With hot, sultry weather comes luscious, sweet, juicy stone fruit: just what we've been waiting for. Peaches, nectarines, cherries, apricots and plums fall into this category, and they are the true delights of summer. They all taste good together, whether baked in a cobbler or sliced for a fruit salad.
Let's focus on peaches.
GRILLED PEACHES WITH ALMOND PASTE FILLING AND BLUEBERRIES
6 peaches, cut in half
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 cup caramel
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 powder sugar
4 oz. almond paste
Rum, to taste
Brush peaches with butter and grill until soften. Mix all filling ingredients in a food processor till creamy and fluffy.
Drizzle plate with caramel, one slice of grilled peach, one scoop of creamy filling atop of grilled peach and garnish with blueberries and mint.
PEACHES WITH ZABAGLIONE
Makes 4 to 6 servings
6 egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 large peaches
1/4 cup raspberries, for garnish (optional)
Raspberry puree, see note (optional)
Make the zabaglione: In a double boiler or a bowl set over rapidly simmering water, whisk egg yolks and sugar together. Add Marsala and white wine and whisk well until mixture is warm and beginning to thicken, about 2 minutes.
Continue to whisk vigorously as mixture increases in volume, until it is the consistency of lightly whipped cream, 2 minutes more. Take care that the eggs do not overcook and become curdled.
Pour zabaglione into 4 to 6 wide-mouthed wineglasses or coupes and let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. Peel peaches and cut into 1/2-inch wedges. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.
To serve, top each glass with sliced peaches, dividing them evenly. If desired, garnish with raspberries and drizzle with about a tablespoon of raspberry puree.
Note: To make raspberry puree, simmer 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup raspberries over a medium flame for about 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and refrigerate until chilled. Makes about 1/2 cup.
YELLOW NECTARINE MOJITOS
1/2 cup nectarines, diced
6 fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
1/2 lime, sliced in half
1 tablespoon sugar
2 ounces white rum
2 ounces club soda, chilled
In the bottom of a heavy drinking glass, combine the nectarines, mint, lime wedges and sugar. Use a muddler to smash them together and release all the oils and juices.
Fill the glass with ice cubes, then add the rum. Top off the mojito with chilled club soda. Stir well, and serve with a straw.
PEACHES IN RED WINE
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
2 cups medium-bodied dry red wine
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Pinch grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 large ripe peaches or nectarines
1/4 cup blackberries, for garnish (optional)
Put wine in a glass or stainless-steel bowl. Add sugar and stir to dissolve, then add lemon zest, nutmeg, ginger and black pepper. Chill well.
Peel peaches and cut into 1/2-inch wedges. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.
To serve, pour 1/3 to 1/2 cup chilled wine mixture into 4 to 6 wide-mouthed wineglasses or coupes. Add sliced peaches to each glass, dividing them evenly. Garnish each portion with a few blackberries, if desired.
Makes 3 cups
1 large peach, cored and chopped
2 bell peppers (any color), cored and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt and ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, toss together the apples, peppers, jalapeno, garlic, mint, cilantro, vinegar and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.
RASPBERRY PEACH BARS
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2/3 cup raspberry jam
3 cups raspberries
3 cups sliced peaches
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan; line with parchment.
Using a stand mixer, combine butter and brown sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in egg yolk, salt and vanilla. Add 2 cups flour; mix until well combined.
Spread dough into bottom of prepared pan, pressing firmly with your hands.
Using an offset spatula, spread jam over dough.
In a bowl, combine berries, peaches, sugar, remaining 1/4 cup flour and cornstarch. Gently toss, then distribute over crust.
Mix crumble ingredients, cutting butter into dry ingredients until the crumble is the consistency of peas. Sprinkle over fruit.
Place the pan on a foil-lined baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until topping is golden and the fruit is bubbling. Cool completely before slicing.
SWEET BRUSCHETTA WITH PEACHES
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Combining cream cheese, sour cream, and heavy cream will give you a mixture with a taste and consistency similar to Italian mascarpone, which is expensive and can be hard to find.
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Eight 1/2-inch-thick slices crusty country bread
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 peaches, pitted and sliced
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts or pistachios
Preheat a gas grill to medium-high. Combine cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream and vanilla. Brush bread on both sides with oil.
Clean grill grids thoroughly with a wire brush.
Grill bread slices until bottoms are golden and marked by the grill, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn, sprinkle with salt, and grill another minute or two. Transfer to a serving platter.
Spread cream cheese mixture over bread slices. Arrange sliced peaches on top of cheese.
Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with nuts. Serve immediately.