Monday, June 25

Practice What You PEACH!

It's Finally HERE! One of my favorite times of the year......

......IT'S PEACH SEASON in TEXAS!

Summer just isn't summer without ripe peaches. Have you ever been caught smelling peaches in the produce section of your grocery store? Well I have, because if it doesn't SMELL like a peach, I'm sorry folks but it ain't a peach. We eat with more than our tongues. We eat with our eyes, fingers and definitely our noses. In our great state, Texas, we have many good growing areas and 2012 has simply been one of the best years we have seen for peaches. I'm sure every Texan would agree that some of the tastiest peaches come from the Hill Country, East Texas and south of Dallas.....in and around the Fairfield area. There are hundreds of special recipes for peaches, everything from Peach Pies to Peach Teas. But is there anything better than eating a warm summer peach that you plucked from a tree? Oh so sweet and juicy. You have to almost bend over at the waist not to get peach juice all over your chin and clothes. They are wonderful and here in Texas we eat them fresh, as many as we can. The rest are then used to make preserves, chutneys, pickled peaches, pies, baked breads, teas.....so on and so on. I also make sure to buy extra to feed my freezer, giving us fresh pies and breads year round. I'm sure you and your family have your favorite peach recipes; these are a few of mine. I hope you enjoy them.....if not at least eat'em fresh right off the tree and who knows you just might catch me sniffing peaches at the grocery store or outdoor market!
ENJOY!

Spicy Pickled Peaches

My grandmother Chesser made the BEST pickled peaches. She and my granddad had lots of fruit trees and made sure to use all of their fruit every summer. Whether it was eating fresh fruit or canning for the winter to come; there was nothing left on the tree, vine or bush. They lived through the depression and you left NOTHING to waste. These spicy, pickled peaches are DE-vine! Reminds me of childhood summers spent watching my grandmother in the kitchen. Wonderful memories...


Ingredients



1/2 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups sugar
14 small but sweet and juicy peaches, peeled
2 Tbsp whole cloves
5 Cinnamon sticks, opt.
1 Tbsp allspice in a mesh boiling bag, opt.




What To Do

Bring the water, vinegar and sugar to a boil. Boil 5 minutes. Add the peaches, cinnamon sticks and cloves and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Allspice in a mesh boiling bag may be boiled with the peaches, but do not add to the jars. Spoon peaches, cinnamon sticks and cloves evenly among sterilized quart jars. Cover with syrup to 1/2 inch of rim. Wipe the rims with a clean dry cloth, and seal with lids and rings. Continue by following the canning instructions that come with the jars. Serve cold.
Peach Pickles stay good for up to 2 weeks




Spicy Pickled Peaches and Blue Cheese Salad

I love salad, if you can love a salad. I have fond memories of eating salad as a child. My mother is not a health nut, however the meals she cooked for us consisted of protein, salad, cooked veggies and some sort of carb. Well-balanced for sure. Her salads were legendary, not your normal cookie cutter salads. She always added some sort of zip and flair to our salads and we learned to love those leafy green concoctions. Pickled peaches and blue cheese are the perfect combination to turn an ordinary salad into something worthy of a special occasion!




Ingredients

4 good sized spicy pickled peaches, thinly sliced
Reserve syrup from peaches
Balsamic vinegar
1 small Thai red chili, seeded and minced
4 ounces good quality soft Blue cheese – I adore Maytag Blue
3/4 cup pecan halves, toasted or candied
2 cups loosely packed Baby Arugula, washed, dried and chilled
2 cups loosely packed Romaine lettuce, washed, dried and chilled
fresh ground black pepper and kosher salt, to taste
Crumbled Bacon, optional




What To Do

If your pickled peaches are not already sliced, drain them...reserving liquid...and slice them now. Set aside. Mix your salad greens together and divide them among 4 chilled plates. Top with crumbled Blue Cheese, spiced pickled peaches, pecans, chili and bacon, if using. Drizzle each salad with a small amount of Balsamic vinegar and syrup from peaches. Finish each plate with fresh ground black pepper and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Serve immediately. Depending on your preference for heat will be a gauge for how much chili you use. Serves 4





Fresh Peach Chutney

Pair this sweet and slightly hot condiment with grilled chicken, pork tenderloin, or curry dishes. It can also perk up an ordinary turkey or ham sandwich and makes a quick and tasty appetizer with cream cheese and crackers.


