In the middle of a work week, when it is hot and steamy in the city, it’s a dream to think of spending the day in Niagara having lunch with Mark Picone, one of Canada’s top chefs. Picone, former chef at Vineland Estates Winery, now has his own culinary studio in Vineland, where people can book private meals or classes for eight to 12 guests. Our lunch, sponsored by Ontario Tender Fruit Producers, included nectarines, peaches and plums, but Mark promotes local food every chance he gets.
After lunch I visited The Moyers’ Cherry Avenue Farms “Pick-Your-Own” and picked (and ate) apricots in the middle of the orchard. If you can’t make it to Vineland, they have three stands on Saturdays at St. Lawrence Market (north side) in Toronto and also sell the red fife wheat pasta they make from the wheat they grow near their peach trees.
NECTARINE SALAD WITH MINT CHILI DRESSING
Add grilled steak or chicken for a main course salad.
– 3 tbsp (45 mL) Niagara Ice Wine vinegar
– 1 tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup
– 1⁄4 tsp (1 mL) sea salt or more to taste
– 1⁄4 tsp (1 mL) hot red pepper sauce
– 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) extra virgin olive oil
– 2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh mint
– 2 tbsp (25 mL) sniped chives
– 12 cups (3 L) mixed greens
– 3 nectarines, cut into wedges
– 1⁄2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1. For dressing whisk vinegar with maple syrup, salt, hot pepper sauce and olive oil. Add mint and chives. Season to taste.
2. Place lettuce in a salad bowl and top with nectarines and onions. Toss with just enough dressing to coat the greens. Makes 6 to 8 servings
SUMMER RISOTTO WITH PEACHES
To peel peaches you can use a soft skin peeler or drop them into boiling water for 30 seconds, refresh under cold water and pull skins off with a knife. (Often I don’t peel them at all.) Mark served this with sautéed scallops.
– 2 tbsp (25 mL) extra virgin olive oil
– 3 shallots, finely chopped
– 1 bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped
– 2 cups (500 mL) Arborio rice
– 4 cups (1 L) chicken stock, hot
– 1 tsp (5 mL) finely grated lemon peel
– 3 peaches, peeled, pitted and cubed
– 1⁄4 cup (50 mL) butter, diced
– 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) grated Parmesan cheese (preferably Parmigiano Reggiano)
– 1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt
– 1⁄4 tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper
– 1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh basil leaves
1. Heat olive oil in a large deep skillet or medium sized Dutch oven. Add shallots and fennel and cook on medium heat until tender. Do not brown.
2. Add rice and cook, stirring a few minutes. Add stock about 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) at a time and cook, stirring until liquid is absorbed. Keep cooking and stirring until rice is tender about 15 to 18 minutes. If your stock runs out add boiling water.
3. Add lemon peel, peaches, butter and cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook and stir a few minutes longer. Makes 6 to 8 servings
MARK PICONE’S CREPES WITH CARAMEL PEACHES
Mark made the crepes with half red fife wheat flour and half all-purpose flour.
– 1 cup (250 mL) milk
– 2 eggs
– pinch of salt and sugar
– 1⁄2 tsp (2 mL) pure vanilla extract
– 2⁄3 cup (150 mL) all-purpose flour
– 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter, melted
– pinch cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg
– canola oil
– 2 tbsp (25 mL) butter
– 1⁄4 cup (50 mL) brown sugar
– 3 peaches, sliced
1. In a mixing bowl with a whisk, blender or food processor, combine milk with eggs, salt, sugar, vanilla, flour, butter and spices. Allow batter to rest one hour before using or make ahead and refrigerate.
2. Brush an 8-inch (22-cm) non-stick pan with oil and heat over medium. Add 1⁄4 cup (50 mL) batter and quickly swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook one minute or until browned. Flip, cook second side. Stack crepes and continue to cook until all batter is used. (This can be done ahead.)
3. Melt butter with sugar in a medium skillet. Cook over medium high until sugar dissolves. Add peaches and cook a few minutes until slightly softened.
4. To serve arrange one crepe, nicest side down, on each dessert plate. Spoon peaches across the middle and roll up. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. Drizzle with peach juices. Makes 6 servings
This article was originally published: http://life.nationalpost.com/2010/08/07/bonnie-everybody-must-get-stone-fruits/