TERRY MARKOWITZ AND ELLE HARROW
At last, summer fruit!
Who doesn't remember the exquisite sensation of inhaling the
ambrosial fragrance of a perfect peach; then the sweet luscious
flavor bursting in your mouth with that first juicy bite?
Yet every summer, although we are confronted by a profusion of
these rosy golden orbs that promise to deliver gastronomic glory, we
are almost always sadly disappointed. Hungry with anticipation, we
rush to our nearest supermarket, hurry to the produce section and
encounter a perfectly composed pyramid of peaches. They look gorgeous
but they seem a bit hard. The produce man suggests that we leave them
on the counter for a day or two.
Three days later, ripened and ready, we take our long awaited
first bite. No juice runs down our chin, no explosion of sweetness
fills our mouth. In fact, the flavor is somewhere between potato and
Your best bet for finding a decent piece of fruit is at our Laguna
Farmer's Market, but you still gotta know how to pick 'em. The very
first thing to do is to turn the peach over and see if the stem end
is green or even slightly green. This peach has been picked too
Although after a peach is picked it will get softer and juicier if
left to ripen, it will never get any sweeter.
How sweet is it? The nose knows. Though some people may look at
you strangely, you must sniff the peaches. If it doesn't have a
strong sweet fragrance, put it down!
Peaches with tan spots have already started to decay even if they
are still hard. Since you rarely find a peach that is ready to eat,
monitor them daily and refrigerate them when they have softened .
They can go bad overnight. If you need to ripen them quickly, put
them in a brown paper bag with an apple. If you don't have a
professorship in peaches, the beauty of the farmer's market is that
the vendors have samples for tasting.
Did you know that California is the state that grows the most
peaches? The Chinese revere the peach as a symbol of long life and
immortality (but don't suck too hard on that pit, it contains a small
amount of cyanide that gives the peach it's tang).
If you find the perfect peach, eat it over the sink with the
juices dripping down your chin, and as for the rest, here are a few
* Add thinly sliced firm peaches to a green salad with honey
mustard or another slightly sweet dressing. Walnuts go nicely here as
* Use thinly sliced peaches on a turkey sandwich instead of
* Use thinly sliced peaches in a grilled cheese sandwich for a
* Bake or grill halved peeled peaches with a little butter and
brown sugar to use as an accompaniment to meats.
Here is a recipe for the best peach cobbler that we have ever
tasted. The crust never gets soft and mushy no matter how juicy the
peaches. It serves eight.
* 8 large peaches
* 1/2 cup sugar
* juice of 1/2 lime
* 3 cups flour
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1 tablespoon baking powder
* 4 large eggs, beaten
* 6 tablespoons melted butter
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Pit the peaches. Cut each peach into 8 wedges. Cut each wedge
3. Combine filling ingredients and put it in a 9-inch pie dish.
4. Whisk together flour, sugar and baking powder in large bowl.
5. Pour beaten eggs evenly onto flour mixture. Using your hand
like a spatula, fold the eggs gently into the flour and lightly mix
with your finger tips until just crumbly. Be careful not to overmix
or you will have a solid lump.
6. Evenly distribute this mixture over the peaches.
7. Drizzle butter on top and bake until golden brown,
approximately 50 minutes.
This may be served warm or cold and is great with ice cream!
For a variation, add 1/2 cup of raspberries or blueberries to
Easier than pie, peach clafoti, a warm French dessert or brunch
dish, is like a custardy pancake. Even though it must be baked just
before serving, it can be assembled in just a few minutes if you
prepare the peaches ahead of time. This recipe serves six.
* 3 large peaches, peeled ( to peel more easily, dip for ten
seconds in a pot of boiling water) and cut into half-inch cubes
* grated zest of one lemon
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup orange liqueur
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter for the pan
* 3 eggs
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1 cup milk or vanilla flavored soy milk
* 1/2 cup cream or soy sour cream
* pinch of salt
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 cup flour
1. Combine peaches with zest, sugar and liqueur and let them sit
for about one hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 375.
3. Butter a pie dish. Place the fruit on the bottom.
4. In a blender or food processor, add batter ingredients in the
order they are listed and pulse to combine until there are no lumps.
Let batter rest for 5 minutes, then pour over fruit in dish. Bake 35
minutes or until puffy and golden.
5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.