If you have ever had the great pleasure of driving down I-85 South through South Carolina on your way to Georgia, you have seen the PEACH. The big posterior-looking peach water tower in Gaffney, SC. Complete with the little nubbin that you find at the bottom of peaches and a leaf on top. It looks fuzzy. It is pretty spectacular – and it was the source of many laughs as a kid. The water tower really looks like a giant rump with a leaf on top.
As awesome as that water tower is, forget about it. Forget Georgia peaches and Carolina peaches. They’re great and all, but they fall short. I have found the best peaches on earth and they are not Georgia peaches. They’re actually grown in Pennsylvania and sold at my (yes, MY) farmers’ market in Silver Spring, MD. They are super sweet and have an intense peach flavor just as a peach should; plus, they’re just juicy enough to be delicious but not so juicy that you have to eat them leaning over the sink. They remind you why eating local and season fruit is totally worth it. These peaches are white peaches from Three Springs Farm. I’m addicted. I visit my dealer weekly. “Ben, you got the stuff?” “Yeah. You got the cash?” And the exchange is made. If peach addiction is wrong then I don’t want to be right.
I’ve become sort of obsessed with these peaches. I buy some every week to have for my husband and me to take for lunch, but I’ve also bought more for some other fun dishes. Here are two of my favorites.
I’m a total pie freak. It is my favorite food – any kind, just not chicken pot. Although good, it isn’t pie in my mind. One of my primary cooking goals is to become an incredible pie maker (totally for selfish reasons). A few weeks ago I made my very first crust from scratch and it went great! Given my peach obsession, it was time for a peach pie.
You could use a premade crust if you’d like, but this really is very easy. Just try it! This is Mark Bittman’s recipe.
Crust (you need to make two – a top and a bottom):
- 1 cup flour (plus additional for rolling)
- 1/2teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 8 tablespoons butter (one stick cut into 8 pieces)
- up to 3 tablespoons ice water
Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Give it a whir to mix. Add the butter and turn on the food processor. Process until the mixture looks like cornmeal; that should take about 10 seconds. Don’t over mix it!
Put the mixture in a bowl and add the ice water one tablespoon at a time. Mix with your hands until you can form the dough into a ball. It might only take one or two tablespoons of water. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Put it in the freezer for 10 min or the fridge for at least 30 min to chill.
After it has chilled, you’re going to roll one of the crusts out on a cutting board or your countertop. Sprinkle the counter with flour and rub flour on your rolling pin. Roll the dough out carefully until it is about 2 inches in diameter larger than your pie plate. Drape the crust over the rolling pin and place it in the pie plate; press it into the plate. Put the crust in the fridge for an hour or in the freezer for 30 min.
For the filling:
I got this recipe from someone on Twitter – unfortunately, I don’t remember who it was.
- 5 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches (about 9 medium peaches)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
I leave the skins on my peaches, but that is up to you. Put the peach slices in a bowl and add the lemon juice. Mix the dry ingredients in another bowl. Toss the peaches with the dry ingredients until well coated.
Heat your oven to 425 degrees.
Roll out the top crust. Spoon the filling into the bottom crust in an even layer – make sure your peaches are all laying flat. Brush the edge of the crust with water, cover with the second crust, press gently to seal. Flute or crimp the edges. Cut a few steam vents in the top.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven, brush with melted butter (optional), and cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.
This pie is outstanding especially with my special white peaches.
Grilled Peach and Corn Salad (or Salsa depending on your mood)
Grilled peaches are incredible and require very little effort. You could grill peaches and have them on their own without any fuss. I started making this dish last year with my CSA veggies and fell in love. It is one of my favorite things to make. This year, I made it even simpler because the peaches are so wonderful. Cut the peach into big chunks for a nice summer salad or chop them into smaller bits for a sweet and spicy fresh salsa.
For grilling, you want peaches that are ripe but not overly ripe. They need to be able to hold their shape. Cut the peaches in half through the crease that runs from the stem to the bottom of the peach – you know, the part that really makes a peach resemble…ehem… your money maker. Twist the two halves of the peach to separate them from the pit. To remove the pit, use a spoon (I like to use my grapefruit spoon for this) to scoop it out.
Now, there are different ways of doing this. I’m a minimalist. Why mess with a good thing? I make sure my grill grates are clean and super hot, and then put the peaches face down. I don’t use oil or anything. Get all the peaches down and close the lid just for a couple minutes. The cooking process doesn’t take long. The heat from the grill will draw out the juices from the peach and start to caramelize. If you touch them before they have those great grill marks, they’ll stick and break. Don’t do that. After a couple minutes, check the peaches. If you can easily pick them up, check for grill marks. Once you have marks, they’re done. If you want a little extra char, you can put them on the skin-side and grill for a couple minutes but that’s optional. This whole process should really take about 3 minutes.
For the corn – there are tons of different ways that people grill corn. In my opinion, people make this way more complicated than it needs to be. Here is how I do it – and I always get fantastic results: shuck the corn. Clean off the silk. Put the corn without any oil or anything on a very hot grill. Close the grill. Check it periodically to see that it is getting nice and brown. Rotate it until you have grill marks all the way around. Remove when it all has nice color. That’s it. Really. There’s no need for the parboiling, pre-steaming, leaving the husk on, etc. Get it naked. Grill it.
I also throw a couple of jalapenos on the grill to roast. Once they get some good char, turn them. You don’t want them to be completely black like a roasted red pepper, but you do want some roasty color. That’s flavor. You are going to leave the skin on, though, so keep that in mind. Once they’re done, remove the stems and remove the ribs and seeds (unless you want the additional heat).
Once everything is done, cut the kernels off the cob. (Tip: doing this on a cutting board will result in corn all over your kitchen. I find that putting the corn in a Pyrex dish or similar and cutting it there keeps everything contained nicely.) I learned a great tip watching one of Paula Deen’s shows this weekend. After you cut the kernels off the corn, take the back of your knife and run it along the cob as if you were slicing it. This will remove all of the leftover corn bits and, most importantly, draw out that delicious corn milk. This will enhance the corn flavor of your dish.
Dice your peaches. Chop your roasted jalapenos. Put it all in a bowl and stir. This is great immediately, but I think it is even better after a few hours later or even after sitting over night when the flavors all meld. The nectar from the peaches will flavor everything. The jalapenos give it a great heat and flavor without being overpowering. The flavors all go so well together, there’s no need for anything else. You could add mint or cilantro if you wanted, maybe a squeeze of lime, diced grilled onions. You can absolutely get creative! If you’re using great, quality local produce then just the naked grilled peaches, corn, and jalapenos are awesome – and super healthy. There’s nothing to it!