Stone Fruit Salsa

Even though I’ve been eating peaches, plums and nectarines for what seems like weeks on end, I couldn’t stop eating this salsa. If only I could sneak a little jalapeno into the mix, it would be stellar.

My youngest tentatively snacked on this dip even though she saw me nonchalantly cutting up the yellow tomatoes. She is (currently) not a tomato fan. It was either a moment of genius on my part or dumb luck that she even tried it; most likely the latter.

1 medium ripe plum, pitted and chopped
1 medium ripe peach, pitted and chopped
1 medium ripe nectarine, pitted and chopped
1 medium yellow tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped purple onion (optional)
1 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1/2 lime)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

In a small bowl, mix together the plum, peach, nectarine, and tomato. Add the cilantro, onion, lime juice and salt and stir until they are well distributed. Serve with tortilla chips.

Yield: 2 cups
Prep-time: 10 minutes

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Peachy Shaved Ice

I recently picked up 8 quarts of hail-damaged peaches that needed to be dealt with in a hurry. I decided it was time to squeeze one last frozen treat into our summer and make some granita. The Nectarine Granita recipe in David Lebowitz’s The Perfect Scoop served as my guide.

While it does need to freeze overnight, this is a relatively low maintenance and healthy frozen treat that does not require an ice cream maker. The only real pain was making room in my freezer. And the kids love it.

6 large ripe peaches (2 pounds)
1 cup water
1/4 – 1/3 cup honey (depending on preference and sweetness of fruit)
Tiny pinch salt

Wash, peel, and pit the peaches. I have a vegetable peeler that has little teeth on it that does the trick.* Place the pitted peaches and water in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered for 10 minutes or until the fruit is soft.  Remove from heat and stir in the honey and salt.

Allow the peach mixture to cool. Transfer the mixture to a blender to puree or use a hand/immersion blender. When the mixture is smooth, pour it into a 8 x12-inch (or thereabouts) baking pan. Cover with with plastic wrap and place on a level surface in your freezer.

In a couple hours, peel back the plastic wrap and check on the peach mixture by giving it a stir from the outside in. Check it one or two more times through the course of the day moving the frozen edges into the center while stirring.

Eventually, the mixture will freeze solid. It always seems to need to sit overnight for me. But maybe your freezer will work faster than mine. When it is solid and you are ready to serve, simply scrape it with a fork until you have enough fluffy frozen goodness to fill your bowl. Return the remainder to the freezer covered with plastic wrap.

Yield: maybe 6 cups
Prep-time: 20 minutes
Freeze-time: overnight

*Note: If your peeler doesn’t cooperate, I’ve heard you can dunk peaches in boiling water for a minute, run them under cold water, and then the peel will come off easily.

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Homemade Blueberry Fruit Leather

Who wants to place a bet on how soon my kids are going to get a cavity? I can’t stop making dried fruit purees this year and it is going to be my downfall.

Well, que sera sera. Frankly, not a bad way to go.

Dehydrated fruit purees I’ve posted about already such as the Strawberry Roll Ups and the Polka Dot Roll Ups contain very small amounts, if any, added sugar. For this reason, they are thinner and a little more brittle than traditional fruit leather. When fruit puree is loaded up with sugar the finished product is thicker and more flexible.

Turns out it doesn’t take gobs of honey to make thick fruit leather, just a 1/4 cup is necessary for this recipe. It’s not super sweet like grocery store fruit leather. I think it’s just right. 

1 pint fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup honey
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Heat the blueberries and water in a medium saucepan over med high heat until it comes to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium low so that the mixture is at a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove saucepan from heat and add the honey, applesauce, and lemon juice. Puree the mixture with a hand/immersion or regular blender until smooth.

Prepare a 15 x15-inch dehydrator tray with a lightly greased liner. Pour the blueberry mixture onto the middle of the lined tray and spread it out evenly with a large offset spatula or a spoon until it is 1/3-inch thick. It should be an approximately 12 x 12-inch square. Having the outside edges thicker is fine as they tend to dry more quickly.

Insert the tray into the dehydrator and set the temperature to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Run the dehydrator for 8 to 10 hours. The finished fruit leather may have a couple sticky spots on the surface, but for the most part it should be dried yet pliable.

Remove the fruit leather from the tray. Cut with a knife or scissors into individual servings. Wrap pieces in wax paper. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 10 pieces
Prep-time: 15 minutes
Drying-time: 8 – 10 hours

Cantaloupe Smiles

More often than not I don’t actually enjoy cantaloupe. I went out on a limb when I picked this one up at a farmer’s market. The day after I bought it home the whole kitchen started to smell like cantaloupe so I knew it was time to cut it up and see what we had.

