This dish is best served during the late-summer and early fall months when the fruit is perfectly ripe. Choose yellow and white nectarines that are tender-crisp – ripe but still have a firm feel. As the seasons change, feel free the use peaches, pears or apples in the fall and winter. Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or our featured Honey-Lavender ice cream.
6 tablespoons butter, divided
8 tablespoons sugar, divided
4 white nectarines, split and pitted
4 yellow nectarines, split and pitted
2 whole eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers (optional)
• Preheat oven to 425˚F. Using 4 tablespoons of the butter, liberally coat a 3 1/2-quart oval baking dish (or similar), and then sprinkle 4 tablespoons of the sugar on the bottom.
• Place the halved fruits, cut-side down, in the pie dish. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, flour, and salt until there are no lumps. Pour the batter evenly between the fruit, letting it drizzle down through the pieces to the bottom of the dish.
• In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 4 tablespoons sugar, the walnuts, and the lavender, if using. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons butter into small pieces and dot the top.
• Bake until the topping is crisp, the fruit is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, and the batter has puffed and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Serve hot or warm with a dusting of powdered sugar and whipped or iced cream.
Serves 6 - 8
© 2009, Epicurean Exchange. All rights reserved.
Dried lavender can be found in specialty markets. To make the most flavorful ice cream, use only the freshest lavender. Also, to ensure your ice cream freezes well, always chill the ice cream base to below 40˚F before adding to your ice cream maker. The honey liqueur used is available at better liquor markets.
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup half and half
1 tablespoon dried lavender
6 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Bärenjäger honey liqueur
• In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the heavy cream, half and half and lavender to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.
• In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, honey and the Benedictine. Gradually add the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture visibly thickens, approximately 3 – 5 minutes or until the temperature reaches 175˚F. Do not let the mixture boil or it will curdle.
• Prepare an ice bath in a medium-sized bowl. Cool the custard in the ice bath, stirring constantly, until mixture is 40˚F, about 15 minutes or so.
• Cover and chill mixture thoroughly. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
Makes 1 1/2 quarts
© 2013, Epicurean Exchange. All rights reserved
Early Girl tomatoes are available at farmer’s or better markets. According to Specialty Produce, "The globe-shaped Early Girl is an early season tomato, usually around the size of a tennis ball at full maturity. Bright red, smooth-skinned and slightly flattened in shape, the Early Girl tomato is meaty and can be quite sweet and concentrated in flavor. Early Girl tomatoes are popular for the flavor they impart and their early season appearance. These bright red tomatoes are often dry-farmed, meaning the plant is cut off after early irrigation and the roots are left to stress and struggle to reach water and the result is what some call the IDEAL tomato. Early Girl tomatoes are considered ‘slicing’ tomatoes, and make great additions to sandwiches, bagels and quartered on salads. The sweet flavor makes for a wonderful soup or sauce, though preparations that require minimal cooking are more ideal for highlighting the early-season tomato’s flavor. Leave tomatoes at room temperature; refrigerating can alter the flavor and creates a mealy texture.”
Storing Tomatoes: Please, never refrigerate tomatoes! Refrigeration can make tomatoes dry, dull tasting and mealy. Instead, store in a cool, dry spot on the counter and try to use within a few days of purchase. Most farm fresh tomatoes (with natural covering from nature) will keep on the counter for about a week.
Notes to remember when making tomato sauce:
(1) No need to peel the tomatoes. Most of the flavor and nutrition is found in the skins. Use them whole and then pass through a fine-mesh strainer. Best to use a small 2-ounce ladle to press the solids through the strainer.
(2) Season with salt to balance the acidity of the tomatoes - not sugar!
(3) Use a stainless-interior pan to cook the tomatoes, not aluminum or cast-iron, as the acids in the tomatoes will react with the metals and your sauce will have a metallic taste!
2 pounds Early Girl tomatoes (washed and stems removed)
3 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1 small branch basil
1 small sprig thyme
1 large pinch salt
1 small pinch black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
• Place all ingredients in a stockpot with a lid. Place pot over low heat. Cook for 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Halfway through cooking, remove lid and continue to simmer slowly.
• Remove bay leaf; process the mixture in a blender, and then pass through a fine mesh strainer. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
• Serve with your favorite pasta or gnocchi garnished with fresh shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and fresh basil.
• This sauce also freezes well for future use.
Serves 2 quarts
© 2014, Epicurean Exchange. All rights reserved
CHEF CHARLIE'S BLOG
Chef Charlie is a Bay Area chef, culinary food educator, lifestyle coach, food enthusiast and culinary travel guide, who is fascinated by the interplay of food and culture.