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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prosecco pears and vanilla bean ricotta

You know what they say about fruit. It’s a gamble, especially now in these last (and not a little brutal) days of winter.

I’m always glad to meet and eat a pear, though. They hold up much better in cold storage than apples, and seem to be created for poaching, their flesh turning silky smooth and luscious.

Wine-poached pears are a great winter dessert, and kind of sexy too. You have to admit pears have the most graciously voluptuous outline in the fruit world, with the possbile exception of peaches and figs.  [Read more…]

pomegranate panna cotta

The pomegranates were ripening, falling to the ancient staircase below with a thump. The heavy fruit split apart on impact, exposing crimson seeds and fleshy insides.  There was a tree laden with fruit just outside the casale in Tuscany – the magical place where I was staying almost exactly one month ago.

The skin of these fruits wasn’t the familiar mottled, deeply red color of the ones I buy in late fall from produce bins in the grocery store; these were yellow tinged with green, looking more like extra-large Golden Delicious apples than what I’ve come to recognize as pomegranates. Pomegranates are melograno in Italian, derived from the Latin word for apple.

When I first noticed the tree I didn’t recognize the fruits; it wasn’t until I saw them cracked open on the ground that I saw what they were. The property, surrounded by vineyards, was outlined with hedges of bay laurel, rosemary and oleander. All plants that love the Mediterranean climate as much as pomegranates do. [Read more…]