The Peaches Cookbook, A Love Story [and Caramelized Peach Frozen Yogurt]
This is more of a love letter than a traditional post … One of the best pieces of prose I’ve read in a long time has got to be Kelly Alexander’s Introduction to her new cookbook, Peaches: A Savor the South Cookbook.* I bought the book because Kelly is a friend of mine from university, and I’d heartily enjoyed reading Hometown Appetites, her biography of the once-forgotten food writer, Clementine Paddleford. So, I was already prepared to read something personable and well-written. What I wasn’t expecting, however, especially from such a slim little cookbook or from its crisp-as-a-young-peach introduction, was to be transported back to the south of my childhood in ways I’d never dreamt of. I spent a vital three years of my childhood in a small town in rural Georgia. For me, those years remain the golden, Wordsworthian part of childhood one looks back upon as a kind of ideal – not a lost ideal, necessarily, either, but as expressive of the self-reliant, optimistic, and, you might even say, visionary mindset one might hope to depend upon and apply in one’s adult life. I remember the touch and feel of those days, the weather, the quality of light glancing through the woods, and how it felt to dwell among them more than even some of the more important “milestones” in the more recent past. What Peaches brought back to me, though, were the tastes and textures of the southern cooking I sampled here and there along the way, not in my own home, of course, but at cake walks and school fundraisers, neighbourhood barbecues, and in the kitchens of close family friends…the tastes and the textures, sure, and the overwhelming feelings of hospitality, wonder, and promise of the Georgia I once knew. So, yes, this is a love letter, Kelly Alexander. Thank you for Peaches! Thank you!
Now that it’s peach season here in Ontario, of course, I’ve moved beyond the book’s introduction. I’ve been trying a whole slew of recipes from the Peaches cookbook. The pie and the individual crumbles were all gone before I could even stop to take pictures. Here’s a pic of my not-very-professional attempt at the Peaches Tomato and Peach Salad with Feta and Red Onion , using our first little haul of grape tomatoes from the backyard veg pots:
It made a wonderful lunch! Of course, you’ll have to buy the book to get the recipe!!
For the kids, I wanted to whip up the Peaches recipe for The Best Peach Ice Cream . And, since they are huge fans of the “burnt” or “roasted” marshmallow flavours of ice cream at our favourite local joint, Ed’s the Real Scoop [did you know they use slightly burnt toffee to make their icecream taste like campfire marshmallows?], I thought I’d go with the Alton-Brown inspired twist and make “Burnt Peach” ice cream alternative on the next page . Unfortunately, I didn’t have any heavy cream on hand, and all of the good eggs had been stolen by the house waffle-maker-extraordinaire! Not to be deterred, I forged ahead, opting to make a slightly larger portion of “Caroline & David’s Peach Yogurt” , but with the “Burnt Peach” alternative offered for the ice cream recipe as a flavouring ! [Both the ice cream and the frozen yogurt recipes referred to here and riffed on below are accessible on the preview/look-inside the book feature for Peaches on Amazon.com! Though, seriously, people, what are you waiting for? Buy the book!] In any case, here’s this book-lover’s Peaches-inspired caramalized peach fro-yo!
Caramelized Peach Frozen Yogurt Inspired by Peaches: A Savor the South Cookbook, by Kelly Alexander
6 small Ontario peaches, cut in half, pits removed
4 tbs unsalted butter, melted
.6 c packed brown sugar
.3 c water
1 tsp vanilla
2 c Greek Yogurt [We used 0% plain]
Heat oven to 400.
Mix the melted butter, sugar, water, and vanilla and spread on a 9×13 broiling pan.
Place the peach halves cut side down onto the dish.
Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until you have some choice caramelized [but not burnt] sticky bits in the pan.
Remove the skins from 3-4 of the peaches [Cook’s Treat: I ate the skins right away – because, yes, they were delicious!] and puree with a good dollop or two of the pan juices, especially any browned and caramelized [but not burnt] sticky bits that cling to the pan.
Chop the remaining peaches roughly, removing the skins if you would like [But why bother? unless, of course, you need more of a treat!], retaining a few more good dollops of the pan juices.
Refrigerate the puree until it is nice and cold.
Store the chopped peaches in sauce in a bowl on the counter or in the refrigerator.
Add the nice cold pureed peaches by the .25 c-full to the yogurt in a blender [or bowl] and blend [or stir] until smooth.
Note: You do not need to add all of the puree. We added about 1 cup.
Mix in just a few drops of citrus juice. [We used grapefruit, actually, because that’s what we had!]
Process the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions for frozen yogurt.
[We processed ours in our Cuisinarti ice cream maker for 20 minutes to get a thicker soft-serve consistency].
If the yogurt is not a solid as you would like, freeze it until it’s the desired consistency or process it a bit longer.
Warm the chopped peaches in sauce if desired.
Serve by topping scoops of the frozen yogurt fresh from the ice-cream maker with the remaining chopped peaches in sauce.
[Alternatively, I suppose you could blend cooled chopped peaches in sauce right into the yogurt about 15 minutes into the processing time…but who doesn’t want a hot buttery topping on their peach yogurt?]
Enjoy right away!
*Please note, I have not been paid to express my opinion or to advertise Ms. Alexander’s book.