Monday, June 14, 2010

Stuffed, baked peaches and lemon pasta for a summer of simplicity

I started work with the elves today. My home is in need of some elves. New windows and siding means all the pictures are down and the furniture is crowded in the middle of all our rooms. I type with elbows in a tucked-in-wing fashion surrounded by things I have been meaning to go through for four years. The "boys" in the home were gone all weekend doing the MS 150 Bicycle fundraiser. Some organization is called for. My life needs to be cloaked in simplicity. As Minnesota slows into lazy, hazy days of summer, my work gears up.

No oranges or apples may cross my doorway. It is the season of stone fruits. I walk into the grocer and the sweet aroma of peaches swirls around my head. And I buy and I buy and I buy. Which means I could devour and still have some leftover for baking.
Only there's no time to bake. I am prepping for my 32 elves. Organizing schedules, curriculum, editing the summer plays. Getting my ducks in a row because if you work with kids in theatre, the first day is destined to be baptism by fire. It's a truism. (And it was.)

In La Cucina, the Regional Cooking of Italy, I spied many simple recipes. I didn't exactly follow it because that would be too simple. I have devised my own version of simple. I routinely cut sugar and when serving to bike-a-thon adventurers, I decided to not send them on the road laced with grappa.

The MS 150 route actually wound its way near our home. 3 miles from the finish line, they were looking strong. I think it was the stuffed peaches. They biked 150 miles in two days. They went by - fast!
Baked-Stuffed Peaches - serves 4
4 peaches
2 tbs butter
1/2 cup sliced almonds toasted
4 amaretti cookies - crushed (can use small almond biscottis if cannot find amarettis)
1/4 cup honey
Garnishes: yogurt or creme fraiche or whippe cream or ice cream; berries
Baked-Stuffed Peaches Preparation
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Foil and spray a baking pan. Halve peaches. Cut out pit and scoop a little pulp out for a delineated indentation. I can't believe I just wrote "delineated indentation." Throwing simplicty out the window already! Put on prepared baking sheet. In a small, dry skillet, toast your almonds - for just a minute. Put in bowl and add butter to same skillet and melt. Crush amaretti cookies and put in bowl with almonds. Cover all with melted butter. Stir. Add honey and mix well. Fill peaches with honey-nut mixture. Bake just two minutes for medium peaches and 3 minutes if peaches are large. Remove from oven. Add a dollop of something creamy. The "boys" added berries. Serve and savor how simple summer fruit can be.
This is a wonder of a cookbook. I have used this all winter - it completes my circle of cooking by giving me a framework for discoveries of ingredients in new combinations. It shows me why my grandmother specialized in certain foods. And it is fascinating that an enitre cuisine developed out of foraging. Of what was local and fresh. From necessity to feasts of flavors. From peasant food to cuisine.
And as pleasant as it would be to live on stone fruits, I need to find ten minutes to cook. To lose my elves, my stage directions, my piles of "things I am sure I will need some day" and enter a zone of aromas, simmer-sounds and almost-instant gratification.

(Elves and the Shoemaker logo by Lakeshore Players)
The Shoemaker's elves do not cook. My 32 elves (ages 7-10) who I met today managed to lose two sweatshirts in fifteen minutes (without leaving their seats), asked if they could skip "break time" (needed more by the staff than the students) to do more creative dramatics and somehow morphed into 33 elves. Which meant a new role needed to be written immediately after returning home. In my effort to clear my work room, I broke a desk (it happens). Luckily, I have a dumpster sitting in front of my home.
They're out of season I believe, but my local grocer has some lovely Meyer lemons. Minnesota never does follow the crowd. Check out our politics. We had a wrestler for governor! It was the lemon's sheen that drew me in. Some people flock to diamonds. I like fruit with sheen. The aroma made me buy a few.

