Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 14 - Millions of Peaches

Chris here... Yes, this is a "Recipe for REAL Women", because that's what we've decided to call the baking and desserts. The peach concoction here is my recipe, and the baked goods that go with it are Mels.

So, you might have noted the end of season peaches are in. I dunno about you, but I LOVE fresh peaches. Sweet, slightly tart, juicy, with a great texture... It's my third favorite dessert fruit (behind strawberrys and apples, and ahead of pineapples).

Ingredients (for peach filling):

5lbs of slightly under ripe sweet peaches (blanched and peeled)
2 cups of water (more or less. Orange, peach, pinapple, or apple juice can also be used for more flavor)
2 cups of brown sugar, lightly packed (more or less, to taste)
1 cup of bourbon whiskey
1 cup of lemon juice
1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4tbsp natural vanilla extract (or more to taste)
3tbsp of cinnamon (to taste)
1tbsp nutmeg
2tsp allspice
2tsp of cloves (optional)
1/2 cup of cornstarch slurry (about 1/4 cup of cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup of water)


Okay, first step is to blanch your peaches. You want to get a heavy boil going in a pot with enough water to cover a peach or two (don't do too many at a time). Cut a cross in the bottom and top of the peach skin, just deep enough so that you can peel the skin off after the blanching. Dunk the peach in the boiling water and keep it under for 30 seconds, then transfer immediately to an icewater bath. Within a few seconds you should be able to peel the skins right off.

Then pit and section your peaches. If you are using cling peaches, you'll want to slice all the way around the peach down to the pit, then twist and pull apart. Section the peaches by slicing approximately 1/2' thick wedges into the center of the peach. When sectioned, drop into a metal bowl with some lemon juice in it, and coat the slices with the lemon juice (this keeps them fresh looking, but isn't strictly necessary).

Melt the butter in a 4 or 5 quart pot, and add the spices. Cook the spices for maybe 30 seconds, and add the lemon juice, vinegar, and whiskey. Bring it up to a simmer, and then the peach sections. Cook the peaches in the whiskey for about 5 minutes, basically until the alcohol has boiled off. Then add just enough water to cover the peaches by 1/4" or so, and half the brown sugar.

Simmer the peaches until they are lightly softened, then pull them out of the mix, put them in a metal bowl, and put them in the freezer.

Reduce the liquid til it's a thin syrup. Add the rest of the sugar to taste. If the syrup is too thin after the sugar is added (depends on how you want to use it), then thicken with 1/2 the slurry. Cook for five minutes, and test again. If it's still too thin, add the rest of the slurry and cook another five minutes.

If by some miracle, it's STILL too thin, turn the simmer up just a bit and continue reducing on the stove. The issue here is that when you add the peaches back in, they are going to thin things out a bit, so the syrup should really be a little TOO thick.

Add the peaches back in, including the pot liquor collected in the bowl, and stew until the peaches are as soft as you want. Again, this depends on what you are going to do with it. For a preserves, or even better, a cheesecake or ice cream topping, you want so soft as to be disintegrating. For cobbler or pie (or other baked goods), you want them to be just barely fully cooked, because they will cook more in the oven when baked.

Serving Suggestions:

Ice cream. Trust me. Last night I made a cookie based sunday, layered with a layer of the fruit topping, vanilla ice cream, pecans, more fuit topping, and then whipped cream.

You can swirl this through, or pour this over the top of, cheesecake. It's just amazing.

Pipe it into pastry or doughnuts.

Blend it into vanilla yogurt.

Blend it into smoothies.

Blend it into a milkshake with rum, brandy, and butterscotch liqeur... oh yes my yes

Cobbler, very definitely

Pecan Peach pie, even better.

Oh and also, this same topping preparation works with apples, pears, pineapples, and believe it or not, bananas, with slight variations (bananas need a lot more butter, less spice, and less syrupy preparation).

Recipes for the cookie base, and cobbler topping are too come...

And be sure to check out:

Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 14 - Millions of Peaches
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 13 - Mels 10,000 Calorie Butter Cookies
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 12 - Lard Ass Wings
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 11 - Bacon Double Macaroni and Cheese
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 10 - It's the meat stupid
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 9 - Labor Day Potatos
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 8 - It's a pork fat thing
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 7 - It may not be Kosher...
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 6 - Andouille Guiness Chili
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 5 - Eazza the Ultimate Pizza
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 4 - Two Pound Meat Sauce
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 3 - Highbrow Hash
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 2 - MuscleCarbonara
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 1 - More Beef than Stew