Stone Fruit

In the summer there is nothing better than biting into a perfectly ripe, sweet peach... or nectarine, or plum, or apricot for that matter. All year I look forward to eating as many of these fruits as I can. Miles is enjoying them too. He can easily eat a whole peach in a few minutes.

Recently I enjoyed some stone fruit in a salad featured in the latest issue of Bon Appetit as well as a dessert that I often like to make when it's hot (no oven required!).

Peach Salad with Gorgonzola Cheese and Plum Dressing

2 black plums
4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt, freshly ground black pepper
6 cups mixed greens
2 peaches or nectarines, halved, pitted and cut into eighths
4 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola or blue cheese
1/4 cup roasted Marcona or regular almonds

Dressing: Cut the plums in half, remove the pit and roughly chop. Place in a small saucepan with 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer for 15 minutes until the plums have broken down. Remove from the heat and let cool. Strain the plum mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl. Whisk in the vinegar, honey and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the greens on a large platter. Scatter peach slices, cheese and almonds over. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

Serves 4.

Note: Dressing can be made one week ahead and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. 

Grilled Nectarines with Vanilla Ice Cream

2 nectarines or peaches
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Vanilla ice cream
Raspberries, optional
Toasted, sliced almonds, optional

Heat a grill pan or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cut each nectarine in half and remove the pit. Brush the cut sides with some of the butter and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Place the nectarines cut side down on the pan and cook without moving for about 3 minutes. Then flip over and cook for one more minute on the other side. Remove from the heat.

Place one or two scoops of vanilla ice cream in a bowl. Nestle two nectarine halves into the bowl. Sprinkle with raspberries and almonds if using.

Serves 2.


Blanco y Negro

It's been hot lately.

In college I had the chance to spend a month abroad in Spain. It was hot there too. Luckily the Spaniards have the perfect cold treat: A blanco y negro. If you go into an ice cream shop and ask for a blanco y negro you will get a glass layered with coffee granita and vanilla ice cream. It's perfect for a hot day because it's doubly cold with icy granita and cool ice cream. In each bite you get a creamy, sweet, vanilla coffee flavor that is delicious. 

I somehow managed to eat a lot of blancos y negros during that month abroad using these types of justifications: "I'm in Spain, and I don't know when I'll be back here again, so it doesn't really matter that I already had a few this week." Or, "Yesterday I was in Madrid but today I'm in Alicante, so it makes sense to have one again now that I'm here." Or just, "¡Hace calor! I better get a blanco y negro to cool down." 

I've never seen a blanco y negro sold in the US, but fortunately it's easy to make at home. Here is how I do it:

Blanco y Negro

4 cups hot freshly brewed strong regular or decaf coffee
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 quart premium vanilla ice cream

In an 8 x 8 x 2 inch metal or glass baking dish stir together the coffee, sugar and vanilla until the sugar dissolves. Cover with foil and place in the refrigerator until well chilled, about 3 hours or overnight. Place the covered baking pan in the freezer. Stir and scrape the mixture with a fork every hour until frozen, about 4 hours. At the 4 hour mark, scrape granita down length of pan forming icy flakes. Return to freezer until ready to serve. When ready to serve place a couple of large spoonfuls of the granita in a glass. Top with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Top with another layer of granita and another scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

Serves 4-6.

Note: The granita can be kept in an air-tight container in the freezer for up to 3 days.