Monday, August 31, 2009

Peachy Keen

  August 31, 2009

Peaches are in and it's been a great year for the summer fruit. Having traveled to and helped judge this year's Peach-Off in Laurens, SC, I want to share some of the great peach recipes I encountered in the second largest peach producing state (California ranks first).
   That area of S. C. is nice and level so it kind of fits - if you stretch it and since this is my blog I'm going to.
    Laurens is a pretty little town with a charming square and a number of homes of historical interest. But primarily it's one of those
small towns that so many think of as idyllic - as if anything really were for long.
Chef James Patterson

Now on to the peaches and recipes.

First off, at a luncheon, Chef James Patterson, the genius behind the food at Musgrove Mill Golf Course, served the judges a scrumptious appetizer - slices of peaches, each with a sprig of mint, wrapped in prosciutto and offered from a platter lined with a balsamic reduction.
Winner for creativity among the Peach-Off's professional entries was the punch developed by Jason Bundrick, owner of Jacobs Highway Study Club.
Peach Punch
Peel, pit and puree 4 ripe peaches with 1/4 Cup of sugar.
Mix this with: 2 cups Southern Comfort
                      1 cup Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka
                      2 cups lemonade & 4 cups ginger ale
To serve: Mix about half and half with either champagne or Sprite
Winning for taste among professional entries was Jason's 
Peach and Havarti Dessert
Croissant dough           6 fresh peaches       1 1/2 pounds Havarti cheese
1/2 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup                         Slivered almonds to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 9 x 13-inch pan with croissant dough and bake for 6-8 minutes. Remove from over and evenly distribute the Havarti cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Cover with more croissant dough to form top crust. Bake 12-15 minutes until dough is brown and cheese has melted evenly. Dice the peaches and glaze over low heat with the syrup (about 8 minutes). Evenly pour peach mix over dough. Sprinkle with slivered almonds to garnish.
Chef Patterson won for best recipe with his
Caramelized Peach Soup with Vanilla Creme Fraiche
4 large peaches, peeled, halved & pitted; reserve one for garnish.
4 sprigs fresh mint, also for garnish
2 TBS packed brown sugar               1 1/2 TBS honey
1 1/2 cups fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon                  1/4 tsp fine red sea salt
1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice    1/4 cup creme fraiche (may substitute sour cream)
1 4-inch piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise (may substitute 1/2 tsp vanilla flavoring)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss 3 peaches, sugar and honey in a large bowl. Place peaches, cut side down, on prepared sheet. Roast 15 minutes, turn over and bake until tender and juices begin to caramelize, about 10 minutes longer. Scrape peaches and juices into food processor and cool; blend until smooth. Add orange juice, cinnamon and salt; blend until smooth. Transfer soup to medium bowl and season to taste with lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until cold.
Place creme fraiche in small bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean halves and mix well.
Ladle soup into 4 bowls; top with dollop of vanilla cream. Garnish with peach slices and mint sprigs.
My favorite among the many amateur entries was the winning side dish from the aptly named Ellen J. Cook from McCormick, SC.
Spiced Peach-Carrot Bread
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour        1 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon               3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt                                 1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups chopped peaches       3/4 cup grated carrots
3/4 cup chopped nuts (pecans and walnuts)
2/3 cup vegetable oil                   1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Spray bottom of loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add remaining ingredients and stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into pan.
Bake 65-70 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove loaf to cooling rack and cool completely. 
Ellen said it served 12 but don't count on it. Everyone will want another slice.
And that, Levelers, is my Julie & Julia-inspired recipe blog. As I pick up good ones in my travels, I'll share them.

For more information on South Carolina's peach-growing district, go to


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