Food: Peachy Keen
I once tracked down the best routes out of New Orleans to load up on fresh peaches in August. That’s not to say the grocery stores weren’t selling them, but I have a childhood love of food fresh off the farm, not to mention how much I like a little jaunt away from home on a special mission.
I had two aces in the hole at one time. A daughter lived briefly in Monroe, a hop, skip and jump from Ruston, the most renowned Louisiana town for peach production. And, in summers, a short trip to the beach in July or August never ended without a stop off the I-10 at a farmers market loaded with Alabama peaches.
Part of the fun is eating them on the way home, then figuring out what you’re going to do with them when you get there. I give a few away and immediately bake a peach cobbler. Another must is fried peach pies, hand-held and heavenly when eaten warm any time day or night.
You can make pretty tarts and pastries with peaches, but I think of eating this southern fruit fresh out of hand or as country-style dessert after a Sunday dinner.
Southern Fried Peaches
- 5 large or 7 small fully ripe fresh peaches
- ¼ cup flour
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon softened butter
- 2 store-bought refrigerated pie shells, kept refrigerated until filling is ready
- Vegetable or peanut oil for frying
- Powdered sugar for sprinkling, optional
1. Heat a small pot of water to boiling and drop in 2 peaches at a time for 5 to 6 seconds and peel. Remove seeds and cut into half-inch pieces. Place in medium bowl and add flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, lemon juice and butter. Mix well.
2. Lightly flour a large cutting board and roll out one pie shell to about 1/8 inch thick. Lightly flour pastry. Using a biscuit cutter about 4 inches wide, cut 7 circles of dough, saving excess dough. Roll circles of dough slightly thinner.
3. Place a heaping tablespoon of peach mixture on one side of each circle leaving a ½ inch margin. Fold over the other half of pastry and mash edges together with a fork.
4. Pour about ½ inch of oil into a large skillet and heat until medium-hot, about 350 degrees. Add half of pies and fry on both sides several minutes per side or until browned. Remove to paper towels and continue frying until all are done.
5. Repeat process with second pie shell and peach filling. If you wish to make several extra pies, form pastry scraps into a ball and roll out to make more pastries. Serve immediately or reheat and serve warm. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Makes about 14 to 16 pies.
For summer treats, put peaches in smoothies, sorbets or ice cream. For breakfast, they are delicious served sliced in a bowl with light cream or atop your favorite cereal.