By Chef Belinda, Summer 2o11
I don’t know about you, but this is that time of year I wait for with bated breath! You can find me hanging around peach stands – wide-eyed, like a kid in a candy store. I can’t wait to bite into my first peach of the season – it is like falling in love, again, for the first time. And while I would be perfectly content to just “eat” my way through the summer, it would be a dishonor not to turn these wonderful little delights into something even more deserving of their taste. Because they are so sweet and succulent, our first inclination is to concoct our little stone-fruit friends into a dessert. But don’t pass up the opportunity to enhance your savory dishes with peaches as well.
Happy summer! – Chef Belinda
Peach Amaretto Ice Cream — Makes 1-1/2 quarts
- 4 large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons Amaretto (almond liqueur)
- 1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1⁄2 cups whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 6 egg yolks
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
Mash half the peaches in a bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice, sugar, and Amaretto and combine. Cover and refrigerate. In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, combine the milk and 1 cup of the cream and the remaining peaches. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the milk mixture along with the vanilla bean. Cook over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on the peaches with the back of a spoon. Discard the solids and the vanilla bean. Combine egg yolks, sugar, and remaining cream in a bowl. Whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in 1⁄2 cup of hot milk mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly until smooth. Pour back into saucepan.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly and keeping at a simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon–about 4 to 6 minutes. Do not let the custard boil. Strain through a sieve into a bowl. Place the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice and water. Stir occasionally to cool. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours.
Put the custard into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Add the Amaretto and smashed peaches after the custard is nearly frozen – about 5 minutes before removing from the machine. Transfer to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until rm – at least 3 hours.
Peach-Stuffed Pork Chops — Serves 4
- 4 1 1⁄2-inch, thick-cut rib pork chops, frenched *(your butcher will do this for you; also ask him to cut a 1 1⁄2-inch deep pocket in each pork chop)
- 1 1/2 cups peaches, peeled and diced
- 1 cup diced Vidalia onion
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 1⁄4 cup all-purpose our
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 2 cups peaches, peeled and sliced
Heat oven to 350 degrees. [If your butcher has not done this already, cut a pocket into each pork chop, leaving an opening of 11⁄2 inches for stuffing.] Season chops inside and out. Add two tablespoons of oil to a sauté or frying pan that can go into oven. Sauté onions until soft and translucent. Remove and cool slightly.
Mix onions with peaches and stuff in chops. Dust chops with our. Add remaining olive oil to pan. Place stuffed chops in pan and brown on both sides. Add wine, cover pan and put into hot oven. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, basting at least once. Remove cover for the last 15 minutes of baking. When done, remove pan from oven. Put chops on a platter and keep warm until served.
Sauce: Put pan on stove and bring to a simmer. Using a wooden spoon, scrape bits from bottom of pan. Simmer until juices are about one-half cup. If necessary, add more wine. Add brown sugar, cardamom, and peaches, and simmer until peaches are soft, but not mushy. Spoon over chops and serve.
[* Frenched – meaning meat has been scraped off the end of the bones.]
Oreo Peach Cheesecake — Serves 12
- 1 3⁄4 cups Oreo (or any chocolate) cookie crumbs
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 pound peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 eggs
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla
Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend cookie crumbs, butter and sugar and press rmly against bottom and sides of a 9 inch spring form pan. Cover the outside of the bottom of pan with aluminum foil.
Filling: Combine peaches, 2 tablespoons sugar and lemon juice in a heavy sauce pan. Cover and cook over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and peaches are juicy – about 5 minutes. Cool.
Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually add sugar and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add lemon rind and beat until smooth. Pour half of mixture into prepared crust and spoon in peaches, spaced evenly. Top with remaining cream cheese mixture. Place pan in another larger pan and fill halfway with hot water. Bake for 60–70 minutes or until firm. Turn off oven; leaving door slightly ajar, allow to cool in oven for one hour. Remove from oven and cool completely in pan. (Discard larger pan with water.) Chill in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.
Glaze: Combine peach preserves and lemon juice in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Strain into a small bowl. Remove side of pan and spread glaze over top of cheesecake, leaving a 1⁄4 inch edge around cake. Chill until glaze is set–approximately 2-4 hours.
Belinda Smith-Sullivan is a food writer, personal chef, and pilot who enjoys exploring the “off the beaten path” culinary world. Her love of cooking and entertaining motivated her to give up a corporate career to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University. Now living in Aiken, she currently markets her own spice line called Chef Belinda Spices. Visit her blog at www.flyingfoodie.blogspot.com.