ANTICIPATION can be disappointing. We were at a dog show in Georgia — you know, where the great peaches come from — and someone said “peach cobbler.” Just the thought set us on a quest for cobbler.
Finally — we found it. For a lot of money we got a bowl of what should have been called “Cobbler Peach,” not “Peach Cobbler.” What a disappointment. I bet even the bloodhounds could not have sniffed out the miniscule bits of fruit.
We have enough Florida-grown peaches now that no one has to stint on the fruit in a cobbler. Or any other peach dish. Here’s a tit-for-tat kind of dish. We can use Florida peaches in a recipe adapted from Savannah, Georgia.
2 cups sliced peaches
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
Mix peaches and 1/2 cup sugar. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put butter in a deep baking dish and melt in the oven.
Make a batter of remaining ingredients. Pour over melted butter. Do not stir. Put peaches and juice on batter. Do not stir. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, until crust is light brown and puffy.
Blueberries can be used instead of peaches. Both are harvested at the same time of year in Florida. Cobbler can be topped with ice cream or whipped cream.
Now that we have mastered a basic cobbler, let’s put some life in it. To the peaches, add a good dash of cinnamon … and/or nutmeg … and/or allspice … and/or cardamom … and/or orange zest … and/or a squirt of lemon juice.
And let’s put some life in other peach dishes. From the spice cupboard, take out the curry powder to make a peach topping for salmon.
Put a cup of Florida peach chunks, a quarter cup honey, and one teaspoon curry powder in a small pot and cook over medium heat until the peaches break down. Topping’s done. Smear it over two salmon fillets as they come off the grill or out of the pan. Brown sugar can be used instead of honey.
Poaching peaches is an easy way to a super dessert. A little, or a lot, of fresh ginger makes the flavor sing. Use candied ginger if you have it.
Put a 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon minced fresh or candied ginger, 2 allspice berries, 2 tablespoons lemon juice (orange will work), 2 teaspoons grenadine if you have it, and 6 cups diced peaches into a skillet and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring. Lower heat and simmer five minutes or so until peaches are soft. Let cool in liquid. Discard allspice. To serve: Portion into six glass bowls and each top with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and a mint sprig.
Peach chutney that wakes up your mouth goes well with chicken or pork, no matter how you cook them. It’s adapted from Bon Appetit.
Heat 4 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet. Add 1 medium sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Maui), chopped, and a 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and julienned. Cook 8 to 10 minutes or until golden.
Add 4 whole star anise pods, 2 bay leaves, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon paprika, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add 6 ripe peaches (about 11/2 pounds.), unpeeled, cut into small pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to release their juices (but still hold their shape), about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly. Makes 2 1/2 cups.
Here’s another peach chutney and this one isn’t cooked. You can swap out the fruit and flavors … as long as it has plenty of Florida peaches.
NO-COOK PEACH CHUTNEY
Mix 2 cups diced peaches, 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper, 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 clove peeled and minced garlic, 2 tablespoons chopped dried cranberries or raisins, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, dash curry powder, salt and pepper to taste. Chill. Makes about 3 cups.
article by TRENT ROWE
Trent Rowe is the Food Editor of Central Florida Ag News.