What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Watermelon Firecracker Bites! Who sprinkles salt on watermelon? Maybe you automatically did it as a child sitting on the back porch steps spewing seeds at your brother. If we saw mom with the salt shaker, everyone did it. Right? No judgment here. Actually, did you know watermelon can be naturally sour or bitter? Truth. By sprinkling it with salt, it brings out the sweetness of the melon. And salt just makes everything taste better. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
WATERMELON FIRECRACKER BITES
2 cups watermelon, seedless and cut into bite-size cubes
1/2 cup peaches, peeled and chopped
1-2 jalapeño peppers, sliced
1/2 teaspoon raspberry chipotle seasoning
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons lime olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Combine watermelon cubes, peach chunks, and jalapeño slices in a bowl. Toss lightly. Sprinkle raspberry chipotle seasoning over all. Whisk together lime juice, lime olive oil, and chopped cilantro. Pour dressing over the watermelon salad. Toss gently. Cover and refrigerate for one hour. When ready to serve, divide salad between four bowls. Drizzle marinade over all.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Rainbow Fruit Cup! As the seasons roll on, here’s a friendly reminder about buying fresh fruit. Most grocers feature fruits that are always in season, such as apples, bananas, and grapes. If you pay attention to the first ones you see as you walk in the door or in high traffic areas, most likely you’ll reap the savings. That’s one clue. If the store has an abundance of something on hand, they focus on “pushing” it through quickly, which translates BEFORE it becomes overripe. Consumers can take advantage of the prices while enjoying healthy options. Rainbow fruit simply means combining different colors for plate appeal. Keep in mind that canned fruit can be substituted at times. I like balancing out pineapple chunks or mandarin oranges along with fresh fruit. No worries. The citrus dressing will pull everything together nicely.
RAINBOW FRUIT CUP
1 cup strawberries, stems removed and quartered
1 cup blueberries
1 peach, sliced with skin removed
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons organic mango orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon olive oil
1 tablespoon raw acacia honey
1/2 teaspoon lemon citrus peel, granulated
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Fresh mint leaves for garnish
Combine sliced strawberries, blueberries, and peaches in a bowl. Toss lightly to mix. For dressing, combine lemon juice, mango orange juice, lemon olive oil, acacia honey, lemon citrus peel, kosher salt, and black pepper. Whisk together until blended. Pour over fruit salad. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Oven-Roasted Golden Peaches! Forget about cleanup of baking sheets by utilizing a perfect nonstick solution. Parchment paper. Never confuse it with wax paper, though, which will smoke in the oven. That’s a big mistake. Parchment paper is made to withstand oven temperatures during the baking or roasting process. Not only that, parchment paper contains a release agent that prevents foods from sticking to it. Bonus points, in my opinion. Because we’re covering the sliced peaches with pure maple syrup, you can imagine how difficult that would be to scrape off the pan once it’s baked in. May as well throw the pan away and buy another. Or…you could do what I did the first time I baked a galette. My husband took his sander tool and ground the petrified sugar off. Hey, don’t judge me. It was my favorite baking sheet. Still is.
OVEN-ROASTED GOLDEN PEACHES
3-4 ripe peaches, pitted and sliced
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted
2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 425°. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sliced peaches in a single layer, without touching. Drizzle with melted butter and maple syrup. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 15 minutes, then flip peaches over. Spoon excess sauce over peaches. Bake 10 minutes longer. Serve warm with sea salt caramel ice cream.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Iced Peach Spritzers! Ripe peaches are succulent and running-down-your-chin juicy. When you have an abundance of them, think peach cocktails. By adding a sparkling mixer, such as seltzer water or Prosecco, you’ll feel as though every meal is as special as dining out. The blend of flavors and textures is far from ho-hum. Both versions are suitable for mixed company. Go completely non-alcoholic or throw together a grown-up concoction made with a nice white wine and garnished with a sprig of fresh mint.
ICED PEACH SPRITZERS
4 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced into 8 wedges each
1/4 cup sugar
1 bottle white wine, chilled
12 ounces seltzer water
Layer peach wedges on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight. To serve, place 3-4 frozen peach wedges into a stemmed glass. Add 3 ounces of white wine. Pour 1 1/2 ounces of seltzer water over top. Stir. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Unconventional Peach Side Salad! What a blessing to partake in the abundance of plump and juicy peaches. The options are endless. For instance, I like to substitute tomatoes for fresh peaches in a side salad. By adding the buttery taste of Gorgonzola cheese, it creates a robust flavor that easily compliments the sweetness of the peach. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Oh my!