Well, it turned out to be something quite beautiful and I’m not talking about its appearance. This cantaloupe smelled and tasted absolutely amazing. Again, fresh in-season produce puts its grocery-store counterparts to shame. This cantaloupe was everything a melon should be: sweet, bright, juicy and firm. No flacid sweetness and mealy texture here.

Since my kids are used to cantaloupe from the grocery store, the only way I was going to get my youngest to even try it was to make it fun. So we did cantaloupe “smiles” and after the first bite we were all hooked. Everyone went back for more.

I will be buying a melon every time I see one at the farmer’s market now.

Homemade Polka Dot Fruit Roll Ups

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All we have here is dehydrated applesauce, blackberry puree, and peach puree. And I’m hoping that it will make the my second grader’s classmates green with envy.

Darianne commented on my Homemade Strawberry Fruit Rolls Ups post that her kid is less than happy with the lack of stamped images on her homemade fruit roll ups. It got me thinking.  And I have rapidly ripening fresh local produce coming out of my ears right now. With Darianne’s kid in mind, we made a fruit roll up that kicks it up a notch. Who can say no to polka dots? Or better yet, fruit leather they’ve decorated themselves?[/donotprint]

1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
Fresh blackberry sauce
Fresh peach sauce

Spread applesauce out onto a lightly greased lined dehydrator tray to 1/4-inch thickness. I find a large offset spatula works well, but if you don’t have one spread the applesauce out evenly as best you can with the back of a spoon. “Decorate” the applesauce with the blackberry and peach sauces using separate plastic squeeze bottles.

Place the prepared tray in the dehydrator and set the machine to 135 degrees Farhient. Run the dehydrator for 4 hours or more until the fruit leather is no longer tacky and completely dry. The amount of time necessary depends on the thickness and amount of sugar in the fruit.

Remove the fruit leather from the tray and cut into approximately 2-inch wide strips. Store rolled up in wax paper in an airtight container. Should keep for weeks, if not months.

Yield: 1 12-inch square sheet (4 or 5 rolls)
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Dehydrating-time: 4 hours or more

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Fresh Blackberry Sauce

I used some freshly picked berries for this sauce. Grocery store berries or frozen berries may need some extra sugar and/or lemon juice.

1 pint fresh or frozen blackberries (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon sugar

If you are using frozen berries, allow them to thaw. For fresh berries, mash the berries and the sugar in a small bowl with a fork to get the juices flowing. Puree the mixture with a hand/immersion blender until smooth.

Pour the mixture through a strainer set on top of a medium bowl. Use a rubber spatula to push the pulp through as much as possible. Discard the seeds left in the strainer. Serve or store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Yield: 1 cup
Prep-time: 10 minutes

Fresh Peach Sauce

This recipe requires farm fresh local peaches. No grocery store peaches. No. No. No.

4 ripe peaches, pitted and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sugar

Puree peaches and sugar in a medium bowl using a hand blender or in a blender.

Pour the puree through a strainer set on top of a medium bowl. Use a rubber spatula to push the pulp through. Set the strainer aside and discard the bits that did not pass through. Serve or store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Prep-time: 10 minutes

Mint Lemonade

Perhaps I’m not the only one feeling all kinds of self-imposed pressure to live it up before the summer suddenly comes to a close. I’m sure no matter how much we run around livin’ it up before school starts, come September there’ll be about forty things that I’ll wish we had done. But, there’s always next summer… and as long as I’ve got a glass of mint lemonade in my hand, I believe I will be able to chill out and actually enjoy the time we have left.

4-5 fresh mint leaves
5 ice cubes
5 tablespoons (2 1/2-ounces) freshly squeezed lemon juice (about two lemons)
3 tablespoons (1 1/2-ounces) simple syrup
1 cup (8-ounces) cold water

In a large glass, smash up the mint leaves a bit with a muddler or the back of a spoon. Add ice cubes, lemon juice, simple syrup, and water. Shake or stir well and serve immediately.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Prep-time: 5 minutes

Cucumber Snack Salad

I love this zippy little summer salad when I have a little extra time in the afternoon. It gives us a break from the usual carrot sticks. If you don’t have champagne vinegar, you can try lemon juice. Champagne vinegar is also lovely with strawberries or on salads containing fruit. (A cucumber technically is a fruit, right?)

This recipe is adapted from a recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

1 medium fresh-picked cucumber, peeled
A generous pinch of fine salt
Pinch ground white pepper
1 – 2 tablespoons of champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill (optional)

Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds with a spoon and discard. Slice the cucumber thinly and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil, and dill. Mix with your hand or serve as is.

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Why I’m Okay with Living in New England

I’m okay with the snow and the humidity and the lack of sidewalks because until I moved out here (from central California) I had never tasted anything like this:

Or this:

Or this:

I’m probably living under some sort of delusion. But these fruits of summer (and a few pretty leaves in the Autumn) are seriously why I’m able to endure. So don’t tell me you can get all this stuff in California now. That would crush me.