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RECIPE: Classic Peaches & Cream

For National Peach Month, August, try one of the oldest peach recipes: peaches and cream.

If you read novels or short stories from centuries past, you’ve no There are many ways to make peaches and cream

In a book of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short stories, The Basil And Josephine Stories, he introduces Basil, a fictionalized version of his younger self. One of Basil’s favorite foods: peaches and cream.

Is peaches and cream as simple as it sounds?

Yes, if you have juicy, ripe peaches, waiting to be sliced into a bowl and covered with heavy cream (or in the U.K., clotted cream).

Otherwise, poach or bake the peaches first.

The following recipe has a Southern spin, with bourbon and brown sugar.

RECIPE: PEACHES & CREAM

Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 3 peaches, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon + 4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 teaspoons bourbon
  • Garnish: toasted pecans
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TOSS the peaches with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Set aside until juicy, about 30 minutes (the sugar helps to extract the juices). Meanwhile…

    2. WHIP 1 cup heavy cream until it has begun to thicken; then beat in 4 teaspoons brown sugar. Add the bourbon and beat until soft peaks form. Layer the peaches and cream in dessert glasses and top with toasted pecans.

    FANCIER RECIPES

    For more elaborate preparations:

    Add caramel sauce, as in this recipe from Spache The Spatula. The peaches and cream are drizzled with vanilla bean-zinfandel caramel sauce.

     

    Peaches and Cream
    Classic peaches and cream: ripe peaches and heavy cream (photo courtesy Spache The Spatula).

    Peaches & Cream Shortcake

    [2] A fancier approach: jumbo macaron on clotted cream, filled with peaches and vanilla ice cream (photo courtesy Bestia | LA).

     
    Turn it into shortcake. In photo #2, a jumbo macaron substitutes for the shortcake biscuit. It sits on a bed of clotted cream, and is stuffed with peaches and vanilla ice cream.

    Your own take. How else would you present fresh peaches and cream? Let us know!

      

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    RECIPE: Peach Panzanella, Just Peachy For Lunch Or Dinner

    Peach Panzanella

    Peach Panzanella

    Ripe Peaches

    [1] Peach panzanella as a salad course and [2] a main course, with added mozzarella and prosciutto (photos courtesy Good Eggs). Fragrant ripe peaches [3] are a versatile ingredient at every meal (photos courtesy Pompeian.

     

    August is National Peach Month, honoring the most popular stone fruit: the peach. (Other stone fruits, in the genus Prunus, include almonds, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches and the cross-bred apriums, plumcots and pluots.)

    A BRIEF HISTORY OF PEACHES

    The peach originated in China and has been cultivated at least since 1000 B.C.E. Peaches traveled west via the silk roads to Persia, earning them the botanical name Prunus persica. There, they were discovered by Alexander the Great, who mentions half a dozen types and brought them to Greece.

    By 322 B.C.E. Greece was growing peaches, and by 50 to 20 B.C.E., Romans grew them. They called them Persian apples, and sold them for the modern equivalent of $4.50.

    The Romans transported peach trees to other parts of their empire.

    Columbus brought peach trees to America on his second and third voyages. The Spaniards brought peaches to South America, the French introduced them to Louisiana, and the English took them to their New England colonies.

    To this day China remains the largest world producer of peaches, with Italy second. California produces more than 50% of the peaches in the United States (and grows 175 different varieties). And so many peaches are grown in Georgia that it became known as the Peach State.

    Here’s more about peaches.

    Over the next week or two, we’ll be presenting a menu of peachy recipes, starting with…

    RECIPE #1: PEACH PANZANELLA

    Panzanella, an Italian bread salad that uses up day-old bread, is one of our favorites, tailored to the bounty of each season. Panzanella can be sweet or savory. In the winter, with a paucity of fresh fruit, recipes tend to be savory (here’s a classic winter panzanella recipe).

    But when the season gives you so much fresh fruit, sweeter panzanellas call.

    Panzanella is one of those delicious foods invented by necessity: Poor people needed to get another meal from bread that had gone stale (the history of panzanella).

