Peaches, glorious peaches! In David Masumoto’s beautiful award-winning book “Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm” he shares the story of raising Sun Crest Peaches, one of the last remaining truly juicy peaches. Of eating these peaches, he descriptively writes, “You lean over the sink to make sure you don’t drip on yourself and the juices trickle down your cheeks and dangle on your chin. This is a real bite, a primal act, a magical sensory celebration announcing that summer has arrived!”
I couldn’t agree more!
When shopping for peaches, look for intensely fragrant fruit that gives slightly to palm pressure. Choose bright colored peaches with no signs of greening or soft spots. Peaches contain both vitamins A and C. Because of their fuzzy skins, peaches are often peeled before eating. Blanch the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, and plunge them into ice-cold water to stop the cooking process, and the skin easily peels off. To preserve peaches, peel, pit, and slice them and transfer to clean freezer containers. Completely cover them with orange juice, cover and freeze for up to six months.
This peach Crostata is a riff on a classic Italian fruit dessert. Substituting sugar with Parmesan cheese gives the crust a unique rich flavor that’s almost unrecognizable, with delicious results. Because the peaches are sweet, the entire dessert including whipped cream contains only one tablespoon of sugar with a drizzle of organic honey.
While both peaches and raspberries are fresh it’s comforting to return to a favorite cold summer dessert, Peches Cardinal. It is a classic French recipe that always creates a spectacular finale to the meal, while never going out of style. Just like a little black dress. This adaptation uses half the amount of sugar called for in the original recipe. The results? A refreshing and delicious dessert. Bon appetit!
Peach Crostata(Serves 6)For the crust:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
1 egg beaten with about 1 1/2 tablespoon ice water
For the filling:
3 tablespoons oatmeal
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 tablespoons slivered almonds
4 to 6 firm, ripe peaches, peeled
About 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Honey for drizzling — about 1 teaspoon
For the topping:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup basil leaves, bruisedTo prepare: For the crust: Working in the food processor, briefly pulse flour and cheese to mix. Add butter and pulse until it becomes coarse meal. Remove the mixture to a bowl. With a fork, stir egg and ice water together and then pour the liquid into the center of the flour and stir until the mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Roll the crust out to about a fifteen-inch circle. Transfer the dough onto a greased baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
To fill and bake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a bowl, combine oatmeal, brown sugar, and almonds together. Sprinkle the nut/oatmeal mixture on the center of the dough, leaving about a three-inch border.
Peel peaches, halve, remove pit, slice, and sprinkle with lemon juice. Spread the peaches over the center of oatmeal/nuts, dot the top with a few pieces of butter and fold the uncovered edge of the pastry over the fruit, pleating as you go. It’s not supposed to be perfect! Drizzle the whole affair with a thin stream of honey.
Bake in preheated oven until the pastry is golden brown and peaches are tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven, let stand at least 5 minutes before removing from the baking sheet and sliding the pastry onto a serving plate.
Before serving, steep the cream with basil leaves for several hours. Discard the basil and whip until stiff peaks form. Add a dollop of whipped cream on each serving of Crostata. Peches Cardinal(Peaches With Raspberry Sauce)
(Serves 4)1 quart water
1 cup sugar
4 peaches, peeled, halved, and pitted
4 inch whole vanilla bean
2 pints fresh red raspberries —with about 1 tablespoon sugar
(Unsweetened frozen raspberries can substitute)
Optional: 1 tablespoon Kirshwasser
Optional Crème Chantilly:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extractTo prepare:In a saucepan over high heat, add water and sugar, bring to a boil and cook until the sugar is dissolved, for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat, add peaches, vanilla bean, and poach until the peaches are barely tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Test with a cake tester. Remove from the heat and allow the peaches to cool to room temperature and refrigerate them in the syrup.
Meanwhile: Make the sauce. Working in the food processor or blender, purée raspberries and then push the pulp through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl to remove the seeds. Discard the seeds and reserve the purée. Add Kirshwasser, taste and adjust the flavorings. Transfer to a pitcher, cover and refrigerate.
Whip the cream until it begins to thicken, add sugar and vanilla. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Cover and refrigerate.
Drain the peach halves and reserve the sugar syrup for another use. Place peaches cut side up in dessert bowls or coupe champagne glasses. Mask with raspberry sauce and top with a dollop of whipped cream.
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