Achingly sweet peaches may be early fall's most perfect fruit. They should have a delicate perfume and a hint of fuzz on the skin. Ripen hard peaches in a paper bag for a day or two.

To peel a fully ripe peach, score an X in the bottom and drop in boiling water for 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water. When cool, peel will slip right off.

Make a sauce for pork chops, scallops, or chicken: Sauté chopped shallots in olive oil, then add chopped peeled peaches, a dollop of orange marmalade, and equal parts balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

For a luscious breakfast, cube a loaf of French bread and layer half in a 9×13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; top with chopped peaches and goat cheese, then cover with remaining bread cubes. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and ginger. Whisk eight eggs with 1½ cups milk and ¼ cup maple syrup; pour over bread, then cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

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