    In summer grilling season, juicy, caramelized peaches and smoky grilled bread unite in this summer panzanella. These recipes, for a salad course and a dinner salad, are from Good Eggs. They were inspired by Julia Sherman’s new book, Salad for President.

    No grill? Broil the peaches and bread cut-side up in the oven.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 shallot
  • Loaf of sourdough bread
  • 1 pound ripe yellow peaches
  • Fresh basil leaves to taste, torn
  • Sherry vinegar (substitute red wine vinegar)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Additions For Dinner Salad (photo #2)

  • 1/4 pound prosciutto or serrano ham slices
  • 1/2 cup bocconcini or other bite-size mozzarella balls
  • Optional: fresh tomato wedges
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE a very hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium. No grill? Use a grill pan in the oven)

    2. CHOP the shallot finely. Cut off two large slices of sourdough. Set both aside.

    3. MAKE the dressing: Whisk together 2 teaspoons vinegar, 1 tablespoon oil and the shallot in a small bowl. Set aside.

    4. HALVE the peaches and remove the pits. In a large bowl, toss the peach halves and optional ingredients with 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil over both sides of the bread slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    5. OIL the grill grate and let it heat up for a minute or two. Arrange the bread slices on the outer edges of the grill grate and the peaches, cut-side down, in the center. Set the peach bowl aside but don’t rinse it.

    6. GRILL the bread on each side for for 1 minute, or until lightly toasted. Grill the peaches until the bottoms are caramelized and lightly charred, about 3 minutes. Flip the peaches and cook for another 3 minutes. If using an oven, broil both the bread and the peaches cut side up.

    7. REMOVE the toasted bread from the grill, allow it to cool enough to handle, and tear it into bite-sized pieces (we prefer to cut it into large croutons). Cut each peach half in half again (or if the peaches are larger, cut them into into large chunks). Place them in the peach bowl along with the torn bread.

    8. DRIZZLE the dressing over the peaches and bread, and toss. Let the panzanella marinate for 5-10 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper, as desired.

    9. GARNISH with torn basil and serve.

     
     
    MORE PANZANELLA RECIPES

  • Summer Panzanella Salad
  • Basic Panzanella Salad (basil, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes)
  • Chicken Panzanella Salad
  • Panzanella & Fruit Salad
  • Winter Panzanella
  • Zucchini & Bell Pepper Panzanella
  •  
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Ice Cream Toppings Beyond The Usual

    Most of us use particular condiments on foods out of habit. The convention differs among countries.

  • Americans might use steak sauce while Argentinians use chimichurri.
  • In the U.S., it’s maple syrup that goes on top of pancakes. In Eastern Europe and elsewhere it’s jam, in the U.K. it’s golden syrup, a.k.a. light treacle, a thick, amber-colored inverted sugar syrup that looks like honey, without honey’s distinctive flavor notes.
  •  
    Ice cream toppings around the world vary as well.

  • In the U.S., sweet sauces and whipped cream rule (photo #1).
  • In Japan, you might go for red bean sauce, mochi bits, gelatin and more (photo #2).
  •  
    On the last day of National Ice Cream Month (July), we went on an adventure by looking around the kitchen to see what we could put on ice cream, beyond our standard inventory of chocolate and caramel sauces.

    You can have the same adventure. Look beyond those and the other usual sauces (butterscotch, peanut butter, raspberry) or garnishes (candies, cookies, fruit, nuts), to what you may logically not think of.

    We invited some friends and a few quarts of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, to pair with our atypical ice cream toppings. We also found some “matching garnishes” and made a sundae event of it all.
     
    WHAT WE FOUND IN OUR KITCHEN

    BIRCH SYRUP, which has similar uses as maple syrup (more about it). Garnish: Corn Flakes.

    CHOPPED VEGETABLES, like raw corn kernels and sugar snap peas. We tried a mix of raw corn, popcorn and crunchy Inca corn kernels (like Corn Nuts), and had a heck of a corn sundae. These were the garnishes; we topped the ice cream with some golden syrup. If only we could have found some corn ice cream (recipe #1 and recipe #2).

