Around here, we’re really fortunate to have summers full of local peaches. Growing up, they were one of my dad’s favorite foods and they made appearances at our house fairly regularly. Sliced on pound cake or angel food cake, on top of cottage cheese the old school way. In the colder months, he’d even eat canned peaches straight up with a spoon. While I’m not a proponent of the tinned variety, I’m a huge fan of the fresh ones grown here in the South. When the Georgia Peach Council reached out and offered me a case of peaches from Pearson Farm here in Georgia, there was really no way to say no. I’ve been buying these peaches at my local farmers markets for some time and they’re pretty much summertime perfection. With an entire case to play with – minus a few given to friends and neighbors – peaches have been present in our house in one way or another for weeks.
While peaches get some play in sauces and salsas, I always feel like they don’t get enough credit in the savory department. Brilliant grilled and wonderful paired with cheese, I’m a fan of eating them simply in a savory way. I mixed up some chopped fresh fennel into some softened Cypress Grove goat cheese, spread it on whole wheat bread (cut like tea sandwiches) and topped the tartines with sliced peaches and celery leaves.
Peach and Goat Cheese Tea Sandwich Tartines – makes 8
– In a small bowl, stir together the chopped fennel and goat cheese. Spread 1 ounce on each of the 8 pieces of bread. Top with 4-5 slices of fresh peach. Garnish with celery leaves (or other greens) and sprinkle each top with a bit of salt & fresh ground black pepper.
There’s also the ice cream. We’ve been tinkering with Alton Brown’s vanilla ice cream recipe, which is pretty much the perfect ice cream to use as a launching pad for other flavors. The base recipe already calls for peach preserves so it’s a natural start for some form of peach ice cream. I roasted the peaches in a little sweet Marsala wine to give them a little more depth and caramelized taste…then they got chopped up and added last minute to the ice cream along with a tablespoon of bourbon. – you could also reinforce the Marsala by using that, instead. The booze helps the ice cream texture & keeps it soft and creamy. The roasted frozen chunks interspersed throughout the ice cream are incredible – you could roast these with a little oil if you don’t want to include the Marsala in the roasting process. Conversely, if you want to eat the roasted peaches straight up & not in ice cream, you could leave the halves whole & top them with a dollop of whipped cream and some crumbled Amaretti cookies.
Marsala-Roasted Peach Ice Cream – makes 1 quart – adapted from this Alton Brown recipe
– Preheat oven to 375. In a shallow baking pan, arrange the peach halves and pour Marsala wine evenly over each half. Roast in the oven until the flesh is soft and caramelized – about 30 to 35 minutes. Allow to cool completely then cut into a rough chop, cover and set aside.
– Combine the last 6 ingredients (including the bean and its pulp) in a large saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Bring mixture to just barely a simmer – as soon as you see a bubble reach the top, remove the pan from heat – do not let this boil. Allow to cool slightly. Remove the hull of the vanilla bean, pour mixture into lidded container and refrigerate mixture at least 4 hours to allow flavors to mingle.
– Freeze mixture in ice cream freezer according to unit’s instructions. In the last 5 minutes of churning time, add the chopped roasted peaches. The mixture will not freeze hard in the machine. Once the volume has increased by 1/2 – 3/4 times, and reached a soft serve consistency, spoon the mixture back into a lidded container and harden in the freezer at least 1 hour before serving. This will keep for several days in the freezer…but it will not last that long.