Farewell Stoned Fruits.

I am a firm believer in eating and shopping locally, and in doing so, cooking in season. Whilst there are exceptions to every rule, it’s a sound starting point to cooking healthier, more sustainable and ethically better food. By shopping outside the faceless chains, you are supporting local people and businesses, and helping variety and character to flourish in your area.

I am however going to cut short my rant, and break right out into a recipe section. This is through anxiety that the season is nearly over for some of my favourite fruits, and as they are on the way out (and often, no longer in their prime), I have some recipes to make the most of their final days in our shops. So, without further ado, STONED FRUIT.

Eating seasonally is great, but suffice to say, it has it’s ups and downs. The main down being when you have just got used to your favourite thing hanging around, being all delicious and readily available, then bamm, it no longer is. I feel this pain with many things, most notably, certain mushrooms (weird, I know), asparagus, blood oranges and stoned fruits.

If like me, your emotions are driven substantially by regular (delicious) food interludes, then you too, need to cook your way out that funk.

This recipe can be used for any stoned fruit (peach, plum, apricot, nectarines), but many will only be around till the end of September. These tend to be imported produce, so with these fruits, focus on the ‘local’ shop, rather than the place of origin (get British plums though!). They are still in season, and England never grows them, so we are going to have to get over that. If you have any queries about what you should be using, check out this website.

BEGINNER: My first recipe, is easy baked peaches. It’s perfect dinner party food. And as we come to the tail end of the season, the added elements means they don’t have to be the best ones, to be made into the best. It’s like an Italian, almondy, deconstructed crumble in a way. It’s certainly comfort food. So it’s perfect for these moodier days ahead.

I’d serve 1 whole peach per person for this, so plan accordingly. The amount of amaretti ‘stone’ is based on 4 peaches being used. I got my peaches from reg-the-veg in Clifton, and my amaretti from the Italian deli in Montpelier, but use your local delis and grocers, the chances are they’ll have what you need.

Ingredients:

4 x large peaches

60g crunchy Amaretti biscuits

25g demerara (or golden caster) sugar (or 2 dessertspoons)

25g butter (softened)

1 large egg yolk

Drizzle with a good dash of vin santo, or similar sweet dessert wine just before you bake them if you fancy it. Gives it an extra depth of flavour and sweet delciousness.

To serve:

1 pot Creme fraiche or really good/ homemade vanilla icecream

Step 1: Pre-heat the oven to 180°C

Step 2: Cut all peaches in half and remove their stones. Ripe peaches are better, and will make this process easier.

Step 3: Lay peaches flat side up on a baking tray

Step4: Prepare the ‘amaretti stones’ by smashing hard amaretti biscuits with an egg yolk, melted butter and sugar until you reach a good consistency and taste. The mixture should hold it’s shape and not be ‘wet’. Feel free to freestyle the quantities, I always do. Just taste for sweetness and consistency – you need that crunch.

Step 5: Spoon mixture into the peach, where the stone once was. It should be a little bigger than the stone was. If it was a small stone, feel free to scoop out more fruit to create a larger space for the mixture.

Step 6: Bake for 15-20mins until golden.

Serve hot, with creme fraiche. When I last served this, I had a selection of toppings to make it a little jazzier, including creme fraiche, homemade ice cream, homemade crunchie nuggets and extra fresh fruit. But the beauty of this dish is its ease and simplicity, so feel free to keep it stripped back.

You can sub in any stoned fruit, just keep the ratios of amaretti to fruit the same, and if it’s a smaller fruit, bake for a little less time. Plums may need a sprinkling of brown sugar to sweeten them up – have a little taste.

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Accompaniments, fresh berries, crushed (crunchy) amaretti, home made honeycomb and chocolate nuggets, creme fraiche, cream and home made vanilla ice cream (Just making sure everyone in the family has been catered for…)

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THE BAKED PEACHES. MMM, oozing with delicious, sweet, fruity and amaretto deliciousness.

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Mint, basil, peach, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, seasoning. BEST SALAD. Just gotta wait till next summer to enjoy this again now….

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I miss mid morning breakfasts, basking in the sun, eating crumpets, fried food, and fresh fruit salad – with the all important PEACH.

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