Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Robert St. John: Peaches

 Check out the Peach recipes posted below.

Peach season is here. Peaches are my favorite fruit. Period. End of story. Strawberries, bananas, grapes, and blackberries fall into my top five. But there is a large delta between number one and the rest. Peaches, and especially Chilton County Alabama peaches, rule the fruit world at my house.

Chilton County peaches are coming in right now. We get a weekly shipment and my wife peels all of them and puts them in a bowl in the refrigerator where they will last a couple of days. It’s not that they wouldn’t last longer than a couple of days, it’s that I eat all of them in just a couple of days.

We place them in the bowl and sprinkle a little sugar on them. Not too much. I don’t want to macerate them, and if they’ve been purchased correctly there will be enough natural sweetness straight off the tree.

Fresh peaches are the food that inspires poets. They almost make our brutally hot summers worth living through. If anyone ever asks me about why I love the south, fresh peaches are listed early in the conversation.

I love fresh peaches so much I thought we would take a departure from my normal focus in this column, and do something I haven’t done in the 24 years I have been writing this weekly dispatch— use less essay and more recipes. Peaches are so special to me; I don’t want to just leave you with one recipe to cover the entire summer. Instead, here are several that you can use over the next several weeks during the height of peach season.

 Enjoy.

Onward 


Peach BBQ Sauce

2 tsp bacon fat (or canola oil)

1/4 cup onion, small dice

2 tsp garlic, minced

1 tsp ginger, minced

2 tsp jalapeno, small dice

1 1/2 cup fresh peach, peeled diced ( frozen may be substituted)

2 tsp tomato paste

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup  ketchup

1/3 cup chicken stock or broth

1/4 cup orange juice

2 TBL rice wine vinegar

2 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp Worcestershire

1/2  cinnamon stick

1/8 tsp coriander

1/8 tsp cumin

 1/8 tsp chili powder

1 tsp kosher

1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

1/4 tsp dry thyme, or 1 tsp fresh chopped thyme

Preheat oven to 300.

In a 2-quart oven-proof sauce pot, heat the bacon fat over low heat. Cook onions 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, ginger, jalapeno and peaches. Increase the heat to medium and cook 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes more. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover the sauce and place in the preheated oven. 

Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the cover and bake for 30 more minutes.

The sauce may be made days in advance, and best when a day or two old.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups

 

Blueberry-Peach Shortcake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbl sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 Tbl baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), diced
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup heavy cream, chilled 

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash

1/4 cup sugar
4-5 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice

1 pint blueberries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sift the flour, 2 tablespoon sugar, the baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Blend in the butter at the lowest speed and mix until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs, heavy cream, sour cream and vanilla extract and quickly add to the flour and butter
mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will be sticky.

Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Flour your hands and pat the dough out 3/4-inch thick. You should see lumps of butter in the dough.

Cut biscuits with a 2 3/4-inch cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Brush the tops with the egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the outsides are crisp and the insides are fully baked. Let cool on a wire rack.

While the biscuits are baking, combine the 1/4 cup of sugar with the sliced peaches and lemon juice. Refrigerate until needed.

Split each shortcake in half crosswise and place the bottom half on a plate. Place a small amount of the peach mixture atop each biscuit bottom. Place one scoop of ice cream on the peaches and spoon the remaining peaches over the ice cream. Place the biscuit top over the filled bottom half and sprinkle each shortcake with 2-3 tablespoons of fresh blueberries, serve immediately. \

Yield: 6-8 servings

Miniature Fried Peach Pies

A true Southern dessert staple. These work well with apples, too.

Sweet Pie Dough:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1 /2 Tbl granulated sugar
1 /8 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 1 /2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbl ice water 

Filling:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 /2 pound frozen peaches, thawed, or 1 cups fresh peaches, small diced
3  Tbl granulated sugar
1 /4 cup peach jam or preserves
Pinch of ground cayenne pepper

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp corn starch

1 Tbl peach schnapps

1 Tbl sugar

1 /2 tsp cinnamon

Vegetable oil for deep frying

To prepare the pie dough, beat together the butter, sugar, and salt for three minutes on medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add egg and beat for 30 seconds. Add flour and water and beat for 15 seconds. Turn off the machine, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat again for 10 seconds. 

Scoop up dough with your hands and form into a one-inch thick disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour. 

Melt butter over medium-high heat in a sauté pan. Sauté peaches and sugar until sugar is dissolved, approximately two minutes. Add the preserves, cayenne, and cinnamon; cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.

Dissolve cornstarch in the schnapps and stir into hot peach mixture. Remove from heat and cool.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 16 x 11-inch rectangle about 1 /8-inch thick. Cut out 3 1 /2-inch circles and place two teaspoons of filling in the center of each dough circle. Fold the circles in half and pinch the edges together. Refrigerate pies for 30 minutes before frying.

