Summer produce is probably one of best reasons to live in Northern California. It is almost endless. We are blessed with the sweetest fruits, tastiest tomatoes, hottest peppers and adding to that is an endless amount of summer yum love but ball parked at kitchen sink could cover it, mostly.
At this writing, it is starting to heat up translating warm nights to ripening goods in our yards as well as markets. Two of my favorites are local corn and stone fruits. In recent years both have gotten tooth achingly sweet. I have definite major fondness for yellow corn but being in the minority creates minor difficulty finding it. Alas usually farmers markets come through for a successful hunt. Equally impressive are yellow, sometimes called mango, nectarines at the farmers markets. Actually pretty strong mango nuances invoke balmy breezes and swaying palms while juice is delightfully dripping down arms and chins. These are amazing as grilled accompaniments to any kind of cooked savory meats as well as being heart stopping alongside waffles or French toast doused with butter and syrup.
Local yellow and white corns in their return to the farmers markets create one of my favorite phenomena of satisfying a DNA seasonal craving and knowing awareness of proximity to taste buds while actually delivering on the promise quenching all expectations regardless of how much effort is required in preparations.
Not happy being a specter at the feast, white corn insists on having summer meals staged around it. Cut it raw off the cob throwing dazzling kernels into a salad of chopped cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, sweet red onion sliced thin, basil and feta. Dress with zest and juice of lemon or orange, drizzle good olive oil and rice vinegar and toss. This salad ensures lots of party re-invites. For cob gnawers, b-b-qing corn in the husk is an adventurous treat. Peel back husks and remove as much silk as possible leaving the husks intact. Mix soft butter, chopped jalapeño and lime zest together with your hands and spread on the corn lovingly. Close the husks back up and place on grill out of direct heat for about 10 minutes. This combination of flavors lingers on your taste buds like a lingering good dream. For an amazing final act, throw plenty of raw kernels into your favorite corn bread recipe serving piping hot with plenty of butter, real maple syrup and macerated blackberries. Now we are talking Brentwood corn.
Nectarines are said to be named after nectar consumed by Olympic Gods and white nectarines only strengthen that myth. Low acid strips modesty of sugar levels baring floral nuances begging to be paired with rose geranium, lavender and well made prosciutto. Said glorious globes weighing down tables at the farmers’ markets beckon to be immediately consumed out of hand. When that gets old, try a shortcake spin slicing up nectarines and macerating in Framboise, spooned over a fluffy biscuit topped off with mascarpone whipped with lemon curd. Insert heavy sigh here. Lovingly lay slices over fresh pizza dough finishing with gorgonzola, lemon thyme and toasted walnuts baked in a hot oven marrying flavors for life. Transform cereal with white nectarines, berries and yogurt motivating your taste buds to sing louder than the most talented mourning doves.
Grilled Nectarines w/ Whipped Mascarpone
4 nectarines, split in half and stone removed
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup of mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon of honey
Brush the cut side of the fruit with olive oil and place on the grill. Brush the skin side for when you turn. Grill on each side about 3 minutes. Remove from grill.
Place mascarpone and honey in a small bowl and whip together.
On a plate, place the nectarine, cut side up and fill with a dollop of mascarpone. Serves 8.
Nectarine and Blueberry Shortcake
2 nectarines, spit, stone removed and sliced
1 pint of fresh blueberries, cleaned
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
½ pint of whipping cream
½ pint of crème fraiche
1 tablespoon of sugar
Mix the nectarines and blueberries with 2 tablespoons of sugar and balsamic.
Whip cream to a very soft peak. Fold in the crème fraiche and 1 tablespoon of sugar.
Split shortcakes and place on individual plates. Spoon fruit over one side of them and dollop whipped cream on. Place other side on top and dollop a little more cream on top. Serves 4.