Missed Opportunities in Time Travel
Last week I had a big bite of the summer. No, really, a real summer bite. My husband, Alex and I were crossing Lake Cumberland and stopped at a roadside fruit stand to load up before heading home. We grabbed a few bushels of whatever looked best and hit the road. I really didn’t think twice about the extra blurry fruit in the backseat. In fact, we were so tired and exhausted when we unloaded the car that I almost left them overnight. Thank goodness I didn’t.
Our trip to the lake, then to the falls, was filled with rich, heavy food. Lots of delicacies, but let’s just say I didn’t feel exactly like slender myself when we got back. On the first day back, all I wanted was something simple and raw, with as little added oil or fuss as possible.
I grabbed the upturned little green crate of peaches and looked for the bruised and ripe one of the bunch. They were perfect. I needed to eat them or cook with them that day. Taking a fuzzy peach in my hand, I cut its skin around the seed, then cut these halves into pieces. Idiot, I thought I would only eat a bite or two. All I can say is wow. You would think I had never tasted peach before. The whiff of flavor and freshness honestly pulled the rug under me. It was unbelievable. It brought me back when I was five in the back of my mom’s station wagon after a day of swimming, stopping near a roadside fruit stand. As we wiped the peach juice that dripped out of our mouths with our beach towels, we would compare the seeds, and sometimes plant the seed in the hopes of growing a tree.
A ripe peach can be one of the messiest fruits to enjoy. Rarely do you see someone getting agitated or complaining about it. Never lacking in universal appeal, peaches are easy to eat for everyone, whether they’re in the palm of their hand or tossed in the oven.
Today I have included some of my favorite fishing recipes. Some are fantastic for perfectly ripe peaches, others for those that are not so ripe or even overripe. It was not easy to present only a few recipes featuring my favorite fruit. If you haven’t taken the time to taste peaches this summer, why fight it any longer?
Good luck and enjoy it!
Tips for preparing peaches:
To eat fresh: Wash; peel and cut in half to remove the core.
To peel the peaches, immerse them in boiling water for about 15 seconds, then immediately immerse them in cold water. Using a knife, remove the skin.
To avoid turning, sprinkle with lemon juice if you are not eating it immediately.
Store, refrigerate and use within 3 to 5 days.
When picking, look for fairly firm to slightly softened fruits that are yellow or light cream in color. Avoid green or bruised fruit.
Sweet and savory peaches
4 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced.
½ cup of fresh ricotta
¼ cup toasted walnuts (Walnuts or pecans are my favorite. But cashews or almonds are also delicious.)
A Drizzle: Sorghum, honey or maple syrup. Something local.
Flaky salt for the finish, Maldon or Kosher salt is preferred.
Arrange the peaches on one or more plates, fan-shaped so that the belly of each peach sticks out slightly. Place at least 2 tablespoons of ricotta in the center of each plate. Sprinkle nuts around the peaches. Pour honey, sorghum or syrup on top of the plate and sprinkle with salt. Use immediately.
Peach ice cream (custard style)
6 ripe peaches, peeled and crushed
2 ½ cups of sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon of salt
3 eggs, beaten
4 cups of milk
1 12-ounce can of evaporated milk
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 tablespoon of vanilla
Combine the peaches and a cup of sugar and set aside. Combine the flour, salt and remaining sugar. Add the eggs and mix well. Cook over low heat, gradually adding the milk and evaporated milk, and stir constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon. Let the mixture cool. Stir in the whipped cream and add the sweet peaches and vanilla. Fold in an ice cream freezer, preferably the crank type, and freeze.
Once the cream is frozen, remove the dasher and leave the container in the brine. Wrap the container tightly with towels to isolate the entire freezer and allow the ice cream to “settle”.
Peaches & Cream (gluten free)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
3 half-ripe peaches
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup of hot water
Place the peaches in a casserole dish or saucepan; add sugar and water. Cover and bake.
Serve with whipped cream and or ice cream on top.
For 8 people
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2 cups of peaches, sliced
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons of yeast
1 cup of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup milk
Toss the peaches with 1/2 cup of the sugar and set aside. Put the butter in the bottom of a baking dish and put in the oven to melt. Make a paste with the rest of the ingredients and pour over the melted butter (do not stir). Put the peaches on the dough; again, do not stir. Bake until crust is light brown and puffed, about 35-45 minutes. Serve hot with ice cream (the peach ice cream above is great with a cobbler).
Peach Compote with Lemon Verbena
3 pounds of peaches (Firmer ones are easier with the recipe.)
⅓ cup of sugar
cup of water
6 large sprigs of lemon verbena, 4-5 inches (Have on hand if you want to garnish. Tip: If you don’t have verbena, that’s okay. Try using lemongrass.)
1 pint of berries, such as raspberries, blackberries or blueberries
Using a peeler, peel the peaches. It’s going to get complicated, and that’s okay. Be careful. After peeling it, cut it into 2 inch pieces. Place in a large pot or skillet with a lid. Add the sugar and water. Stir and mix the ingredients. Crush or rub the verbena leaves with your fingers to release the oil, then add them to the pan. You can break or bend the stems to fit.
Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring gently from time to time, until the mixture simmers and the sugar has dissolved. You want the fruit to be barely tender and have released some of its juice. It will take less than five minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat. Cover the pan and let stand 15 minutes.
Remove the verbena sprigs and throw them away. Serve at room temperature. Garnish with additional uncooked verbena. Can also be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Serve chilled, incorporating the berries 15 minutes before serving.
Delicious served on ice cream, angel food cake, sponge cake or even yogurt.
The recipes and photos used in today’s article come from Chef Babz’s kitchen ([email protected])