Simple Art of Cooking: Sweet Tastes of September

The warm summer days of early September are filled with a wondrous supply of sweet sun-ripened vegetables, tiny yellow pear and heirloom tomatoes, glistening yellow summer squash, continuing corn varieties and the sweetest, best-ever peaches at our local farm stands. Driving past farmers markets and fields of bright yellow sunflowers is to encounter a virtual kaleidoscope of color. It’s easily the best time of the year to plan a simple meal.

Vegetables have held their own as a main event for some time; gone are the days when they are considered a mere side dish. I taught a class recently and one of the dishes, pappardelle of zucchini and summer squash held its own as a piatta de mezzo (a dish in-between). The wide cut ribbons of the vegetables, resembling pappardelle pasta is sautéed with crispy bits of pancetta and roasted garlic and finished with a bit of half and half and torn pieces of fresh basil. Paired with Grapes of Roth’s Riesling, the dish was screamingly delicious.

With luscious local peaches still here for us to enjoy I look toward Ron Paprocki’s peach melba with raspberry sauce that was a big hit at the James Beard Foundation’s Chefs and Champagne event earlier in the summer.

PAPPARDELLE OF ZUCCHINI AND SUMMER SQUASH
Vegetables are shaved with a vegetable peeler into long thin strips to resemble pappardelle pasta.

Serves 6

2 medium zucchini
2 medium summer squash
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices pancetta, coarsely chopped
6 roasted garlic cloves, puréed
½ cup half and half
¼ cup tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon Tabasco
8 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

1. Scrub zucchini and summer squash clean, pat dry with paper towels and, with vegetable peeler; peel lengthwise into thin wide slices.

2. Preheat a 12-inch skillet and put in the olive oil. Add the pancetta and sauté until golden and crispy, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic purée and sauté about 30 seconds, then toss in the zucchini and squash. Sauté zucchini for 2-3 minutes and add half and half with 2 tablespoons Parmesan and toss to thoroughly coat. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix. Taste to adjust seasoning if necessary.

3. Transfer to a serving dish, season with remaining Parmesan, freshly ground black pepper and fresh basil serve.

PEACH MELBA VERRINE
Ron Paprocki, pastry chef at Gotham Bar and Grill in New York, gives us this seasonal sweet, tart and crunchy creation.

Serves 8

Almond butter crumble
1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond flour (blanched almonds finely ground)
¾ cup sugar in the raw
Pinch sea salt
½ cup melted unsalted butter

Raspberry sauce
12 ounces or 2 6-ounce boxes fresh raspberries
4 to 5 tablespoons sugar, depending on sweetness of berries
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup water
1 ½ teaspoons powdered gelatin

For the peaches
4 to 5 fresh ripe peaches, rinsed, dried and cut into narrow wedges
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Vanilla or lemon ice cream or gelato
Mint sprig garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 375°F

1. The almond butter crumble and the raspberry sauce may be prepared up to a week ahead. For the crumble place the ingredients in a bowl in the order they appear above and stir to mix with a wooden spoon until all the flour is well-coated. Transfer and spread the mixture to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and place in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, tossing the mixture half way, until crumble is a light toasty color. Cool completely and set aside. You will have more than you need but the crumble will keep in a wax paper lined covered tin to use over ice cream, fruits, pies, etc.

2. Quickly rinse the raspberries in a colander, shake excess water and place in a small saucepan. Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir to mix. Bring to the edge of a boil then simmer on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Meanwhile pour water into a glass measure and sprinkle on the gelatin. The gelatin will dissolve in the water about the time the raspberry mixture is done. Cool completely then stir the gelatin mixture into the raspberry sauce. Refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Slice the peaches the day of serving and sprinkle with lemon juice. When ready to serve set out the number of glass coupes or dessert bowls you will need and assemble the dessert in layers. Spoon a layer of the raspberry sauce at the bottom of your serving dish, place a layer of peach slices over the sauce then a healthy sprinkle of the crumble. Top with a scoop of ice cream or gelato and add another layer as above. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.

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