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Two Ways to Use Up Overripe Stone Fruit

Dead Ripe Fruit Vinaigrette
Corn Pancakes with Maple-Stone Fruit Compote

Itís nearly impossible to pass up the juicy, just-picked peaches, plums, apricots and other stone fruits offered up by the bushel at farmers markets this time of year. So donít be surprised if you return from an excursion to the market with armloads. The only problem is that the fruitís very ripeness demands that it be eaten within days. There are ways out of this predicament.

One idea came in the form of a vinaigrette recipe included in a package of salad mix sold by Stone Free Farm at the Menlo Park farmers market. Dubbed "Flea Street Mix," it has been the house salad mix for Flea St. Cafe in Menlo Park for years. The mix changes with the seasons but usually has 20 to 30 lettuces, greens and herbs. "Because of its complexity, [the mix] lends itself to light, not cloying, vinaigrettes. In the summer or fall, we infuse fresh fruit into our standard salad dressing, enhancing rather than masking the lovely quality of this very special salad mix," reads the flyer, which offered the following recipe.

Dead Ripe Fruit Vinaigrette

About 1/2 cup very ripe fruit--strawberries, blackberries, peaches, apricots, nectarines or tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 to 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of fresh herbs to taste

1. In a food processor or blender, puree the fruit and garlic. Add the remaining ingredients, seasoning with salt, pepper and herbs.

The Border Grill, a Santa Monica restaurant, pleased a crowd at the Santa Monica farmers market last summer with this recipe that calls for very ripe stone fruit. "Weíve made these easy pancakes at the market before and sold out in minutes," says the restaurantís co-proprietor, Mary Sue Milliken.

Corn Pancakes With
Maple-Stone Fruit Compote

2 cups finely ground cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 ounces buttermilk
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk
Butter or oil for coating

2 1/2 cups very ripe assorted stone fruit (peaches, plums, apricots and cherries)
3/4 cup maple syrup

1. Combine the fruit and maple syrup in a bowl and serve at room temperature, or reserve in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

2. Make a thin batter, fry on both sides and serve with Maple-Stone Fruit Compote.

Copyright 2005 Seasonal Chef