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  • Cooking with Hope: Versatile peaches work in everything from salad to salsa

  • The very delicious and versatile peach can be found in farm stands and grocery stores. When buying peaches they should feel soft, but not squishy and they should smell sweet and ready to eat. It is recommended, whenever possible, to buy organic peaches because of the pesticides that are used on them to make them look appetizi...
  • The very delicious and versatile peach can be found in farm stands and grocery stores. When buying peaches they should feel soft, but not squishy and they should smell sweet and ready to eat. It is recommended, whenever possible, to buy organic peaches because of the pesticides that are used on them to make them look appetizing. Be sure to wash off the peaches before using them. If they need to be ripened, place them in a paper bag for a day or two.
    Refrigeration extends the freshness of the peach, but it also takes away from the delicate taste. If refrigerating, bring the peaches to room temperature before eating for best taste.
    Peaches are very healthy for you and contain just 70 calories per peach. They contain Vitamins A and C and have antioxidants to help fight cancer cells. They can be eaten raw or cooked and work well in most recipes. They can be eaten with the skin on or peeled. To easily remove the skins, with a sharp paring knife cut a small "X" at the bottom of the peach, plunge into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, then immediately remove with a slotted spoon, and plunge into a bowl of ice water.
    Peaches can be put into fresh salads, salsas, chutneys, simple peach sugar syrup, cakes, muffins,breads, pies, turnovers, strudels, sauces, grilled, with chicken, pork and/ or shrimp, and many other delights. Try them in almost anything for a sweet delightful added taste.
    Enjoy.
     
    Bourbon - Peach Lemonade
    Makes 8 glasses
    4 cups water
    3 large ripe peaches, leave skins on, coarsely chopped, about 2-3 cups
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    6 lemons or 1-cup fresh lemon juice
    1/2 cup fresh orange juice
    1 cup bourbon (Optional)
    4 cups ice cubes
    1 large ripe peach, cut into 8 wedges
     
    In a saucepan over medium heat stir together water, sugar and peaches. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
    Pour mixture into a blender and let sit for about 20-30 minutes with the cover removed. Place lid on blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a large container and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
    Press peach mixture through a fine strainer over a bowl, reserving the liquid and discarding the solids. Stir in lemon juice, orange juice and bourbon. Place about 6 ice cubes in each of 8 low ball glasses, and pour about 2/3 cup of lemonade into each glass. Garnish with a peach wedge, and a sprig of mint if desired.
     
    Peach Croissant Bread Pudding
    Serves 8
    6 tablespoons butter, plus for greasing pan
    6 5-6 day old croissants, Brioches, or French bread, torn into bite size pieces
    Page 2 of 4 - 3  cups half and half or milk
    1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
    6 large ripe peaches, peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch slices, lengthwise
    6 large eggs, room temperature
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 cup orange liqueur or Peach Schnapps
    Sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
     
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 2-quart casserole baking dish, set aside.
    Place croissant pieces in a large bowl and cover with milk. Let soak for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 6 tablespoons butter adding 3/4 cup sugar. Add peach slices and cook for 2-3 minutes to release the juices. Strain into a bowl, reserving juices.
    In a bowl whisk together eggs, 1-cup sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour over bread and milk and stir to combine. Gently fold in peach slices. Spoon mixture into prepared casserole dish. Place dish into a 2-inch deep pan and fill with very hot water to come halfway up sides of dish.
    Bake until pudding is puffy and firm when pressed, about 50-60 minutes.
    Simmer reserved peach juices until steaming, add orange liqueur. Serve pudding warm with peach sauce and whipped cream.
     
    Peach Cheesecake Parfaits
    Serves 8
    1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
    1 1/2 cups cold milk
    1 3.4 ounce package of vanilla flavor instant pudding
    1 cup thawed whipped topping
    4 large ripe peaches, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices, then cut in half crosswise
    Whipped topping for garnish
     
    In a medium bowl with an electric mixer beat cream cheese until creamy. Gradually beat in milk, then add vanilla instant pudding, mix well. Whisk in 1-cup thawed whipped topping.
    Layer one fourth of a sliced peach into 8-dessert dishes adding pudding mixture, repeat layers, dividing equally into dishes. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours. When ready to serve top with whipped topping.
     
    Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Peaches
    Serves 4
    8 slices white cheddar cheese or mozzarella cheese
    8 slices white bread or cinnamon bread
    2 large peaches, peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch slices, lengthwise
    Sprinkle of cinnamon
    2 teaspoons sugar
    8 slices smoked bacon, cooked, but not crispy
    Butter softened
     
    Cook bacon, but not to a crisp, it should be soft and pliable. Place on paper towels and set aside.
    Lightly butter one side of each of the bread slices. Place buttered side down of 4 bread slices in a large skillet over medium heat; top each bread slice with a slice of cheese, and 1/4 of the peach slices thinly layered evenly, sprinkle with a little cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar; top with 2-bacon slices (cut in half crosswise), and 1-slice of cheese, and top with buttered bread. Grill in skillet until a light golden brown about 4 minutes, then gently turn over and grill the other buttered side until golden. Place on serving dishes, cutting crosswise into 2 triangles, serve hot.
    Page 3 of 4 -  
     
     
    Peach Chutney
    Makes about 2 cups
    1 cup brown sugar, packed
    1 cup cider vinegar
    1/4 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
    1 teaspoon mustard seeds
    Pinch of chili powder
    1/4 teaspoon ginger powder (Optional)
    Pinch of salt
    1 clove garlic, finely minced
    8 large ripe peaches or about 4 cups, peeled and chopped
    1/2 cup dark raisins
     
    In a large saucepan stir together brown sugar, vinegar, onion, mustard seeds, ginger, chili powder, garlic, and salt. Stir in peaches and raisins. Bring to boiling over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered for about 2 hours or until a deep golden brown and thick, stirring more frequently towards the end to prevent sticking. There will be some liquid remaining but the mixture will thicken more as it cools.
    Pour into a medium bowl, loosely cover and chill for 8 hours or overnight. Cover and store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
     
    Peach Upside-Down Cake with Pecans
     
    3 large eggs, room temperature
    1/2 cup butter, cubed
    1 cup brown sugar, packed
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    4 medium peaches or nectarines, peeled and sliced, about 2 cups
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    Pinch of salt
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    3/4 cup milk
    Vanilla ice cream, for serving, if desired
     
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Melt 1-tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1- cup brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1-tablespoon water and cook, stirring occasionally, until smooth and a golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Pour this mixture into the prepared cake pan and tilt until bottom is coated. Arrange peach slices in a circular fashion in a single layer of the pan, cutting peaches to fit if necessary. Sprinkle chopped pecans evenly over peach slices
    In a bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
    With an electric mixer beat together remaining 7-tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk; beginning and ending with the flour mixture; beat in each addition until just blended together.
    Spread batter evenly over the peach slices in the prepared pan, bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Place on a rack and let cool for 30 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate and let cool completely. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.
    Page 4 of 4 -  
    Peach Dumplings
    Makes 10 Dumplings
    1 package refrigerated prepared pie crusts
    4 large ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup butter, melted
    1/4 cup Peach Schnapps
    1/4 cup water
    Pinch of ground cinnamon
     
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll piecrust on a lightly floured surface and roll each one into a 10-inch circle. Cut 5 (4-inch) circles from each piecrust. Roll each circle into a 5 1/2 inch circle.
    Coarsely chop 2 cups of peach slices. Divide chopped peaches among the 10-circles of piecrust, placing the mixture in the center of each circle, about 1/4 cup per circle. Pull dough edges over peaches, and gather into the center, pinching to seal and form a bundle. Place in a lightly greased 11 x 7 inch baking dish. Arrange remaining peaches around the bundles.
    In a bowl stir together sugar, butter and cinnamon and 1/4 cup water and 1/4 Peach Schnapps until blended, pour this over peaches.
    Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 60-65 minutes or until a golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.
     
    Peach Vodka
    3 large ripe peaches, peeled and chopped
    1 750 ml bottle vodka
     
    In a blender blend peaches and vodka until smooth. Refrigerate covered for a few days, then strain out solids and store in refrigerator up to 2 months.
     
    Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead. 

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