Fresh from the tree (+recipes)

By Angela Casley

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The cicadas are at their loudest, so it must be time to turn all those juicy plums and peaches into desserts and preserves

Plum Jam on scones with cream, Asian Roast Chicken with Spiced Peaches and Apricot and Ricotta Tart. Photo / NZH
Plum Jam on scones with cream, Asian Roast Chicken with Spiced Peaches and Apricot and Ricotta Tart. Photo / NZH

There's nothing quite like a large fruit bowl bulging with beautiful, luscious stonefruit at this time of year. We were lucky enough as children to have a rambling country garden full of old fruit trees. Old-fashioned plums, peaches of all varieties, cherries and nectarines were all treasured. I remember sitting under the plum tree as a child, gorging on the fallen fruit, then climbing high into the tree and stretching out along a wobbly branch just to smell and pick the freshest and juiciest pieces of fruit.

Perched high above the ground we would then hurl the plums deemed rotten or bruised over the fence to the farm pig, much to his delight and Mum's dismay; they would have stewed up beautifully.

Indeed, it was all hands on deck in the kitchen as boxes and boxes of summer fruit were peeled, stewed, bottled and stored in colourful rows in the back pantry ready to be turned into yummy crumbles through the winter months.

Summer stonefruit are not only delicious straight off the tree, they play a leading role in many desserts, and work well with meat and poultry dishes. For the simplest of sweets, halve and grill with a bit of brown sugar and liquor. And, of course, there's nothing more delicious at breakfast than some lightly stewed fruit with your favorite cereal and yoghurt.

When it comes to preparation, peel your fruit only if necessary. The skin adds flavour, texture and looks fabulous in desserts. If you must peel, do so just prior to using, and squeeze with a bit of lemon if it's going to sit to avoid discolouring.

Today, we take the humble roast chicken and give it a twist with Asian flavours and juicy peaches.

There is an almond and ricotta tart - delicious in thin slices for afternoon tea or with vanilla icecream for dessert.

Finally, there is a family favourite - plum jam. When I told my mother I was planning to make this, she was thrilled and raced off immediately to raid a neighbour's damson plum tree. This variety truly makes the best jam - rich, deep in colour and with a bit of lemon for a little tartness. Scrummy on toast, scones, brioche or a bakewell tart. Plus, there is enough to store away for winter.


Recipes:

Asian roast chicken with spiced peaches
Apricot and ricotta tart
Plum jam

For more of Angela Casley's fabulous recipes, visit www.foodhub.co.nz

- VIVA

- NZ Herald

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