Three Way_Peaches_Feature.jpg
Siiri Sampson 2011
Stonefruit have got to be, hands down, one of the greatest foods Mother Earth has ever provided. More specifically, peaches are in


A Peach of a Three-Way

Three Way_Peaches_Feature.jpg
Siiri Sampson 2011
Stonefruit have got to be, hands down, one of the greatest foods Mother Earth has ever provided. More specifically, peaches are in many respects the queen bee of drupes. What makes this fuzzy-skinned, blushing beauty stand out? Besides having over three hundred varieties, smelling and tasting like heaven and having a Barbie named after them, they can show up at any meal and truly be the star of the show.

Today we'll crash breakfast, cocktail hour, and dessert (but in a classy Audrey Hepburn way, not a drunken Tila Tequila way, of course) with yellow peaches baked, boiled, and--our favorite--raw. If you're used to simply eating these juicy beasts like an apple, then check out three new ways to enjoy the soft, supple, and fragrant peach.

Siiri Sampson 2011
Decadent: Peaches and (ice) cream

Going back to the basics can sometimes be the most fulfilling; more ingredients doesn't always mean more flavor or more indulgence. This dish is great not only for being smothered in ice cream, but also because you can make it for just yourself, or you and twenty dinner guests:

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

• Peel peaches and cut in half, remove pits and place face up in a baking dish, fit tightly.

• In a mixing bowl, crush two graham crackers or two vanilla wafer cookies for each peach half.

• In this case, we have two peach halves, so add to the four graham crackers 1Tbsp brown sugar and 1-2Tsp butter.

• Crumble mixture with your fingers until incorporated and mix resembles a crumble crust.

• Spoon mixture over top of peach halves and back for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

• Serve fresh out of the oven with a ginormous scoop of French vanilla or vanilla-bean ice cream.

No matter how many people you're serving, this dessert will certainly please the masses. It's filling, fresh, not overly sweet, and gives your mouth the pleasure of both hot and cold all at once.

Three Way_Peaches_Healthy.jpg
Siiri Sampson 2011
Healthy: Steel-cut oatmeal with peach and brown-sugar compote

Obviously you could just wash and eat the peach raw--that would be the healthiest, but certainly not the most interesting, method. In this case, using boiled peaches as a compote topping turns (what some may call) a bland breakfast into a bowl scraping delight to get your morning started:

• When using steel-cut oats as we are here, the ratio of water to dry oats is a bit different. Rather than a .5 part oats to 1 part water ratio, it's more like .25 part oats to 1 part water. More specifically, 1/4Cup dry oats and 1Cup water. From here, you literally double everything if you're adding more servings, so go ahead and grab someone to snuggle up with and enjoy this warming, sweet dish together.

• In a small saucepan on medium low heat, throw in 1 large peach, peeled and chopped roughly.

• Add 1/4Cup water and 1 heaping Tbsp brown sugar.

• Stir as it heats up, to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.

• Continue to cook and stir until mixture turns saucelike and is at a rapid simmer or low boil.

• Take off heat and set aside. It's best done the day before, so the flavors have time to set, and also because it helps with efficiency in the morning.

• Now for the oatmeal: Get your water simmering on high heat, and add a small pinch of salt and any dry fruit you like (even plain old raisins will do).

• Once water is boiling, turn to medium heat, and dump oats in.

• Cook uncovered and stir every 3 minutes or so.

• Once water level dissipates and you only see oats, turn off heat and cover for 5 minutes. Do not wait till water is completely gone.

This amount of compote will serve two (what a coincidence) and stands in where plain old honey or brown sugar once made its daily appearance. If you cooked it down for another 10 minutes, you could even use it as a jam substitute on a whole wheat English muffin.

Three Way_Peaches_Quick Fix.jpg
Siiri Sampson 2011
Quick Fix: Mozzarella, basil, and peach skewers with balsamic jelly

As weird as it may sound, this combination of flavors really is a show-stopper. You've probably had apple slices with cheese before, and possibly even tried a strawberries-and-balsamic salad, a la Barefoot Contessa. But the addition of the slight peppery punch of basil and the tang of a reduced balsamic jelly takes these appetizers to a whole new level:

• No cooking required here; this whole dish takes you less than 5 minutes to slap together, but tastes like you just walked out of culinary school.

• The key is to make all your cubes a similar size, so each bite has equal flavor. It doesn't matter how you skewer things together, so feel free to mix and match or make them all uniform.

• Each skewer should have at least one cube each of peach and mozzarella and one basil leaf. How you put that together is up to you.

• Peel the peaches entirely, or just partially if you like the addition of extra color or texture. If your peaches are fairly fuzzy, however, peeling completely is the way to go.

• Once skewers are assembled, spoon a dab of the reduced balsamic jelly over the top. If you don't have this, you can certainly use regular balsamic vinegar, just very sparingly, as a little goes a long way. You don't want to overpower the delicate flavors of the mozzarella or peach.

• Serve these at room temperature, or slightly chilled. The colder the cheese and peach, the less developed the fragrances of the peach and basil will be.

These really are best made right on the spot, since the basil will tend to wilt once stabbed with a skewer and sandwiched between a juicy peach and fresh mozzarella. But more than likely, there won't be any problems off-loading these to your dining partners, and you should plan on making 3-4 for each guest, at the very least.

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