Stone sensations

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Awaken your tastebuds to the sweet, tangy and zesty flavours of stone fruit this summer

peaches

Walking into the fruit and vegetable section at the local grocery or supermarket has suddenly become a summery experience. And that’s because of the exciting array of colourful stone fruit on display that would make any fruit-lover ecstatic. Plump peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries and more recently, lychees compete with the ever-loved mango, a sure sign that summer’s here.

Summer stone fruit are rich in vitamins A, C and E and a great source of dietary fibre and potassium.

Each stone fruit has its own flavour and look, although sometimes its easy to mistake peaches with apricots. Nectarines and peaches are genetically similar, but nectarines have a distinctive, ‘zesty’ taste. Apricots are rich in beta-carotenes, fibre and vitamin C, and are great when cooked. Plums with their ruby colour have a sour skin but are sweet and juicy inside when fully ripe. They contain vitamin A, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and fibre.

This is the best time of the year to take advantage of this fantastic array of fruit, and extend your food repertoire to beyond consuming them in their natural state.

Stone fruit can be used in a variety of culinary delicacies, so here are some recipes to help you enjoy a taste of summer.

 

Stone fruit tart

1 puff pastry sheet

3 cups of sliced and de-stoned nectarines, plums, apricots and peaches,

3 tbsp honey

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 egg, lightly beaten

Place all the cut fruit into a deep bowl. Add honey and lemon juice and mix gently, but well. Place puff pastry on a sheet of baking paper. Roll the edge of the pastry inwards to create a half inch border. Keep aside. Heat oven to 175 degrees (fan forced). Place puff pastry on a tray in the oven and bake for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and pour fruit mixture in the centre of the puff pastry, spreading evenly upto the edges. Brush border with lightly beaten egg. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown. Remove and cool on a wire tray before serving.

 

Mixed stone fruit compote

2 ½ cups mixed stone fruit – cherries, apricots, plums, nectarine, peaches
2 tablespoons honey
1 pinch coarse salt
3 tablespoons water
1 small cinnamon stick
1 wide strip lemon zest

Coarsely chop and de-stone all the fruit, and place in a saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes stirring occasionally, until fruit is soft.
Transfer to a bowl and when cool, place in a glass jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Use over breakfast cereal, with yoghurt or whipped cream, or simply spread over a slice of toast.

Apricot chicken

700gms fresh apricots

1/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp cider vinegar

1kg skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces

1 tbsp unsalted butter

3 tbsp olive oil

1 chopped onion

2 cups chicken stock

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp Tabasco or any other hot sauce

Black pepper

Salt to taste

Roughly chop and de-stone the apricots and place them in a large bowl. Add sugar and vinegar, and keep aside. Heat butter and olive oil in a large saucepan, over medium-high heat. Working in batches, place chicken pieces in the pan and brown them on each side. Add salt to taste as the chicken browns. When cooked, remove the pieces and place in a bowl. Add the remaining oil to the pan and sauté the onion until it begins to brown. Add the chicken stock and lower the heat to medium. Place 2/3 quantity of the apricots along with their juice, into a blender and puree. Add this to the mixture in the pan, while continuing to simmer. Add the cinnamon, rosemary and Tabasco, and simmer for 10-20 minutes. Add chicken and remaining apricot pieces to the mix and simmer for a further five minutes. Serve hot with rice.

 

Plum and Peach crisp

350gms ripe peaches
350gms ripe plums
¼ cup natural cane sugar (or brown sugar)
1½ tbsp cornstarch)
Few drops orange essence (optional)

For the topping

¾ cup rolled oats
¾ cup flour
½ cup natural cane sugar (or brown sugar)
½ tsp cinnamon powder

1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup yoghurt

Salt to taste

De-stone and cut the peaches and plums into small pieces, no bigger than 1-inch size. Place the chopped fruit in a medium-sized bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Sprinkle over the fruit, then mix gently but thoroughly. Add orange essence (optional), mix again and place the mix in an 8-inch square baking dish or thick-based tart pan. Keep aside.

For the topping, combine the oats, flour, sugar, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Stir in the butter, and then the yogurt, and mix until you get a dough-like texture. Sprinkle the crumble evenly over the plum and peach mixture.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (fan forced) and place the baking dish in the oven. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the topping is golden-brown. If you like, sprinkle some sugar on top of the crust once it comes out of the oven. Serve warm or cooled.

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