My granny always told me to be grateful for small things.
Time is just a-slippin' away. Summer will be over before we know it. All of these hot and humid days will be something of the past. Fine, but we need to embrace all of the great, appropriately flavorable produce available to us now.
Everyday I pass the street fruit vendors with their deep and rich cherries, bursting berries and fragrant stone fruit. There are also so many new varieties, like pluots (a mix of plum and apricot...can't you taste it?!) to try and now is the time to do it. If I had room in my bag, could eat it all at that point or freeze time to enjoy at my leisure (...hold that thought), I would.
I am seeing cherries at $1.99 per pound and stone fruit for 99 cents per pound. That is the vendors, the cosmos and your conscience telling you to buy them and make it happen. Eat them fresh, muddle them for a cocktail (just had a vision....a blueberry lemon drop!), bake with them or make preserves. There are myriad options from which to choose.
As for any fresh produce, it is best at the peak of its ripeness. So when you find great cherries or berries or those ridiculously sweet white nectarines/peaches (SCHOP! Tip: Try topping a thick wedge of peach with a knob of blue cheese and wrapping it in bacon. Broil or skewer to cook on the grill...you're welcome!), get enough to enjoy immediately AND some to freeze.
For cherries, invest in a pitter (about $10 or so, can also be used to pit olives) and pit them. For stone fruit, remove as much of the flesh from the pit as possible--try slicing around the pit and pulling apart first, as the natural sugars sometimes act like a non-stick surface. For berries, rinse and dry well. Take all of your prepared fruit, spread (together or separately) in a single layer on a sheet pan and freeze until hard. Store in freezer bags marked with the date and contents. Be sure to press out the air...and double bag if you can!
Now that your stockpiling is getting up to snuff, you can make something delicious with what you have left. Here is a simple recipe for blueberry drop biscuit cobbler from Bon Appetit with which you can add or substitute your favorite summer fruits.
1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons plus 1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon creme frache or sour cream
6 cups fresh blueberries (about 2 pounds)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add butter; using your fingertips, incorporate until only pea-size lumps remain. Gently mix in creme frache. Knead in bowl until a biscuit-like dough forms, 5-7 turns (overmixing will make dough tough).
Combine remaining 1 cup sugar, remaining 3 tablespoons flour, berries, juice and zest in a large bowl. Toss to coat. Pour into an 8-by-8-by-2-inch glass baking dish or divide among six 6-ounce ramekins. Tear biscuit topping into quarter-size crumbles; scatter over berries.
Bake cobbler until juices are thick and bubbling and topping is cooked through and deep golden brown, 20-25 minutes for ramekins or 45-50 minutes for baking dish. Let cool for at least 1 hour.
Serve with your favorite ice cream and let the "eyes rolling to the back of your head in extreme bliss" begin!
Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!
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Kysha Harris is owner of SCHOP! which is available for weekly service or for home entertaining. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Email kysha@iSCHOP.com.