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The Perfect Peach
Wednesday, August 20, 2008 • Posted August 20, 2008

It is high peach time here in the Texas Hill Country, so I thought we might talk peaches this week. Did you know that peaches originated in China?

Selection:

Choose peaches with firm, fuzzy skins that yield to gentle pressure when ripe. Avoid blemishes.

Storage:

Store unripe peaches in paper bag. When ripe, store at room temperature for use within 1-2 days.

Nutrition Benefits:

Low fat; saturated fat free; sodium free; cholesterol free; good source of vitamin C.

Ideas for using your delicious fresh (or even frozen) peaches:

    *Try a yummy parfait for breakfast or dessert- layer peaches, yogurt, granola, and another fruit for an excellent, nutritious treat. *Grill or broil peaches lightly sprayed with cooking spray, turning often. Cook only until peaches are lightly softened. Serve with ice cream, honey sweetened cottage cheese, or even as a side with your favorite grilled meat. You can even add sliced peaches to your favorite meat and vegetable kabobs- pineapple is a great addition, too!

Peachy Salsa

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

2 cups diced ripe peaches

¾ cup fresh lemon juice

½ cup red onion, diced

½ cup red bell pepper, diced

1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (wait until the FDA says they’re safe to eat raw)

1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Delicious over baked fish, chicken or pork.

Caramelized Peaches and Sweet Ricotta

Try this great fruit dessert!

Preparation time: 30 minutes or less

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups part-skim ricotta cheese

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 tbsp. mild honey

8 medium-sized ripe peaches, peeled and sliced, or 6 cups frozen, non-sweetened peach slices

½ cup granulated sugar

1 orange, juice and grated peel

1 ½ tbsp. unsalted butter

2 tbsp. grated gingerroot

Place ricotta cheese in food processor and blend until completely smooth.

Remove and stir in vanilla extract and honey.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. (This can be done ahead of time– the ricotta cheese will become more honey-flavored.)

When ready to serve, prepare and premeasure all ingredients and have assembled by skillet.

This dish will cook quickly.

Organize dessert bowls or plates.

Mound equal amount of sweetened ricotta cheese on each plate.

Heat a 10-inch skillet over MEDIUM-HIGH heat on the range top.

Sprinkle sugar into dry, hot skillet.

Shake pan to distribute sugar evenly on surface of skillet.

Lower heat to MEDIUM and allow sugar to melt and turn caramel-colored (about 10 to 12 minutes).

Do not rush this process or the sugar will burn and scorch.

When sugar is mostly liquid and golden brown, remove pan from heat.

Carefully add, all at once, the orange juice, peel, butter, and ginger.

Cook and stir until sugar is mostly dissolved.

Add peach slices, return pan to heat, and continue cooking and gently stirring until peaches are barely done and a rich, flavorful sauce has been created.

Spoon equal amounts of peaches and sauce over the mounds of cheese and decorate each with a fresh mint leaf or sprig of mint.

Serve immediately.

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