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A Lot of Peaches, 2 Dinners and 3 Desserts

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Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever -- or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples -- or your seasonal produce -- every which way.

Today: Quick! While peaches are still in season, run out and buy a basket (or three). Then let Mimi Thorisson from Manger show you her five favorite ways to use them. 

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In our family we like to chase the seasons. Never does the chase get more exciting than in late summer or early autumn when local markets, our own garden, and the forest around us are all at their most generous. Our huge kitchen table is stacked with fruits and vegetable in every color imaginable, and, when I don't give them to the kids as snacks, I love to use them in my cooking. 

While I am a big fan of plenty, I am certainly not fond of waste; I try to manage our overflowing table to the best of my abilities, and when produce is headed for over-ripeness, I swiftly try to turn it into something delicious. 

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More: It's (practically) a crime to throw bruised tomatoes away. Here's how to put them to use

These last few weeks we've been awash in peaches -- they seem to be everywhere I look, not least on that big kitchen table. There are times when the mountain of peaches disappears on its own, but other days -- when the winds of fruit fashion blow in favor of another fruit du jour -- I need to step in and save them. I love to sauté peaches in duck fat and serve them with a breast of duck (magret de canard) or add them to any kind of salad or tart, but lately, I've most enjoyed cooking with peaches these 5 ways:

Peach and Almond Clafoutis
This dessert is a no-brainer: I absolutely adore clafoutis, whether it’s made with cherries, apricots, or peaches. Clafoutis is easy to make, and it always turns out so beautifully satisfying.

To make the clafoutis, whisk 4 eggs and 1/2 cup of sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Then, add 2/3 cup of sifted flour and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and nutmeg to the egg mixture. Pour in a cup of milk and 3 tablespoons of melted butter, then mix gently until you get a smooth batter. Place 4 peeled peaches, sliced into quarters, on the base of a buttered cake pan or baking dish. Pour over the batter, scatter the top with slivered almonds, and bake in a 400° F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until risen and golden brown. Let cool before serving.  

More: When the seasons change, make Brown Butter Candied Apple Clafoutis instead. 

Peach and Smoked Duck Bacon Salad
I love a mixture of flavors in my salad and am very partial to including both smoked meat and fruits. Smoked reindeer with pomegranates is one combination I love, and this pairing of smoked duck bacon and peach is another. Feel free to use smoked pork bacon if you prefer.

Start by blanching 3 peaches in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds. Peel them when they’re cool enough to handle, then slice them into half-moon pieces and set aside. Sauté the smoked duck bacon until it's cooked and golden. Next, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in a pan and sauté 1/3 cup of finely chopped hazelnuts and a clove of minced garlic until slightly crunchy. Serve the sliced peaches, bacon, and hazelnut mixture over a bed of salad greens like red chard, watercress, or arugula, and dress with a Dijon vinaigrette

More: Perfect your Slow Roast Duck before the holiday season begins.

Peach Gratin
This is an old-fashioned way of cooking with peaches, just the kind of thing you might expect at your grandmother’s house. A lighter take on a peach pie, it’s ridiculously easy to make and a real beauty of a dessert.

To make the gratin, start by whisking 3 egg yolks. Heat 1/4 cup of sugar with 1 teaspoon of water and bring to a slight simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the sugar syrup into the egg yolk, whisking continuously so that the eggs don't curdle, then set the mixture aside to cool. Blanch 5 peaches in a pot of water for about 30 seconds, let them cool, and peel them. Place the peaches in an ovenproof dish, bumpy side up. Whip 1/3 cup of heavy cream, fold it into the egg mixture, and pour this on top of the peaches. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, then broil the dish for 5 to 8 minutes, until bubbly and golden. Serve warm.

 

Peach and Honey Tian
I make vegetable tian all the time for a light vegetarian dish or as a side dish with meat. This year I’ve been making a fruit tian as a side dish to serve with duck or lamb. When you add a bit of honey, it’s irresistible. The best part of this recipe? It can also be a dessert -- just try it with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

Finely slice 6 peaches, preferably a mix of yellow and white, into half-moon shapes. Align the slices in an ovenproof dish. Place a few sprigs of rosemary on top, and drizzle with 6 tablespoons of honey (I used lavender honey). Cook in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes in a 350° F oven and serve warm.

 

Peaches in Red Wine
On a warm day, there is nothing better than a chilled soup, whether for a starter or, in this case, for a heavenly, light, and refreshing dessert. This recipe is also a good excuse to have more wine!

Blanch 8 yellow peaches, peel the skin, and cut each in half. In a large saucepan, combine 3 cups of red wine (I use Bordeaux), 1 cup of sugar, 1 vanilla pod (split lengthwise), 1 cinnamon stick, 2 stars anise, and 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg. Bring to a soft simmer on medium heat, mix well, then add the peaches. Leave the mixture to cool completely and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.

More: Confused about which wine to buy? Here's how to decode the label.

Peach and Almond Clafoutis

Serves 6

4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 peaches, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup slivered almonds

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Mimi Thorisson

What are you doing with peaches? Tell us in the comments below!


Tags: halfway to dinner, peaches, peach, stone fruit, summer, desserts, fruit desserts, baking