prosecco peach cream tart

The most perfect fruit has to be a perfect peach ~ Alice Waters

Last year, a February freeze  (the Valentine’s day massacre ) decimated the peach crop in the Northeast. And early this spring, another round of erratic weather did the same thing in Georgia and South Carolina. Those two states (along with California and New Jersey) are top peach growers in the United States. Events like that mean availability is a total wipeout. Which means there will be no peaches.

What would summer be without peaches — or tomatoes?! Certain foods define the fleeting moments of summer months, the way asparagus and ramps do in the spring and apples in the fall. Nature does what nature will, but missing out on sweet, luscious peaches seems like a tragedy. At least it does for me, but that’s based completely on my life priorities.

Sure, you can eat a piece of fruit grown elsewhere and shipped to market in a giant refrigerated truck — which I’m not knocking! Costco white nectarines are amazing right now — but there’s just nothing like eating fruit picked when it’s ripe. Never refrigerated, from tree, to hand, to mouth.

Peaches are in their prime right now, no matter where you find them. When you’re tired of devouring them over the kitchen sink, this tart is a simple way to make dessert out of one of summer’s treasures.  It’s completely no-bake,  with an almond-cookie crust, chilled cream cheese filling and refreshing wine-soaked peaches.

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roasted chili chicken thighs with lemon

Chicken thighs are a one-meat-fits-all staple in my kitchen, especially boneless skinless ones. They cook quickly and play friendly with the flavor spectrum of my pantry  — fresh and dried herbs, fragrant spices, canned tomatoes and coconut milk, and ingredients that live in the fridge, like mustard and hot sauce.

They’re a lot like chicken breasts that way, but thighs deliver much more chicken-ness and don’t become dry and boring after cooking.

Even though I cook dinner almost every day of the week, I’m not always great at planning out every single meal in advance. Many days I find myself putting things together on the fly, sometimes with a depleted fridge. That’s why I rely on the tried-and-true combo of lemon, olive and red chili, elemental but also essential in some way to just about everything I cook.

This chicken recipe cooks in one pan, on top of the stove for a few minutes then finished under the broiler, creating a savory pan sauce to pour over the meat and a simple side, like wilted greens and some grilled crusty bread. The sliced lemons add lots of tang and juice, but I sometimes add halved cherry tomatoes instead — they collapse and give up their own sweet tomato liquid as they roast under the broiler — perfect to serve as a one-bowl dinner with pasta.

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potato and kale pan pizza with ricotta

True new potatoes — freshly plucked out of the ground, their skin flaking off like a sunburn — are another one of those seasonal foods that come into your life for a fleeting moment. They delight you with youthful sweetness and tender delicacy, then quietly disappear into the horizon like the memory of a summer love.

I’ve been stalking that moment, pouncing on the first farmer’s market stand I saw displaying a bin of dusty, misshapen nuggets. I love baby potatoes all by themselves, simply steamed and doused with plenty of good olive oil or melted butter. But I also crave potatoes as a topping for pizza or flatbread. That particular combination of creamy starch and crisp dough is a carb-lover’s dream.

Traditionalists (and my 16-year old son) may reject pizzas with potatoes on them as some kind of blasphemy. That’s fine, I get it. But I believe they’re missing out on something delicious. And did I mention that leftover slices of this pizza make an amazing breakfast with a fried egg on top?

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