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A Peachy Way to Celebrate Summer

August 13, 2014 By:
Rivka Tal, JE Feature
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Just saying the words “peachy keen” will bring a smile to most people’s faces. I know people complain that tomatoes aren’t what they used to be, and apples travel for months/are stored for years and neither has any taste anymore.

But at least here in Israel, peaches are one of those fruits that have gotten better-tasting over the years. Years ago, peaches were fuzzy and had little taste, although they were still prized as a summer treat. But this summer and summers past, they seem to be God’s gift to help us bear the heat.

Eating them out of hand (with the juice dripping down your chin) is really the best way to go, but peaches are useful in a lot of other dishes.

Peach-Cilantro Salsa
Sweet, spicy and salty; use this as a topping for grilled chicken or fish.

    1⁄2 bunch fresh cilantro
    6  medium peaches, ripe but firm
        medium mango, ripe but firm
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    2 Tbsps. honey
    1⁄2 tsp. salt
    2 Tbsps. lemon juice
    1 medium red onion
    1 medium white onion
    1 medium jalapeno pepper

Wash the cilantro and remove the tough stems. Drain and then place on paper towel to dry.

Peel and core peaches and mango. Dice into 1⁄2-inch pieces. Place in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.

Whisk garlic, honey, salt, and lemon juice in a small bowl until well blended. Set aside.

Peel and quarter onions.

Remove stem and cut jala­peno in half (for a milder salsa, remove the seeds and veins).

Place onions, cilantro and jalapeno in food processor and pulse just until coarsely diced

Add diced onions, jalapeno and cilantro into bowl with fruit. Top with honey mixture.

Mix thoroughly with wooden spoon or rubber spatula, being careful not to bruise fruit

Chill well before serving.

Roasted Chicken With Balsamic Peaches
(Meat)

Courtesy of the Georgia Peach Council

    1 whole chicken, 31⁄2-4 lbs.
    1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
    1 Vidalia onion, cut into wedges
    2 Tbsps. whole grain mustard
    2 Tbsps. balsamic vinegar
    2 Tbsps. olive oil
    1 Tbsp. honey
    1⁄2 tsp. salt
        freshly ground black pepper
    3 peaches, sliced into 1⁄2-inch slices
    1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
    1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

Preheat oven to 500˚.

Rinse chicken with water, pat dry, and rub with 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt. Butterfly chicken by removing the backbone with kitchen scissors and set aside.

Place onions inside a 12-inch cast iron skillet or glass baking dish (coat with cooking spray if using glass). Lay chicken on top of the onions, breast side up, tucking wing tips. Combine mustard, vinegar, oil, honey, salt and pepper, and pour over the top of chicken.

Place skillet on the middle rack of the oven and roast for 15 minutes.

While chicken is roasting, toss peaches with vinegar and rosemary.

Reduce oven temperature to 400˚ and arrange peaches around the chicken, stirring into the onions. Continue cooking for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 165˚ in thickest part of breast. Let meat rest for 15 minutes before cutting.

Serves 4 to 6.

Creole Wings with Mustard Peach Sauce
(Meat)

Courtesy of the Georgia Peach Council

    3 lbs. chicken wings
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    2 tsps. dry mustard
    2 tsps. paprika
    1 tsp. dried thyme
    1 tsp. granulated sugar
    1 tsp. cayenne pepper
    1⁄2 tsp. salt
    1⁄2 tsp. black pepper
    1⁄4 cup lemon juice

Sauce Ingredients:

    1⁄2 cup peach jam
    1 Georgia peach, peeled, pitted and pureed
    1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
    2 tsps. pimiento, diced
    1 tsp. cider vinegar

In small bowl, stir together garlic, mustard, paprika, thyme, sugar, cayenne, salt and black pepper; blend in lemon juice to make paste. Using a pastry brush, brush paste over wings. Arrange wings, meaty side down, on lightly greased foil-lined baking sheets.

Let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature. Bake in a 475˚ oven for 15 minutes; turn wings over and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until brown, crisp and no longer pink inside.

For Peach Mustard Sauce: In saucepan, melt jam over low heat; stir in peach puree, mustard, pimiento and vinegar. Serve separately for dipping.

Serves 4 as an appetizer.

Peach Parfait
(Dairy)

    1 lb. ripe peaches
    3 half-pint baskets fresh strawberries, divided
    1⁄3 cup sugar
    3 Tbsps. water
    1 cinnamon stick (or substitute 1 tsp. ground cinnamon)
    3 pints vanilla frozen yogurt
    8 strawberry halves
    1⁄2 cup almond slivers

Peel the peaches by blanching briefly in boiling water and then plunging into cold water. Remove pits and cut into small pieces.
Place peaches, strawberries, sugar, water and cinnamon stick in medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low simmer, cover and simmer about 7 to 8 minutes or until peaches are soft.
Cover and chill in refrigerator. Remove cinnamon stick. Spoon sauce into 8 parfait glasses. Top with frozen yogurt. Top each again with sauce, then another layer of frozen yogurt. Top each with a strawberry half and chopped almonds.

Serves 8.

Summer Fruits with Lemon Balm and Cinnamon
(Pareve)

An indescribable aroma will fill your kitchen when you cook this dessert with peaches’ summer “cousins.”

    6    medium peaches
    4    apricots
    8    plums
    2    cups water
    3⁄4    cup any fruit jam
    16    lemon balm leaves (substitute spearmint leaves; divided)
    1    cinnamon stick (or 1 tsp. ground cinnamon)
    11⁄2    tsps. sugar
    1    lemon, halved

Peel fruits, if desired. Remove pits and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place water, jam, 8 lemon balm leaves, cinnamon stick, sugar and lemon halves in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover; lower heat and continue to cook for 15 minutes.
Remove and discard lemon balm, cinnamon stick and lemon halves.
Add fruits and continue to cook over low heat, checking from time to time to see if additional water is necessary. Cook until all fruits are tender. Remove from heat and chill.
Serve individual portions, topping each with a lemon balm leaf.

Serves 8.

Grilled Honey Peaches
(Pareve or Dairy)

After the hamburgers are all eaten, find a clean place on your outdoor grill for this heavenly light dessert. Couldn’t be simpler.

    6 firm peaches
        honey
        vanilla ice cream (Pareve, optional)

Wash and dry peaches. Slice into 1⁄4-inch slices and remove pits. Drizzle with honey. Grill on low heat until heated through, about 4 minutes each side.

Remove to a serving plate and top with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Serves 6.

Rivka Tal has lived in Jerusalem since 1966. She is a translator and food writer. Email her at: talriv@gmail.com.

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