Heat 2 1/2 inches of vegetable oil to 350-degrees in a heavy four-quart saucepan. Fry pies 4 or 6 at a time until golden brown, 1 1/2 -2 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels.

Keep warm in a 200-degree oven until all pies are fried. Serve immediately.

Yield: 24-26

Grilled Peach Shortcake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbl sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 Tbl baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks, diced)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup heavy cream, chilled

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla extract
Egg Wash (
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk )

6 Large, Fresh, Ripe Peaches, peeled and halved

1/4 cup melted butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla 

Peach Ice Cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
 
Sift the flour, 2 tablespoon sugar, the baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Blend in butter at the lowest speed and mix until the butter is the size of peas. Combine eggs, heavy cream, sour cream and vanilla extract and quickly add to the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will be sticky.
 
Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Flour your hands and pat the dough out to 3/4-inch thick. You should see lumps of butter in the dough.
 
Cut biscuits with a 3-4-inch cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Brush the tops with the egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar and bake 18-20 minutes, until the outsides are crisp and the insides are fully baked. Let cool on a wire rack.
 
Prepare the grill. Brush the peaches with melted butter. Cook peaches, flat side down, over direct medium heat, for 10 minutes. Rotate the peaches a quarter turn after three minutes, then turn them over once after 6 minutes of cooking. Remove the peaches from the grill and toss the in a bowl with the sugar, lemon juice and vanilla (the excess liquid will be used as a syrup topping). Cover and keep warm until needed.
 
Split shortcakes in half, top each with a scoop of peach ice cream. Place a warm peach half on the ice cream and top with the remaining shortcakes half. Drizzle the syrup from the bowl with the peaches over each shortcake and serve immediately. 
 
Yield: 6-8 servings
 

Peach Ice Cream

2 cups                  Peaches, fresh, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 /4  cups   Sugar, divided
1 Tbl                   Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
2 Tbl                   Peach Schnapps
1 cup                   Heavy Cream
1 /2  cup     Milk
1 /2             Vanilla Bean
2                 Egg Yolks

 

In a bowl, combine peaches, 1 /4 cup sugar, lemon juice, and peach schnapps. Cover and refrigerate 2- 3 hours, stirring occasionally. 

Remove peach mixture from refrigerator, drain, and reserve the juice. Return peaches to refrigerator. 

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, and— in a medium-sized saucepan— combine remaining sugar, heavy cream, and milk. Heat just until just boiling.

In a separate bowl, vigorously whisk egg yolks. While whisking, slowly add 1 /3 of the boiled cream mixture. Stir well. Add remaining egg mixture to cream mixture. Return to low-medium heat and continue stirring for 5-7 minutes. Just as it begins to simmer, remove from heat and strain into a bowl set over ice. Add the reserved peach juice. Stir well until completely chilled.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. After the ice cream begins to stiffen, add the peaches and continue to freeze until done. Remove the ice cream from the ice cream maker and store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to serve.

Yield: 8 servings

Frozen peaches can be substituted

Peach-Pecan Ice Cream Sandwiches

 

This recipe is 100% Chef Linda Nance. Although a native of California, she has adopted the South as her home, and can now pronounce “Pecan” with a Southern drawl that would make Scarlet O’Hara proud (it’s puh-kahn, not pee-can!)

Pecan Sandies for Ice Cream Sandwiches

1 cup pecans, toasted
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 /3 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1 /2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor, pulse the nuts with 1 /4 cup of the flour. Set aside.
 
Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until creamy and smooth, approximately two minutes. Add vanilla and beat well. Sift together the remaining 1 3 /4 cups flour, salt, and baking powder, and add it to the dough, mixing until just combined. Stir in the nut mixture. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 3 hours.
 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
 
Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness and using a round two-inch cookie cutter, cut cookies. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 14-16 minutes.
 
Remove and cool completely.
 
To assemble ice cream sandwiches, place a one ounce scoop of ice cream between to pecan sandies. Keep frozen until ready to serve.

Yield: 50 cookies-25 ice cream sandwiches

 

Peach Ice Cream

2 cups peaches, fresh, peeled (can use frozen)
3 /4  cups sugar
1 Tbl lemon juice
2 Tbl peach schnapps
1 cup heavy cream
1 /2  cup milk
1 /2  vanilla bean
2 egg yolks

In a bowl, combine peaches, 1 /4 cup sugar, lemon juice, and peach schnapps. Cover and refrigerate 2- 3 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally.

Remove peach mixture from refrigerator and drain juice, reserving in a cup. Return peaches to refrigerator.

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, and combine it with remaining sugar, heavy cream, and milk in a small saucepot. Heat just until it just begins to boil.