And my garden is filled with arugula, tarragon, watercress and basil. I took some of everything. I especially wanted the spicy herbs. I was interested in the lightness of Amanda Hesser's Lemony-herb Pasta from Cooking for Mr. Latte. Of course, I doubled the lemon, doubled the herbs and reduced the chicken broth further to have an intense sauce that did not drown the pasta in broth - it just sort of lightly danced around it. I also got dinner on the table in less than fifteen minutes. I was Super-Elf!
Lemon-Herb Fettuccine
1 lb. fettuccine
2 cups chicken broth
2 Meyer lemons
3 cloves garlic
3/4 cup chopped favorite herbs (I did pick the spicier ones)
Freshly-shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
Cook pasta according to package directions. Put chicken broth in medium sauce pan. Zest two Meyer lemons (regular lemons are fine) and add to the broth. Also add the juice of the two lemons and the garlic. Simmer and reduce to 3/4 of cup. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water (I didn't need it). When pasta is drained, add sauce to the noodles and carefully mix to incorporate all. Add pasta water by tablespoons if some noodles are dry. Add 1/2 the herbs and mix. Add the other half of the herbs and mix. Serve. Pass freshly-grated Parmiggiano-Reggiano separately.

Even if you are not awash in high-energy elves as I am, we can all use a "Summertime and the living is easy" break. These recipes provided that.


Ciao Chow Linda said...

Can I come for dinner? I want that pasta and I love those peaches. I haven't made them in years but I have a bowlful of peaches that are just the right ripeness. And I've been wanting that cookbook for a long time. I may have to buy myself an early birthday present.

Whats Cookin Italian Style Cuisine said...

I love lemon pasta but more I have always grilled my peaches and never thought to bake them wow what a great idea and love the cookies I cant beleive you make this the same way awesome! got to try them baked and cant wait!This is a fabulous healthy idea!

Adventures in Domestic Cooking said...

The stuffed Peaches look amazing!!
The pasta does as well.

chow and chatter said...

wow love the peaches and fresh herb pasta yummy man you can cook

La Bella Cooks said...

I haven't made stuffed peaches in the longest time but I just adore them and yours look divine. The pasta would quickly become a favorite around here. You definitely know how to make a fantastic meal.

Monet said...

I have never thought of doing baked peaches...baked apples is one of my favorite fall desserts, so I can only imagine how much I would enjoy this lovely creation. Thanks for sharing!

Rachelle said...

We are still not into peach season in my corner of the country. But I can not wait and I have never stuffed peaches before. Can't Wait.

sweetlife said...

I love your peaches, these are perfect for a sunday brunch, oh lemon pasta I could eat lemon pasta every day..


fromBAtoParis said...

A very original approach to peaches and pasta! I have never tired pasta with lemon..I will now! Thanks for these fresh summer dishes!

janet said...

Dinner looks heavenly. I am going to try that lemon pasta, using veggie broth, I can almost smell the lemon and fresh herbs:)

The peaches look amazing as well. I too adore the stone fruits, though right now I am still working on the cherries.

I love how you worked the extra elf in!

Anonymous said...

The delicious lemon herb pasta followed by those delightful peaches sounds like a perfect light and wonderful meal to me!

Anne said...

I definitely have to try the peaches! It looks so delicious.
Have a wonderful day.
Smiles to you.

Debi Shawcross said...

This is what summer is all about---delicious!

Mister Meatball said...

Where to begin?

The peaches: I want some -- right now!

The pasta: I always want pasta.

The cookbook: I have. And agree.

Lyndas recipe box said...

What a wonderful meal Claudia- baked peaches sound like a taste of heaven and the lemon pasta with all the fresh greens are making my mouth water!
This is a perfect meal, whether you have elves, or not. :)

Barbara GF said...

I am going to check out that cookbook, make that pasta and those peaches, Claudia. What a sublime meal! Who needs diamonds when there is the luster of fresh fruits? You are one headmistress of elves - I am sure those young charges are very lucky to have you for inspiration.

Anonymous said...

How lovely, those peaches are so fresh!

jean said...

Wow, I loved everything about this post, from the peaches and the lemony pasta to the commentary. My house is wreck right now, too, for some minor cosmetic changes we've finally decided to make. It's not fun while it's happening.

I'm envious that you have so many wonderful greens to pick from your garden to make a beautiful dish. I would have upped the lemon content too.

Thanks for posting!

New Lasik said...

