Posts tagged ‘peaches’
Tune in on Friday to hear the Food Critics, on KCUR’s Walt Bodine Show at 10:00 AM. That’s 89.3 FM, or you can listen on your computer at http://www.kcur.org/waltbodine.html.
The second half discussion will be about fresh fruit–where to find the best local fruit as well as what menus around town are using summer fruit to maximum effect. Though I am not one of the panelists this week, fresh fruit is one of my favorite foods, so I want to add my own list here.
Several restaurants have great fruit dishes on the menu, and not just for dessert! Not surprisingly, these are the same restaurants that buy much of their produce from local farmers and purveyors. 1924 Main serves a wonderful watermelon salad, often side by side with tomatoes (an unexpectedly delicious combination), as well as peaches with pork. Room 39 is currently featuring peaches in their salads, and I recently had tasty grilled shrimp on chunks of watermelon and feta at Zest in Mission Farms. If watemelon gazpacho is one of the featured soups when you’re dining at Trezo Mare in Briarcliff Village, give it a try. It’s refreshing and has a touch of very appealing sweetness.
For a tasty dessert using fresh fruit, don’t miss the pies at The Farmhouse in River Market. They are exceptional.
Favorite Farmer’s Markets:
- Downtown Overland Park–2 blocks West of Metcalf between 79th and 80th, Wednesday and Saturday mornings.
- Brookside Market–63rd and Wornall, Saturday mornings, featuring organic produce and hormone/antibiotic-free, humanely-raised meats and free-range eggs.
- Lee’s Summit–2nd and Douglas, Wednesday and Saturday mornings.
A tip to help decide which vendors to buy from–look behind the tables to the truck. If there are stacks of cardboard boxes with “homegrown tomatoes” or peaches stamped on them, move on. You want to find a farmer that picked his produce the day before and brought it in baskets. And seek out misshapen, ugly tomatoes, not pretty and perfect ones. They are the most flavorful and probably haven’t been treated with pesticides.
It’s always better to buy local. It’s better for our economy, the environment and, if it’s organic, our health. But if I can’t get to a farmer’s market on a Wednesday or Saturday, I go to Cosentino’s Brookside Market. They are very particular about where the fruit comes from and how it’s packaged to ensure proper ripeness and quality.
By the way, though typically thought of as a vegetable, the tomato is botanically a member of the fruit family. However, in 1893, as vegetables and fruits were subject to different import duties, the Supreme Court was asked to rule on the tomato’s classification. Because the tomato was commonly eaten as a vegetable, the Court unanimously decided to give it that designation. This was undoubtedly one of the juiciest decisions in the Court’s history!
–Make a summery salad of watermelon chunks and cherry tomatoes with feta or goat cheese, topped off with chopped mint and pistachios, and tossed with red vinegar and oil. It’s an unusual combination, but surprisingly refreshing. (Use the leftover watermelon to blend up killer margaritas!)
— Steam fresh green beans and mix with a warm dressing of sautéed chopped red onions or shallots, Dijon mustard, dill, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
— Slice a French baguette lengthwise and spread with basil pesto. Pile on fresh slices of mozzarella, tomato and a fistful of basil or arugula. Have plenty of napkins handy!
— For a light and novel dessert, cut a nectarine or peach into halves, grill lightly on both sides and top with vanilla ice cream. Drizzle with a syrup of balsamic vinegar and honey that has simmered gently on the stove.
— Take advantage of the abundance of mint to make a pesto to serve with lamb. Start with a basic pesto recipe –- replace half of the basil with mint, and the other half with Italian parsley. Then substitute walnuts for the pine nuts to enjoy a delicious alternative to mint jelly. And to make the meal even more special, ask the butcher to bone and butterfly the lamb so it can be grilled.
Here’s the low-down on methods and secrets to picking perfect produce.
Artichokes. These majestic orbs have a mysterious quality to the uninitiated. The key to finding one with a soft and flavorful heart is the tightness of the leaves. The overall look of the vegetable should be rounded, not spiked. (A hint about cooking — they are done as soon as a leaf can be easily pulled from the heart.)
Berries. Avoid berries that are stuck together. Like the presence of mold, this is a sure sign that they’re not still fresh. Similarly, stay away from raspberries with black edges and strawberries dotted with blemishes.
Cantaloupe. Use your nose for this one. Take a sniff at either end of the melon, and if there’s a fragrant aroma, it’s ready to be eaten. Check to be sure the stem end has a smooth indentation.
Cherries. My mother taught me at a young age how to sift through the box of cherries to find the juiciest and sweetest among them. I was often left with the assignment of painstakingly picking each one while she finished shopping. Dark and firm ones, she told me, were the juiciest and firmest. These days grocers pre-bag cherries, not giving consumers an opportunity to handpick.
Peaches, nectarines and plums. Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, look for stone fruits that are not too hard and not too soft. Too hard and they may not ripen, too soft and they tend to be mushy or overdone. If you can find even a hint of softness, they’ll undoubtedly ripen to perfection after a couple of days in a paper sack or on the windowsill.
Peppers—Like a baby’s bottom, peppers should be firm and smooth, with no wrinkles. Whether spicy or not, the most flavorful of peppers have the deepest color.
Tomatoes. It’s tempting to gravitate towards the prettiest tomatoes in the box, but beauty may only be skin deep –the tastiest tomatoes are typically misshapen and imperfect. They should be fully colored when picked—that’s when they have the ambrosia quality that we all crave.
Watermelon. Thump it with the palm of your hand to determine whether it sounds hollow. Also, check to see if there’s a yellow spot where the melon sat on the ground in the garden. If not, it was picked too early and may not be sweet and juicy.
Previously published in the Independent magazine.