UNCONVENTIONAL PEACH SIDE SALAD
1-2 fresh peaches, washed and skin on
2 cups organic salad greens
1/3 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons pecan bits
2 tablespoons lemon olive oil
2 tablespoons pomegranate balsamic reduction
Croutons for garnish
Cut peaches into wedges. Divide organic salad greens into shallow serving dishes. Distribute peach slices. Sprinkle with crumbled Gorgonzola cheese and pecan bits. Drizzle lemon olive oil and pomegranate balsamic reduction sauce over all. Garnish with toasted croutons.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Peaches Hot Off the Grill! Need a salad tonight? Take the easy way out and throw a couple peaches on the grill. You can even leave the skin on, like I did. In a few minutes, you’ll be savoring their remarkable flavor on a bed of mixed greens. As the family claps their hands in delight, simply take a bow and chirp, “You’re welcome!”
PEACHES HOT OFF THE GRILL
2 large fresh peaches, halved and pitted
1-2 tablespoons lemon olive oil
1/3 cup Bleu cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons pecan bits
Lemon Olive Oil to taste
Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar to taste
Preheat gas grill on medium-high heat. Brush cut side of each peach half with lemon olive oil. Place cut side down on grill. Cook for 5 minutes. Flesh will be slightly charred. Turn peaches over and cook 2 minutes longer. Meanwhile divide salad greens between individual plates. Transfer one peach half to each bed of greens. Sprinkle with crumbled Bleu cheese and pecan bits. Drizzle with additional lemon olive oil and pomegranate balsamic vinegar to taste.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Jam Session! This recipe guarantees to be music to your ears. For once, you can make a single jar of your favorite fruit jam without spending an entire day in the kitchen. Simply put: This recipe is an answer to a time-saving prayer. Adapt to whatever is in season. If your craving today is raspberry, or strawberry, or apricot, or peach, have a jam session in minutes.
2 1/2 cups fresh peaches; peeled, diced, and stone removed
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon white wine*
3 discs of spiced ginger, slivered
2 cinnamon sticks
Pinch of sea salt
*May be substituted for water.
Pulse half the peaches in a food processor to make the fruit chunky. Transfer to a 2-3 quart saucepan. Add remaining diced peaches, sugar, wine, ginger, and juice of half the lemon. Slice a section of the lemon with rind on, remove seeds, and drop it into the pan. You will fish it back out later. (The lemon is a natural thickening agent.) Add two cinnamon sticks. Mix well. Cook the peaches over medium-high heat at a boil. It should begin to thicken. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking until mixture becomes jam, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Before transferring to a jar, remove the cinnamon sticks and lemon wedge. Store in the refrigerator.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Home Cooking: Peachy Possibilities! Nothing is more refreshing than fresh peaches, in my opinion. And the options for devouring them are endless! At first sight, you may be tempted to sink your teeth into the juicy sweet fruit as its nectar drizzles down your chin. But if you keep your willpower in check, the benefits are rewarding.
Here are a few ideas:
* Adding fresh peaches to your favorite salsa intensifies the flavor. It’s a perfect compliment to spicy jalapeños and tomatoes.
* As you prepare nutritious oatmeal, slice part of a peach, then sprinkle it with cinnamon before preparing the cooked cereal in the microwave. It’s a convenient shortcut to peach cobbler.
* For that afternoon pick-me-up, toss a couple of frozen peaches, bananas, and strawberries in the blender. Simply add milk, a splash of orange juice, and ice cubes. Voilà, a Smoothie.
* For the ambitious baker, see yesterday’s post for Old-Fashioned Blueberry Peach Galette a là mode! Who doesn’t love peach pie with vanilla ice cream?
Whichever way you choose, enjoy this peak seasonal fruit. Before you know it, it’ll be gone.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Peachy Blueberry Parfait! Leave the velvety skin on, but remove the pit first or you’ll regret it later if you chip a tooth. Peaches are tropical and aromatic. Baby-soft, too. They remind you of a warm summer day followed by a romantic evening rendezvous. Pair the peach’s irresistible aroma with the tangy taste of blueberries for a jumpstart breakfast that will leave your friends and coworkers wondering how you mastered the art of true happiness.
PEACHY BLUEBERRY PARFAIT
2 cups Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 ripe peach, pit removed and sliced
1/3 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup crunchy granola with oats, almonds, and coconut
Combine Greek yogurt and agave nectar. Mix well. Begin with a spoonful of granola in the bottom of 4 parfait glasses. Layer Greek yogurt on the granola. Top with fresh peach slices, blueberries, and the remaining granola. Chill until ready to serve.