A Peachy Kind of Love –
All this talk about peach season, peach dishes, Georgia peaches etc. has me a little peach crazy. I’m suddenly feeling compelled to quickly make as many dishes with peaches as I a can before the season ends. Truly, though, peaches are a golden gift of nature. When ripe, there is almost nothing better to sink your teeth into. I remember how, as a youngster growing up in Binghamton, NY, I used to love getting a fresh seasonal peach to eat from my mother in the summertime. That first bite with the oozy sweet nectar dripping down my chin was just – well – heaven!
Slap that peachy memory on the grill to caramelize the sweetness – throw in some pistachios (who could turn those down?) – add them to a creamy custard – and you’ve got yourself the makings of truly great gelato experience. GRILLED PEACH AND PISTACHIO GELATO is a frozen delight you won’t tire of soon. The grilling of the peaches is the secret here. I thought of this one day when I was grilling peach halves for a simple summer dessert treat. It makes a difference. Get a nice char on them – all the better! Also toast your pistachios a little and it contributes to the slightly roasted flavor of the ingredients.
About gelato: Generally, there are considered 3 schools or methods of gelato making in Italy, based in 3 very different regions. In Italy, cooking and food is all about the “regional thing”, as I talk about in my cooking classes. The 3 regions most identified with gelato creation are: Sicily, Veneto, and Tuscany. The Sicilian type centers on fruity and nutty varieties. Think about it – the climate and soil allow for the birth of gorgeous fruits and amazing nuts (pistachios as one). Likewise, the history of the conquering of Sicily by the Moors introduced an emphasis of the use of Middle Eastern fruits and nuts in the cuisine – even in the gelato. The Sicilian version is also not as fatty as some as they do not use egg yolks. All the way up in the north, in Veneto, the geography plays a role in their well known gelato making. The cows of the region, lucky enough to graze on sweet grasses, produce richer sweeter milk (and cheese). Gelato in Veneto is even scooped differently. They like balls – using a scoop! Of course, other areas of Italy are known for using the flat spatula for serving. Tuscan gelato making dates back to the 16th century and Bernardo Buontalenti. The Tuscans started the tradition of using more milk than cream and no custards. You can see that there are no hard and fast rules for making gelato, even in Italy. Much depends on where you are when you eat it. It’s not like the rules are enforced with a sledgehammer, but more like coaxed or nudged with tradition.
About those peaches: They won’t be around forever you know. There us no better time to use those summer peaches than right now!
GRILLED PEACH AND PISTACHIO GELATO
Makes: about a quart
5 Fresh Peaches, skinned, cut in half, and grilled
1 c. + 2 Tbsp. Brown sugar separated
1 1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. Half and Half
1 c. Heavy Cream
1/3 c. Sugar
Pinch of Salt
4 Egg Yolks
1/2 Tsp. Vanilla
1/4 Tsp. Almond
3/4 c. Pistachios coarsely chopped
Skin peaches by dropping them in boiling water for about a minute. Take them out and when cool enough to handle, easily peel the skins of and discard them.
Cut the peaches in half. Brush them with a little oil and sprinkle them with the cup of brown sugar.
Char them lightly on a very hot grill.
Mash the grilled peaches, adding the 2 additional tablespoons Brown Sugar.
Cover and chill the mashed peaches overnight.
Make a custard: Place the milk, half and half, heavy cream, sugar, salt, and extracts in a pan on the stove. Beat the egg yolks until light and add them to the pan. Whisk together well.
Heat the mixture and while stirring, cook it until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Cool completely. Chill overnight covered with plastic wrap placed directly on top of the custard so that it will not form a skin.
Chilling overnight is best as it insures that all the ingredients will be very cold when you make the gelato. I even like to chill the pistachios.
When you are ready to make your gelato – process your ingredients according to the directions required for your ice cream maker.
Add your mashed grilled peaches and pistachios toward the end of the process.
Then chill the gelato til ready to eat!
PARLA COME MANGI!
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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography