Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Peaches go beyond fruit tradition

There comes a time in almost every Southerner's summer when peaches stretch as high as a camel's eye. They call from roadside stands. They call from the back of a pickup parked on Noble Street.

And that doesn't even count the voodoo they work at the regular produce/grocery haunts.

The problem is, there are only so many peaches four people can eat during the day. The super-ripe fruit can go from tasty to terrible in a day or so. Turn your back, and your chucking out a basket that you'd once had high hopes for.

Ergo, the annual search for more uses for peaches.

They go great with pork, great with chicken. They're more versatile than we probably give them credit for being. Kind of a twist on familiarity breeding contempt... or ignorance.

Kick up your peaches this summer.
Healthy Oat Peaches and Cream Muffins
Prep time: 15 Minutes
Cook time: 20 to 25 Minutes
1 cup flour
1/4 cup quick oats
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar, divided
1/3 cup oat bran
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup low-fat cream cheese
1 cup peeled, chopped peaches, divided
1 cup skim milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
1/3 cup toasted, chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F and spray 12 muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.
Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl, reserving 1 tablespoon brown sugar; mix well and set aside.

Stir together cream cheese and the reserved 1 tablespoon brown sugar. When well blended, fold in 1/4 cup peaches. Add milk, oil, vanilla and egg to dry ingredients, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened. Lightly stir in remaining peaches and walnuts.
Spoon 3/4 of the mixture into prepared muffin tins. Place a teaspoonful of the cream cheese mixture in the center of each then spoon remaining batter over the top.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Original Recipe Makes 12 Servings

Peach and Turkey Skewers with Ginger-Soy Sauce
Cook time: 10 minutes

1 pound boneless turkey OR large chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium (3/4 pound) fresh peach, cut into large wedges
2 large zucchini, cut into chunks
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Alternate turkey, peaches and zucchini on skewers. Mix soy sauce, honey, oil and ginger. Brush over skewers and grill over medium coals, brushing with sauce and turning once, for 10 minutes or until turkey is cooked through. Original Recipe Makes 4 Servings

Flank Steak with Grilled PPN Salsa
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 to 25 minutes

1 peach, pitted
1 plum, pitted
1 nectarine, pitted
1-2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed and seeded
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 pounds flank steak
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2-1 teaspoon chipotle or ancho chili powder

Cut each piece of fruit into 8 slices. Place fruit and jalapenos on a well-oiled grill over medium heat and cook for a few minutes on each side to lightly char. Let cool, then chop and place in a medium bowl with onion, cilantro and lime juice. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thoroughly tenderize the meat by pricking both sides with meat tenderizer or fork. Stir together garlic salt, cumin, oregano and chili powder in a small bowl and rub onto both sides of meat.

Place on grill over medium heat and cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side or until meat is cooked to your liking. Let stand for 5 minutes before thinly carving at an angle against the grain. Transfer meat and juices to a platter.

Serve with grilled PPN salsa.Original Recipe Makes 7 Servings
Per serving: 320 calories, 35g protein, 7g carbohydrate, 17g total fat, 90g cholesterol, 630mg sodium, 1g fiber.