September 1, 2008
Every season has its produce seductress. Early spring’s thin, verdant asparagus and juicy, tiny strawberries lure you in with the promise of longer, warmer days lying just around the corner. Fall’s tart apples beg for cinnamon and a hot oven, while it’s gourds tantalize you to split them open, clean out their middles and roast them until their flesh yields. Even the barren winter has it’s temptresses—the humble potato, so smooth, hearty and comforting, especially when a pat or three of butter is involved and the mirage-like appearance of sunny citrus just as January lowers its heavy hammer of bluster and brrr.
Summer’s seductress is a little more difficult to nail down. It’s a season that has a litany of contenders: sweet corn, which Garrison Keillor apparently deemed “better than sex”; tomatoes, both the lovely jeweled-toned cherry varieties and the big supposedly-ugly heirlooms too, with their lacy cross-sections; berries, bursting and stain-inducing. But for me, the peach is summer’s grandest seductress: tinted in a warm palette of corals and pinks; skimmed by the softest layer of fuzz; so tender that one sitting in a bowl full of other peaches can become bruised simply from the voluptuous curves of the peaches nestled around it; juicy, sweet, tart and fragrant. Yes, I’ve got it bad for peaches.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
So I suppose it’s fitting that it’s with the peach that we begin this week: every day of which will feature an item from the Summer’s-Last-Stand menu (perfect for a Labor Day make-up or a still-feels-like-summer September weekend) that I told you about last Friday. If you ask me, any meal dedicated to celebrating summer is incomplete without the peach—whether it’s in a savory dish (oh my—I had a couple bites of a bacon-peach-blue cheese flatbread at lunch last week and well, I think you can only imagine how downright delicious it was) or buoyed in a beverage or simply served whole or starring, as it is here, in a dessert.
I’ve been eating diced peaches and blueberries on my breakfast yogurt for dozens of mornings in a row. So I was hoping to include both the fruits in one dessert: a pie, a cobbler, a crisp? Or, oooh, an ice cream! Ultimately, I decided to use each fruit in its own dessert—the peaches in an ice cream and the blueberries in a pie—and to serve the two side-by-side.
Armed with my little crate of peaches from the farmers’ market, I turned to the expert, knowing my peaches would be in good hands with one of his recipes. David Lebovitz’s recipe for peach ice cream has three distinct advantages. First, it does not require a custard, with all its oh-my-god-my-eggs-are-scrambling anxiety. Second, it relies heavily on sour cream, which not only imbues the ice cream with a lovely tang but also lends a body and a thickness. My only slight tweak was to toss a fairly finely-diced peach (unpeeled, even) into the ice cream maker for the last few minutes of churning. Finally, it’s delicious—and all about the peaches, as it should be.
Summer’s Last Stand: We’re making the most of one of the last weeks of summer by meandering through the Canadian Rockies. As such, comment moderation and email responses will be slow this week. But, while we’re away, daily posts will highlight components of a Summer’s-Last-Stand BBQ Menu. Up tomorrow: barbecue chicken.
3 large peaches, peeled, pitted, chopped, plus 1 pitted and chopped*
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
Cook the three peeled, chopped peaches and water in a covered saucepan on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until soft. Give it a stir a few times. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Let mixture cool to room temperature. Purée mixture in blender with remaining ingredients (leave some chunks* if desired). Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator or over an ice bath then freeze in your ice cream maker.
* I tossed a whole, diced peach (pitted, of course, but skin-on) into the mixer for the last few minutes of churning.