I’ve always wanted a fruit tree; one that actually produces fruit, unlike our cherry trees, which do not. Apple trees grow well in our neck of the woods, as do plum trees, cherry and fig. I don’t know how to do it but I think I need to plant a fig tree soon.
For now though, I am currently without fruit (on tree). Luckily, when our next door neighbors Kam and Amy moved in, they had a peach tree that they didn’t want so they gave it to their friends, Neil and Stacy, who moved in across the street from us shortly after they moved in next door. Neil and Stacy re-planted that tree in their front yard and then several years later, sold the house to Piotr (AKA “P”). It has been a decade now since that tree was relocated, but it has just in the last couple of years, began to produce fruit.
The fruit from this peach tree feeds many squirrels, birds, bugs, and the bunny in the neighborhood, in addition to providing a juicy accompaniment to my morning yogurt, plus an endless amount of cooking inspiration. The branches fell heavy and full several weeks ago, so in an attempt to salvage a branch in distress, Tom and I picked the fuzzy, round balls which slipped easily from their stems, out of their clothing and into a basket, a bag, or a bath.
Parboiling them loosens their skin, allowing it to peel away easily for freezing, baking or saucing. Otherwise, keep them in the basket if they are ripe, in a paper bag if they are not; eat raw with yogurt and freshly made granola (or the best that you can buy).
If you are like me (lucky enough to have a neighbor/friend willing to let you take copious amounts of them, and still kind enough to bring you a bag of them picked from the tree’s top), you will need other ideas; so, here are a few ways I like to use peaches (with corresponding recipes of course):
Spicy Peach Galette
Peach Barbecue Sauce (use for baby back ribs or on a lamb + feta burger)
Tangy Peach Sauce (use to braise beef or sauce fish)
Spicy Peach Galette
Makes 2 galettes
I have always admired the imperfect and irregular shape of the galette. Galette is filled more sparingly than pie and with the thin profile and lovely drape, it crisps nicely, making it a welcome addition to your morning coffee, or with a light dollop of crème fraîche it has all the nuances of an elegant dessert. Galette is portable if you want to tuck it in your picnic basket or it sets nicely atop a fancy plate waiting to hold court. Galette is easy and forgiving if baking isn’t really your thing, but can be made to look quite pretty if you are patient enough to spend time arranging the fruit just so. This galette is filled with sweet peaches and then spiced a bit with cayenne-spiked honey. I was inspired by all the galettes that have been popping up as of late, and with a healthy basket of peaches on hand, it seemed as good of time as any to give the galette a try. Plus, I had half a recipe of pie dough still hanging out in my freezer from my Red, White and Blueberry pie.
1 pound peaches, peeled and pitted (4-5 small)
A good sprinkle of cornstarch
1/2 recipe pie dough
1 lime wedge
1 TB honey
1/8 tsp cardamon
1/8 heaping tsp dried oregano
Several shots cayenne pepper powder
Thaw the dough in the refrigerator (if frozen). Be sure it is still chilled, but soft enough to roll. Divide the dough in half and roll, one half at a time on a floured surface. As soon as it is rolled, transfer to a non-stick baking sheet before the dough becomes too soft to move. Sprinkle approximately 1 tsp of cornstarch over each dough round.
Squeeze lime juice over the peaches and arrange them in the center of the rounds, leaving a few inches at the sides. Fold the sides over to cover just the edge of the peaches.
Mix the honey, cardamon, oregano and cayenne in a small bowl and heat in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds (just long enough to make the honey soften).
Brush the honey over the tops of the peaches, and bake in a pre-heated, 400-degree oven for approximately 12 minutes. If the peaches have too much liquid, stirring in a little cornstarch will help. When finished, let cool slightly on the pan and enjoy right away or cover and refrigerate or freeze.
Peach Barbecue Sauce
makes approximately 4 cups
Olive oil to sauté
1 sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 poblano chili, large dice
2 tomatoes, cored and large dice
4 peaches, skinned, cored and large dice
1 bottle of ale (I used Red Hook IPA, but any good ale will do)
3 TB organic ketchup
1 TB Grenache (or other red wine) vinegar
1 handful fresh cilantro, roughly torn
Sweat the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft (5 minutes or so). Turn up the heat to medium and add the remaining ingredients.
Bring to a simmer, then turn down the heat to low and continue cooking until things become nicely combined and slightly thickened (about 30 more minutes). Purée with a hand blender or in a food processor. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Tangy Peach Sauce
Coconut oil for sauté
1 small jalapeño, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
1 TB coriander seeds, toasted and freshly ground
2 lbs peaches, peeled and pits removed (approximately 4 cups peach meat)
1 cup water
1/2 cup coffee
Juice of 4 limes (approximately 5 TB)
3 TB fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp siriacha sauce
In a small amount of coconut oil, sauté the garlic and jalapeño for a few minutes over relatively low heat. Add the ground coriander and stir.
Add the peaches, followed by the fish sauce, siriacha, water, coffee and lime juice.
Turn up the heat and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and let simmer until it has reduced and thickened, approximately 30 minutes.
Put the mixture through a food mill and then purée with a hand held blender or in a food processor. You should have about 3 cups. Check for flavor. If you like it spicier, add more siriacha, too spicy, add more lime and perhaps some honey.
This freezes well or you can bottle it following this process.
Flowers + peaches courtesy of our friend Piotr, thanks “P”.