It's finally summertime, which means it’s time to carpe berry. Those same luscious fruits that have outrageous price tags in the winter are yours now for a song. But as the late Billy Mays might say, this is a limited-time offer, you must act now!
The price fluctuation of produce is quite amazing, depending on what you're buying, where you're buying it, and what time of year it is. It all makes sense, of course: Raspberries that were flown in from Chile will be much more expensive than those grown within your home state (all those tiny seatbelts cost money).
“I feel like I would appear to be raised by wolves if I didn't also mention that buying local, especially directly from the farmers who are growing the produce, is the right thing to do economically, socially, and environmentally.”
Buying local, especially directly from the farmers who are growing the produce, is the right thing to do economically, socially, and environmentally. The fact that you get to save a few bucks on your peaches—and that your peaches taste freaking awesome—is part of the whole system of sustainability.
So, offer to bring a gorgeous pie (or cobbler, crisp, crumble, tart, compote or charlotte) to your next potluck invite. To help you decide, here are six recipes, ranging from simply to show-offy.
Lulu’s Apricot Compote with Green Almonds by Alice Waters The embodiment of sophisticated simplicity. Use apricots that are ripe but still firm enough to hold their shape after poaching. Green almonds are simply immature almonds still in their fuzzy green skins; they have an exceptionally delicate crunchy texture and a clean, mild almond flavor.
Fresh Peach Tart by Anne Byrn OK, this is as easy as it gets (if this seems like too much trouble, you should clearly just either eat a peach or buy a pie). Ripe peaches, a sheet of frozen puff pastry, sugar, cinnamon (and even that is optional) and bake. And then a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.
Fresh Peach Cobbler with Nutmeg Sauce by Edna Lewis Spiced peaches peeking from between a lattice top crust...does it get more summery-er than this? (That was rhetorical.)
Hazelnut Plum Tart by Diane Rossen-WorthingtonYou don’t have to peel the plums for this French-style tart, which is so gorgeous your guests will think you bought it at a fancy patisserie. The fruit slices retain their shape and add a tangy counterpoint to the sweet hazelnut filling. Offer a big bowl of crème fraîche on the side.
Raspberry Charlotte by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner This is a show-stopper dessert with tart raspberry mousse surrounded by delicate lady fingers. Prepare to be admired.
Strawberry Roulade by Nick Malgieri Quite elegant, with its topping of just-browned light meringue. You can make this ahead and keep it in the refrigerator so you can pull out this impressive dessert without breaking a last minute sweat.
Katie Workman is the editor in chief and chief marketing officer of Cookstr.com, a Web site devoted to great, tested recipes from chefs and cookbook authors. Katie is on the board of City Harvest, and actively involved in Share Our Strength. She lives in New York City with her husband her two boys, ages 6 and 9.