Ingredients

    1/2 cup cider vinegar
    1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1 large sweet red pepper, seeded and diced
    1 small white onion, peeled and diced
    1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
    1/3 cup white raisins
    1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
    1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and grated
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 1/2 pounds fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, and diced


What To Do

Put the vinegar and both sugars into a non-reactive pot, place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Add the red pepper, onion, jalapeño, raisins, garlic, ginger, salt and simmer 10 minutes. Add the peach segments and simmer an additional 5-10 minutes. If the peaches are still firm allow to cook several minutes more. If you would like the syrup thicker you may also allow to cook for a minute or two to reduce liquid.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes in the pot. Serve at room temperature. Transfer all excess to a clean container and refrigerate, covered, for up to one week.



Blue Cheese and Peach Chutney Crostini

Quick crostini idea that makes a fabulous pre-dinner bite.


Ingredients

1 baguette, sliced in 24 slices
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup peach chutney
4 ounces good quality, pungent blue cheese



What To Do


Heat oven to 400o F. Place bread slices on a baking sheet and brush both sides of the bread with oil. Bake until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. This can be made up to two days ahead and kept in an airtight container. Before serving, spread 3/4 cup chutney on crostini. Top each slice with thinly sliced or crumbled blue cheese.


Texas Peach Pie

Let's talk pies for just a minute. Primarily fruit pies. I do not have a sweet tooth however I can always be enticed with a piece of fruit pie. Have you ever seen the 'Pie' episode of the television show Seinfeld? Jerry gets upset because his girlfriend Audrey won’t try a bite of his pie. More importantly, Apple Pie. Jerry becomes obsessed with this...and who wouldn't, as Jerry says, 'who's gonna refuse pie?' Everyone loves pie, this recipe is a classic here in the Porter household, one of our family's favorites. FANTASTIC served hot with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream! NOW we're talking summer in TEXAS!

Ingredients

Dough for a double Pie Crust
1 egg white, beaten
5 generous cups sliced peeled peaches
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 - 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 - 1 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter




What To Do

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate with pie dough.
Place the sliced peaches in a large bowl, and sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix gently. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. *Depending on the sweetness of your peaches will be your gauge for how much sugar to use. *Depending on how much sugar you use will be your gauge on how much flour to use. The more sugar you use increase the flour. Pour over the peaches, and mix gently. Pour into the pie crust, and dot with butter. Cover with the other pie crust, and fold the edges up and over. Flute the edges to seal. If you are not using a lattice top cut slits in the top crust. Brush the remaining eggwhite over the top crust and sprinkle with a bit of sugar.
Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until the crust is brown and the juices begins to bubble.




Peach Iced Tea

Always refreshing anytime of year! Loved in the South!


Ingredients

3 cups water
3 family size tea bags
2 fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and sliced
1 cup water
Sugar, optional


What To Do

Bring 3 cups water to a boil. Add the tea bags and steep for 15 minutes. Remove tea bags.
Meanwhile, place peaches with 1 cup water into the jar of a blender, and blend until very smooth. Pour the peach mixture and tea into a 1 gallon pitcher. Fill the pitcher to the top with water, and stir until blended. Sweeten if desired.
*You can also use canned Peach Nectar. 3 - 11 oz. cans for every 2 gallons of brewed tea.*




Peachy Passion Fruit Smash

This is one serious 'mocktail'! Mocktails are becoming more and more popular in urban locations due to the rise in non-alcoholic drinkers. Bartenders’ are obsessed with making better and more creative cocktails for this growing crowd. The Smash is a complex drink with just enough sharpness and edge to set it apart from anything else. Serving up a potent fruity rush of flavor....the extra time spent making the Peachy Passion Fruit Smash is well worth the effort!


Ingredients



1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 ounces ginger root, one 3-inch knob, peeled and thinly sliced
8 ounces peach nectar
4 ounces passion fruit nectar
2 ounces fresh lime juice
1 small bunch mint leaves
8 ounces club soda
Garnish with:
Fresh Peach Slices
Fresh Sprigs of Mint


What To Do

In a small saucepan, combine sugar,
water and ginger root. Simmer until sugar is fully dissolved, about 5 minutes. Let stand, uncovered, 20 minutes. Strain syrup; discard ginger. Cool.
In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 ounces ginger syrup and remaining ingredients except club soda and garnishes. Shake vigorously. Pour into ice-filled glasses. Top with club soda. Serve, garnished with mint sprigs and peach slices.


Yield: 4 cocktails.


Try one. Try all...and you know what I'm going to say....
YOU'LL BE GLAD YOU DID!

ENJOY!

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