Sunday, July 13, 2014

Five Ways to Use Peaches!

It's the hottest part of the summer, and here in Georgia that means that the peaches are at their best. There's no reason not to buy a huge basket of the delectable delights, because there are so many uses for them that this post seems almost too easy.

1. Jam. Simply put, peach jam is my absolute favorite of all possible jams. Depending on your preferences and the ripeness of the peaches, you generally use about a pound of sugar for every pound of peaches you cook down. I prefer mine just a bit tart, and in smaller batches, so I use about 1/2 tsp per peach. I cook my fruit down most of the way before adding my sugar, because that way I can taste how close I am to how I want it before adding more sweetness so that I can be sure it's where I prefer. It usually takes me about an hour to an hour and a half to get them where I want them, on medium heat.

Don't have fresh peaches? No problem. Substitute those canned peaches in the pot. You won't need nearly the same amount of sugar, just cook it down into the consistency you like!

2. Palmier. Puff pastry dough from the freezer section makes this cookie and pastry a cinch to make. Thaw your pastry in the fridge overnight, and leave it in the fridge until you're ready to use it, it needs to stay cool to get the most crisp palmier cookies. When you're ready to roll it out, sprinkle granulated sugar and a bit of cinnamon on top of a cutting board large enough to hold the sheet opened up. Sprinkle some of the sugar and cinnamon on the top of your dough and roll a pastry roller or rolling pin gently over the dough to get the creases out. Spread cooked and cooled down peaches onto the dough and fold the left side halfway to the middle and then follow with the right. Fold them again into the middle, then fold the two sides together. Using a sawing motion, cut the cookies and lay them flat on a baking sheet, spread at least 2 inches apart. Standard temp is 450, and cooking time is quite fast, just until browned. I have success with 6 minutes on first side then about 4 on the other for perfect golden flakiness. Be your own judge for how done you would like them and how brown you would like them.

3. Barbecue sauce. Yes, you read that right. If you have never had a fruit-enhanced sauce for chicken or pork, you are missing out. Vegetarian? No problem there, as you're just using what you've got or what's on sale. You literally just pick your favorite sauce and throw in some pulverized peaches. It is crazy how good it tastes. You may need to add honey or a bit of sugar and warm it, but like I said up above, I like tart. I will get a rack of spare ribs and cut them to fit a sheet pan, season them with seasoned salt, and wrap them in foil. 2 hours wrapped up in a 350 oven is long enough, then you cut open the foil and slather the ribs with barbecue sauce and stick them back in for an additional 15 mins. I usually do this about 3 times because I like a lot of caramelized sauce.

4. Margaritas or your favorite white wine. Tequila and lime with a muddled peach slice in the glass has a way of making you feel at home wherever you are with a big smile on your face, especially when you rub the rim with the peach juice and dip it in course sugar. Muddling a peach slice in a wine glass before pouring in your favorite white wine makes a great relaxing drink. Champagne is just as great for celebrations.

Non-alcoholic, no problem. Peaches are great in citrus sodas and your standard juices such as orange, grape, and even apple.

5. Milkshakes. Throw a few scoops of vanilla or strawberry ice cream (or frozen yogurt) into a blender with a cut up peach. Add milk as needed to get it to the right consistency for you, since we all like a different thickness of milkshake. Toss those peaches onto the grill with the cut sides down after a dunk in some sugar and then add them to ice cream for an extra note of flavor. Very few fruits taste bad after being on the grill, and peaches are definitely the best (in my opinion, anyway).

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