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Stone Fruits Are Still Rockin'

Original post made by Jacqui Love Marshall, San Ramon, on Aug 5, 2011

Summer continues to deliver an abundance of fresh produce -- tender zucchini, juicy tomatoes, sweet corn, deep purple eggplants – and, especially now, luscious plums, peaches and nectarines.

I tasted an organic plum from the San Ramon Farmers Market that was so sweet and juicy I had to feature it in a baked item. My son-in-law loves this cake so much he calls it "crack cake." He says that, once you have one slice, you can't stop eating it. Try it and see:

==B Buttermilk Plum Cake (serves 10-12)==
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus more for coating pan
2-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, plus more for pan
1Tbsp aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 cup fine-grain natural cane sugar
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
Zest of 3 lemons, finely grated
5 ripe plums, cut into 1-2" slices
3 Tbsp turbinado sugar
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Butter and flour an 11" round tart or quiche pan.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, cane sugar, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and buttermilk. Add in the melted butt and lemon zest. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture until just combined.
3. Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth top with a spatula. Arrange the plums across the top in a decorative way. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
4. Bake tart 25-30 min. or until the cake has set (toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.)
Serve warm or at room temperature.

It you want to store peaches, plums and nectarines beyond summer, consider canning. Jams and jellies made from fresh fruits make wonderful holiday gifts for friends and family...and to line your own pantry shelves.

****I came across this great tip recently: Sprinkle crushed vitamin C tablets over sliced stone fruit (or pesto) before freezing. Vitamin C contains ascorbic acid that prevents the food from oxidizing and turning brown. Good news: The tablets will not affect the taste. If you don't have time to do the canning now, you can freeze the fruit for canning when the weather turns chilly.****

Also, one way to use an overage of fruit is to make refreshing breakfast smoothies. Many smoothie recipes call for frozen fruit anyway (for thickness/texture) so freeze a zip-bag of suddenly-turning-soft-or-moldy fruit and pull it out as needed for smoothie ingredients. Here's a simple recipe that can be modified as needed.

==B Smoothie for Two: Peach, Raspberry and Banana Smoothie==
Combine 1cup fresh peaches (frozen overnight), 1 ripe banana (cut into thirds), 1cup fresh raspberries, 1cup ice, and 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk. Blend until smooth.

With the abundance of fresh summer fruit and vegetables, now's the time to channel your backyard squirrel: store up some of this summer's goodies for winter's leaner harvests.

==B Slow-roasted Tomatoes==
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cut 12-14 (~ 4 pounds) plum tomatoes into halves. Arrange tomatoes, cut side up, in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp sugar over them.
3. Bake until softened, ~1 hour. Let cool. To store, cover and refrigerate, up to 5 days. Or, freeze up to 6 months.

==B Stone Fruit Preserves (makes ~3 cups)==
4-1/2 cups peeled and diced peaches (~ 2.5 lbs)*
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 (1.75-oz) package powdered fruit pectin
1. Stir together all ingredients in a 4-qt microwave-safe lass bowl.
2. Microwave at high 8-10 min. Or until thickened. (You want to achieve the texture of pancake syrup.) Let the mixture cool and thicken to soft-set preserves. Cool mixture completely, ~2 hours.
3. Serve immediately or cover and chill preserves in an airtight container until ready to serve. Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks or preserve via canning.
*Note: Unpeeled nectarines or plums may be substituted.

A friend brought by a bag of homegrown zucchini that resembled huge hand weights. I wanted to try my hand at zucchini fritters, having stumbled across 3 different recipes recently. I made them today, blending the recipes. They were wonderfully light and a nice complement to the baked salmon and corn-on-the-cob I made. I'd definitely make them again.

==B Zucchini Fritters (makes 20)==
2 medium zucchini (~7 oz each), coarsely shredded
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 large scallions, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh sheep-milk ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil, for frying
Lemon wedges, optional
1. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, garlic, scallions, ricotta, eggs, lemon zest and 1tsp each of the salt and pepper. Stir well, then add the flour, until just combined.
2. Line a large cookie sheet with paper towels. In a large skillet, heat 1/4" oil until shimmering.
3. Working in batches, drop 2-Tbsp mounds of the batter to the hot oil, spreading them to form 3" fritters. Fry over moderately hot heat, turning only once until brown and crisp, ~3 min.
4. Drain the fritters on the paper towels and serve immediately, with lemon wedges if desired.
Note: The fritters can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours and rewarmed in a 325F oven.

Tomorrow, I'm making Zucchini Bread with the remaining zucchini, using a new recipe. I'll let you know how it goes...


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