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Peaches--From Soup to Nuts


When I was a child, I lived near an orchard. Each summer my brother and I were allowed to pick over the trees for just one day. We'd go home, stand on stools over the sink and peel peaches, the sticky-sweet nectar running down our arms.

Peaches are always delicious. But when you want something a little more complicated, the microwave does a good job of retaining the just-picked flavor. A good example of this is found in the lightly cooked peach halves stuffed with amaretti (macaroon-like cookies), a dessert that also happens to be low in calories.

The Peach Crumble is a crust-less crumb pie that is easy to assemble and best when eaten warm with ice cream, plain yogurt or unsweetened whipped cream or creme fraiche. It can be popped into the microwave to cook while you sit down to eat your main course. The crumb topping helps seal in the fruit's moisture. Covering the dish with a lid or plastic wrap is unnecessary because an additional cover would only make the topping soggy.

Auntie's Peach-Brandy Soup is hard to categorize--it could be considered either a dessert or a soup. We prefer to eat it for lunch, with yogurt stirred in. You could also make a particularly dramatic dessert by adding flamed sugar cubes.

AUNTIE'S PEACH-BRANDY SOUP 4 ripe peaches, peeled and finely chopped, or 2 cups drained canned peaches 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup dry white wine 2 tablespoons triple sec 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 cup whipped cream 4 sugar cubes, optional 2 tablespoons brandy for flaming, optional

Combine peaches, sugar, wine, triple sec, lemon zest and cinnamon in 2-quart glass casserole. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) until boiling and wine scent is faint, about 6 minutes, stirring once.

When soup is hot, pour into 4 bowls. Garnish each with dollop of whipped cream. Add sugar cube on top. Heat brandy on HIGH 20 seconds in 1-cup glass measure. Ignite and pour some directly on each sugar cube. Serve soup immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving, unflamed, without whipping cream or sugar cubes, contains about: 173 calories; 3 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 32 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 1.09 grams fiber.

PEACH CRUMBLE 6 cups peeled, pitted and thinly sliced peaches 1 tablespoon lemon juice 6 tablespoons butter 3/4 cup flour 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed 1/3 cup granulated sugar 2/3 cup rolled oats 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Place peach slices in 8 1/2-inch-diameter round or 8-inch-square microwave-proof cake dish. Stir in lemon juice and lightly toss.

Cut butter into flour in medium mixing bowl until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in sugars, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg and walnuts. Sprinkle mixture evenly over peaches. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) until fruit is tender, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating dish once. Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about: 353 calories; 123 mg sodium; 31 mg cholesterol; 18 grams fat; 45 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 0.78 gram fiber.


This elegant dessert has only 117 calories per serving.

ALMOND AMARETTI-STUFFED PEACHES 2 large ripe peaches, halved and pitted 4 amaretti or almond macaroons, crushed 1 tablespoon sugar 1 tablespoon chopped almonds 1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur, or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Spoon out 1 tablespoon pulp from each peach half and set peach halves aside. Finely chop peach pulp. Combine pulp with amaretti, sugar, almonds, amaretto and lemon zest in small bowl.

Spoon peach mixture into peach halves and place halves around outer rim of 9-inch pie plate or microwave-proof serving plate. Cover with wax paper and microwave on HIGH (100% power) until peaches are fork-tender, 3 to 5 minutes, repositioning peaches and rotating dish halfway through cooking. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about: 71 calories; 1 mg sodium; 3 mg cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 14 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.62 gram fiber.

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