010: Peach and Nectarine


Butternut’s first “fruit” ingredient. Tomato doesn’t count, because everyone still thinks it’s cool to remind you it’s actually a fruit. My mom has been buying these big flats of peaches from Trader Joe’s, and they’ve been treating us very well. It’s kind of odd that apples are so commonplace that eating a whole fruit out of your hand is eating it “like an apple,” but I eat those peaches like apples. It’s a much messier proposition, though, and it often slips my mind to grab a paper towel. Peaches and nectarines are extremely summer. A lot of ingredients I’ve used, I had to find out somehow that they were in season, because they’re popular produce that ends up being available and eaten year-round. Peaches, though, and their fuzz-less cousins, are really only worth eating in the summer. Everybody knows it! They’re superlative this time of year, and deserve more than the traditional eat-it-like-an-apple or put-it-in-a-cobbler treatment.

Menu (Serves 4)
Peach and Nectarine Stir-Fry With Ginger and Snap Peas
Duck Salad with Peaches, Pickled Radish, and Peach Vinaigrette
Peach-Nectarine Biscuit and Gravy

Duck Salad with Peaches, Pickled Radish, and Peach Vinaigrette
-1 head frisee
-1/2lb arugula
-1 bunch radishes
-1 white peach
-1 yellow peach
-1 lb duck breast
-1/2 white nectarine
-1T honey
-2T white vinegar
-6T sugar
-2T salt
-1/4c olive oil
-1/6c white balsamic vinegar
-dash nutmeg
-dash thyme

Rice Crackers
This recipe is a serious pain. I honestly wouldn’t really recommend it, but for completion’s sake, I’m including it. It did go well with the salad, but you’d probably be better off using ak-mak or some other very crunchy cracker.

-1.5c rice flour
-2t baking powder
-1c boiling water
-1T oil
-1T sesame oil
-1/2t salt

Preheat the oven to 350.
Mix the rice flour, salt, and baking powder together in a bowl. Pour the boiling water over it, and stir it all up to form a stiff dough (When I did this, it became a really gluey, sticky, and otherwise unmanageable dough). When the dough has cooled, add the oils and knead the dough for a couple minutes.
Roll out the dough thin on a floured surface. Cut it into long, 2-inch-wide strips. You’ll have enough dough for at least two parchment-papered baking sheets of decently-spaced crackers. Bake them for 8-10 minutes, one sheet at a time, near the bottom. Watch to see that they don’t burn, but let them get fully light brown.

Put half a chopped peach, the olive oil, balsamic, nutmeg and thyme in a food processor. Mix it to a yellow dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mine came out pretty thick, and even after adding more oil and vinegar it was too thick to drizzle over salad. Toss the arugula and frisee in the dressing, in separate bowls.

Cut the tops and roots off the radishes. Slice them thin, lengthwise. Put the slices in a ziploc, with 2T each of sugar, salt, and white vinegar. This pickling recipe takes less than an hour to work, but it’s so easy to make you may as well give it a little longer.

Trim excess fat off the duck breasts. I got exceptionally clean ones, with some bone/gristle tags I snipped off with kitchen shears. Score the skin lightly; don’t go through to the flesh. Just use a sharp knife and draw it across. Salt and pepper both sides.
Heat the oven to 400. Put the breasts skin-side down in a cold, oven-safe pan, and set the burner to medium-high. This feels weird, but facilitates the rendering of the fat. Fry it for about five minutes, or however long it takes for the skin to turn crispy and golden brown. Drain the fat into a container, and use it for whatever you like. Turn the duck over, and put it in the oven until medium-rare. The recipe I looked up says 12 minutes, but that ended up being too much for mine.

Heat 1T of honey in a pan, with a pureed half of a white peach, 4T sugar, and a couple tablespoons of water. Let it reduce down to a viscous sauce.
For plating, set two crackers parallel on a medium plate. Arrange frisee in the space between them, and spread pickled radishes on each, facing outward. Put a small handful of arugula on top. Slice the other half of the yellow peach, and half of a white peach. Arrange slices over the arugula. Slice the duck breast thick. I ended up with exactly twelve slices, so three for each. Place them on top of the fruit or inside the space between slices. Drizzle the sauce over the top.