    COCONUT SYRUP, a popular pancake syrup and sweetener in Hawaii. Toss on some flaked coconut.

    DATE SYRUP, called silan in Arabic, which refers to what we would call date honey, date molasses or date syrup. Garnishes: chopped dates and other dried fruits.

     

    Hot Fudge Sundae
    [1] Fudge, caramel, whipped cream and a cherry on top (photo courtesy Morton’s).

    Japanese Sundae

    [2] Red beans, marshmallows, gelatin, and more in Japan (photo courtesy Sumally).

     
    FLAVORED SALT, a few crunchy grains as garnish on top of the ice cream. We have a lot of these salts, from smoked salt to flavored salts (matcha, truffle, etc.). We’re glad to have another use for them (more about them). Especially nice with honey and maple syrup.

    GOLDEN SYRUP, the pancake syrup of choice in the U.K., also used on ice cream (more about it). Garnish: anything you want.

    HONEY: Plain honey is fine, but we loved using our flavored honeys (chile, cinnamon, lavender). Garnish: fresh fruit.

    LIGHT MOLASSES, a.k.a. sweet molasses, also used as pancake syrup or a sweetener, especially in the south and other areas that had no maple trees. Garnish: anything.

    MAPLE SYRUP: We used a walnut and raisin garnish. Trail mix works, too. And those crunchy Corn Flakes.

    OLIVE OIL: Mild or grassy olive oils (link) make a delightful drizzle. Top with some crunchy sea salt.

    PIE FILLING: No extra garnish is required, but we threw on some granola.

    SIMPLE SYRUP, the flavored syrups used at coffee shops to make your hazelnut (or other flavor) latte. Garnish: anything you like.

    SPICES: cayenne, chipotle powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. For richer flavor, toast the spices in a hot dry pan until they release their aroma.
     
     
    Does this sound strange to you?

    We had such a good time, we’re going to do it again, with other flavors of ice cream.

      

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    RECIPE: Blueberry Pie With Purple Crust

    Blueberry Pie

    Blueberry Pie
    [1] and [2] Have some fun with your pie crusts (photo courtesy Dulce Delight).

    Carton Of Blueberries
    [3] You can make the crust in different colors (photo courtesy Balducci’s).

    Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter

    [4] Vermont Creamery’s European-Style Butter has 86% butterfat, compared to 80% with most supermarket brands (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    We came across this purple crust on the website of Vermont Creamery, producers of some of the most splendid goat cheese and butter on earth.

    The colored crust, by Raiza Costa of the Dulce Delight online video series, is a “first” for us, excepting green bagels and donuts for St. Patrick’s Day and some very festive rainbow churros for Pride Week.

    RECIPE: RAIZA COSTA’S PURPLE PIE CRUST

    The crust becomes purple by adding food color to the water used to make the dough; the dough is made in a food processor. A food processor breaks up the cold butter more quickly and evenly. Raiza also recommends the highest-fat butter possible, and uses the 86% fat cultured butter from Vermont Creamery.

    Raiza uses her own homemade food color; here’s her article on how to make different food colors. But you can use a commercial food color like McCormick’s, in a proportion of 10 drops red to 5 drops blue; or a purple paste/gel.

    To thicken a fruit filling, Raiza prefers potato starch over flour or cornstarch.

    Here’s her video.
     
    Ingredients For A Nine-Inch Pie

    For The Crust

  • 3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the crust
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 17 tablespoons highest fat* unsalted butter (2 sticks + 1 tablespoon, or 240g), cut into even pieces
  • 6–8 tablespoons cold water or cold
  • Natural food coloring (e.g. blackberry juice) or other food coloring
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 2 pints fresh blueberries (4 cups, 30 ounces or 850g), washed and patted dry
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of nutmeg and pinch of allspice (substitute cinnamon, fresh grated from a cinnamon stick)
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons potato starch
  •  
    ________________
    *Look for European Style butter, such as the 86% cultured butter from Vermont Creamery. Commercial butter in the U.S. is 80%. More fat means creamier mouthfeel and moister crust.
    ________________
    Preparation

    1. MIX the flour, sugar and salt and add to a food processor.

    2. ADD the butter and pulse one second at a time until you see crumbs the size of the pea; stop processing.

    3. ADD the food coloring and spread the color through the dough, but do not overwork (overworked dough gets tough and is less flaky). Divide the dough into 2 balls, flatten and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. While the dough chills…

    4. MAKE the filling. Combine the blueberries, sugar and spices in a large bowl with the lemon juice and zest; blend and then stir in the potato starch.

