Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Peachy Keen

I recently helped judge the annual Peach-Off, a recipe contest for residents of South Carolina's five primary peach-growing counties.  (In case you didn't know, South Carolina produces more peaches than any other state except for California.)

Here are some of my favorites, beginning with the amateur category and ending with the professionals.

Peach Cheesecake - 1st Place Desserts
Note: You and your guests will love this.

Crust:               1 ¼ cup graham cracker crumbs
                        ¼ cup sugar
                        ¼ cup melted butter
Mix together and press into aluminum-lined springform pan – spray sides of pan with non-stick spray.
Filling:             3 8-ounces cream cheese
                        1 ¼ cup sugar
                        1/8 teaspoon salt
                        4 eggs
                        1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Topping 1 :      2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream
                        1 ¼ cup sugar
                        1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Topping 2:       2 cups chopped fresh peaches
                        ½ cup mango juice
                        1/3 cup sugar
                        2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cream cheese, sugar and salt in mixer until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla extract. Bake for 50 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes.
Combine ingredients for Topping 1 in mixer and pour over cheesecake. Reset oven to 450 degrees and bake for 10 minutes. Let cake cool completely.
Combine ingredients for Topping 2 and cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens. Let cool and top cake.

Ray Craft
Laurens, SC

Peach Cobbler – 2nd Place Desserts
Cobblers like this are hard to resist.
1 stick butter or margarine, melted
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup milk
3 cups peaches
½ cup sugar

Combine dry ingredients. Add milk to dry ingredients. Add mixture to butter. Layer fruit on top and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.

Annette Elwood
Laurens, SC

Peach Preserves – 1st Place Jams and Jellies
2 cups peaches
1 cup sugar
Cinnamon to taste

Prepare as many peaches as you need. Let stand overnight. Add cinnamon to taste. Cook until peaches are done. Take peaches out of juice and cook juice a little more. Put in hot jars and seal.

Helen Carpenter
Trenton, SC

Spicy Peach Jam – 2nd Place Jams and Jellies
5 pounds ripe peaches, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 ½ pounds sugar

Tie spices in bag. Mix peaches and sugar well and add bag of spices. Boil until the consistency of jelly. Remove spice bag. Pack in hot jars and seal tightly. Makes approximately 4 pints.

Mary Eddie Lindley
McCormick, SC

Spiced Peach-Carrot Bread – 1st Place Side Dishes
Note: Even though the judges were full to bursting, we went back for seconds of this. 

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ cups chopped peaches
¾ cup grated carrots
¾ cup chopped nuts (pecans and walnuts)
2/3 cup vegetable oil
½ cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom of loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add remaining dry ingredients. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into pan. Bake 65-70 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool in pan 5 minutes. Loosen sides of loaf from pan; remove loaf to cooling rack. Cool completely. Serves 12.

Ellen J. Cook
McCormick, SC

Spiced Peaches – 2nd Place Side Dishes
3 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
8-9 cups sugar
1 teaspoon whole cloves
48 peeled peaches (firm, prefer cling stone peaches)

Mix all ingredients except peaches in a large pot. Let mixture come to a boil and drop in peaches. Cook until done (test with a fork). Put in quart jars and seal. Add peaches until juice is used up.

Helen Carpenter
 Trenton, SC

 Professional Category

Peach Punch – Best Creativity
Note: Depending on how you make it, this punch can be a mild or potent; either way it will be popular. 

Peel, pit and puree 4 ripe peaches with ¼ cup sugar

Mix this with:
2 cups Southern Comfort
1 cup Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka
2 cups lemonade
4 cups ginger ale

To serve: Mix about half and half with either champagne or Sprite.

Jason Bundrick
Jacobs Highway Study Club
Clinton, SC

Peach and Havarti Dessert – Best Taste
 Note: This was everyone's favorite. It could be dessert or a dynamite appetizer. However and whenever you serve it, there won't be any left. I won't admit how many times we judges went back for another taste!
Croissant dough
6 fresh peaches
1 ½ pounds Havarti cheese
½ cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
Slivered almonds to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 9 inch X 13 inch pan with croissant dough and bake for 6-8 minutes. Remove pan from oven and evenly distribute 1 ½ pounds Havarti cheese cut into ½-inch cubes. Cover with croissant dough to form top crust. Bake for 12-15 minutes (until dough is brown and cheese has had a chance to evenly melt). Dice 6 fresh peaches and glaze over low heat with the Golden Syrup (about 8 minutes). Evenly pour peach mix over pan. Sprinkle with slivered almonds to garnish.

Jason Bundrick
Jacobs Highway Study Club
Clinton, SC

Baked Peach Delight – Best Presentation
Note: Looked as good as it tasted.

6 vanilla wafers
3 tablespoons chopped pecans
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
3 firm but ripe large peaches, washed, wiped clean of fuzz, halved and pitted
Amaretto Flavored Whipped Cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 11 inch X 7 inch X 1 inch glass baking dish. Combine cookies, almonds, flour and sugar in processor. Using on/off turns, process until cookies and almonds are coarsely chopped. Add chilled butter to processor Using on/off turns, process topping mixture until moist clumps form. Place peach halves, cut side up, in prepared dish. Spread topping over surface of each peach half (about 1 generous tablespoon for each), pressing lightly to adhere and leaving ¼-inch plain border. Bake peaches until tender when pierced with knife and topping is golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool slightly. Transfer 1 warm roasted peach half to each of 6 plates. Top with scoop of amaretto whipped cream alongside.

James Patterson
Musgrove Mill Golf Club
Clinton, SC

Caramelized Peach Soup with Vanilla Crème Fraiche – Best Recipe
Note: This is a wonderfully refreshing way to start a meal.

3 large peaches, peeled, halved, pitted
1 large peach, peeled, halved, pitted to be sliced as garnish
4 sprigs of fresh mint to be used as garnish
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons honey
1 ½ cups fresh-squeezed orange juice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon fine red sea salt
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup crème fraiche (may substitute sour cream)
1 4-inch piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise (may substitute ½ teaspoon vanilla flavoring)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss peaches, sugar and honey in large bowl. Place peaches, cut side down, on prepared baking sheet. Roast peaches 15 minutes, turn over and bake until tender and juices begin to caramelize, about 10 minutes longer. Scrape peaches and pan juices into food processor and cool; blend until smooth. Add orange juice, cinnamon and salt; blend until smooth. Transfer soup to medium bowl. Season to taste with lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Place crème fraiche in small bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean halves and mix well. Ladle soup into 4 bowls; top with dollop of vanilla cream. Garnish with fresh peach slices and a spring of mint, if desired.

James Patterson
Musgrove Mill Golf Club
Clinton, SC

For information on South Carolina's peach-growing district, go to www.sctravelold96.com.

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