Guest post: On strawberry rhubarb pie!

Blogging for KoOO today is my singular (and rather talented!) sister, Ali Rich. Here’s a story of a remarkable pie, from fruit to oven. Thanks, Ali, for a great and colorful read!

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photo (5)

 

It’s a perfect June day–warm, almost hot, the sky a vibrant blue studded here and there with feathery clouds–and I am sweating in the car.

My sticky state, fortunately, is not to last long, as the boyfriend and I quickly arrive at our destination–Linvilla Orchards. Today is their annual strawberry festival, and while meeting the costumed characters “Backpack Girl” and “Bouncing Tiger” holds relatively little appeal, there is something thrilling about wandering the grounds on an official festival day. We’ve missed “Strawberry Jammin’ with Judi” and the presentation of the Delaware Valley’s largest Strawberry Shortcake, but it’s okay. As one leading an urban/suburban life, even being able to say I’ve attended the strawberry festival is like a prize in its own right, a badge of connectedness to the rural. And, really, I’m fine about not jammin’ with Judy.

Nay, what holds the greatest glory and idyllic appeal is the farm’s main activity–picking your own fruit. I’d been here once before to pick peaches, a pleasant experience that ended in tasty, skillet-baked cobbler. So much of our food buying and consuming nowadays is sterilized and packaged–both in the physical presentation of product, and in the experience of shopping in neatly laid-out megastores, everything conveniently barcoded for quick processing through the check-out line. The prospect of picking one’s own produce offers a return to our roots, consumption without the middleman, an earthiness of being you just can’t find under fluorescent supermarket lights. Or, that’s how it should be, anyway.

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Let’s get: dessert in Philadelphia!

A fun post for the end of the week. If you’re out and about in Philly, and are craving a bit of something sweet (TGIF, after all!), here are a few top contenders:

1. Yogorino frozen yogurt.

With all the fixings.

With all the fixings.

There are a lot of amazing frozen yogurt, or “froyo” places in Philly. My closest friends swear by Igloo’s Greek frozen yogurt, which has that unmistakable yogurty tang; Pure Fare’s supposed to have good vegan froyo (made with coconut milk, I think); plus many other stops. But to me, none of these even approach Yogorino’s deliciousness. That complex flavor! That lack of cloying, artificial sweetness! All those saucy toppings! Pictured here is a cup with chocolate nougat sauce and pomegranate seeds; I happen to adore their pistachio sauce and bittersweet chocolate sauce, which hardens to a semi-soft shell. Plus they have late hours and punch cards, which basically means I’m hooked for life. (Tip: though the University City location has an impressive, spinning astro-wheel of gelato, the froyo somehow tastes better at the Rittenhouse Square location. Strange but true.)

Yogorino, 233 S 20th St and 3201-3229 Chestnut St.

 

2. Salted caramel budino at Barbuzzo.

Heaven.

Heaven.

Okay, people — this is IT. This is the best dessert in Philadelphia. You dive in first through a layer of deep brown salted caramel sauce, pausing first to get some of the thick whipped cream with chocolate cookie crumbs. This then yields to the budino, that gorgeous, lush, pristine goodness whose texture is somewhere between a crème brûlée and a pudding; it’s golden with brown sugar, egg yolks, butter, and rum, with a complex soft, cool richness. Then, finally, you hit the bottom of the jar to the chocolate cookie crust, a moist layer that gives the whole concoction a playful edge. The combination is exquisite, hitting all the right notes of sweet, salty, and a bit sour with the whipped cream, which I’m convinced has crème fraîche or sour cream in it.

For those of you not in Philly, Bon Appétit published the recipe for this dessert, which is finicky enough that I just go out and buy it, but not impossible enough to stop me from trying it when I leave this budino-blessed city. And for those of you in Philly, apparently they sell these in 6-packs for $48, so you can always have a budinolicious day. Awwww yeah.

Salted caramel budino, $8. Barbuzzo, 110 South 13th Street.

 

3. Macarons from Miel Pâtisserie.

Cuties.

Cuties.

