible flowers for garnish
1. Wash and dry the peaches, then slice in half along the ridge and remove the pits.
2. Heat grill to medium, brush the peaches with butter on the cut side and place cut-side down on the grill. Close the grill cover and let cook for 4 to 5 minutes. When the peaches show grill marks, brush the skin side with butter and turn the peaches over to cook. Close the cover and cook for another 4 minutes.
3. Carefully cut the hot peaches into bite-sized pieces and place in a medium-size bowl. Add the pecans, agave syrup, vinegar, and rosemary. Mix well.
4. Layer the peach mixture, berries, and cheese. Top with garnish and serve.
And, once I started thinking about it, I remembered the Coconut Peach Gazpacho I made in July at a market-to-table cooking class I took at Cups in La Jolla. (Read more about this class in my Local Bounty column in the October issue of San Diego Magazine.) This is a wonderful sweet and savory chilled soup that I will certainly make again at home.
Coconut Peach Gazpacho
From Jesus Gonzalez
8 ripe peaches, diced (or seasonal fruit)
1 onion, diced
½ cup light coconut milk
¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
½ teaspoon ground California chili
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into small dice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon agave syrup, or more to taste
1 peeled and diced apple
1. Set aside ½ cup of diced peaches. Add the rest of the ingredients up to the salt to a large bowl and puree thoroughly in a blender.
2. Cut the reserved peaches into ¼-inch dice and add to the bowl along with the diced cucumber, mint, apples, and agave syrup.
3. Taste the gazpacho at this point. You may want to add a little more lime juice or agave. Remember that chilling will dull the flavor slightly.
So, let's see what my Summer Fest 2010 colleagues are cooking up:
Sara at Cooking Channel: Savory Stone Fruit recipes
Todd and Diane of White on Rice Couple: Riesling Poached Pluots
Margaret at A Way to Garden: What is stone fruit, anyhow? Plus: Clafoutis batter revisited
Caroline at The Wright Recipes: Ginger and Vanilla Poached Peaches
The FN Dish: Paula's Perfect Peach Cobbler
Alison at Food2: Peachy Party Foods
Kelly at Just a Taste: Peaches & Cream Cupcakes
Liz on Healthy Eats: Puttin’ Up Peach Pickles, Compote and More
Food Network UK: How to Poach a Peach
Judy of Divina Cucina: Chocolate Amaretti Baked Apricots
The Gilded Fork: Dossier & Recipes Featuring Peaches, Apricots, Nectarines, Plums, Cherries, Almonds, and Coconuts
Cate at Sweetnicks: Blueberry Peach Smoothies
Tara at Tea & Cookies: Making Peach Jam
Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: Gluten-Free Peach-Blueberry Buckle
Paige at The Sister Project: A Summer Fruit Whatchamacallit (not a pie, not a crisp, but delicious)
Tigress in a Jam: Nectarine Preserve with Summer Savory and White Pepper
Marilyn at Simmer Till Done: Cherry Apricot Pie with Ginger-Almond Crunch
Alana at Eating from the Ground Up: Stone Fruit Slump
Now It's Your Turn!
This collaborative effort won't be much fun without you! The more info we all give, the more we'll all enjoy summer's harvest. Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? Starting with our posts of Wednesday, July 28, for five Wednesdays through 8/25 and possibly longer, you can contribute in various ways, big or small.
- Contribute a whole post, or a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. The possibilities:
- Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog any upcoming Wednesday, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.
- 7/28: cukesnzukes
- 8/4: corn
- 8/11: herbs, greens, and beans
- 8/18: stone fruit
- 8/25 tomatoes
- more to come if we all want it — stay tuned!