Twofer Tuesday: Peach Extravaganza

 

It is peach season – Hooray!!!! Luscious globes in variegated shades of pink,red,coral..pass by a display of them and be seduced by the sweet and unique fragrance. First they catch your eye and then as you go closer, your fingers are teased by the velvet touch of them and then finally, that lifting to the nose and inhaling the sweet smell of summer.

Cobblers, pies, ice cream, sangria, parfaits, trifles, shortcakes, coffeecakes, bread, upside down cakes, grilled, salsa-ed or just eaten as they are, peaches are one of the most versatile of the summer fruits. The standard peach and its cousin, the white fleshed peach which tastes the way an exotic flower would taste, go all too quickly into our past, to be dreamed of during cold and grey winter days. Enjoy them while they are here – become a peach glutton.

Two recipes for you with peaches: Peaches and Cream Pie – a sweet silky southern belle of a dessert. Not quite crème brulee but dancing on the edge of it; the edges caramelize and add a different layer of flavor and texture. And – from Southern Living Magazine, Governor’s Mansion Sweet Summer Peach Tea. Cooling and refreshing. An excellent drink for brunches, prissy bridal or baby showers, afternoon tea, or just for serving to friends at a cookout as something totally different and delicious.

Try both of them and I think you will be on your way to being a true Peach Hedonist!

peaches-and-cream-pie

Peaches and Cream Pie
¾ c. granulated white sugar
½ c. all purpose flour
1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell
2 c. peeled and sliced fresh peaches or, frozen peaches, defrosted and room temperature
1 c. heavy cream
Good splash of vanilla added to the cream

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix sugar and flour together in bowl. Sprinkle about one-third into the bottom of the pie shell. Add peaches and sprinkle with remaining sugar and flour. Slowly pour heavy cream over fillings. Gently stir peaches to cover them completely with cream. Bake until peaches are tender and crust is golden – about 45 minutes. Let cool on rack until a bit warmer than room temperature. It will slice better.

Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Lydia DeGaris Pursell

Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Lydia DeGaris Pursell

Governor’s Mansion Summer Peach Tea Punch
3 family-size tea bags
2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 (33.8-oz.) bottle peach nectar
1/2 (12-oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup Simple Sugar Syrup***
1 (1-liter) bottle ginger ale, chilled
1 (1-liter) bottle club soda, chilled
Garnish: fresh peach wedges

Preparation
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan; add tea bags and mint leaves. Boil 1 minute; remove from heat. Cover and steep 10 minutes. Discard tea bags and mint. Pour into a 1-gal. container; add peach nectar, lemonade concentrate, and Simple Sugar Syrup. Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.
Pour chilled tea mixture into a punch bowl or pitcher. Stir in ginger ale and club soda just before serving. Garnish, if desired.

** Simple Sugar Syrup
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and mixture is clear. Cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes) Syrup can be made in batches and when cooled, stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. I keep a batch of it all through the summer for quick drink preparation.

 

Simply Southern – Grits (and shrimp)

You can’t eat just one….well, you can, but it is really hard. What is a grit?  Grits are ground corn – sometimes white, sometimes yellow. Think of grits as super coarse corn meal. Shrimp and grits is an old Southern Low Country dish that has become chic. Grits are great with just butter, cheese added, eaten with milk and sugar, allowed to get cold and then sliced and fried (think of northern corn meal mush), baked in a casserole, an interesting side instead of rice or mashed taters, served for breakfast with a good drizzle of Red Eye gravy….  Shrimp and Grits are an excellent brunch, lunch or elegant dinner dish.

Grits. I love them. A bowl of hot grits with plenty of butter makes me happy. It is what I call a “non-confrontational” food. Warm, comforting, filling; feeling peckish, tired, lazy….Grits.

I like to buy stone ground grits (not the non-quick cooking or instant ones) that have plenty of the corn bran in them. They take more time to cook – like Irish Oats – but the texture and taste is rewarding. Add whatever you think you want to them – they’re grits – they’re gritty – they can take it. I have included the recipe for Shrimp and Grits and also, a scene from one of my favorite movies: My Cousin Vinny. I think you know the scene before you even see it.

どうぞめしあがれ douzo meshiagare, y’all!!

Shrimp and Grits (or, Breakfast Shrimp)
•1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled, halved lengthwise, and deveined
•Juice of 1 lemon
•Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce (I use Frank’s or Crystal)
•1 1/2 teaspoons salt or more to taste
•1 1/2 cups stone-ground grits, not instant or quick-cooking
•6 thick slices bacon, chopped
•1 small onion, finely chopped
•1 garlic clove, minced
•1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
•2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
•1 cup chicken stock
•1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
•1 cup (about 1/4 pound) grated medium to sharp Cheddar cheese
•Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce

Preparation:
Combine the shrimp with the lemon juice and a couple of generous splashes of hot pepper sauce. Let sit while you begin the grits and gravy.
Make the grits in a large heavy saucepan, first bringing 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a boil. Whisk in the grits a few handfuls at a time. When you have added all the grits, reduce the heat to a very low simmer and cook over low heat for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently toward the end. Be sure to check frequently as they can stick. Like risotto, stirring makes them more creamy.

While the grits simmer, get the gravy under way. Fry the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until brown but still limp. Stir in the onion and garlic and continue cooking until the onion and pepper are limp, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions, sprinkle the flour over the mixture, and continue cooking for 5 minutes longer. Stir in the stock and remaining salt and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat while you finish the grits.

When the grits are thick and creamy, stir in as much of the butter as you wish, followed by the cheese. Add a splash of hot pepper sauce and additional salt if you like. Cover the grits while you finish the gravy.

Return the gravy to medium heat and stir in the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are opaque throughout, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, mounding the grits in large shallow bowls or on plates and covering them with shrimp and gravy. A sprinkle of thinly sliced green onion is a good garnish.

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