Tropical Fruit Stack

Try this at home

The weather finally is turning to the warmth of summer. Although we, as New Hampshirites, are excited for the increased temperature, we also will be complaining about how hot and humid it is in the very near future. With that in mind, I have created a dish that welcomes the arrival of summer while keeping one cool.

Allow me to introduce to you the tropical fruit stack. While its name may make you think that it’s a sweet dish, it actually has a nice balance between sweet, savory, salty and even a little bit of spice. Yes, it’s all of the taste categories in one dish. Additionally, it has a nice balance between tender and crunchy, so what’s not to like?

This is a simple dish to make, but because of its simplicity you also need to be mindful when purchasing your ingredients. All of the produce needs to be fully ripened, as it won’t spend any time cooking or macerating to highlight its flavors. If you can only find under-ripe produce, that’s fine. The mango and avocado can be ripened by placing them in a paper bag on the counter for a day or two. The same is supposed to work with pineapples, although I’ve never tried that.

You may hesitate to try this recipe because you need a ring mold. However, there are many substitutes for a ring mold. You can make one out of aluminum foil. If you buy your pineapple whole but with the skin removed, that container can work, if you cut off the bottom. You also could cut the bottom off a large disposable plastic cup and use it with the widest part as the bottom of your mold.

With fresh ingredients and your tool acquired, you’re ready to make a dish that’s sure to wow. It’s pretty easy to make, elegant to view and refreshing to eat. Summer dining doesn’t get much better than that.

Tropical fruit stack. Photo by Michele Pesula Kuegler.

Tropical Fruit Stack
Serves 2

1 1/3 cup diced pineapple
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 avocado
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 cup diced mango
2 tablespoons finely chopped salted macadamia nuts

In a small bowl combine pineapple, chili powder, and salt.
Stir until pineapple is fully coated.
Remove skin and pit from avocado.
Place avocado and lime juice in a small bowl.
Using a fork, mash until avocado is creamy.
Place a 4-inch ring mold on a small plate.
Spoon half of the pineapple mixture evenly as the bottom layer.
Spread half of the mashed avocado on top of the pineapple.
Spoon half of the diced mango over the avocado.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of macadamia nuts over the mango.
Carefully remove mold, and repeat for second serving.
Serve immediately.

Caramelized peaches with bacon & blue cheese

There is nothing quite like a perfectly ripe peach as an afternoon snack. When a peach is tender and so juicy that you need to have a napkin nearby, it should be enjoyed on its own. There is nothing else this peach needs to evoke all of its flavors.

Sometimes, though, you have peaches that aren’t perfectly ripe. Then it is time to transform those peaches into an entirely different snack. Allow me to introduce you to a ridiculously simple recipe that turns ho-hum peaches into something much more spectacular.

You need only four ingredients and less than 30 minutes to create a dish that could be an appetizer or a side dish. It could even be your lunch if you wanted. Even better, slightly underripe peaches work well in this dish because the roasting time brings forth tenderness and sweetness. Topped with salty bacon and savory blue cheese, this makes an amazing mix of flavors and textures. Oh yes, this simple recipe produces a show-stopping dish.

A few notes on this recipe:

1. You don’t want to use thick-cut bacon, as you want the bacon to be really crispy after cooking so that it will crumble nicely.

2. I found it easier to cut through the pit, as opposed to trying to pull the peach flesh off the pit. Pulling resulted in squishing the fruit.

3. Be very watchful when broiling the final product. It takes mere seconds and will go from caramelized to burnt in the blink of an eye.

Although peaches are lovely on their own, after making this recipe you may be hard pressed to think about peaches without also considering blue cheese and bacon.

Caramelized Peaches with Bacon & Blue Cheese
Serves 2-4

3 slices regular-cut bacon
2 peaches
3 tablespoons blue cheese
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat large frying pan over medium heat.
Add bacon and cook until crisp.
Transfer fully cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
Cut peaches in half (using the crease as a guide) and remove pit.
Place peaches, cut side down, on a greased, rimmed baking dish.
Roast for 8-10 minutes or until tender.
While peaches bake, place blue cheese in a small bowl.
Crumble bacon into small pieces, adding it to the cheese.
Use a fork to combine the cheese and bacon.
Remove peaches from oven, and flip so that they are cut side up.
Change oven from bake to broil.
Move a rack to the highest shelf in the oven.
Fill peach centers with blue cheese and bacon.
Sprinkle sugar over peaches.
Place under broiler for 15-30 seconds.*

*Instead of broiling the peaches, you can caramelize them with a kitchen torch.

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