Monday, October 3, 2016

Meatless Monday: Peaches 3 Ways

We had a very pleasant surprise on a visit to Bishops’s Orchards in Guilford, Connecticut several weeks (and a season ago now). We are peach lovers and, though hopeful, didn’t really expect to find baskets of perfect, ripe, jumbo, native peaches for sale. They were pricey at $22.99 a basket, but we couldn’t resist.

They were a little firm when we brought them home. I spread them out in flat baskets in a single layer and waited for them to ripen. By the next morning I found one ready to slice for breakfast cereal. By the next day the scent of peaches permeated the air, and it was time to do something with them. 

These survivors of both the early budding/late frost in the spring and the scorching summer drought that followed are the sweetest and juiciest I can remember — the kind that send liquid dribbling down your chin when you bite into them. We did not want to waste a single one.

I set aside about a dozen, and the rest I froze using a very easy method that had worked for me last peach season.

Easy Frozen Peaches
  • Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap.
  • Peel and slice the peaches as you would for a pie. [A ripe peach peels easily. If the skin doesn’t come off easily, you can dip the peach into boiling water for 10-20 seconds using a slotted spoon, cool slightly and then peel.]
  • Lay the slices on the baking sheet in a single layer without overlapping them.
  • Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap, pressing the wrap firmly down over the peach pieces.
  • Pop into the freezer overnight (or until the peaches are firmly frozen).
  • Put the peach slices into ziplock freezer bags.

Last year I sliced, froze, and bagged five peaches (enough for a crumb top pie) as an experiment. Turning them into a pie was a snap.

That evening we had fresh peach halves filled with Sweet Italian Cream, probably the easiest elegant dessert ever. This was a dish inspired by a recipe in an Italian travel magazine calling for mascarpone, marsala, and crushed amaretti, none of which I had in my pantry. It did, however, bring to mind a ricotta-based recipe from my friend Claire Criscuolo’s cookbook Italian Feast. I had no sweet vermouth, but I did have everything else. I substituted Amaretto and came up with a delicious treat.

Here is my version:
Italian Cream Filled Peaches
(Makes enough to fill 4 peaches)
  • 1/8 cup golden raisins
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Amaretto
  • 8 ounces whole milk ricotta
  • 1/8 confectioners sugar, sifted

  • Soak the raisins in the Amaretto for half an hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Put the cheese in a bowl.
  • Add the now plumped raisins with any liquid remaining.
  • Add the sugar.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Peel and cut two peaches in half.
  • Remove the pit.
  • Use the sweet ricotta to fill the centers. 
  • Put any remaining cheese into the refrigerator.

Claire uses her sweet ricotta to top poundcake and fill cream puffs. She also shared that her mother liked to spread it on her breakfast toast.

And the next day I made this beautiful pie, based on the Neely’s Peach Crumb Pie  on the Food Network site. The only substitution I made was to swap almond flour for the flour. It enhanced the flavor of the sliced almonds, which goes so well with the taste of fresh peaches. 

The recipe is “easy” as it promises, particularly if you have an empty pie crust on hand. The smell as it bakes is sublime. It is particularly delicious served slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This is why I froze just enough peaches to make this pie on some cold, dreary day in the future when a taste of summer is just what I need.

My apologies. Peach season is over. It’s time for apples and pumpkins now, and these tips will be much more useful next August. Life got in the way of blogging. That happens sometimes.

I often blog on food, food issues, or topics related to growing things on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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