     

    5. PREPARE the lattice top on a parchment sheet. Spank the dough, then roll out to a 10″ round for a 9″ pie pan. Cut into even stripes with a ruler. LIFT every other stripe, then place the alternative stripes horizontally, threading them in and out (see the video). You can do this ahead of time and freeze the lattice until you need it. It keeps its shape when place it on top of the pie and peel off the parchment.

    6. ROLL the bottom crust over a rolling pin and roll it out over the pie plate; try not to use too much flour. Carefully pat down the bottom and sides. Add the filling and cover with pats of butter.

    7. LAY the lattice over the filling and butter pats, and roll the edges of the bottom crust to crimp together with the top crust. Refrigerate.

    8. PREHEAT the oven to 500°F. Place the pie on the bottom rack and lower the heat to 425°F. Once the crust gets golden brown which is hard to see on a purple crust), lower the heat to 327°F and bake approximately 35 minutes until the filling bubbles.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Fried Green Tomatoes & Savory French Toast With Tomatoes

    We haven’t read the novel, Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistlestop Cafe.

    But in the film, while green tomatoes are fried up, we (a northerner and fan of heirloom tomatoes) missed a technical point.

    We didn’t realize that the green tomatoes were fried because they were not yet ripe. Plucked off the vine green (photo #2) and dredged in cornmeal, they were a treat.

    We initially thought that they were Green Zebra heirloom tomatoes (photo #1).

    So, tomato growers: Take some of your green guys and fry them up! (And those who want to know more about Green Zebra tomatoes: Here it is.)

    Fried green tomatoes are typically served as a side dish; in the South, with fried chicken. We enjoy them with grilled chicken and fish. We’ve been adding them to grilled cheese sandwiches, too, and highly recommend it.

    When fresh red tomatoes aren’t great—which is the case for much of the year—fry them up and add to green salads.

    McCormick serves fried green tomatoes with buttermilk chipotle dressing, or topped with lump crabmeat and Creole mustard—a nice first course.

    Ready to fry some green tomatoes?

    RECIPE #1: FRIED GREEN TOMATOES

    This is the classic southern recipe (photo #3): buttermilk, cornmeal and green tomatoes (photo #2).

    Use a heavy skillet. Some recipes we’ve read recommend the even heat of an electric skillet.

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 medium-size green tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch slices
  • Vegetable oil*
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional garnish: minced fresh parsley or basil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the egg and buttermilk; set aside.

    2. COMBINE 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, the cornmeal, salt, and pepper, in a shallow bowl or pan.

    3. DREDGE the tomato slices in the remaining 1/4 cup flour. Dip in the egg mixture and dredge in cornmeal mixture.

    4. ADD the oil to a large cast-iron skillet, to a depth of 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Heat it to 375°F.

    5. DROP the tomatoes, in batches, into the hot oil. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels or on a rack.

    6. SPRINKLE the hot tomatoes with salt, if desired. (We served flaky salt on the table.)
    ________________

    *Some recipes add bacon grease. If you have it, substitute three tablespoons bacon grease for an equal amount of oil.
    ________________
     
     
    RECIPE #2: SAVORY FRENCH TOAST WITH TOMATO SALAD

    Don’t want to fry your tomatoes? Then treat yourself to the gourmet’s green tomatoes: Green Zebras (photos #1 and #6), in a tomato salad.

    And, use the salad as a garnish for French Toast. Save the maple syrup for post-tomato-season.

    Look for Green Zebras in farmers markets. The season is fleeting, so enjoy as many of these (and other heirloom tomatoes) as you can.

       

    Green Zebra Tomatoes
    [1] Heirloom Green Zebra tomatoes, which remain green when ripe, are not meant to be fried, but to be enjoyed raw (photo courtesy Rare Seeds).

    Green Tomato On Vine
    [2] Green tomatoes that have not yet ripened to red are used to make fried green tomatoes (photo courtesy Chrissi Nerantzi | SXC).

    Fried Green Tomatoes
    [3] Cornmeal + tomatoes + skillet = fried green tomatoes (photo and recipe courtesy McCormick).

    Fried Green Tomatoes With Crab Meat

    [4] A first course: fried green tomatoes with lump crab and mustard sauce. Here’s the recipe from McCormick.

     

    Savory French Toast Recipe
    [5] Top French Toast with a green tomato salad (photo courtesy Quinciple).

    Green Zebra Tomatoes
    [6] Use Green Zebra heirloom tomatoes for a salad…including atop French Toast.

    Monte Cristo Sandwich

    [7] Monte Cristo sandwich (photo courtesy Kikkoman).

     

    This recipe is actually a grilled cheese hybrid. Instead of brushing bread with butter before grilling, the bread is dipped in “French Toast” batter: eggs and milk. Serve it for breakfast or lunch.

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: 3-4 dashes hot sauce
  • 4 thick slices bread
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 slices cheese (mozzarella, cheddar or any good melting cheese—we used gruyère)
  • 2 green or heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • ½ tablespoon chopped parsley
  • ½ tablespoon chopped chives
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot or red onion
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK the eggs, milk, hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste in a shallow bowl. Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture on both sides until fully coated and set aside.

    2. HEAT the butter in a large pan over medium heat and add the bread slices, cooking until golden brown. Flip the bread and cook on the other side until golden brown and cooked through.

    3. TURN off the heat and top each slice with some cheese; cover the pan to let the cheese melt. Meanwhile…

    4. TOSS together the tomatoes, parsley, chives, olive oil, vinegar, shallot and seasoning to taste. Divide the French Toast between two plates and top with the tomato salad.
     
    MORE SAVORY FRENCH TOAST RECIPES
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF FRENCH TOAST

    The dish known in America as French Toast has roots at least as far back as ancient Rome, where it was a sweet dish. In fact, pain perdu (lost bread), the current French name for the dish, was once called pain à la romaine, or Roman bread.

    While the story evolved that French Toast was a food of the poor, trying to scrape together a meal from stale bread—and that may also be true—recipes from ancient and medieval times denote that it was fare for wealthy people.

     
    Recipes used white bread, a luxury affordable only by the rich, with the crusts cut off. Poor people ate brown bread, which was much cheaper because the wheat endosperm did not have to be milled and painstakingly hand-sifted through screens to create the vastly more expensive white flour.

    (That’s right: The more nutritious whole grain brown bread was looked down on as food for the poor. To the thinking of the time, white bread was more “pure” and “elegant.” The same pattern was true in Asia, with white rice for the rich and brown rice for the poor.)

    When the wealthy discovered how tasty the dish was, costly ingredients such as spices (cinnamon, cloves, mace and nutmeg), sugar and almond milk appeared in the batter of numerous recipes. The cooked bread was topped with costly honey or sugar.

    Thus attests old cookbooks. Cookbooks themselves were the province of the privileged: Only wealthy people and the clergy learned to read.

    More recently, French Toast has evolved into a savory sandwich, the Monte Cristo. It is an evolution of the croque-monsieur, a crustless sandwich of ham and Gruyère cheese, buttered and lightly browned on both sides in a skillet or under a broiler.

    The Croque-Monsieur was invented in Paris in 1910. A variation with a baked egg on top is called a Croque-Madame. Neither sandwich was battered, like French Toast.

    The Monte Cristo sandwich (photo #7), a triple-decker sandwich, battered and pan-fried, was invented at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego. According to the L.A. Times, the first recipe in print is in the Brown Derby Cookbook, published in 1949.

    Here’s the recipe so you can try it for lunch—although probably not on the same day you have French Toast for breakfast.

      

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