Jul 17, 2009

Peaches with Lemongrass Syrup

It's been a bad year for Central Texas peaches. A late frost in April hit the peaches hard. There have been more than expected showing up at the farmers' markets, but they're not as flavorful as usual.

This is going to get me in trouble, but I have to share with you the source of the sweetest, fattest, juiciest and mosty flavorful peaches I've ever had... and, no, they're not from Texas, or even Georgia, for that matter. They are from Frog Hollow Farms in California. I know, I know. Not local = bad. I know. But these are peaches like no other. In good years, in the summer, they can be found at our local Whole Foods. I went in the other day, specifically to check to see if they might have some, and they did. I brought a bunch of them home. (So many that a fellow shopper saw me loading up and asked about them and decided to try them himself.)

"This is what peaches are supposed to taste like," my husband said with juice dripping down his arm. Yep.

So before they're gone, try them, and you'll see what I mean. They have the softest, fuzziest skin. They are big and generously round with those creases like baby bottoms. And who can resist a fat baby bottom? But the thing that distinguishes them is the flavor. It's full on, sweet and juicy peachiness.

Find them now at Whole Foods or you can also order them online directly from Frog Hollow, or if you're lucky enough to shop at the Ferry Market in San Francisco, you can probably find some there. This week, I'll settle for Whole Foods downtown.

There are so many wonderful things you can do with peaches. But these peaches should be enjoyed just as they are, in all their unadulterated glory. Straight up or perhaps with this lemongrass syrup for just a little embellishment. They're easy that way and the perfect summer dessert. Just stand over the sink or eat them outside, because the juice will run right down your arm. Suh-weet!

Peaches and lemongrass may seem at odd couple, sort of cross-cultural. But it really works. The lemongrass with a little zip of lime makes the peaches even more luxurious. This is just a quick and easy simple syrup infused with lemongrass and lime. The original recipe places grilled peaches and lemongrass syrup over coconut tapioca. A tropical delight. But I'm not commited to spending that much time in the kitchen on a hot summer day. And the syrup is perfect to dress up the peaches just a little for a light summer dessert.

Peaches with lemongrass syrup

1 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
3 stalks of lemongrass
2 limes
6-8 peaches

In a saucepan, over low heat, dissolve the sugar in the water.

While the sugar is dissolving, trim the lemongrass stems. Cut off the bottom inch or so and cut off the grassy tops, leaving about 4-6 inches of flavorful stem. Peel off the outer layer (or two). Cut the stalk into pieces that will fit into your saucepan. You can also split them in half lengthwise, or bash them with the back of your knife (carefully!) to release more flavor.

When the sugar has dissolved, add the lemongrass and the zest of one lime. Remove from heat and let infuse for 15-20 minutes.

Return to heat at a low simmer and stir until thickens, about 10-15 more minutes.

Strain out the zest and lemongrass and let cool.

Add 2-3 tablespoons of lime juice and stir together. Add more lime juice to taste, if you like.

Serve with over peeled and sliced fresh peaches or grilled peach halves.

Serves 4-6.

Adapted from Food & Travel magazine.

Can't get enough peaches? Here's the perfect peach ice cream.

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