Cooking Cove: Some Peaches Aren’t So Peaches

By Barbara Beltrami

They are there! Take one and bite into it. Let the juice run down your chin, down your arm, and down your shirt. If it’s a good catch, who cares? If not, you’ve wasted your money and made an unnecessary mess. And in my experience, there’s no way of knowing if it’ll be succulent and delicious or taste like a raw potato. In my experience, the quality of a peach has nothing to do with its price.

I’ve bought peaches that are all pink and perfect in green pint baskets from local farms and paid a good price for them to get hairy on me before they’re even ripe, and I bought peaches on sale in the supermarket which are not so pink and hard as rocks and have ripened them and taste wonderful. It’s really someone guessing what the variable is.

The only thing I can say is never buy a peach with any blemishes because it won’t end well. You will end up must recover the parts of this peach that have not started to rot and cook them to accompany a good dish of vanilla ice cream. If you must, here are some recipes to try.

Peach Pie

YIELD: Makes 6-8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

7 tablespoons butter, softened

1 large egg

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons apricot jam

4 medium peaches, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

Confectioner’s sugar for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS:

Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven, then preheat the oven to 375 F. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter. Beat a few times to combine, then add the egg and yolk and beat until a soft dough forms; invert the dough onto a pastry board and knead until everything comes together. Press batter into bottom and up sides of 10-1/2-inch fluted pie pan with removable bottom.

Spread 1/4 cup jam on bottom crust, then arrange peaches in concentric circles on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and peaches are still a little hard; spread the remaining two tablespoons of jam over the peaches and return the pie to the oven and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is a nice golden color and the peaches are tender.

Leave to cool for about 30 minutes, then sprinkle with icing sugar, unmold and serve hot with fresh cream.

Peach BBQ Sauce

YIELD: Makes about 2 cups

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large shallot, diced

3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and diced

3/4 pound peeled, pitted and diced fresh peaches

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium saucepan over high heat, heat the oil, then add the shallot and ginger; stirring often, cook until shallot is tender, about 3 to 5 minutes; add peaches, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper and hot pepper flakes; stir and bring to a boil, lower the heat and maintain a gentle simmer until the peaches are very tender, about 25-30 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce until it reaches your desired consistency, then use it to drizzle over ribs, chicken or pork and serve with corn on the cob .

Peach Crisps

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 pounds fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, diced

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup rolled oats or quick oats

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Pinch of salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish. Arrange the peaches evenly in a baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and butter. Blend until it reaches a crumbly consistency; sprinkle over peaches; bake until golden brown and crispy on top, about 30 minutes. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream.