Get cooking

Just peachy! Enjoy the juicy goodness of this summer fruit

Fresh Peach Crostata is an Italian-inspired pie that doesn’t require a pie plate, or even a homemade crust. Simply fold the dough over the edge of the fruit and crimp here and there to keep it together. It is delicious with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

Fresh Peach Crostata is an Italian-inspired pie that doesn’t require a pie plate, or even a homemade crust. Simply fold the dough over the edge of the fruit and crimp here and there to keep it together. It is delicious with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

A ripe peach is pure poetry. The color, the texture, the taste of summer inspires a writer's lyrical thoughts for sure, but also flights of fancy for cooks. • Ah, what to use the luscious fruit for? The fuzzy starburst skin barely contains the possibilities. Gobble a peach out of hand on a hot day, sweet juice running down forearms and chin. Pair chunks with onion and peppers to serve alongside pork or fish. Grill to intensify what makes them so good. Peaches in salad. Peaches in rustic pies. Peaches in ice cream. • It's high time for peaches when July slips into August; by mid September they are a memory. Resist the urge to think too far ahead, because for now, peaches are at their juiciest and cheapest. So, too, are nectarines, plums and apricots, plus hybrids with names like dinosaur eggs and donuts. • Stone fruits — mango among them — are nearly interchangeable in their culinary uses. For this story, I tested recipes using peaches and plums, mostly because they called to me at the grocery store. The peaches, especially at the bargain price of $1.19 a pound, were piled high in country baskets. I could smell them from an aisle away. To ripen peaches, leave on the counter for a couple of days but be prepared to eat them as soon as they are soft. Do not refrigerate.

A recipe for Roasted Peach Ice Cream came along at just the right time. Roasted peaches? Such a clever idea to soften the fruit and concentrate the sweetness. (See the ice cream recipe for instructions. I tossed in some deep purple plums.)

Roasted stone fruit can be draped over store-bought vanilla ice cream if you don't have the inclination or equipment to make your own. It'll be as good as Day 1 for about a week if stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Savory dishes can also benefit from warm roasted fruit. Serve the sweet fruit alongside pork or fish or cradled in a green salad with feta cheese and vinaigrette.

Making ice cream these days isn't the chore of old. Electric makers use a frozen cylinder that's stored in the freezer. No salt, no hand-crank. After you've made and chilled the ice cream base, it takes only about 30 minutes to transform liquid to solid. Another hour unattended in the freezer and the ice cream is ready for scooping.

This recipe, adapted by an Internet blogger from Alton Brown's Burned Peach Ice cream (www.foodnetwork.com), doesn't use customary egg yolks for the base. The finished product tastes more of cream than custard.

The ingredients, save for the roasted peaches, are brought to 170 degrees, which is barely simmering, and then chilled. Simple.

I like the idea of something crunchy to go with the ice cream, so Slice-and-Bake Pecan Cookies continued the Georgia theme. Because the recipe calls for shortening (I used butter-flavored, 0 trans fat Crisco), the dough doesn't get as hard as other refrigerator cookie dough I've made or bought. The rolls are soft when sliced and get a bit smooshed, but somehow come out of the oven beautifully, uniformly round. A lovely foil to the peach ice cream.

Peach Crostata came together in minutes, though the final product looks much more professional than slap-dash. A crostata is an Italian free-form fruit pie. A mixture of fresh fruit, flour, sugar and bit of salt is placed in the middle of pie dough on a cookie sheet with a rim. The dough is folded over the edge of the fruit and crimped to keep it together.

During baking, the pastry browns and the fruit goes soft and bubbly. Two things to know: (1) The juices sometimes escape into the pan, so make sure the pan has a rim to hold them from running into the oven (I used a ceramic pie plate the second time around), and (2) crostata isn't good left over. The fruit makes the crust soggy. Serve it within an hour or two of making, and plan to eat it all (this won't be a problem). Delicious with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or even plain yogurt.

Tangy feta and earthy baby lettuces play off the sweetness of fruit in Stone Fruit Salad. This recipe initially called for champagne vinegar, and if you have it, use it. However, white wine vinegar — it's just a tablespoon — works as well. Bring a big portion for a take-along work lunch, or serve it as an accompaniment for grilled pork or chicken (or store-bought rotisserie bird).

As I said: Peaches are pure poetry.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8586.

>>easy

Slice-and-Bake Pecan Cookies

1 cup shortening

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda; add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Fold in pecans. Shape into two 2-inch rolls; wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill 2 hours or up to 1 week.

To bake, cut into 1/3-inch slices. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool 5 minutes; remove to wire racks.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen.

Source: Adapted from Taste of Home

>>moderate

Roasted Peach Ice Cream
2 cups half-and-half

1 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup peach preserves

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Pinch kosher salt

4 to 6 medium cold, roasted peaches (see note)

Combine all ingredients, except the peaches, in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Attach a candy thermometer to inside of pan. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to 170 degrees. Remove from heat and strain into a lidded container. If you do not have a thermometer, bring the mixture just barely to a simmer. As soon as you see a bubble on the surface, remove it from the heat.

Cool the mixture, then refrigerate it overnight.

Freeze mixture in an ice cream machine according to unit's instructions. Once the volume has increased by 1/2 and reached a soft-serve consistency, add the peaches and continue turning to incorporate. Spoon the mixture back into a lidded container and harden in the freezer at least 1 hour before serving.

Makes 1 quart.

Note: To roast peaches (or any other stone fruits), cut in half and remove pits. Sprinkle both sides with granulated sugar. Place cut side down in single layer in a baking dish with 2-inch sides. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Cool slightly and remove skin. Store in refrigerator.

Source: Adapted from Alton Brown

>>easy

Fresh Peach Crostata
Prepared pastry dough (unbaked), enough for a 9-inch pie pan; can use homemade or commercial

4 large peaches, thinly sliced

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 whole egg, beaten

1 tablespoon butter

Ice cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Set the unbaked pie dough onto the baking sheet.

In a bowl, gently mix peaches, sugar and flour together. Pour fruit mixture into the center of the pastry round, leaving about 2 1/2 inches around the edge. Fold up the edge of the pastry dough over the filling to make a rim. Fan the edge as you go around folding the dough.

Brush pastry with the beaten egg and place the pat of butter on top of the fruit mixture. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Cool the crostata on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature with your favorite ice cream.

Serves 6.

Source: Food Network

>>easy

Stone Fruit Salad
A combination of 4 to 6 peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots or pluots, sliced or diced large

Salad greens (baby lettuces, arugula or mixed greens)

1/4 cup almonds, slivered

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing:

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Place cut fruit in large bowl with greens. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a bowl. Toss the dressing with the fruit, almonds and feta and serve on a bed of greens.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Kaiser Permanente

Just peachy! Enjoy the juicy goodness of this summer fruit 07/29/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 9:59am]

© 2014 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...