Food fads come and go (I’m looking at you, cupcakes and cronuts), but hopefully macarons will last forever. Okay, so they’re finicky doll food and a bit frou frou. But how else, other than Skittles, do you get to taste the rainbow? Plus, they make great gifts!

These particular iterations from Miel Pâtisserie are really quite good; you should especially try the salted caramel, pistachio, and rose flavors. (Sugar Philly also makes a mean macaron.)

Macarons, $2.50 each. Miel Pâtisserie, 204 S 17th St.

 

Those are a few choice choices, based both on taste and by what I happen to have photos of on my computer. Where in Philly do you like to get dessert?

Hunger games; or, Blondies

So there I was, weekday night, watching the second installment of the Hunger Games for my utopia/dystopia class. It was the party scene in the Capital, where one of Katniss’s fancy make-up artists was explaining to Peeta the properties of a small goblet of lavender liquid. It’s for when you’re full, says one. It makes you sick, the other adds. So you can go on eating! The first one smiles. How else could you taste everything? This then becomes a segue into Katniss’ and Peeta’s disgust at the lavish excesses of the Capitol, as well as its related political and moral failings.

Then, naturally, I started thinking about blondies.

photo 4

I admit it wasn’t the most opportune moment. Focus, I thought. Focus on the movie. Look, here’s Philip Seymour Hoffman. (Want. Blondies. Now?) He and Katniss are having a freighted conversation. (Buttery crumb. Golden deliciousness.) Okay, he just said the party is appalling. Appalling. People are starving in District 12. How can you think about baking at a time like this? 

Then Philip Seymour Hoffman said: Still, if you abandon your moral judgment, it can be fun.

That was it. I abandoned the movie and scooted into the kitchen.

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The good-enough blogger; or, Chia seed pudding

Chia Seed Pudding

The ideal shot. Of course, this isn’t what real life looks like (more after the break…)

A long time ago, one of my academic acquaintances made a remark that has since stuck with me. I knew you were really a grad student, he said, when you stopped blogging regularly. At the time I laughed, perversely somewhat proud that life had swallowed me whole I had become a full-time academic. Later, the comment gave me serious pause. Why should grad school get all the fun, or at the very least, all my writing energy? And yet how couldn’t it? At this point, I started to find polished, professional-looking grad student food blogs uniquely irritating, second only to certain cherished sites that made the eventual, yet still utterly betraying turn into marriage plots (“I’ve been waiting a long time to introduce you to X….” “X approves of this dish…” “Reader, I married him.” UGH. Unless you are the totally badass Charlotte Brontë, please never, ever use this last line.) But that’s a subject for another post.

 

Pudding, in real life. Seems a bit smaller, doesn't it, and more humble? Threatening, even, to disappear?

Pudding, in real life. Seems a bit smaller, doesn’t it, and more humble? Threatening, even, to disappear?

 

Now, I am interested in the inbetween of being a grad student and food blogger (and I should also say, cook), and the various strategies, compromises, and creative means one employs to be both. Sometimes that means not writing about literature, or not writing about food; sometimes that means doing both and feeling that awesome warm fuzzy feeling of cross-disciplinarity (and not just feeling fuzzy, a less desirable side effect). Recently, it’s meant choosing familiar or time-economical recipes. And with this particular recipe, it meant multitasking, leaving things be, and then deciding to feel okay with the result, which was a bit soupier than I wanted it to be.

The good enough student blogger / blogging student. I think I’m down with that. Now, onto pudding.

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Birds flying high

Why, hello, you.

You birds, sun & breeze; you fish, rivers, and trees — oh, hello world — you are so good.

It was never that I was really gone, although there were times when I could not bear being here; it was never that I ever said goodbye, although there were times when nothing was illuminated enough to even address — in short, I was in another country where time stood deep and still, dark and folded upon itself as to never let me go.  But now the sun is shining — a peculiar thing, really, remembering its existence — and I find it shining just enough to remember the contours of my body, the matter of my mind, and the luminous quiddity of things.  And it is so good to be here.

(Sleep in peace when day is done, that is what I mean.)

