Apricots in BowlAs I write, I’m in Blenheim apricot bliss (that’s a bowl of them on the cover of my book). This is an especially good year for my favorite apricot variety, when all the elements converge to give the fruit an especially luminous rosy blush and honeyed flavor.

At the start of every tomato season, I’m reminded how worth a wait it is for sun-ripened tomatoes that have never seen the inside of a refrigerator. In one of those slap-my-forehead moments, I figured out how to make the simplest and best no-cook tomato soup ever! Here’s the trick: you have to start with really great tomatoes. Here’s the kitchen trick: pull out your old-fashioned box grater. Nothing to plug in, assemble, or heat; how green can you be. Just cut a bunch of tomatoes in half and poke out the seeds with your finger. Rub the cut sides of the tomatoes against the orange cheese-grating side of the grater. The tomato skin acts as a guard; as soon as you get to the skin, just toss it in the compost bowl. No peeling, no chopping. What you get is beautifully textured tomato essence, which is an entirely different animal than blender froth. Add a little salt, a dash of balsamic or red wine vinegar if you like, and call it soup. Divine. That handy little box grater is also essential for No-Cream Creamy Corn Soup (The SMFM Cookbook, page 64) and Fresh Black-Eyed Peas with Tomatoes and Onions (page 119).

Then come plums and pluots, which just get richer as summer progresses. Their vibrant reds, golds, and purples make gorgeous pluot and prosecco cocktails and open-face pinwheel tarts. Use pluots in a savory jam for goat cheese or salume, or sliced in a salad with smoked duck (don’t forget the rosé). You’ll find my new pluot recipes in the July issue of Bon Appétit.

I’m looking forward to some farm time this summer. I’ll be heading to the Fresno area to harvest boxes and boxes of buttery Elberta peaches from my adopted tree at the Masumoto Family Farm. Farmer Mas will be in Santa Monica right after the peach harvest to speak about his new book, and I will make Elberta peach refreshments for the occasion! Later in August I’ll be in southern San Luis Obispo County at Jerry Rutiz and Maureen Reilly’s farm to do a little cooking fresh from the field.

I hope to see you at these great events. Have a wonderful summer!