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On Cooking Southern: Everything’s Just Peachy

cooking souther peach icecream

Mash: Both a noun and a verb. To mash is to press on something such as a button or potatoes. A mash is the smushed stuff from which fine hooch is made. Do not confuse a mash with a mosh, although the two have related properties…

Peach Time in the South is a sacred time. Granted, peaches are grown elsewhere, but around here, that short period when the peaches come in is perhaps one of the most bountiful (translated REWARDING) times of the year. It’s when Mother Nature provides a much-needed payoff for stewarding the land.

A fully ripened peach is a miracle. It needs nothing added to its flavor. The peach is at its best when eaten whole, or sliced in a dish with an optional sprinkle of sugar. Moreover, when sliced and sugared, peaches freeze beautifully, making a welcome addition to any winter table.

Cut peaches
Cut peaches

Peaches magically transform even the humblest of recipes. Add fresh, ripe peaches, and — voilà — tarts, pies and cobblers turn into a new form of ambrosia. If in doubt, check out some of the recipes we’ve explored in the past, from peach cobbler and peach tea, to peach pie and grilled peach salad.

When planning this week’s menu, The Old Bride thought it might be fun to remind readers about how well peach flavor comingles with other mid-summer produce and another incredible edible — Greek yogurt.

Our peach and veggie salad recipe can go sweeter with addition of watermelon; or flip it into savory by adding tomatoes and salted nuts. Our peach ice cream is a variation on the classic, incorporating good quality Greek yogurt into the dish. The yogurt adds tanginess to the custard base reminiscent of buttermilk.

Sugared peaches
Sugared peaches

Nobody needs a nag or more stress in their daily lives, but listen up, people. I urge everybody to hustle if planning to do anything with fresh, locally grown peaches.

Lafayette County’s Peach Time is about to pack it up for another year. The Peach People told me they have maybe one or two more trips to the farmers markets before their peach crops have played out for the season.

Need I stress that anyone with a freezer ought to be storming the farmers markets to buy out the remains of the peach crop? Rule of thumb: Working hard now pays off in January.

This salad is perfect for a large crowd. It’s a crossover between a salsa and a “fruit” salad. Serve it on a lettuce leaf, or as a condiment with grilled chicken or pork chops.

peach salad

1 c plain Greek yogurt

4 T red wine vinegar

2 T extra virgin or extra light olive oil

3 T white granulated sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

Juice of 1 lime

2 tsp kosher salt

2 c red onion, diced

1 c long red, green or yellow banana or wax sweet peppers

1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped fine

peach salad 2

1 c cucumber, sliced and chopped

10 c diced peaches

1 green-skin avocado, chopped

Kernels from 2 ears of steamed fresh corn

Salt to taste

Creole seasoning to taste

Combine first seven ingredients in a non-reactive bowl. Whisk until completely blended. Chill until ready to use.

Combine all remaining ingredients except seasonings in a large mixing bowl. Add yogurt marinade and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and a small amount of Creole seasoning. Chill until ready to serve.

This is similar to other ice cream recipes we’ve shared. Note that we do not add vanilla flavoring to this ice cream. I always double this recipe, but it almost overflows my tabletop ice cream maker. Start small and go bigger once you gain confidence.

peach yogurt ice cream

2 c diced sugared peaches

1 c heavy whipping cream

1 c whole milk

3/4 c sugar, divided 1/2 and 1/4

3 large egg yolks

1 c plain Greek yogurt

Pinch of salt

Plan to use about 8-10 medium size peaches for the original recipe. Peel peaches and slice down centers and all around. Twist to separate (like an avocado). Pop out the peach pit and scoop out woody red centers. Slice and dice into a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and toss. Pour entire contents into a quart freezer baggie and freeze overnight.

Combine the whipping cream, whole milk and half-cup of sugar in a medium size (3-qt) saucepan. Stir to mix and bring mixture to a simmer on medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Do not scald the mixture.

Using a hand mixer, mix the egg yolks and remaining sugar in a large heat-resistant bowl (I use a quart-size Pyrex measuring cup). With mixer running, add heated cream mixture in a slow steady stream until completely combined. Pour back into the saucepan.

Heat on medium-low, stirring about 3 minutes until custard thickens slightly — the foam will begin to dissolve into the liquid as it turns into custard. Do not boil or the custard will “break”. Custard should coat back of spoon and candy thermometer will read 170˚F.

peach yogurt ice cream 2

Pour custard through a sieve or strainer set over a heat-resistant bowl. Place this bowl in larger bowl filled half way with ice cubes and water. Cool the custard about 5 minutes, whisking from time to time. Remove from water and whisk in the Greek yogurt and pinch of salt. Refrigerate overnight until completely chilled.

When ready to make the ice cream, transfer custard to ice cream maker and process according to instructions of manufacturer (tabletop version simply turns on or off).

While ice cream is churning, remove peaches from freezer and place baggie contents into a bowl. Strain the peaches from the peach syrup and puree in food processor or blender. Reserve the peach syrup for another use (I refreeze mine).

Add the pureed peaches to the ice cream mixture as it nears completion. Continue to churn about 10 more minutes. Scoop ice cream into a sealable plastic container and freeze for several hours or up to three days prior to use.

Laurie Triplette is a writer, historian and accredited appraiser of fine arts, dedicated to preserving Southern culture and foodways. Author of the award-winning community family cookbook GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’, and editor of ZEBRA TALES (Tailgating Recipes from the Ladies of the NFLRA), Triplette is a member of the Association of Food Journalists, Southern Foodways Alliance and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. Check out the GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’ website and follow Laurie’s food adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

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