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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Peeling Peaches

A question from Nancy:

I'm going to make a recipe for peach crisp.  It calls for sliced peaches, but doesn't say whether they absolutely-need-to-be-peeled OR it's-an-option-to-leave-the-skins-on-if-you-like-that-sort-of-thing OR it-doesn't-matter-either-way.  Please email me your expert foodmomiac opinion.

I got this question from Nancy last night, and emailed her my answer back right away, because I had a feeling that the creation of this crisp was imminent. I'm glad I did - she's making it today!

What I explained to Nancy was that, yes, I would absolutely peel them. When peaches are heated, their skins loosen up and come off quite easily. In the case of a cooked dessert, this would lead to little, unpleasant pieces of peel interfering with the soft, luscious chunks of fruit.

I also mentioned to Nancy that I have a favorite peach recipe of my own. Since clipping this recipe from the August, 2004 issue of Gourmet (it is a Dori Sander's recipe, by the way), I've made it multiple times every summer. Now that peaches here are in full swing, I think it's time to make it up again.

Easy Peach Cobbler

1 1/4 pound firm to ripe peaches
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
Cinnamon or nutmeg for sprinkling (Optional - I don't do this. I like the pure flavor of the peaches.)

1. Preheat to 375 with rack in middle position.
2. Score peaches by cutting an X on the bottom of each. Blanch in boiling water 10 seconds, then transfer with slotted spoon to bowl filled with ice and cold water. Once cool enough to handle, peel off skin, starting from X and discard. (If the peaches are fairly ripe, the skins will just slip right off. If they're closer to firm, you'll have to get out your paring knife.) Halve peaches, pit and then cut into real thin slices. (Note from foodmomiac: this is supremely messy. Be prepared for peach juice EVERYWHERE.)
3. Transfer peaches to heavy saucepan and add lemon juice and 2/3 cup sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly, then boil, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Pour melted butter into 13x9 glass baking dish. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and remaining cup sugar in a bowl, then whisk in milk until combined. Pour batter over butter -- DO NOT STIR! -- and then pour peaches over batter -- DO NOT STIR AGAIN! Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon or nutmeg if desired, and bake till cobbler is bubbling and top is golden brown, about 40-45 minutes. Cool in pan unil warm.


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