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Addicted to Peaches

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Recipes for those who cannot get enough of this luscious and healthy fruit.

By Deborah Hamilton-Lynne

When I was growing up in Georgia, early summer was one of my most anticipated seasons. It meant summer vacation and lazy, hot days by the pool. But most of all, summer meant peach season. I admit it: Not only am I addicted to peaches, but I am somewhat of a peach snob, meaning that when I moved to Texas, I was cynical as to whether the Texas peaches could measure up to the famed Georgia peaches. Much to my delight, Texas peaches not only hold their own, but they are also grown in abundance throughout the Hill Country, just a short drive from Austin. Nearby Gillespie County alone produces about 40 percent of the entire Texas peach crop and plays host to the annual Stonewall Peach Jamboree and Rodeo, which takes place the third weekend in June. Whether you are looking for pre-picked or pick-your-own peaches, nothing can satisfy your craving like a drive down the Peach Blossom Trail (texaspeaches.com/trail.html). With peaches being a good source of vitamins A, B and C, I say give in to your addiction. Bring home a bushel and start cooking. And no family could be better equipped to provide recipes and expert advice on all things peaches than the Masumoto family. Our thanks to them for allowing Austin Woman to exclusively excerpt their latest cookbook, The Perfect Peach.  — Deborah Hamilton-Lynne

SUMMER SANGRIA

Serves: Six

“When peaches are in season, we use them every way we can. The beauty of sangria is that if you have peaches, you can use them in several forms—slices, nectar, brandy—or not. You do not need to start with expensive wine; you just want something that will provide a solid base for the combination of flavors. I personally like a drier white like a sauvignon blanc for this recipe. The secret to good sangria is to make it in the morning or the day before so that the fruit has enough time to soak and meld with the other flavors. This adult beverage is a great way to enjoy the best of summer with family or friends, especially as the sun sets.” — Excerpt from The Perfect Peach

Ingredients:
1/2 orange, sliced
1/2 lemon, sliced
1 lime, sliced
Juice of 1/2 orange
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 750-milliliter bottle white wine (sauvignon blanc, riesling, pinot grigio or chardonnay)
1/2 cup simple syrup or peach nectar
1/4 cup brandy or peach-infused brandy
1 peach with give, halved, pitted and thinly sliced
1/2 cup berries (raspberries, boysenberries or sliced strawberries)

Directions:
Place the orange, lemon and lime slices in the bottom of a large pitcher and mash gently with a long wooden spoon to release some of the juice. Add the orange and lemon juices, wine and brandy, and stir gently to mix. Add the peach slices and berries. Cover and refrigerate for up to one day so flavors meld. Pour into tall glasses or wineglasses, spooning the fruit into the glasses, and serve.

PEACH GAZPACHO

Serves: Six to eight

“Inspiration occasionally manifests itself in a mad scientist sort of fashion. This recipe is proof of that. I locked myself in the kitchen with a basket of vegetables from the refrigerator and a bucket of peaches until I came up with an exciting peach dish. With wild determination and some heat, a peach version of Spain’s popular summer soup was born. I remember when my mom came home that day and I rushed out to greet her with a huge spoonful of my recent creation. A willing tester, my mom lit up with her first gulp. The experiment worked! Enjoy this savory soup ice-cold as a starter or as a refresher between courses.” — Excerpt from The Perfect Peach


Ingredients:
6 soft to gushy peaches (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, pitted and quartered
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Champagne or golden balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
Red bell pepper slices and avocado slices, for garnish (optional)

Directions:
In a food processor, combine the peaches, cucumber, garlic, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup water, and pulse until coarsely pureed. Thin with the remaining 1/4 cup water if needed for a good consistency. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours to chill thoroughly. Just before serving, taste and adjust the seasoning with more vinegar, salt and pepper, if needed. Stir in the cilantro. Ladle into bowls, drizzle each serving with a little oil and garnish with the bell pepper and avocado. Serve at once.


