If you still don't think climate change is real, maybe you're not spending enough time at farmers markets. This year has been even wonkier than usual (or catastrophic, depending on who you talk to), between the sudden heat waves and the semi-permanent drought. What this means in terms of the future is for the climatologists to work out; what it means for local stone fruit farmers is an early crop of smaller but very flavor-intensive fruit.
As anyone who's on Instagram knows, cherries have hit the markets in buckets, followed closely by apricots, nectarines and peaches. At the South Pasadena farmers market, held every Thursday late afternoon and evening, Etheridge Organics' stands stands were loaded with saturn peaches, nectarines and yellow peaches as well as citrus. The stone fruit, from Visalia, up near Fresno, was indeed on the small side, but with marvelous high acid and deeply flavorful.
If you, like many of us, consider the summer availability of stone fruit to be the best reason to live in Los Angeles (that and taco trucks), you'll be eating these out of hand. But you'll probably also over-buy out of sheer joy, in which case you might need a few recipes. Here are five of them.
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Smitten Kitchen's nectarine, mascarpone and gingersnap tart
Ginger pairs fantastically well with peaches and nectarines, adding a little kick if they're overly sweet and an even greater depth to more acidic fruit. (If you're sauteeding the fruit, try adding a slice of fresh ginger to the pan.) In this recipe, the ginger comes from gingersnaps, which are crushed to form a crust. This is a deceptively simple no-bake dessert, which you might want to keep in mind for next week, when we get another round of triple-digit temperatures.
Martha Stewart's old-fashioned tapioca with sauteed nectarines
If you still associate tapioca with bad childhood desserts or pot lucks, you might want to make a batch of this stuff, flavored with honey and topped with ginger-infused and slightly sauteed nectarines. It's a very simple, extremely inexpensive pudding, and the perfect vehicle for terrific fruit.
April Bloomfield's porridge
Does this have nectarines or peaches in it? No. But it could, and perhaps even should. Make this, by the chef of New York City's The Spotted Pig and recent James Beard Award-winner, and slice a few ripe peaches over it. It's simple but lovely porridge, made with two kinds of oats, milk and Maldon sea salt, and from Bloomfield's A Girl and Her Pig, if you happen to have it.
White on Rice Couple's brown butter pancakes with glazed peaches
Make these pancakes for breakfast, or even for dinner, and then maybe double the batch of glazed peaches and spoon the extra over a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Diane Cu and Todd Porter, the Costa Mesa-based cooks and photographers who run this blog (and the cookbook it engendered) are great with fresh produce, inspired by their enormous backyard. The rest of us have a whole city's worth of farmers markets.
David Lebovitz's melon nectarine agua fresca
The beautiful thing about aguas frescas is that they're highly adaptable, which Lebovitz, the Paris-based cookbook writer and blogger extraordinaire points out with this easy recipe. Add chili powder or a shot or two of tequila to this refreshing drink, or switch out fruits for what you have handy - or very ripe. The joys of having a blender in the summertime.