Corn, tomatoes and peaches! It must be summer!
Back in the 60s when I was growing up in a big family, one of our only yearly vacations was to Canada during the summer, where we gorged ourselves on tomatoes, peaches and fresh corn while enjoying the lake. Perch from Lake Erie (I know, it was scarier then, it’s cleaner now!) was abundant and delicious pan-fried for breakfast. On hot days, my mom and uncle would leave the watermelon in the lake water until it was time to eat it. It kept it cool, but it kept moving a little downstream, so we had to retrieve it and bring it back each time it drifted away. In those days, every moment seemed to be about food, when the next food moment was coming and what was it going to be. We took such pleasure in eating. Those were simple, lazy summer days.
As my taste buds changed and grew more discerning, I’ve added tantalizingly new flavors and dishes to my repertoire. For instance, I love adding chilies wherever I can, an influence of Mexico and Central America. Dried chilies are never very far from our table and added liberally to most everything, I’ve noticed. During the summer, corn on the cob gets shaved into just about everything, from fresh tomato salads to pastas with fresh tomato, garlic, and parmesan. Corn seems to team well with the other fruits and vegetables of the season as if they were meant to be together.
The recipes below are a combination of sweet peach with heat from jalapeno and Ancho chiles (or you can use poblano for a milder taste). It’s the combination of the sweet with the hot that makes them, well, so sweet. Also, if you haven’t tried piloncillo, it’s an unrefined cooking sugar commonly used in Mexican cooking. It has a long history in Mexico, introduced well before the Spanish arrived, and is made into blocks that harden. If you can’t find it locally, brown sugar is a good substitute. This sauce is complex in flavor. It would be the perfect complement to grilled salmon with a side of fresh corn on the cob. Happy Summer! Happy Cooking!
Sweet Peach Ancho Chile Sauce
Makes 2 cups
- 2 cups fresh peaches, diced
- cup grated piloncillo or brown sugar
- cup water
- zest and juice of lime
- cup chopped pecans
- cup chopped dried peaches
- 1 ancho chile (dried), stem, and seeds removed and soaked in warm water for 30 minutes.
To begin with, soak the ancho chile in hot water for 30 minutes until completely soft and pliable. When soft, de-stem and remove seeds, then finely chop the pepper, adding it to the blender with the other ingredients.
In a saucepan over medium heat, add fresh peaches, piloncillo, water, lime zest and lime juice. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly so as not to burn. Lower heat and bring mixture to simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and place mixture in blender. Carefully blend until smooth.
Place blended mixture into a bowl and allow to cool, then add the chopped pecans and dried peaches. Stir to combine. Transfer to an airtight container and keep in fridge until ready to use.
Inspired by Sweet Life/Vianney Rodriguez
Sweet Peach Salsa
The smokiness of the poblano pepper really gives this salsa a kick. Try it at your next BBQ or gathering. It is sure to be a winner!
- 2 cups peeled, then diced peaches
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- jalapeno pepper, finely chopped or for mild, poblano roasted
- cup fresh cilantro
- finely chopped
- zest and juice of one lime
- salt and pepper to taste
Start by roasting a poblano chile over your gas burner until charred. Put in a paper bag to continue cooking and set aside.
Finely chop the shallot, and cilantro. Peel and then chop the peach and add to the shallot and cilantro. Zest and juice the lime and squeeze over the top of the salsa. Peel the charred skin off the Poblano pepper and finely chop combining with the other ingredients. Adjust to taste. Optional; Add another fruit, such as Mango or papaya. Serve it over fresh fish, chicken or pork loin.
Recipe by Tricia O’Brien
Tricia O’Brien is a Glen Ellen resident, caterer, and food blogger. You can follow her at www.cafetrix.blogspot.com.