Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's a Southern Thing

I have a handful of people working under me (I like to think of them as minions), and on occasion, I try to cook a meal for them or at least come up with some kind of treat to thank them for their efforts. Last time I did this, we were in somewhat experimental territory, as I hadn't made any of the dishes on the table before (for myself or otherwise) save for green beans amandine. But everything was more or less easy to make, and the dessert was a huge hit: baked peaches.

One of the great things about living in the South is the food: standard favorites like barbecue and pecan pie, slightly more exotic fare like shrimp and grits (one of the most amazing dishes on the entire planet), and tasty delights like fried okra--or, as the case may be, okra chips. The South is also a place where peaches roam free when they're in season, and that's fantastic for everyone--plus, it made things easier on me, since I had no trouble finding good, large, fresh peaches at the grocery store.

Now, I only had some vague idea of what I was doing. The original recipe didn't really resemble the final product, but I thought you should all see the process as a whole, starting with my scribbled notes:

Eventually, I decided against grilling them, as I wasn't sure what that would happen if I tried; baking seemed like the better option. Once I realized that, I started out by slicing the peaches in half and removing the pit and the toughest inner part of the peach, so that they ended up looking like this:

That's parchment paper lining a baking sheet, by the way. While I was doing all of this, I pre-heated the oven to about 400, which you may need to adjust for your purposes. Then I threw some brown sugar, cinnamon, and walnuts into a bowl (you'll notice that I omitted the honey, which I originally thought would make a good glaze, in favor of something a little easier) and stirred it up, then spooned the mixture into the cavities.

The peaches went into the oven for 20 minutes or so while we ate the main course, and by the time I took them out, they were warm and the filling had (mostly) melted into the cavity. They were so pretty when they came out of the oven, too:

I served them immediately, and they were extremely tasty. There were rave reviews all around, and since that night, there have been several requests for more.

Since summer is coming to an end, I wanted to share this recipe as the perfect example of light but delicious fare that will warm you up a little once the nights start to cool off. Make them while good peaches are still available, and you're sure to have a hit on your hands!


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