If you've spent any time at local markets lately, you'll know where you are on the seasonal flowchart: citrus is about over, great tomatoes aren't quite here yet, and we're in the midst of what's looking to be a terrific stone fruit season. Cherries and apricots and nectarines are everywhere, and the first of the season's peaches are showing up at your favorite farmers' stalls. And peach season is, for some of us, reason enough to live in this part of the world.
Because of a hot spell in early May, there are a lot of early season peaches out now, and even some mid-season fruit. This week Fitzgerald's had Sugar Lips, and Regier Family Farms brought flats of Springcrest and Fiesta Gems to the market. Elberta peaches will be here soon, and look for the fantastic O'Henrys later on in the summer.
Of course the best way to eat a peach is to do nothing to it at all — eat it out of hand or slice it up on the spot as you stand in the market, peach juice falling as it may. If the peaches aren't quite ripe, take them home and let them ripen in a bowl, then eat them like apples. Or if you have an abundance of fruit, or want something fancier, you can crush a peach to make a Bellini, fan slices out into a tart shell, or pile your fruit into a pan for a cobbler. Turn the page for 5 recipe suggestions. The peaches will be here all summer.
Do you really need a recipe for this? Maybe, maybe not, but it's a terrific idea. If your peaches are a little under-ripe, or you just want to do something more interesting with them, slice and sauté them with a bit of butter and sugar. You can also throw in some spices, maybe cinnamon or ginger or even chile powder (I once accidentally sautéed apples with chili powder, note the spelling, to great approval). Spoon over ice cream or plain yogurt or fold into crepes. Or just eat them out of the warm pan.
When you have an abundance of peaches, slicing them onto a tart shell is an excellent way to go. The nice thing about a tart, as opposed to a pie or a cobbler, is that you can see the fruit in all its geometrical glory. Don't bother to peel the peaches, as they're prettier with the skins on and it makes the tart a whole lot easier to construct. Unsurprisingly, Food52, the gorgeous site from Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, has a pretty great, classic recipe.
Combining peaches and berries is a glorious combination, for flavor and color, and happily you can find all sorts of interesting berries at L.A. markets now: blueberries, blackberries, even mulberries and olallieberries if you're lucky. Madison's addition of corn flour to the topping makes this a particularly lovely cobbler recipe.
David Mas Masumoto and his family own and operate their organic peach farm, which has been in the family for four generations, twenty miles south of Fresno. Masumoto, who is a columnist for the Fresno Bee, also writes books, including the just-published The Perfect Peach: Recipes and Stories from the Masumoto Family Farm, from which this cobbler recipe comes. And the book, the first from the whole family, including Masumoto's wife Marcy and daughter Nikiko, is fantastic. If you love peaches, get it: The book includes many recipes for not only desserts (peach-lemongrass granita!) but savory recipes, peach drinks and cocktails, as well as lovely farming anecdotes and stories.
A seasonal favorite from the late and often lamented Angeli Caffe, Kleiman's salad requires a few fresh peaches, some ripe tomatoes, a bit of burrata and a quick vinaigrette. It's an easy and utterly gorgeous dish — and a great way to make what can be a full summer meal out of the contents of your market basket.
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