In bowl, whisk egg yolks. While whisking, stream in about 1 /3 of the boiled cream mixture. Stir well. Add egg mixture to cream mixture. Return to heat and continue stirring. Mixture will thicken as it returns to a boil. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl set over ice. Add the reserved peach juice.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. After the ice cream begins to stiffen, add the peaches and continue to freeze until done.

Yield: 1 quart


14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Love fresh peaches too! Homemade peach ice cream is heaven on Earth. But let me get this straight: he leaves PEELED peaches in a bowl on the kitchen counter? Wouldn’t that attract every fruit fly between here and California? Seems kinda messy too. But I’m willing to learn.

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows Georgia peaches are good . . . so what??
The best MISSISSIPPI peaches are from the Quitman area, south of Meridian. They are delicious and juicy and give GA peaches a run for their money. Visit Mathis Produce on Hwy 45. (and no I don't have any connection to Mathis . . . just a Meridian-born Mississippian who knows where to get good peaches)
Disappointed to see a MS resident/chef touting the wonders of GA peaches when we have delicious peaches grown LOCALLY.

Anonymous said...

11:02, he never said anything about Georgia. Good grief. At least read the article. SMH.

What do you think "AL" stands for?

Anonymous said...

11:02, read the second paragraph!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing these recipes, I love Chilton County peaches. This is one of my favorite recipes to use with them. I use a cheap bourbon like Jim Beam. The jam keeps its color for about 7 or 8 months, hard to make enough to last that long though.

Vanilla Peach Bourbon Jam
adapted from Bean Town Baker
Note: makes about a dozen 8oz jars

Before you begin either wash jars in the dishwasher on the extra hot water cycle, or wash them with hot soapy water and boil them for 10 minutes, leaving them on dry or in the boiling water until you need them for your jam. This sterilizes the jar and lengthens the shelf life of your jam. I ran them through the dishwasher on the sterilize cycle.

1 package no sugar pectin - I used Ball No Sugar needed box
6 pounds peaches
4 cups sugar
6 Tbsp lime juice
1 vanilla bean, split and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 Tbsp bourbon - I used Jim Beam
1.5 tsp almond extract

- The recipe suggests you blanch the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, submerge in an ice bath and then slip off the skins, but my peaches were prudes and that method didn't work, so I just used a peeler. Chop the peaches roughly into 1/4 inch dice, removing the pits.

- Put the peaches, sugar, and lime juice into a large non-reactive pot and smash/blend the suckers into a rough pulp using either a potato masher or an immersion blender.

- Put the pot over medium-high heat, add the vanilla pieces and bring the peach mixture to a rolling boil, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Boil for 1 minute, then add the pectin. Bring the jam to a rolling boil once more, stirring constantly, and boil exactly 1 minute.

- Remove the jam from heat. Stir in the bourbon and extract, ladle the hot jam into jars, and screw on the lids. Then set the jars on a rack in a large pot of boiling water--the water should be 1 inch above the jar tops. I just washed the pot I made the jam in (the only big pot I own), put the jars in, made sure they were under an inch of water and turned it on high.

- Bring the water to a gentle boil and boil the jars for 10 minutes. Then remove the jars from the hot water and set aside to cool. You should hear the lids popping within a few minutes of their bath.

Anonymous said...

South Carolina produces more peaches than Georgia.

Chris said...

@ 11:02 Doesn't it say that his wife peels them and puts them in the refrigerator? Come on man, what're we doin here.

Anonymous said...

11:02 - first. Refrigerator. Not kitchen counter. Refrigerator. Got it?

11:02 - second. Chilten County is in ALABAMA, right across the state line from Quitman MS. There is nothing in RSJ message about Georgia peaches.

Yes, Quitman MS does produce good peaches, almost as good as those across the state line in Alabama. Same soil type generally, so similar peaches.

Third grade reading test seems to be needed by several JJ readers.

County Cletus said...

I like cheese.

Anonymous said...

Peach of an article - thanks

Anonymous said...

I got my peaches out in Georgia…

Anonymous said...

Banks Farm between Pelahatchie and Brandon on 80 has the best peaches. Just went and got some last week.

Anonymous said...

My great grandmother was an amazing cook, old school, country home cooking, and she always said that you couldn’t beat a Clarke County Peach. She also made the best peach cobbler. I asked her for the recipe once and she said a little of this and a little of that. Watched her make it and she didnt use any measuring cups either. She knew what she was talking about!

Anonymous said...

10:20 is right. Awesome peaches right here in the metro area. My favorite peach recipe… keep 3 peaches out until 2 days before rotten. Stand over kitchen sink; consume all three. Rinse and dry arms and face. No sugar needed. No cooking. All natural goodness from above.


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