It's the peachy season.
Orchards are blooming, kids are picking, pies are baking. In Nassau and Suffolk, August is the ripest month.
Thomas Jefferson planted 900 peach trees at Monticello and nearby, observing "I am endeavoring to make a collection of the choicest kinds . . . " The Allman Brothers advised: "Eat a peach."
These days, you can have a sweet taste at restaurants and bakeries, farm stands and more.
Here's a sampler of places that celebrate the fruit of the moment as tested by our food staff, Peter M. Gianotti, Erica Marcus and Joan Reminick.
What Caramelized upside-down peach cobbler
Why Pastry chef Claudia Fleming makes the most of local peaches from Wickham's in her cross between a tarte Tatin and a cobbler. Caramel goes into the bottom of a small tart pan, which is topped with peaches and biscuit dough. After it's baked, it's upended and the caramel covers all. The cobbler is served with blackberries, lemon verbena custard and crème fraîche.
How much $13 a la carte ($12 at lunch) or included in prix-fixe lunch or dinner.
What Peach pie
Why Sometimes, it seems as though everyone in Huntington is eating at this venerable (but updated) luncheonette, where the flaky-crusted fresh peach pie may be had slightly warmed and topped with vanilla ice cream.
How much $2.95 for a slice; add $1.95 to make it a la mode.
What Seared duck breast with fresh peach compote, polenta and Marcona almonds
Why At chef-owner Eric Lomando's serious food destination, fresh peaches underscore the richness of pan-seared duck breast, plated over buttery polenta. Marcona almonds offer the contrast of crunch.
How much $26
What Salad of local peaches and tomatoes
Why At this stylish tavern, chef Meredith Machemer combines locally grown peaches, tomatoes and lettuce with basil from the restaurant's garden and tops it with goat cheese from Catapano Dairy Farm in Peconic. Catapano also provides the yogurt for the dressing, sweetened with honey from a local beekeeper.
How much $16
EASTPORT LUNCHEONETTE, 497a Montauk Hwy., Eastport; 631 325-8887
What Peach pancakes
Why With their toothsome texture and complex flavor, Eastport Luncheonette's pancakes are pretty hard to beat under normal circumstances. But when owner-chef Noreen Glynn slices chunks of fresh Long Island peaches into them, it's pancake perfection.
How much Three pancakes are $5.75. Ask for the real maple syrup, $1.25 extra.
What Cornmeal cake with fresh peach puree, macerated blueberries and vanilla bean and honey gelato
Why In an airy bi-level space near the harbor in Port Jefferson, chefs Erik Orlowski and John Urbinati offer a peachy combination based on seasonal local fruit. It's the vanilla bean honey gelato, says Urbinati, that brings all the elements together.
How much $8
What Grilled lobster and peach salad
Why Seafood is stressed at Tom Schaudel's upbeat New American restaurant, where chef de cuisine Lenny Campanelli composes a salad out of half a grilled lobster and a sliced flash-grilled peach fanned out over French mâche and marble-size Sweet 100 tomatoes, the whole drizzled with a light tarragon Champagne vinaigrette.
How much $16
What Peach-ginger scones with peach jam and peach iced tea
Why Chef-owner Emma Tso uses fresh peaches in all the components of this ginger-peachy triple play served in her sophisticated tea room. Spread the scone with the jam, sip the tea and chill out.
How much Scones $1.50 each or a basket of five for $7 (peach jam gratis with scones); peach iced tea $3 for half a carafe.
What Seared foie gras with peach-ginger compote and black-pepper gastrique, garnished with chopped Marcona almonds
Why In a scenic lakeside setting, chef and co-owner Matthew Connors contrasts the voluptuousness of foie gras with the ginger-spiked sweetness of fresh local peaches.
How much $18
What Peach-and-blueberry paysanne with white-peach gelato
Why Come late summer, Gerard Fioravanti always makes this rustic tart in which the fruit is nestled in puff pastry. It's even more peachy when served with the bakery's excellent white-peach gelato.
How much $10 for a 7-inch paysanne, $4 for individual. Gelato is $2.50 a scoop, $6.25 a pint.
What Peach tart
Why In a dessert designed to appeal to all preferences, David Dombroff embeds fresh peaches in a butter cake filling inside a tart pan.
How much $16.75 for a 10-inch tart, $14.75 for an 8-inch.
SAINT HONORÉ PASTRY SHOP, 993 Port Washington Blvd.; Port Washington; 516-767-2555
What Peach cake
Why At Saint Honoré, peach season means peach cake. The fruits ripen on the bakery's windowsills, and then baker-proprietor Jacques Le Guelaff bakes them into a simple, classic pound cake.
How much $16.50 for a 6-by-8-inch rectangle, $4.25 for individual 4-inch rounds.