I think there is so much to learn; so much distance between day and done, so much to peace that we sometimes forget how much inhabits the word.  Among other things, I am learning that time is a funny thing:

Maybe nothing ever happens once and is finished.  Maybe happen is never once but like ripples maybe on water after the pebble sinks, the ripples moving on, spreading, the pool attached by a narrow umbilical water-cord to the next pool which the first pool feeds, has fed, did feed, let this second pool contain a different temperature of water, a different molecularity of having seen, felt, remembered, reflect in a different tone the infinite unchanging sky, it doesn’t matter: that pebble’s watery echo whose fall it did not even see moves across its surface too at the original ripple-space, to the old ineradicable rhythm … (Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom! 210)

Difference and repetition, indeed : although Faulkner reminds us that happening is always a type of haunting (never once) set to an old ineradicable rhythm, so too does his novel depend, even stake its life upon the possibility of a different molecularity. (As in, let this second pool contain a different tone and temperature, as much as we acknowledge its debt — no, kinship — to the other pool.) Time is a funny thing, its very warp and woof flexible and (for)giving enough to be very full, very full indeed.  Which is to say that, at least for me,  the possibility of a new day means constantly reestablishing oneself, a process that fully acknowledges the weight of your matter across time and space (an auto-inheritance, a receiving of yourself), but also allows you to shift your weight ever so slightly as to inhabit a completely different existence.  And so, my friends, I find myself feeling good.

Speaking of different temperatures, molecularities, and tone, I’d like to introduce you to a delicious recipe for lemon curd, one that reminds us of the magic, even alchemical properties of things.  And it couldn’t be easier: whisking eggs, sugar, and lemon juice over a low flame until, by culinary grace, it transforms into a light, gorgeous, soft mass of lemony sweetness.  Add a bit of butter and lemon zest, and you’re — well, if not golden, then the most promising shade of metamorphic yellow you’ll ever have the pleasure of witnessing.

(You’ll know how I feel.)

Lemon Curd

cobbled together from “Joy of Baking,” Epicurious, and Ina Garten. 

Ingredients:

3 Eggs
¾ cup Sugar
⅓ cup Lemon Juice (~3 lemons)
1 tsp Cornstarch
small pinch Salt
4 Tbsp Butter, room temp
1 Tbsp Lemon Zest

Take a medium saucepan.  Add eggs; whisk.  Add sugar; whisk.  Add lemon juice; whisk. Add cornstarch and a pinch of salt; whisk.

Cook and whisk frequently over low heat for 5-10 minutes or until it registers 160℉ and is thickly light yellow, like Hollandaise sauce.

Take off the heat to cool, and then store in the refridgerator.  Put plastic wrap on top to prevent a skin from forming.

It is good on muffins and toast, marvelous if spooned into a sweet tart shell (already baked: no need to bake a lemon curd tart!), and to my mind, quite adequate on its own.

Plum Crumble, or A Moment of Being, Five Ways

I am trying, rather unsuccessfully, to take hold of this moment of being.  Give me at least five tries:

1) (Descriptive.) It’s 10 pm; the house is filled with a yellow glow; it smells jammy and warm, full of a ripe plum scent that fades in and out of recognition, intensifying as I move about.  The week is done, the work is good, there is life yet to come.  I sit on the couch, curled around Philip Pullman’s The Subtle Knife, and dream of other worlds as the rain falls insistently in this one.

2) (Directive.) Here’s what you have to do. Don’t worry; it’s rather simple, a one bowl process, really.  Take those lovely plums you got from the market a week ago, the small and fragrant ones in the brown bag.  Whisk together a bit of flour and brown sugar, spice it with ginger and cinnamon, and toss the plums–which you have now washed, halved, and pitted–until they’re nice and coated.  Put them in the bottom of a pie pan or small casserole dish (ooh yes, that blue one is perfect) skin side down–perfect.  Yes.  A rather satisfying act of order, don’t you think?