Peach-Nectarine Biscuit and Gravy
-1c flour
-1.5t baking powder
-1/8t salt
-1/2c milk
-1t melted butter
-1/2 white nectarine
-1/2 white peach
-1/2 yellow peach
-1/2 yellow nectarine
-1T butter
-3T flour
-1c milk
-sugar
-vanilla
-cinnamon
-splash Grand Marnier

Heat the oven to 450. Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix with the milk and butter, stirring to a sticky dough. You may want to add flour, no harm done if so. Cut the halved fruits in half again. Put one half aside. Chop the other half, and stir into the dough with a tiny bit of Grand Marnier.

This is a small recipe – it will make exactly four biscuits. Spoon a quarter of the dough into a dish of flour, coat the biscuit, and put it on one of the trays you used for the crackers. Put them in for 10-12 minutes.
Put the other halves of the fruit in the food processor and puree. Melt the tablespoon of butter in a heavy saucepan, then mix with the flour. Add the pureed fruit and milk, and stir until you have a thick gravy. I found it to be very custard-y, and at first kind of bland. I added sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon to get it more flavorful.
Serve the biscuits and gravy as you would biscuits and gravy.

Peach and Nectarine Stir-Fry With Ginger and Snap Peas (Adapted from here)
-1/2 yellow peach
-1/2 white peach
-1/2 yellow nectarine
-1/2 white nectarine
-1T sugar
-1c rice
-1/2 white onion
-2c snap peas
-3T ginger
-1T soy sauce


Start a pot of rice. Cut the fruits into narrow slices, and skin them. Cut each slice in half. Pull the strings out of the peas if you can, then cut them in half as well. Skin and mince the ginger, and cut thin wedges of onion.
Heat some oil in a large pan. When it’s hot, throw the fruit in. Dust with sugar, add some water, and let it cook for a bit. Get it colored up nicely. When the fluids have cooked off, add a little more oil, then the onion, ginger, and snap peas. Pour in soy sauce. Toss the stir fry to coat. Let it cook til the onion gets soft and the snap peas are a bit crisp, but also soft. No photo of the plate, but just serve the stir-fry next to the rice.

Report


Overall, good. The salad was predictably great. The duck got overcooked, but was still delicious, and the salad as a whole worked very well. I enjoyed making the pickled radishes, and they were a great addition. As I mentioned, the rice crackers were troublesome and not worth making. Their crunch did add a lot, though. Peaches and nectarines were also very present in the dish, and were beautiful with the duck.
I spent a lot of time worrying about what the non-salad, non-dessert item would be. I wanted it to be savory, but didn’t want to use another meat, and couldn’t use pork, anyway. And yet it seemed like the only option was to pair the fruit with some kind of meat or meat substitute. The solution was to substitute the meat with the fruit itself. And it worked great! It was a really pleasant surprise. My sister and I remained skeptical right up until we tasted it. It’s sooo good. The snap peas made a triumphant return after their misuse in Broccoli, and peaches really proved themselves as an ingredient. The only things I would change are to make more of a sauce at the end of cooking, and to make a larger recipe overall. It didn’t make much, and I would have foregone dessert for more of the stir-fry.
Said dessert was decent. The biscuits came out pretty well – a little off. I don’t have biscuits that often so I can’t really articulate it. I guess they were fluffier than I like. The gravy, even after the doctoring, was rather bland. I’m not sure what I should have done to make it better. All I could think when I was trying to fix it was that I wouldn’t have this problem if I’d made traditional sausage gravy. I like the concept a lot, and it would be totally awesome if I could figure out how to make it work, but this batch wasn’t very good.

Look how nice, though!
I like this menu. Aside from the duck, it’s a cheap way to enjoy peaches in several preparations. I’m pretty satisfied with the concepts, if not the execution, of all the dishes. I hope I can figure out the biscuit for the future. It’d be really easy to adapt to different fruits, too.
I kind of scrambled to get this menu cooked, because so much of it had to be cooked shortly before dinner, and so I didn’t keep good track of the amounts used in the recipes. They should all work though, if you decide to try any of them.

I’m kind of running out of ingredients! Ingredients that look do-able, at least. I’m going to have to work a lot harder at creating the menus for the rest of this season, I think. We’ll see how it goes; I may have to re-evaluate certain rules I set for myself.

Next Week:  Cucumber

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1 Comment

  1. Julie

     /  August 5, 2012

    Pickles were awesome! Salad and stir-fry were wonderful. You also could have added tofu to the stir-fry. The biscuits and peach gravy needed something sharp, crunchy or zingy. Maybe some red raspberries or fresh peaches on top?

    Reply

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