How to use the peak of summer’s best crop
It’s peach season and we’re ready. The Peach Truck will be making deliveries from Georgia, and we’ll be stocking up on Fredericksburg peaches as much as we can. To make the most of the sweet summer fruit, we are going to need some creative ways to serve them. Cobbler? Yes, for sure cobbler. But read on…there might be a few peachy ideas you haven’t yet thought of.
Laura McCullough is an expert entertainer and says Red, White, and Blue Sangria – a recipe from healthy cookbook author Joy Bauer – is “a total crowd pleaser.” She serves it every Fourth of July in Colorado, often doubling or tripling the recipe, and says, “The pitcher is always drained quickly!”
This recipe calls for elderflower liqueur (like St-Germain), which Laura says a friend named “the ketchup of the bar,” because it makes everything taste better. She adds, “I will also say that improvising has always worked [with this recipe]. I will use peach vodka instead of berry vodka and not use fresh peaches because I’m lazy and do not want to slice and get the peach off the pit!”
1 cup blueberries
1 cup raspberries
1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 cup white peaches, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup berry-flavored vodka
¼ cup elderflower liqueur
1 (750 ml) bottle of white wine (Joy uses Sauvignon Blanc)
½ to 1 cup white grape juice or 3 tablespoons honey (optional, depending on how sweet you want the sangria)
1 12-ounce can berry-flavored sparkling water
Ice for serving
In a large bowl, add the fruit and mix to combine. Reserve 1 cup for garnish before serving. In a very large pitcher, add the fruit, vodka, liqueur, wine, and optional grape juice or honey, if using. Stir gently to mix and allow to sit in the fridge for 1 hour or up to 8 hours. As this sits, the color will change to a slight pink or purplish hue, depending on the fruit used. Right before serving, add the sparkling water into the pitcher and pour into glasses over ice. Garnish each glass with the reserved fruit.
Another consummate entertainer, Tina Pyne shared her own take on grilled peaches. She says the pistachio-honey-mint paste is also delicious spread on toast.
Fresh mint leaves, minced
Preheat a grill pan or grill to medium heat. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. Brush the cut sides with a little olive oil, then grill them, cut side down, for 3 or 4 minutes.
Stir the pistachios and honey together to make a paste. Stir in a little minced mint. Top the warm peaches with the pistachio-honey-mint paste.
Pediatrician Lindy McGee has fond memories of her mother making this “old-school” Cuppa Cuppa Blueberry (or Blackberry) and Peach Cobbler. “There was an empty lot at the end of our street in Briarmeadow where dewberries grew. My mother was not a cook at all, but every summer we would pick dewberries and she would make this cobbler.” The recipe, which is more like a cake studded with fruit than a cobbler, gets its name from the “cuppa” flour, “cuppa” sugar, “cuppa” milk, and “sticka” butter. Lindy says, “It is really easy!”
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
1 cup self-rising flour (or 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder)
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 peaches, chopped
¼ cup blueberries (or blackberries)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the butter in a 9”x13” baking dish and put it in the oven to melt.
In a large bowl, stir the flour, sugar, and salt together. Add the milk and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. When the butter has melted, remove the baking dish from the oven and swirl the melted butter around to coat the bottom and sides of the dish.
Pour the batter into the hot baking dish, using a spatula to even the top out. Scatter the fruit over the top of the batter. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the edges begin to brown.
Yes, this is an apricot recipe, but we’ve included it because apricots are such close cousins of the peach, and because Nancy Beck is such a great cook. Nancy says her recipe for Apricot Raspberry Crumble will work just as well with peaches and blueberries, if that’s your preference.
2 pounds apricots, sliced
2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ cups flour
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 pint raspberries
For the topping:
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup oats
½ cup sliced almonds or walnut pieces
Vanilla ice cream
Fresh mint, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the apricots, sugar, flour, orange juice, and raspberries and pour into a greased 9”x13” baking dish.
Make the topping. In a food processor, pulse the brown sugar, flour, salt, and butter until the butter is mixed in. Add the oats. Pour over the fruit and top with nuts. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream and fresh mint.
Jennifer Rosenfeld’s parents are from Galveston and growing up she spent many weekends crabbing on the island. “We’d come back from the beach,” she says, “and my grandmother – Mee-Maw – would make peach cobbler. My mom and aunts would argue who had to make the hard sauce. It was all about the sauce (which has no liquor, just butter and sugar)! The entire O’Connor family really only wanted a little cobbler with their hard sauce. As everyone got older (and a tad lazier) we would buy a peach pie and just make the hard sauce!”
16 peaches (to yield 8 cups sliced, peeled peaches)
For the crust:
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups Crisco
10 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
1 ¾ cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
2 ½ heaping tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
For the hard sauce:
1 cup sugar
½ stick butter
2 cups water (use the water the peaches boiled in)
2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with a little water to make it pourable
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and place the peaches in the boiling water for 10 to 20 seconds until the skins split. Drain, reserving the water for the hard sauce. Peel the peaches.
To make the crust, combine the flour and salt. Cut in the Crisco with a pastry blender or fork until small balls form. Add ice water and mix until blended. Divide the dough into 2 balls. Roll each flat to fit a 9”x13” pan, and line the pan with one of the pieces of rolled-out dough.
Mix the peaches, sugar, lemon juice, salt, flour, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and fill the bottom crust. Fit the second crust on top. Cut slits on the top crust and dot with butter. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
While the cobbler is baking, make the hard sauce. Combine the sugar and butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring continuously, until the mixture turns brown. Add the water and let it come to a good boil. Add the cornstarch, then add vanilla.
Serve the cobbler with lots of hard sauce.
Another famously great home cook, Allan Fradkin says this Peach Pie with Coconut Almond Crust is “a wonderful peach recipe.” It’s from an old Dinah Shore cookbook. “She was an excellent cook and we’ve made many of her recipes several times...[this one] a dozen times. This recipe is easy to scale up and use more whipped cream. It’s especially good when peaches are tasty and juicy.”
1 cup sour cream
6 tablespoons powdered sugar, divided
1 teaspoon orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Coconut Almond Piecrust (recipe follows)
Beat the sour cream. Add salt, 4 tablespoons powdered sugar, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla. Spread on bottom and sides of pie crust. Cover with peaches arranged in an attractive manner in the pie crust.
Whip the cream. Fold in remaining 2 tablespoons powdered sugar. Cover the peaches with whipped cream. Sprinkle the top with toasted crumb mixture reserved from pie crust. Chill.
Coconut Almond Piecrust and Crumb Mixture
1 cup blanched almonds, finely ground
1 cup flaked coconut
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup butter
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix the almonds and coconut. Using your fingers, work in sugar and butter. Press evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch glass pie plate, reserving 3 tablespoons of the crumbly mixture for the top of the pie.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. If the edges get too brown, cover with foil, leaving the center uncovered. At the same time, place the remaining crumb mixture in a shallow pan and toast in the oven about 5 minutes.
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