By Barbara Beltrami
Those peaches and nectarines blushed their way into your heart. The plums looked like 1,000-karat rubies and amethysts. The cherries, at least the one you sneaked a sample of, burst with flavor as you bit into it. So you bought them and brought them home and piled them in your favorite bowl. Then you waited for them to ripen.
And one day they did, all at once. So you ate a few, maybe made a fruit salad. And then they turned wrinkled and blemished and mushy and reminded you what an incurable impulse buyer you are. But don’t worry. There are some wonderful ways to use less than perfect summer stone fruit such as peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and cherries.
You can put them in a saucepan with a little water or wine and sugar and cook them into a fruit compote. Or bake them with some butter, sugar, flour and oatmeal. You can make a crisp or a cobbler, a pie or a pudding, a fool or a tart. And no matter what you do, it’s a good idea to have plenty of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on hand.
YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings
8 cups chopped stone fruit
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Butter for greasing baking dish
1/3 cup flour
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl toss together fruit, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Transfer to greased 2 to 2½ quart or 9 × 13 nonreactive baking dish. In a food processor combine flour, brown sugar, salt, oats and butter until mixture has a coarse texture. Sprinkle evenly over fruit. Bake about 60 minutes, until fruit is bubbling and topping is golden. Cool on wire rack one hour or until very warm but not hot. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
YIELD: Makes 6 servings
1 pound stone fruit, pitted and sliced or chopped
3 tbl granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbl confectioners’ sugar
Dash vanilla extract
Fresh mint leaves
In a large saucepan combine fruit and granulated sugar; add just enough water to barely cover. Bring mixture to boil, then let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the fruit is very tender. Remove from heat, allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate 30 minutes. In a large bowl, whip the cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla together until soft peaks form but don’t let it get too stiff. Fold whipped cream into cooked fruit and spoon into parfait or wine glasses; garnish with mint. Serve with crisp cookies.
Summer Bread Pudding
YIELD: Makes 8 servings
6 to 8 cups stone fruit, pared, pitted and diced
½ to ¾ cup sugar
1 to 2 tbl freshly squeezed lemon juice
10 to 12 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
In a medium saucepan combine fruit, sugar, lemon juice and 1/3 to ½ cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to steady simmer and cook for about 8 to10 minutes, until sugar is dissolved and fruit releases its juices. Pour a little of the fruit syrup into bottom of medium bowl; line bottom of bowl with one layer of bread slices cut to fit shape. Making sure it is completely coated, spoon about one-third of the fruit with some juice over bread. Top with more bread slices, then fruit and juices. Repeat procedure until fruit and juices as well as bread are all used up, but be sure to finish with bread on top.
Let cool completely, pat plastic wrap onto pudding so it touches it, then place a plate the same size as the top of the pudding and weight with something that weighs about one pound (an unopened 14-ounce can works well). Refrigerate 6 to 8 hours. When ready to serve, run a knife around edge of pudding, then flip and unmold onto plate. Slice into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.