Now make your topping, mixing together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and a dash more of that cinnamon right in that same bowl you used the plums for.  Yes.  Add a beaten egg, and then mix it all together with your hands, tossing and squeezing together until pebbly and sandy, sort of like those beaches with the damp brown sand you used to go to as a kid.  Scatter it evenly over your cobblestoned plums–perfect–and then spoon melted butter over the top, letting it sink in like velvet.  Ah.  Yes.  That’s just right.

Slide it into your oven and take a seat; the rest of the work will be done for you.  Await the overpowering soft scent of plums.

3) (Photographic.)

4)  (Informative.) Plum Crumble (barely adapted from Orangette, who barely adapted it from Marion Burros and Luisa Weiss)

(new!) Note: The only thing I might substantially change about this recipe is the ratio of plums to actual crumble: it ends up being about 1:1.5.  For those of you who like more fruit in each bite, I might suggest (almost) doubling the plums or halving the topping.

For The Plums:
2 Tbsp. Lightly Packed Brown Sugar
1 ½ Tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon
¼ tsp Ground Ginger
2 Tbsp. Finely Chopped Crystallized Ginger (I omitted this)
12 – 14 Italian Prune Plums, halved and pitted (I put in 16; as many as will fit in the bottom of your pan)

For The Topping:
Scant ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar (About 4 To 4 ½ Ounces)
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Baking Powder
¼ tsp Kosher Salt
1 Egg, beaten well
7 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted (I used 6)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the seasoning for the plums: the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger, and crystallized ginger. Add the plums, and gently stir to coat. Arrange the plums skin side up in an ungreased deep 9-inch pie plate (or small casserole dish).

In another medium bowl (eh, just use the same bowl) combine the dry ingredients for the topping: the granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend well. Add the egg. Using your hands, mix thoroughly, squeezing and tossing and pinching handfuls of the mixture, to produce moist little particles. Sprinkle evenly over the plums.

Spoon the butter evenly over the topping, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is browned and the plums yield easily when pricked with toothpick. Cool.

Serve crumble warm or at room temperature, with crème fraîche, thick yogurt, or unsweetened whipped cream.

5) (Poetic.) This is just to say (adapted from William Carlos Williams‘ poem of the same name, but in a future, non-confessional, invitational mode)

I am waiting
for the plums
that are in
the oven

and which
I will definitely
eat
for breakfast 

Come join me
they'll be delicious
so sweet
and so warm

Two Things to do with Ricotta: Sugar Snap Peas and Strawberry Graham Tarts

A few months ago, if you asked me how I felt about ricotta–and yes, I find that a perfectly legitimate topic of conversation, don’t you?– I probably would have answered with a shrug.  Ricotta, eh. A bland grainy substance masquerading as cheese, essential for stuffed pasta but not much else.  In short, I was not enthralled.

But then–oh then!–I went to the Italian Market, found myself in Claudio’s Mozzarella (a little jewel of a shop that only sells pesto, mozzarella and ricotta), decided on a whim to buy some fresh-made ricotta and dear god, it was love at first bite.  Creamy, soft, and cool, it was exquisitely and surprisingly flavorful with an almost shy and tender sweetness.  When I wasn’t eating it plain, I had it with berries and a bit of honey, marveling at the profound distance between mediocrity, on the one hand, and the truly, heartachingly good on the other.

Since then, I’ve been trying to expand my ricotta repertoire, and have found some real stunners that I’d like to share with you.  Two, in fact: one savory, one sweet, and both are simple and seasonal.  The first is for Strawberry Graham Tarts, originally from Food & Wine and found again on Smitten Kitchen (pictured below); the second is a delightful dish with sugar snap peas adapted from the Amateur Gourmet (which I ate so quickly there was no time for photography!)  Enjoy.

Strawberry Graham Tarts (from Food & Wine, April 2010)

Excellent picnic food, perfect to make ahead, and the easiest tart you’ll ever make as they are essentially cookies.  What I especially love about this recipe is that each element is its own rock-star and could stand very well on its own (no Ringo here, folks!), especially the cheesecake-like ricotta mixture, which I’ve been eating with blueberries and apricots.

