I grew up in the tropics, where almost every garden had a mango tree. To this day, mango is still my favourite fruit, speaking to me of summer and taking me back to my childhood when we were barefoot and carefree.
Stonefruits were quite exotic when I was a kid. We didn’t see many apricots and peaches in my small hometown in northern Australia all those decades ago. We had a peach tree in our garden as well, but not surprisingly it struggled in the tropical heat and rarely bore any fruit.
Perhaps that’s why peaches are still such a treat for me. Never mind that I am frequently disappointed. So often they are sold when they are beautiful on the outside and hard on the inside, ending up tired and wrinkly before they have truly ripened. (Is that a metaphor for life, perhaps?)
I’m happy to pay a premium for good-quality fruit but even at our wonderful Capital Region Farmers Market a lot of the peaches have been picked far too early. And therein lies a plea to farmers to pick their fruit when it is sweet and juicy. Please … pretty please??
My little gripe aside, we’ve been using peaches in a range of summer dishes, including this very easy salad (inspired by a recipe in the current issue of Women’s Weekly) and a lovely dessert (created by my sous chef, who’s a dab hand at making fruit desserts).
1½ tablespoons cider vinegar
½ cup (125ml) olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
4 ripe peaches, sliced
50g baby spinach leaves
1½ cups shredded barbecued chicken
1 Lebanese cucumber, chopped
Combine vinegar and olive oil in a bowl, add pepper to taste. Put peach slices in the dressing and toss gently.
Arrange the spinach, rocket, chicken and cucumber on a serving platter. Place peaches on top and drizzle the dressing all over.
6 medium ripe peaches, peeled, halved, stones removed
1 litre (4 cups) cold water
370ml dessert wine*
140g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
Cherry syrup, to serve*
Icecream, to serve
Combine water, wine, sugar and vanilla paste in a saucepan and stir over low heat for a few minutes until the sugar dissolves.
Add peaches, bring mixture to boil then immediately reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until peaches are tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly in pan.
Place peaches in bowls. Spoon over some of the cooking liquid and drizzle with cherry syrup. Serve with icecream and garnish with fresh mint.
*We used Houghton 2011 Late Picked Sweet Verdelho which had just the right amount of sweetness for our liking (it’s not overly sweet). We also had to have a glass on the side, of course!
*We used a cherry cordial that we bought from Ballinaclash orchard.