Recipes for All-Purpose Fishing – The Denver Post

Like the apricot and the plum, the peach is a drupe (or a fruit with a large amount of flesh surrounding a hard core). It also shares with them membership in the Rosaceae family, the rose family.

However, a peach is not a peach is not a peach is not a peach, to hurt Gertrude Stein.

Over 300 different varieties of peaches grow in the United States alone, while over 2,000 grow worldwide. Six varieties make up just over half of Colorado’s famous peach crop, a happy assortment to see after the Elberta peach’s near-total dominance in previous years. (These are the O’Henry, Redhaven, Glohaven, Suncrest, Red Globe and Cresthaven. Sounds like subdivisions, right?)

Scientists have discovered peach endocarps (fossilized cores) dating back 2.5 million years – before humans – in the Kunming region of China, although large-scale cultivation only dates back to (! ) 10th century BC.

Despite its Chinese origins, the organic name of the peach is prunus persian, a reference to his Persian “origins”, which is a nod to the trade route that carried him from China along the Great Silk Road through Persia and westward.

Both growers and consumers classify peaches by their skin color, which varies through many yellows, reds, and oranges; by the color of their flesh, again a wide range which includes white; and depending on whether the pit is free pit, cling pit or semi-free pit – or how easily the flesh separates from the pit – the latter variety is increasingly popular in canned peaches, which represents the fate of 30% of the American crop.

Throughout history, the peach has been regarded with nobility, its flower adorning the hair of brides in China and Japan as a symbol of both virginity and fertility, a floral hat trick if you think about it.

King Francis I of France (1515-1547) bred 40 different varieties of peach trees and gave them human names such as Téton de Vénus (Breast of Venus) and Admirable. He considered the warm, soft, fuzzy peach skin to be closest to that of human skin, though I’m not sure you’d mean that about Venus’ breast.

While the pear approaches the peach in the alluring seduction of its fruity sweetness, Francois thought its glass-smooth skin did not approach the allure of touching a peach. Indeed, an old French nickname for the pear is thigh-madam, the thigh of the lady.

In the kitchen, peach is a workhorse in sweet dishes or desserts of all kinds. But it can also play a role – and quite delicious – in savory preparations, of which I give you two here. We cooks replace one fruit or vegetable with another all the time, replacing a yellow zucchini with a zucchini, for example, or an unripe pear with an apple.

The peach makes a splendid substitute for the mango; cuisines other than our local American cuisine use the mango in savory preparations, such as pilaf, a fine base for other savory foods. And the guacamole salad, a chunky, deconstructed version of the pudding-like guacamole seen here. It’s delicious, especially with just-ripe Colorado peaches.

Salty Peach Pilaf

Makes 6 cups. Serve it topped with a spicy dal or other ‘curried’ dish or as a side to whatever you choose: meat, fish, vegetables, etc.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon ghee, clarified butter or neutral cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (or yellow curry powder)
  • 1 medium red or green chili pepper, heat level of your choice, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 cup basmati rice, very well rinsed, soaked for 30 minutes, then drained
  • 1 large or 2 medium very ripe peaches, peeled, seeded and crushed into pulp
  • 1/2 cup cashews, preferably unsalted and unroasted, soaked in warm water for 1/2 hour, then drained
  • 1 cup of water

directions

In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat the fat over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and when they start to spit, add the garam masala (or curry powder), chopped chilli and turmeric and mix well for 30 seconds until fragrant.

Add drained rice and stir until grains are coated and begin to brown, a few minutes at most. Add the crushed peaches, cashews and water and mix well again. Bring everything to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover tightly and cook for 20 minutes (a few more minutes at higher altitudes) without disturbing.

Turn off the heat and let the pilaf rest for at least 10 minutes (with the pan lid still in place). Then lift the lid and fluff the pilaf with the tines of a large fork and serve.

Spicy guacamole with peach accents

A reminder that the full name of “guacamole” is “guacamole salad”. Makes 2 cups.

Ingredients

  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large New Mexican Hatch or Colorado Pueblo pepper, charred, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 medium avocados, pitted, flesh cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup green onion, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 large ripe Colorado peach, peeled if desired, pitted and chopped
  • 3/4 cup cilantro, leaves and tender stems, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Tortillas

directions

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix and fold. Allow flavors to meld for 30 minutes before serving, chilled or at room temperature. It’s roughly cut guacamole, not a mash. Serve in small bowls or plates with tortilla chips on the side.