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour (or graham flour, if you can find it)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground cloves
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons molasses (or honey, if you don’t have molasses)
3/4 pound strawberries, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cups fresh ricotta (10 ounces)
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (note: I used more, at least two teaspoons)

  1. In a bowl, whisk both flours with the cinnamon, salt and cloves. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter, light brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in the honey and molasses, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the side of the bowl and beat in the flour mixture at low speed, just until incorporated. Pat the dough into a disk, cover with plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Using a 3 1/2-inch oval cookie cutter, stamp out 16 ovals; reroll the dough scraps if necessary. Transfer the ovals to the baking sheets and bake for about 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until lightly golden around the edges. Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer the ovals to racks to cool completely. (Note: while I liked a bigger base–I used a 3.5 in round biscuit cutter–I think smaller tartlets would also be very charming.  Just not a lot of room for strawberries on top…)
  3. In a bowl, toss the strawberries with the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and the lemon juice. Let stand until syrupy, 20 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, confectioners’ sugar and lemon zest. Spread about 1 tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on each oval. Arrange the strawberries over the ricotta, drizzle with the syrup and serve.


And here’s the lovely Alice, chef, foodie, and food-model extraordinaire with one of the tarts:

Our second recipe is Sugar Snap Peas and (Whipped) Ricotta, a fresh, clean, and uniquely savory pairing for the sweetness of ricotta.  A surprisingly harmonious dish.

sugar-snap peas, ends snapped off and de-stringed
olive oil
lemon juice
lemon zest
torn mint (optional)
shallots or green onions, thinly sliced (optional)
ricotta cheese
milk (optional)

  1. Put a pot of water on to boil, and when boiling, briefly submerge your beautiful sugar-snap peas (for about half a minute to a minute, enough to get them bright and green but still crisp-tender.)  Drain, and submerge in cold water (a technique called “shocking,” which helps them keep their color and texture.)
  2. Strain shocked peas, and toss with a healthy glug of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle of lemon zest, mint (if you’re using it) and the shallots or green onions (again, if you’re using them).  Toss gently, and salt and pepper to taste.  Taste one; it should be amazing.
  3. Here’s the exciting part: you can either just do what I did and serve the peas over a dollop of ricotta (drizzled with a bit of olive oil), or do as the Amateur Gourmet did and beat the ricotta, slowly drizzling in a bit of milk until it gets smooth and airy.  He recommends doing it in a stand mixer, but I’m sure you could do it by hand.  Either way (regular or airy), I’m sure this dish would be equally amazing.

Alice Waters’ Caramel Sauce

Man.  This is so, so good.

Upon transferring posts from my old blog to the new one, I realized I have a slight obsession with sauces, or more specifically, condiments. Green goddess, mango salsa, tomato salsa, applesauce (okay, not exactly like the others, but still saucy)–there’s nothing like a good sauce to make whatever you’re eating a harmonious, delightful experience.  Although some might think they’re not as impressive as the main dish, I have since learned differently.  There’s nothing quite like a good sauce, and there’s nothing quite like making one: it’s sort of like kitchen alchemy that yields perfectly beautiful jars of pure flavor you can tuck away in your fridge, to dip into again and again until you hit the bottom of the jar.  (Ooh, and for a lovely Dorie post on the pleasures of jars and thriftiness, read her “Bottom-of-the-Bottle Mustard Vinaigrette.”) Plus you feel secretly, totally, perhaps even smugly self-sufficient.  Because without a doubt, your home-made sauce, salsa, condiment, or dressing is better than anything you could’ve bought.  (Unless it’s Brianna’s dressing, in which case I usually throw up my hands and kowtow towards its genius.  All hail.)