What Peach Danish slices
Why These iPod-size pastries of sliced peaches on Danish dough are just one of Riesterer's seasonal peach offerings.
How much $2.25, plus peach muffins for $1.10; peach shortcake, $16.95 for 7-inch; peach cake (piecrust filled with peach puree, cake crumbs and peach slices), $8.75 for 7-inch.
The fresh peach cream pie alone is worth the ride and the money. It's $28 and sensational. Usually available on weekends, but call ahead. Also: excellent peach pie and peach jam, plus peach juice and, yes, peaches.
Davis Peach Farm celebrates its centenary this year. The U-pick orchard is on Hulse Landing Road; call 631-886-1095 to be sure it's open. The farm stand offers yellow, white and doughnut peaches, $5 to $9, in 2- and 4-quart containers. Peach pies are $9.25 and $15.50.
* LEWIN FARMS, 812 Sound Ave., Calverton, Lewin harvest fruits and vegetables.
Currently selling yellow peaches. $1 pound, U-pick; $1.19 pound at the farm stand. White peaches expected to be available next week.; 631-929-4327, lewinfarms.com
You can't miss the big peach sign, identifying the local landmark. The Halsey family has been growing fruit on the South Fork for 13 generations. Currently selling yellow peaches, $13.95 for 5 pounds; doughnut peaches, $7.95 for 2 pounds and $15.50 for 4. Peach pies are $22.95. White peaches later in the season. Peaches available through September.
* WICKHAM'S FRUIT FARM, 8700 Main Rd. (Route 25), Cutchogue; 631-734-6441; wickhamsfruitfarm.com
The farm dates to the 1600s. Today, there's U-pick and farm-stand purchasing. U-pick requires $20 membership fee for extended family; U-pick peaches, $14 for one-half peck. Currently available: yellow peaches, $2.75 a pound; white peaches, $3.25 a pound; doughnut peaches, $7 a quart. Peach pies are $10.75 and $12.60; peach jam, $6.
Currently, Windy Acres sells yellow, white and doughnut peaches. Only the yellow are U-pick; $1.49 pound. The three types of peaches are available at the farm stand in 4-quart baskets, which cost $8.
* These farm stands offer U-pick.
SOUTHERN PEACH SKILLET PIE
This easy-to-make one-crust peach dessert, a cross between a pie and a shortcake, is adapted from "Passion for Peaches," edited by Gail McPherson (Hearts & Tummies Cookbook Co.).
1 cup sifted flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter or other shortening
1/3 to 1/2 cup milk
6 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl and mix with a fork. Add butter and mix in, using a pastry blender, until fine crumbs form. Stir in enough milk to make a soft dough. Do not overmix.
2. Roll or pat out dough on a floured board to make a circle about 10 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. Place dough in a heavy, 8-inch skillet, preferably cast iron, allowing some dough to hang out over the edge.
3. Arrange peaches on top of dough. Sprinkle sugar and salt over peaches. Cut 1 1/2 tablespoons butter into small pieces and dot peaches with butter. Fold hanging dough toward center, leaving some peaches uncovered. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until browned.
Makes 6 servings.
FRESH PEACH PANDOWDY
This recipe is originally from The St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1966. Make it this month, when local peaches ripen, or with the ripe peaches from elsewhere that are now appearing in the market.
4 pounds (12 to 14 medium) fresh peaches
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons tapioca
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup milk
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel and slice peaches. There should be 6 cups. Combine peaches, 3/4 cup sugar, tapioca and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Turn into a buttered, 8-by-8-inch baking dish. Dot with butter. Set aside.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, the 3 tablespoons sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add shortening and cut in to resemble coarse crumbs. Stir in milk. Drop 6 mounds from a tablespoon on top of the peaches. Bake for 50 minutes, or until dough is nicely browned and peaches are cooked through. Serve with a pitcher of heavy cream for pouring at the table. Makes 6 servings.
PEACHY CHEESECAKE SQUARES
This recipe appeared a few years ago in Penzeys Spice catalog.
2 cups ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoon cinnamon sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350. Toss sliced peaches with cinnamon sugar, set aside. In a large bowl combine flour and powdered sugar. Cut in the butter until mix is crumbly and a little dry. Reserve 2 cups of this mixture for the topping. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9-by-13-inch pan (glass is preferred). Bake the crust for 15 minutes.
2. While the crust is baking, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in the condensed milk until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix well. Remove the crust from the oven (after 15 minutes) and carefully smooth the peaches over the crust. Drizzle with any juice in the bowl. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the peaches. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture over the cream cheese filling. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until bubbly and starting to brown on the top. Let cool. Makes 10 to 15 servings.