Stone Fruit and Spinach

It is no great secret that baking (and eating) is one of my favourite things to do. Particularly after long days working it is so comforting to use my hands to create something fresh and delicious. I never stop being thankful for living in a country where good fresh produce is so easy to come by; and that there is almost always a home-grown option. I guess that's why so many notable cooks and restaurants choose to eat and cook "seasonally"; that is using the fresh foods that are in season and abundance. So I began to think about this a lot more; why do we spend so much money on grapefruits and apples and oranges when the fruit that is ripe to eat (and buy) are stone fruits; peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums and melons - and best of all they are grown here on local farms!I think it comes down to habit; I know I became so accustomed to having grapefruits after lunch in winter (when they were abundant and affordable) that I still want them now that they are extraordinary pricey. One of my great dreams to have my own garden full of fruit bearing trees and vegetables and herbs so that I can eat from my garden through the year - but in the meantime lets kick those habits - embrace the season - its summer after all; and they'll be apples aplenty for the rest of the year.

Now for some seasonal recipes:

Baked peaches with pistachio and honey
This is a super easy recipe that really depends on how many peaches you want to stuff and bake; but generally for filling 6 peaches you will need:
1/2 cup pistachios
1/4 cup blanched almonds
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1 tablespoon amaretto
2 tablespoons runny honey

Run a sharp knife around the stone of each peach then gently twist apart. Carefully cut out the stone (you might find it easier using a spoon). Spoon out a little flesh from both halves and fill with pistachio mixture. Place peaches in a lamington tin or similar and pour a little water in the bottom of the tin. Bake in a slow/moderate oven (160'c) for an hour or more until golden.

Bill's Apricot Slice (from his book Bill's Open Kitchen)
185g (1 1/2 cups) plain all-purpose flour
170g (3/4 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
3 eggs
60ml (1/4 cup) milk
2 tsp natural vanilla extract
180g (6 1/2 ounces) butter, softened
14 apricots, pitted and halved (this may vary depending on the size of the apricots. Also, if fresh apricots are out of season, you can use bottled or canned ones)
2 Tbsp caster (superfine) sugar, extra

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C (315 F/Gas 2-3). Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Place the eggs, milk and vanilla in another bowl and mix to combine. Pour the egg mixture and butter into the well in the dry ingredients and beat for 2 minutes until smooth. Spread the mixture evenly into a greased or non-stick 20 x 30cm (8 x 12 inch) lamington tin.

Push the apricot halves, cut side up, evenly into the cake mixture in four rows of seven. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, sprinkle over extra sugar and cook for another 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

From Maeve's wonderful cooking show Food Safari. Find the recipe and tutorial here. The fresh dill really adds something wonderful to the spinach filling; and upon taking the spanakopita from the oven I like to squeeze the juice of a lemon over its fragrant top. And my is it delicious cold!