Farm stand peaches by the peck are now at their peak. They are sweet, juicy and perfect for a healthy snack, packed with Vitamins A and C.
Look for peaches with unblemished skins and vibrant color. The ones with a sweet, fruity aroma, that are firm with a slight resistance when gently touched, are nice and ripe.
For a peach peeling trick, drop them into simmering water until the skin starts to slip, about 10 to 30 seconds. Then run cold water over the fruit and pull off the skins. To prevent discoloration, roll them in orange juice.
Another yummy fruit that’s ready to eat right now is the fig. This year my friend Michael’s fabulous fig trees have been yielding about 200 a day!
Figs are a good source of iron, calcium and phosphorus. I love them unadorned and served with Manchego cheese or drizzled with honey and topped with toasted pine nuts for dessert.
Fresh Peach PieAdapted from my friend Katrina’s friend Joan.
(Serves 6)For the pie crust:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
1 egg, whisked
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 tablespoons ice water
2 tablespoons sliced and blanched almonds, toasted for sprinkling
For the filling:
5 to 6 large, fresh, firm, ripe peaches, peeled and sliced (divided into 2 cups mashed for cooking, with remaining as fresh)
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch or arrowroot
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
Whipped cream, for topping
Optional: 1 teaspoon powdered sugarTo prepare:Working in the food processor fitted with the stainless steel blade, add flours and salt and process until blended, about 4 pulses.
Add butter and pulse until the mixture become a coarse meal.
Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Whisk the egg together with almond extract and 1 tablespoon water.
Using a fork, pull water and egg mixture through the flour, adding more liquid if necessary until the dough forms a ball.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place the dough on a clean and floured surface.
Taking care to not overwork the dough, flatten and roll it out to fit an 11-inch pie plate.
Crimp the edges and prick the crust in a few places with a fork.
Place a piece of aluminum foil directly on the crust, the freeze the crust for approximately 30 minutes.
Remove from the freezer and weight down the foil (I use a few beans or grains of rice), then place on center rack of oven and bake a until the edges start to brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove the foil and the weight and continue baking until the crust is flaky, tender and light brown, about 12 to 15 minutes longer.
If the crust is browning too fast, reduce the heat to 375 degrees.
Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
Make the filling about 2 to 3 hours before serving.
In a mixing bowl, crush two cups of sliced peaches.
Transfer to a medium non-reactive saucepan and cook over moderate heat, bringing to a boil.
In a separate bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch, adding a pinch of salt.
Stir the mixture into the peaches and cook until they begin to thicken, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes.
Stir in almond extract, then taste and add more sugar if needed.
Set aside to cool.
Scatter the bottom of the pie shell with toasted almonds.
Fill it with the cooked peach mixture, layering fresh peaches on the top.
Refrigerate for approximately 3 hours and then serve with whipped cream.Michael’s Fresh Purple Figs With Honey And Pine Nuts(Serves 3 to 6)
6 large ripe fresh purple figs, washed and dried
1½ tablespoons honey
2½ tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 fresh lime, cut into wedgesTo prepare:Wrap fresh washed figs in paper towels.
Place in a sealable plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator.
Just before serving, cut stem end off figs with a sharp knife.
Starting from the stem end, cut each fig into quarters, keeping the bottom intact.
Slightly open the fig with your fingers, making it look like a blossom.
Arrange the figs on a plate.
Drizzle honey over the figs and sprinkle pine nuts over the whole affair.
Arrange lime around the figs and serve.
Squeezed the lime over the figs just before eating to feel the flavors explode on your tongue.