Sweet, sexy peaches, juices dripping down your arms while eating over the sink, are summer's liquid gold. A member of the rose family, peaches originally came from China, the country that produces 45 percent of the stone fruit today. They're high in fiber, vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin C, iron and potassium.
They're a symbol of luck and abundance in China. The Spanish spread them throughout South America, but it's unclear just how they came to North America. One George Minifie, who lived near Jamestown, was recorded as having them in his garden in the early 17th century. One hundred years later, they were growing wild throughout the countryside, and America's First Gardener, Thomas Jefferson, had 38 different varieties planted at Monticello.
How to prepare
Peaches can be chopped for salsa, blended into ice cream and baked into pies. They make excellent jam, and one of the best ways to preserve them is to can them in ginger syrup. Open the jar on a chilly fall day to remember the last, lazy days of summer.
Pistachio-Encrusted Doughnut Peaches with Lemon Curd and Pistachio Brittle
Rappahannock's chef Dylan Fultineer gave us this recipe for tiny, dimpled doughnut peaches.
For the peaches
8 doughnut peaches, pitted and peeled
3 cups Dolin Blanc vermouth (orsubstitute a sweet Riesling)
1/2 cup of sugar
2 cups of toasted pistachios
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
Combine the Dolin Blanc and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the peaches and cook until they are just tender. Do not overcook or the peaches will fall apart. Allow them to cool in the liquid. Remove the peaches and place them on a paper towel. For the pistachio crust, place toasted pistachios in a food processor and chop until coarsely ground. Place the ground pistachios in a small mixing bowl and combine with the brown sugar. Roll the peaches in the pistachios until coated.
For the lemon curd
2 lemons, zest and juice
3 tablespoons of water
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 pound of butter
1/4 teaspoon of salt
3 egg yolks
Combine the lemon juice, zest, water, sugar, butter and salt in a small nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil. In a mixing bowl, whip the eggs and yolks together. Slowly whisk the hot liquid into the eggs. Return the egg mixture back to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula until the curd thickens. Remove from the heat immediately and strain through a fine-mesh sieve.
3/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of water
1/2 cup of light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of pistachios, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
Line a baking sheet with wax paper or lightly greased parchment paper. Have a lightly greased spatula by your side. Combine the sugar, water, corn syrup and salt in a small nonreactive saucepan.
Using a candy thermometer, heat over high heat and stir with a wooden spoon just until the sugar is dissolved. Continue to cook without stirring until the thermometer reads 246 degrees (firm ball stage), and then stir in the pistachios. Stir until temperature reaches 310 degrees.
Remove from the heat, and working quickly, stir in the butter and vanilla until the butter is melted. Quickly add the baking soda while stirring.
Immediately transfer to the prepared sheet and spread out with the greased spatula. Allow to cool completely and break into pieces.
Bake the crusted peaches in a 350-degree oven for 5 to 6 minutes to toast and warm the peaches. Place the peaches on a serving plate and fill the holes with the lemon curd. Garnish with powdered sugar and the pistachio brittle.