SHAKING BEEF WITH PEACHES

Serves: Four

“This Asian-Californian fusion recipe was inspired by our friend Mai Pham. Mai owns and operates Lemon Grass Restaurant in Sacramento, California, which specializes in Vietnamese cuisine, and draws on her childhood roots in Vietnam and Thailand. We partnered with Mai to host a dinner titled Peaches at Lemon Grass, where she first introduced us to Shaking Beef With Peaches. This recipe is our version, a humble offering in homage to our friendship with Mai. For the bed of greens, you may use a spring mix or other baby lettuces. Or, if you would like a peppery bite, use arugula. Serve this dish with stir-fried vegetables and your favorite rice for a refreshing summer meal. In our household, Mas likes Japanese short-grain white rice, I like short-grain brown rice and Nikiko and Korio like a combination of both!” — Excerpt from The Perfect Peach

Beef and marinade

Ingredients:
12 ounces boneless beef sirloin or better grade steak, cut across the grain into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
11/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Salad
2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 jalapeño chili, seeded and diced, or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 cups (about 2 ounces) organic mixed greens, torn into bite-size pieces

Directions:
To marinate the beef, in a bowl, combine the beef, oyster sauce, garlic, sugar and pepper, and toss to coat the meat evenly. Let the meat rest for 20 minutes.

To make the salad, first make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, stir together the lime juice, vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and chili until the sugar dissolves. Set aside to allow the flavors to blend while you work on preparing the remainder of the recipe. (The vinaigrette can be made up to a day in advance, if desired.) Ready the greens and arrange them in a bed on a platter.

To cook the beef, heat the oil in a large wok or skillet over high heat. If you are working on a gas burner, add the beef to the pan all at once and stir-fry or shake for three to four minutes, until nicely browned. If you are using an electric burner, cook the beef in two batches to maintain a high temperature in the pan and minimize the accumulation of juices. If excess juice forms, remove the beef and leave the pan on the burner for a short time to evaporate it. When the meat is ready, turn off the heat and add peaches, onion slices and basil. Toss to mix with the meat. Arrange the beef mixture on the greens and drizzle the dish with vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Cook’s note: You’ll find the fish sauce and oyster sauce in the Asian section of your supermarket or in an Asian specialty store. You may also substitute fresh mint for basil.


PEACH MELBA

Serves: Four to six

“The week before I started college at UC Berkeley, I was fortunate to spend two days helping out in the pastry kitchen at Chez Panisse. We had been shipping our peaches to the restaurant for years, and I had only gotten to visit once. It was amazing to experience this other side of the food world. Of course, I was also nervous and I think it showed. In less than 16 hours of work, I burned a tray of cookies and tripped down a flight of stairs as I was carrying hand-carved chocolate shavings of the best chocolate I had ever tasted in my life. Despite my mishaps, Alan Tangren, the then head pastry chef, shared his kitchen with great kindness and generosity. He taught me some guidelines on how to pick out the ripest berries (blackberries, boysenberries, raspberries). He told me to look really closely and focus on the tiny spheres that make up a single berry. The ones with the most intense flavor have a dull look rather than a shiny veneer. These ripe berries also look taut and ready to explode. Because this recipe has so few ingredients, it’s critical that every element be at its best. But if fresh raspberries are unavailable, frozen ones can be substituted. Serve with gingersnaps for some nice added crunch.” — Excerpt from The Perfect Peach


Ingredients:
1 cup fresh ripe or thawed frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1tablespoon pure lemon extract
2 soft peaches, peeled, halved, pitted and sliced
1 pint vanilla bean ice cream
Gingersnaps, for serving (optional)

Directions:
In a food processor, combine the raspberries, sugar and lemon extract, and pulse until the raspberries are liquefied and sugar has dissolved. Pass the raspberry mixture through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl, pushing it through with the back of a spoon. You will end up with a silky raspberry sauce. The sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Scoop the ice cream into individual serving bowls and add a few peach slices to each serving. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon raspberry sauce over each bowl. Serve at once.

Cook’s note: You can buy lemon extract, of course, but it is easy to make at home. Using a vegetable peeler, remove long, narrow curls of lemon zest from one or more lemons. Put the curls in a jar or bottle, add vodka to cover, cap the container and leave to infuse in a cool spot. The longer the mixture sits and the higher the ratio of lemon zest to vodka, the stronger the lemon flavor will be. We start with zest strips from one lemon and 3/4 cup of vodka and let it stand for two weeks.

Recipes reprinted with permission from The Perfect Peach: Recipes and Stories from the Masumoto Farm by Marcy Nikiko and David Mas Masumoto, copyright 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House Inc.

Photography (c) 2013 by Staci Valentin.

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