The days grow warmer yet, with too-humid afternoons spent cooped up in stiflingly hot rooms. It's hell, I tell you, when just a couple weeks ago I was moaning and groaning about overly-chilly temperatures. This weather, it's heartlessly fickle; we brace ourselves for the onslaught of summer and fail miserably, with sweat sticking hairs to our napes and the moisture in the air magically transferring itself to our skins. God save our souls.
Despite that, I've got better things to frustrate about. Namely, schoolwork. This blitzkrieg of worksheets and well, even more worksheets is merciless, is even more moan-worthy than hot weather (which ranks among the list of things-I-despise). I've got an unholy amalgamation of mathematical equations, chemistry and biology terms swirling about in my head, with a good dose of Mandarin tenses. Point being, I've been REALLY REALLY busy.
Sometimes, it's incredibly hard to believe that I've come to this point - in life, in school, in my food escapades. To imagine that just a couple years ago I was a not-so-wee thirteen-year-old with an obsession with National Geographic and am iphone 4. And now, who's writing this is a fourteen-going on-fifteen year old who has a liking for bread, old coconuts* and National Geographic with an iphone 6, as well as an unfortunate tendency to befriend old ladies for pumpkin baos.
There's much more I'd like to say on that, and too much for now, so perhaps another time. But despite the tight schedule and countless mugs of tea I run on, I still make time for de-stressing in the form of spending time in the kitchen. I just find it so therapeutic, stirring and kneading, and oh-so-comforting, the mild smells of flour and fruits mixed with that of an oaty background. Yes, I MAKE time.
* by old coconuts I refer to the sweet thai kind with really thick flesh inside that's kinda hard to scoop out but incredibly crunchy - what did you think i meant??? Hmmm??
Anyhow, I happened to get my hands on some peaches at the market, which I promptly forgot about. So, I found them lurking about in the crisper section of the fridge when I was foraging for a snack (that wasn't orange) the other day. This was when a moment of genius hits - I decided to bake them (and clear out an orange at the same time). My prejudice against oranges remains.
What emerges from the oven are two slightly softened and wrinkly peaches which reveal pale cream-ish insides and have a perfume of spiced orange with them (which seems to make the peach flavor stand out more). That being said, the slightly salty ricotta spooned atop melts slightly and goes so well with everything else, inexplicably. It's probably like how everything goes with a dollop of whipped cream.
A final note:
Cinnamon proves to be a worthy spice here, but for the bold & brave, do throw in a star anise or two.
Baked Orange Peaches with Ricotta
total time: 40 mins / make time: 10 mins / cook time: 30 mins
makes for two
2 large peaches
juice of 1 orange + water to 1/2 cup
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 stick of cinnamon; optional
pinch of salt
1/4 cup ricotta
2 tbsp maple syrup / brown sugar
2 tbsp pomegranate arils (or more, if wished)
1. Preheat to oven to 220c.
2. In a bowl, combine orange juice, maple syrup and salt.
3. Place the peaches in ramekins and pour over the juice mixture and stick in the cinnamon stick, if using.
4. Bake for 30 minutes, moving the peach around for a bit around the 20 minute mark to re-coat the peach.
5. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing in half. *
6. Top with ricotta, drizzle on honey and sprinkle on arils before serving. Enjoy.
While the peach is baking, stir together the ricotta and maple syrup or brown sugar.
* do be careful when slicing the peach - it can get a little tough. Any possible techniques to combat this unfortunate problem?
- to be continued -