In this part of south-central California, we are blessed with an abundance of farmers markets and a few CSAs. My city, in particular, has two farmers markets. The Wednesday one meets at the local shopping mall; the Saturday one meets downtown. Everything looks delicious or beautiful and because there is so much variety, sometimes it’s difficult to make a selection.
One of my favorite fruits is the peach.
Not the grocery-store-hard-as-a-rock-and-rots-before-it-ripens variety, but the picked-fresh-from-the-tree variety. The kind that smells really fragrant and is so wonderfully juicy. Every year, I wait with great anticipation for July, when Jack sets up his stand at the local farmers market. I’ve been buying fresh peaches from Jack for several years now, and, unless I go early in the morning, there is always a long line in front of his stand. Tells you something. Jack comes from the Visalia area, in the central valley part of California, so it’s quite a trek to come over here to the coast every week, especially with the gas prices so high. But, I’m thankful that Jack does, because his peaches are worth every cent.
So, this month, along with eating a bunch of fresh peaches, I also transformed them into different desserts.
The first batch of peaches became peach ice cream. I used the recipe from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop.
1 1/3 pounds (600 g) ripe peaches, blanched and peeled
½ cup (125 ml) water
¾ cup (150 g) sugar
½ cup (120 g) sour cream
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
a few drops freshly squeezed lemon juice
Slice peaches in half, remove the pits, and cut them into chunks. Cook them in the water, covered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat, stir in the sugar, then cool to room temperature.
Purée the cooked peaches and any liquid with the sour cream, heavy cream, vanilla, and lemon juice until the mixture is almost smooth, but still a bit chunky. You can use a blender, food processor, or stick blender.
Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker.
Makes about 1 quart (1 liter)
The second batch of peaches became Peach Pies with Toffee Streusel, adapted from Small-Batch Baking by Debby Maugans Nakos. The recipe makes 2 servings, but there is enough filling and topping for 3 or 4 servings, so I put the excess into a greased ramekin; no crust, just filling and topping.
Either version is delicious.
Two individual partially baked tart shells (4” x 1 3/8” or jumbo muffin-size)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 medium-sized fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, and diced (or 1 ½ cups frozen sliced peaches, thawed and diced)
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ tablespoons packed light brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons English toffee bits or almond toffee bits
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place tart pans onto baking sheet.
Filling: place the sugar and tapioca in a small bowl and stir to mix. Add the peaches, sprinkle with the lemon juice, and mix thoroughly. Spoon the peach filling into the tart shells and refrigerate while preparing the topping.
Topping: Place the flour, brown sugar, and salt in a small bowl, and cut in the butter until topping is blended and crumbly. Stir in the toffee bits. Spoon evenly over the peach filling.
Bake until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Transfer the tarts to a wire rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes, then remove the tarts from the pans.
Serves 2, generously. Serve with ice cream, if desired.
Besides being very delicious and needing no excuses to prepare either one, the ice cream and pielets are my contributions to this month’s Weekend Cookbook Challenge. Michelle, of Je Mange la Ville, is the host for July, and she chose the great theme of Farmers Markets.
Thanks to Michelle for hosting, and thanks to Sara, of i like to cook, for creating such an inspiring event.