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‘Peach season will be over in the blink of an eye!’

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Eliesa Johnson/TNS Stone Fruit Crostini
Eliesa Johnson/TNS Lemon Peach Pound Cake
Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS Peach Salsa ingredients

Urging customers to get his prized fruits while they can, Octavio Poscidonio held a “flash sale” on peaches for a single Sunday in mid-August at Central Point’s Beebe Farms. But the farm’s hurried harvest coincided with temperatures and wildfire smoke approaching a flashpoint.

Last week’s cooler weather should extend peach season a bit longer after triple-digit temperatures earlier in the month stressed some trees to the point of dropping fruit overnight. Those harsh conditions tested Talent’s Sugar Plum Acres, which nevertheless started offering its locally beloved 49er peaches for U-picking last week.

Bebee Farms advertised white-fleshed, super sweet Donut peaches this week. And if past seasons are any indicator, Elberta, Sweet Sue and Autumn Red varieties should be coming on.

This season, of course, is anything but typical as farmers face drought, intense heat and unhealthy air, all of which impact crop yields and confer more value on locally grown fruit. Even in mild, bounteous summers, the only occasions I ever recall feeling sated on peaches followed daylong canning marathons to preserve 40 pounds of Beebe “seconds” for the year ahead.

This year, my family has enjoyed Beebe peaches in our CSA box since mid-July. Although we get a couple dozen each week, it’s a challenge to ration them over a week’s worth of kids’ snacks until our next share arrives.

If we ever do have surplus peaches to prepare for the adults’ palates, I’ll make this stone fruit crostini with Beebe plums and creamy burrata cheese on locally baked artisan baguette. Any of the unfortunately dry peaches that cause my kids to cringe with disappointment would find favor in this lemony loaf cake. Chopping the fruit finely ensures even distribution throughout the batter.

And the copious chiles that our CSA delivered — many to bide their time in the fridge — suggest spicing up the season’s peaches in salsa and quesadillas. The fruit is a natural with savory ingredients, including pork and cheese. I love thinly sliced peaches on homemade pizza with prosciutto and blue cheese.

Stone Fruit Crostini

1 baguette

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus extra for garnish

1 tablespoon chopped shallot

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons freshly chopped thyme, plus thyme leaves for garnish

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups chopped stone fruits (such as peaches, plums, nectarines or cherries, use a mix of whatever you have on hand)

8 ounces burrata cheese, at room temperature

Flaky sea salt, for garnish

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Slice the baguette crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Bake in preheated oven until toasted, for about 10 minutes, flipping baguette slices halfway through baking. Remove from oven.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the shallot, vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the 2 teaspoons chopped thyme, the kosher salt and pepper. Add the stone fruits and toss to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Smear the burrata on baguette slices. Top with fruit mixture, evenly dividing among crostini. Drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkle with the thyme leaves and flaky sea salt to serve.

Makes about 16 crostini.

— Recipe from “The Peach Truck Cookbook,” by Jessica N. Rose and Stephen K. Rose (2019).

Lemon Peach Pound Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pans

1-3/4 cups flour, plus more for pans

1/2 cup coarse yellow cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

4 eggs, at room temperature

2 cups chopped fresh peaches (about 2 medium peaches)

2 cups powdered sugar, plus more if needed

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more if needed

Heat oven to 350. Grease 2 (4-by-8-inch) loaf pans with butter, dust them with flour and tap out any excess flour.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, milk and vanilla extract; set aside.

In bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the granulated sugar with the 1 cup butter until light and fluffy, for about 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and beat until well incorporated.

Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk mixture and scraping down sides of bowl frequently. Beat batter for a final 30 to 60 seconds, until it is thoroughly combined. Fold in the peaches.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake in preheated oven until a cake tester inserted into cake’s center comes out clean, for 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer pans to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour. Remove cakes from pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice, adding more sugar and/or juice as needed to adjust consistency. Pour glaze over top of cakes and let set before slicing and serving.

Makes 16 servings.

— Recipe from “The Peach Truck Cookbook,” by Jessica N. Rose and Stephen K. Rose (2019).

Spicy Peach Salsa

4 ripe peaches, pitted and diced

1/2 teaspoon peeled and minced, fresh ginger

2 Thai chiles, stemmed and diced

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more to taste, plus a little zest

1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 cup peeled and chopped red onion

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

Generous pinches of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In small bowl, combine the peaches, ginger, chiles, lime juice, cilantro, red onion and garlic. Mix well.

Add the salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Let sit at room temperature for up to 1 hour before serving.

— Recipe from “The Love & Lemons Cookbook: An Apple-to-Zucchini Celebration of Impromptu Cooking” by Jeanine Donofrio (2016).

Peach Quesadillas

7 ounces fresh pork sausage (3 or 4 links; can be seasoned)

1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

1 medium red onion

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 ripe peaches

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 or 7 large basil leaves

Eight (6-inch) corn tortillas

6 ounces grated, sharp, white cheddar cheese

Line a plate with paper towels.

Place pinches of the sausage in a medium skillet (discard casings if needed); cook for about 8 minutes over medium heat, seasoning sausage with the five-spice powder after first few minutes. Stir occasionally to break up any clumps.

Meanwhile, peel the onion and cut into a small dice.

Once sausage is cooked through yet still moist, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but 1 tablespoon rendered fat from skillet; return to medium heat. Add onion, stirring to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until softened and starting to brown. Season with the cumin, soy sauce and a few grinds of pepper. Transfer to a bowl; wipe out skillet (you’ll be using it again).

Cut each of the peaches in half; discard pits, then cut each half into thin slices, placing them in a bowl as you work. Drizzle with the oil, then season lightly with pepper.

Stack the basil leaves, then roll them tightly; cut into very thin slices (chiffonade), then transfer to bowl of peach slices, tossing to distribute them evenly.

Arrange 4 of the tortillas side by side. Use half the cheese, scattering equal amounts over each tortilla, leaving about a 1/2-inch margin around edges. Scatter or spoon cooked sausage on top of each portion of cheese. Fan peaches on top of each tortilla, so slices overlap and create a wheel. Scatter cooked onion over peaches, then scatter remaining cheese evenly over each. Top with remaining 4 tortillas.

Place a rimmed baking sheet in oven; preheat to 200 degrees.

Lightly grease same (now-empty) skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Add 1 quesadilla and cook for 2 minutes, then turn it over and cook for 2 minutes; cheese should be mostly melted and tortilla browned in spots. Transfer to preheated oven.

Repeat with remaining quesadillas, spraying skillet each time and transferring them to oven to keep warm.

Cut each into wedges; serve warm. Makes 4 servings.

— Recipe adapted by the Washington Post from “Simple Summer: A Recipe for Cooking and Entertaining With Ease,” by Jonathan Bardzik (2013).

Reach freelance writer Sarah Lemon at thewholedish@gmail.com.