I can't think of any food that symbolizes summer more perfectly than a ripe juicy peach.
The fuzzy little orbs with their sun-kissed blush of pink are so fragrant and have such sweet nectar. While eating a perfect peach with the juice running down your wrist is nothing short of heaven, peaches are wonderful to cook with too, and they make delicious preserves and chutneys.
To peel peaches easily, cut a shallow "X" in the base with a small sharp knife. Submerge the peach in boiling water for 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon, transfer it to a bowl of ice water for about 10 seconds, then peel off the skin. If you're not going to use the peeled peaches right away place them in a mixture of four cups of water and one-quarter cup of lemon juice to prevent them from going brown.
You can substitute nectarines for the peaches in any of the following recipes.
Peach Melba Jam 4 cups sliced, peeled ripe peaches 4 cups fresh raspberries 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice 1 package light fruit pectin crystals 3½ cups granulated sugar In a large Dutch oven, mash the peaches with a potato masher to make three cups. In a separate bowl, mash the raspberries to make two cups, then add them to the peaches along with the lemon juice. Mix pectin with one-quarter cup of the sugar, then stir into peach mixture. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in the remaining sugar and return to a full rolling boil; boil hard, stirring, for one minute. Remove from heat and skim off foam.
Using a funnel, pour jam into sterilized one-cup canning jars, leaving one-quarter inch headspace. Cover with sterilized lids. Screw on bands just until you meet resistance, then increase to fingertip tight (i.e. don't tighten lids as hard as you can). Process jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. Makes about eight jars.
Ginger Peach Upside-Down Cake ¾ cup packed brown sugar ¼ cup butter, melted 2 cups sliced, peeled peaches (quarter-inch slices) 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger root Cake: ½ cup butter, softened ¾ cup granulated sugar 2 eggs 1 tsp vanilla 1½ cups all-purpose flour 1½ tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp grated orange rind ½ tsp ground ginger ¼ tsp salt 1 cup sour cream (not fatfree) Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving Generously grease a nineinch round cake pan with sides at least two inches high.
In a small saucepan, stir the butter with the brown sugar over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, about two minutes; pour into prepared pan. Starting at outer edge of pan arrange the peach slices, slightly overlapping, in concentric circles to completely cover bottom of pan. Sprinkle grated ginger evenly over top; set pan aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy, then beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, orange rind, ginger and salt.
Stir dry ingredients alternately into the butter mixture with the sour cream, making three dry additions and two of sour cream. Spoon batter over peaches and gently spread it evenly in the pan without disturbing the peach slices. Bake until top springs back when lightly touched, about one hour. Let pan cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then carefully invert cake onto a rimmed serving plate. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream. Makes eight to 10 servings.
Perfect Peach Cobbler 2 lbs ripe peaches (about six medium), peeled and sliced (half-inch slices) ¾ cup sugar, divided use 1 Tbsp cornstarch ½ cup butter, softened 1 egg ½ tsp vanilla 1 tsp grated lemon zest ¾ cup all-purpose flour ½ tsp baking powder Pinch of salt Vanilla ice cream for serving Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the peach slices, one-quarter cup of sugar and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Let stand for five to seven minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved.
To make the dough, cream together the butter and the remaining half cup of sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Beat in the egg, vanilla and lemon zest until the batter is smooth, scraping bowl occasionally. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir until just combined.
Transfer the peaches to a greased, eight-inch square baking pan; drop rounded tablespoons of dough evenly over the fruit, leaving spaces for the dough to expand.
Bake until fruit is bubbling and crust is golden, about 50 to 55 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Makes six servings.
Angela Shellard is a selfdescribed foodie. She has done informal catering for sports and business functions. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
News Photo Cindy Goodman / WHETHER in your hand or in a jam, in a cake or a cobbler, peaches are one of summer's sweetest treats.;
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