Recently I’ve been obsessed with Deb’s ginger-carrot dressing, especially as I have a motherlode of CSA carrots still waiting to make it into the world; I also really love this rhubarb-orange compote, which I have made again and again.  But what I’d really like to share with you today is this:

Because it is truly the most magical sauce of them all.  It’s Alice Waters’ Caramel Sauce from her The Art of Simple Food (2007), and it’s one of the easiest, most fulfilling recipes you’ll ever make, I promise.  Seriously.  Sugar, water, cream, vanilla, salt.  That’s it.  Add heat and some serious molecular shifting, and you’ve got yourself a brûléed masterpiece that’s perfect drizzled over ice cream, dolloped on yogurt for a crème caramel-like dessert, as a dip for various fruits like apples and pears, and as a flavoring for milk or drinkable yogurt, like this:

Alice Waters’ Caramel Sauce

Measure and set aside 3/4 cup heavy cream. Put in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan 1 cup sugar and 6 tablespoons water. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until the sugar starts to caramelize.  Swirl the pan gently if it’s browning unevenly.  When the caramel is uniformly golden brown (n.b.: I like to cook mine a little longer than golden, until it’s a rich brown, almost chestnut), remove from the heat.  STAND BACK (really) and add 1/4 cup of the cream.  Stir slowly with a wooden spoon until combined, add the rest of the cream and 1/2 tsp vanilla and a pinch of salt.  Let cool and strain (I don’t), and ladle into a jar.

Variations, also from Alice: Coffee-flavored caramel sauce: add 3 tablespoons espresso and if you want, 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur.

Although the divine Alice says it keeps for up to 2 weeks in the fridge; my batches do last up to 3 if I let them.  She also says to reheat gently over simmering water before serving.

Fear No More the Heat o’the Sun

Admittedly, the title’s context does not bespeak the spirit of the season—

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

(Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, Act IV, Scene 2)

—What I had in mind was actually Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, which weaves the allusion throughout the text on some summery June morning. “(June had drawn out every leaf on the trees. […] Arlington Street and Piccadilly seemed to chafe the very air in the Park and lift its leaves hotly, brilliantly, on waves of that divine vitality which Clarissa loved. To dance, to ride, she had adored all that.)”

While the details don’t exactly match up—it’s been quite a rainy Massachusetts July—I’d say we can’t really complain. For the summer is upon us, and the farmer’s markets are abloom with color. Peaches, plums, zucchini, fresh herbs of all sorts—we find ourselves in great abundance. There’s nowhere quite like the Valley, is there?

Geoff and I bought a cute little Weber grill off Craigslist, and have been regaling ourselves ever since with burgers, bratwurst, sweet corn and grilled Vidalia onions. And after that? A dessert, of course, with lightly poached summer fruits and softly whipped cream. These two recipes below are variations on the same theme, one grilled and one poached. Now, I assure you that they’re tried and true—but, as Lamar Burton suggestively winks on “Reading Rainbow,” you don’t have to take my word for it.


Poached Stone Fruits with Mascarpone
from Sunday-suppers.blogspot.com

2 c water
1 c sugar
1 vanilla bean (or vanilla extract)
1 sprig of thyme
4 plums
4 apricots
8 oz mascarpone at room temperature
3 tbl powdered sugar

Directions:

Cut fruits in half and spoon out the pit.

In a saucepan on medium heat, combine water, sugar, vanilla bean (or ½ to 1 tsp vanilla) and thyme. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add enough fruit to the pan to have a single layer floating at the top. You will have to poach in batches. Apricots will take 4-5 minutes. Plums will take 8-9 minutes. You want to be able to pierce the fruit with a pairing knife with little resistance. The already poached fruit can wait in a baking dish flesh side down, while you finish the rest. When all the fruit has been cooked, pour enough liquid to cover half way. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled. Reserve the vanilla bean, if using.

Place the mascarpone in a bowl with the powdered sugar. Split the vanilla bean down the center and scrape out the seeds (or add ½ to 1 tsp vanilla extract.) Combine with a whisk. Serve both types of stone fruit with a dollop of the vanilla mascarpone and a little of the poaching liquid poured over top.


Grilled Peaches with Thyme and Vanilla Sugar
:

Cut peaches (or plums, or necatrines) in half and spoon out the pit. Spoon a bit of sugar in their centers and sprinkle with fresh thyme. Place them cut side down on the grill, and cook until fruit is tender and grill-marked. Serve with a dollop of sweetened, vanilla-laced whipped cream, mascarpone, yogurt or ricotta—although they will probably be sweet enough already.

(And if you’re eating outdoors, mind the slugs!)