It’s Summertime…and life is just peachy.

Summer for me means long days in a hot bakery (well someone’s gotta do it), but it also means (thankfully) a bounty of gorgeous, sun-drenched, field-ripened stone fruit.  At the local farmer’s market, I’m like a kid in a candy store skipping from stand to stand tasting the best of summer produce.  While I love berries, it’s the dizzying array of peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, and cherries that really gets my creative juices flowing.   Because stone fruit has a longer shelf life (that is if you don’t devour everything in a couple of days), I can afford to buy a few of each variety and take my time experimenting–such as turning fresh slices of plum into a sweet focaccia.

Peaches were the inspiration for my next project–two cocktails that made me think of long hot summers, cool drinks…and Paul Newman.  Well, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in that southern classic The Long Hot Summer (1958) to be exact.

The first cocktail, which I’m calling Quick’s Peach (after Newman’s character Ben Quick), is a smokey blend of bourbon and Earl Grey tea.  The second, Clara’s Temptation (after Woodward’s Clara Varner) is a lighter concoction of vodka and St. Germaine.   Both cocktails feature a homemade vanilla bean-infused peach puree, topped off with ginger beer.

Quick’s Peach

  • 1.5 oz. Bourbon
  • 1.5 oz. Earl Grey Tea, chilled
  • 2 oz. Peach Puree*
  • .5 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 3 oz. Ginger Beer, chilled
  • sliced peach and fresh mint to garnish

Combine the bourbon, tea, peach puree, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with 3-4 ice cubes.  Shake to blend then strain into a chilled martini glass.  Top with ginger beer and garnish with slice peach and fresh mint sprig.

Quick's Peach
Quick’s Peach

Clara’s Temptation

  • 1 oz. Vodka
  • 1 oz. St. Germaine Liqueur
  • 2 oz. Peach Puree*
  • 3 dashes of Rhubarb Bitters
  • .5 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 3 oz. Ginger Beer, chilled
  • fresh cherry for garnish

Combine the vodka, St. Germaine, peach puree, rhubarb bitters, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with 3-4 ice cubes.  Shake to blend, then strain into a chilled martini glass.  Top with ginger beer and garnish with a cherry.

*Peach Puree

Simmer 3 cups of sliced fresh peaches with about 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar and one vanilla bean (split and scraped) until soft.  Remove the vanilla pod, puree the peaches until smooth, then strain and pour into a mason jar.  Return the vanilla pod to steep.

Now if you’re looking for a summer dessert to really wow your friends, my Pistachio Pavlova served with whipped cream and stone fruit sautéed in browned butter and vanilla bean will do the trick.   The pastel green meringue is featherlight and crisp on the outside and delicately chewy on the inside–the perfect counterpart for all that luscious fruit and cream.

Pistachio Pavlova

  • 6 Egg Whites, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cup Sugar
  • pinch of Sea or Kosher Salt
  • 2-3 drops Green Food Coloring (gel)
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. White or Champagne Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
  • 1 cup Pistachio Nut, ground

In a mixer fitted with a whip attachment, beat the whites with a pinch of salt on medium high speed until very foamy.   Gradually beat in the sugar about a tablespoon at a time.  Beat on high until the whites are stiff and glossy.  Reduce the speed to medium and add in the green coloring.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the vanilla and vinegar by hand.  Sift in the cornstarch and sprinkle in about 2/3 cup of the ground nuts.  Gently fold into the meringue.  Using a 2 oz. scoop or a soup spoon, portion out 12 mounds of meringue onto two half sheet pans lined with parchment paper (dab a tiny bit of meringue on the corners to “glue” down the paper).  Create a little well in the center of each meringue then sprinkle on the remaining ground pistachio.  Bake meringues at 280°F for about 40-45 mins., until the meringues are dry enough to lift easily off the parchment, but are still slightly soft in the middle.   If the meringues seem a little too soft or moist in the center, leave the meringues to dry out  a bit more in the oven with the heat off for another 10 mins. or so.

Browned Butter Stone Fruit

  • 4 Tbsp. Butter
  • 2-3 Peaches, Nectarines and/or Plums, pitted and sliced
  • 1/2 cup Cherries, pitted and halved
  • 3 Tbsp. Raw (Turbinado) Sugar
  • pinch of Sea or Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Vanilla Bean, split and scraped

In a large sauté pan on medium heat, cook the butter until it is a nutty brown, then add the rest of the ingredients.  Sauté until the fruit is just tender.

To assemble, place a small dollop of sweetened whipped cream on the plate to keep the meringue from sliding.  Top the meringue with a generous heaping spoonful of whipped cream, then spoon on the browned butter stone fruit, drizzling some of the sauce around the plate.

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Author: Puddingyrl

I'm a pastry chef (geek) whose appetite invariably exceeds the actual size of my stomach. Skinny jeans be damned! My innate curiosity usually leads to full-blown obsessions--culinary and otherwise--which is why you'll find me sticking my finger in the proverbial pudding...if not licking the whole damn bowl. Given my varied interests, I figured blogging is a good way for me to explore those ideas that are always nibbling at my brain. Along for the ride are two of my girlfriends who share some of my obsessions and have no problems diving headlong into that bowl of pudding. After all, it's more fun to share the calories!

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