I liked your Lemon-Herb Fettuccine recipe so so much! Thank you. I am spreading the word about your blog. I'm with you on Meyer lemons. What an aroma! Where I live we don't have easy access to fresh Meyer lemons. But I've figured out a solution. What I do is just go online ( ) and order directly from growers that pick them right off the trees and ship them direct — a tip I learned from my cousin in Canada. This way I get fresh Meyer lemons picked from the tree without all the time sitting in cartons, trucks and warehouses on their way to market where they lose their freshness.

Reeni said...

My head is spinning Claudia! You have so much going on. I'm laughing at the 33 elves...The stuffed peaches are a perfect treat for all that exertion! That's lot of mileage. And your herby pasta really appeals to me - I've been in my yard everyday plucking fresh herbs to cook with...and loving it.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Claudia, I have been immersed in berry heaven thse past few weeks but when I move on to stone fruits I will bake a stuffed peach and think of you. I have gotten that cookbook out of the was wonderful!

The Meyer lemon with spicy herbs pasta looks divine.

Hope the elves don't keep multiplying! :-)

Fresh Local and Best said...

Meyer lemons are the best! Intensely fragrant with a surprisingly sweet tang. This looks like a great pasta.

Velva said...

The pasta and the peaches look so appetizing. No doubt after your boys did the bike ride this meal was inviting and delicious.

Cheers to simplicity!

Magic of Spice said...

Wonderful combination...Wow those peaches!

Angie's Recipes said...

I have never had or made stuffed peaches...can't wait to try them! Love your pasta dish, simple but very flavourful and delicious...we just need only a few high quality ingredients for a quality culinary result.

Cocina Savant said...

wow! everything looks amazing! i'm sure daniel would be in love with the peaches, and i'm in love with the pasta recipe. lemon in pasta is one of my favorite spring and summeretime flavors. looks delicious!

OysterCulture said...

More incredible wonderful recipes. I made a similar pasta dish - love the lemon flavors with pasta, except I used chevre and I also got some more of that agretti and added it to it.

Your recipes are always an inspiration.

I'd seen this book and a few others and thought it looked really good, but based on your comments, I think I'll have to delve into it a bit more.

FOODESSA said...

What appetizing ways to eat both the peaches and the pasta. When the peaches are that good...there usually are none left to grill them;o) The lemons in the pasta may seem slightly tart at first view...however, the other ingredients seem to balance them out right. I'll have to give it a try.
So...are you in charge of feeding the 32 elves also???
Ciao for now and flavourful wishes, Claudia

Katherine Roberts Aucoin said...

When I saw stuffed peaches, I knew I had to read on! So perfect and so perfect for summer. Can't wait to try this one!

Kim said...

I always love reading your posts Claudia! Peaches are my very favorite fruit - so sweet and juicy. I bet your stuffed peaches with amaretti cookies were indescribably delicious. I would definitely have to have more than one:)

Of course, I would have to be sure to save room for that pasta too!

Gera@SweetsFoodsBlog said...

The stuffed peaches look gorgeous as well as the pasta, yes simply but absolutely delicious all of them!!



Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Summertime and the living is easy.....I love that and hurrah. The peaches sound heavenly with the amaretti cookies. And a lemon herb pasta too? Count me in.

Katie@Cozydelcious said...

These peaches look wonderful. I've grilled peaches and sprinkled them with almonds, but never baked and stuffed them. I'm going to have to give it a try!

Rachel J said...

Aren't peach desserts just THE best for summer? Funny how also we devour them hot when most other dessert choices are cold. My newest post is a peach dessert too. Check it out if you have a moment:

Anonymous said...

That pasta dish looks amazing - I love how bright lemon makes dishes!

I just grilled peaches last night and made sugar free candied walnuts - it was delicious! (well, the one bite I ate of my husbands!)

3 hungry tummies said...

Great meal while you are trying to de clutter your house :) Have a wonderful weekend!

Nancy said...

mmmm, both recipes look fantastic! Look forward to baking some peaches once they're in season here.

Juliana said...

Oh them both...will try to make the stuffed peaches this weekend...have to take advantage that peaches are in season...yummie!

Sutapa said...

Wow! baked peaches and lemon pasta, I am sure to rock the weekend table!
Happy Father's Day!

Cristie said...

What a darling cookbook! Your peaches look amazing, like I think I could live off of them :)

Lori Lynn said...

I especially like the light and lemony pasta, great for summer.