Because cooking is about more than aesthetics, for one. It's about transformation. About the magic of intense heat. Or, in this case, about turning old into new. It's about revival.
The raw stone fruit you see pictured above looks absolutely gorgeous, but its appearance belies the state it was in. It had been sitting in my fridge for days, and the soft spots outnumbered the firm two to one. Past its prime, it was too flaccid to eat out of hand but still good enough to be salvaged.
One has many options in such cases, some more obvious (and more work) than others: pies, crumbles, sauces. I went for roasting, which is especially versatile. Pair it with ice cream, it's dessert. Pair it with yogurt, it's breakfast. Pair it with cardamom, as I did here, it's heavenly.
For those who abhor mushy textures, consider yourselves warned, and be especially careful not to overcook. Juicy stone fuit softens as it roasts, and in the event that you take it too far I recommend sprinkling it with granola, cookie crumbs, or toasted nuts to give it some crunch. Otherwise you may feel like you're eating baby food.
Breakfast this morning: roasted fruit with pistachios and yogurt. Tonight's dessert: the leftovers with creme fraiche and candied ginger.
Sure, we all like raw beauty and fresh-faced originals, but a well-staged revival suits me just fine.
Recipe for Honey-Roasted Stone Fruit with Cardamom
I scented my fruit with whole cardamom pods, smashed to release their seeds and then discarded before serving, but I wouldn't suggest you make a special trip to get them if they're not already in your spice drawer. A cinnamon stick or even a few cloves would be just as nice. You should also know that this fruit tastes wonderful warm, room temperature, or even cold directly from the fridge. Just don't serve it piping hot.
Makes 4 small or 3 good sized portions
8 pieces ripe stone fuit, pitted and cut into fourths (I used a combination of plums, pluots, nectarines, and peaches)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sugar
10 whole cardamom pods, smashed once with a mallet (try to keep each of the pods together so you can easily remove them later)
plain or vanilla yogurt, vanilla ice cream, nuts and/or crystallized ginger, for serving
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Place the cut fruit in a large bowl and stir in the honey.
Coat a rectangular glass baking dish (mine was 12x8) with nonstick spray. Transfer the honey-coated fruit to the dish. (Don't wash the large bowl -- you'll use it again.) Nestle the whole, smashed cardamom pods in the fruit. Sprinkle with the sugar.
Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the fruit has softened and given off a good bit of juice. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fruit back to the large bowl to cool off.
At this point, return the roasting juices in the baking dish to the oven to reduce until syrupy, about 4 minutes. Watch very carefully so the juices don't burn. Alternatively, reduce the juices on the stovetop. Alternatively again (options abound), discard the juices altogether. I must say, the reduced juices make an intense, and lovely, syrup, so I highly encourage you not to waste them.
Serve the fruit with any of the suggested accompaniments (yogurt, ice cream, nuts, ginger), and drizzle with the syrupy reduction.