Stone Fruits

Summer EndingsStone Fruits, Plums, Peaches, and Apricots
Summer heat and humidity linger into late summer, and so do stone fruits. It is our last chance to savor these before fall brings the apple/pumpkin harvest season. When I think of late summer, I think especially of plums. Their sweet-tartness and cooling, hydrating nature make them a perfect choice during the late-summer, steamy days when everyone is called back to the structure and confines of daily living. While cooling and hydrating, plums also aid digestion and, with a low glycemic index, are good for diabetics. Peaches, which are a cousin to the plum, are also sweet-tart in nature, cooling, hydrating, low in sugars (compared to apples and pears) and aid digestion. Peaches and plums can be used interchangeably in most of the recipes below. Apricots, while a bit past peak, also deserve mention, as a stone fruit that offers one of the broadest array and richest sources of antioxidants, particularly the carotenoids. Before summer stone fruits fade we can seize the moment when these fruits are at their peak of perfection. It is a good chance to revive the memories of summer as we share natures bounty around the dinner table. All recipes are selected for ease of preparation, in recognition of the harried pace that goes with transitioning back to the return to routines.

Baked Peaches (or Apricots)
4 large ripe peaches
5 T. apricot jam
2 T. honey
1 cup water
1 T. lemon zest
2 t. fresh lemon juice
4 t. sugar (sprinkle t. over each peach half before baking)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the pits and place the peach halves cut side up in a 9- by 13- inch shallow earthenware baking dish. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients, through lemon juice, and spoon mixture over peach halves, and sprinkle each with t. of sugar. Bake 30-45 minutes, until the peaches are tender. Very ripe peaches will cook faster. Check several times during baking, basting them with their juices each time you do. Serve warm, with ice cream. Drizzle the juices over the top for a delicious sauce.
Source: Alice Waters

Warm Plum Sauce
3 pounds Italian prune plums, or any semi-ripe plums
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
2/3 cup apple juice
2 (3) cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
teaspoon fine sea salt
1 vanilla bean

Pit and halve the plums. In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the plums, maple syrup, apple juice, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the saucepan. Drop in the bean, as well. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat, and boil for 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Remove and discard the vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks. Cool slightly. Serve sauce over cakes, ice creams, fruits, waffles, or puddings.
Source: Peter Berley

Frozen Peach (or Plum) Pops
5 medium peaches (about 2 cups)
cup white grape juice
Puree fruit in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add grape juice. Pour the pureed fruit into frozen popsicle molds or paper cups (with a wooden stick). Leave inch of space at the top to allow the exposure to expand when freezing. Freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Run the mold under hot water for a few seconds, if necessary.
Source: Alice Waters

Apricot Delight
3 dried apricots, soaked
cup water
cup macadamia nuts
1 drop lemon grass oil (optional)

Process macadamia nuts in a food processor with the S blade until a fine meal. Add apricots and water and blend until smooth and creamy. Stir in lemon grass oil. Serve over morning fruit or a dessert.
Source: Gabriel Cousens

Spiced Plum Soup
2 pounds very ripe purple plums
2 large pieces orange zest
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 3 piece cinnamon stick
4 cloves
t. cardamom
t. ground coriander
1/3 to cup mild honey, to taste
cup buttermilk
Orange flower water (optional)
1 t. balsamic vinegar
Fresh mint leaves

Leave very small plums whole and cut larger ones roughly in half. Dont worry about removing the pits. Put them in a pot with the orange zest and juice, spices, and 1/3 cup honey. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the flesh easily falls away from the pit, about 30 minutes. Transfer the plums to a food mill set over a bowl and begin to turn it. It will grate against the pits and loosen the flesh. Pick out the pits, cinnamon stick, and cloves as you come across them and continue to work the plums through, skins and all. Whisk the buttermilk and 1 t. orange flower water into the plum puree and chill. When the soup is cold, stir in the vinegar, taste again and correct seasonings, adding more spice, honey, or orange flower water if needed. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.
Source: Deborah Madison

Plums (or Peaches) Poached in Orange Sauce

1 cup fresh orange juice
1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 t. grated or minced lemon zest
cup honey
8 to 12 ripe plums or peaches

Combine the first four ingredients in a medium saucepan and turn the heat to medium. Bring to a simmer and add the plums. Cover the pan and turn the heat as low as possible. Simmer gently, turning the plums once or twice, until they are tender but still whole, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on their size and their ripeness. Remove plums to a platter and turn the heat to medium-high; reduce the liquid by about half. Pour the syrup over the plums, cool, and serve chilled.
Source: Mark Bittman

Peach (or Plum) Mango Frappe

2 peaches
1 large mango
1 cups yogurt or buttermilk
Vanilla to taste
6 ice cubes
Fresh lemon or lime juice, to taste

Peel and slice the fruit, then puree in a blender or food processor with the yogurt, vanilla, and ice until smooth. Add the lemon or lime juice to taste and serve.
Source: Deborah Madison

The following is a modified version of an old family favorite. You can make it as simple or as complex as you like, depending on whether you make an exotic crust, or simply opt for the store-bought kind.

Rustic Plum Tart
Your Favorite Pie Crust Recipe
1 pound plums, halved, pitted, each half cut into 6 slices
6 T. sugar
t. ground ginger
t. ground cinnamon
1 T. all flour
2 T. (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, beaten to blend (for the glaze0
cup apricot preserves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss plums, 4 T. sugar, ginger and cinnamon in a bowl. Roll out dough on floured surface to 12 inch round. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Mix 1 T. sugar and 1 T. flour in small bowl; sprinkle over dough, leaving 2 plain border. Arrange plums in concentric circles on dough, leaving 2 plain border; drizzle with melted butter. Fold dough border in toward center. Brush border with egg glaze; sprinkle wit 1 T. sugar. Bake tart until plums are tender and crust is golden, about 45 minutes.
Stir preserves in saucepan over low heat until melted. Brush over plums. Cool tart 1 hour on baking sheet. Run long thin knife under tart to loosen. Using 9 tart pan bottom, transfer tart to plate; serve at room temperature.

Copyright 2008