I made this dish before I found out that A Fruit a Month for October was focusing on peaches and nectarines.*
I've been enjoying the fresh, organic peaches from One Windmill Farm for the past few weeks, grabbing a bag every time I went to the Public Market. Every year, once the peaches go out of season and the taste becomes just a memory on the winter wind, I forget how much I love their taste. They're one of the few natural foods I can trust to truly defeat the intense Arizona summer heat. But what to do when the nights start to get chilly, and the peaches seem to be a little too soft to last much longer? I decided to fire up the oven for a quick, easy, and simple dish of baked peaches.
Dinner the night I made the peaches was sautéed shrimp and walnuts with ginger-spiced mashed butternut squash. I wanted to link the two somehow without hurting my brain, and ginger and peaches sounded really, really good. Really good. I made a simple syrup and laced it with vanilla and ginger, the poured them over the peaches, halved and stoned (seeded, whatever the correct term is), in a baking dish. I baked them at 350 until they were nice and soft--about 20 minutes.
They looked a little au natural and naked in the bowl. Why let them suffer so? I used some local Bert's brand fig gelato, and it was a heavenly match! This is love. See them smile? Oh wait, maybe that's just me. The hot-and-cold combo, the slight tartness with the syrup's sweetness and the gelato's richness, and the vanilla bean's aroma tinging it all ... it was "just the thing." One never knows what one wants until it rests on one's tongue, that's all.
And I didn't photograph what I did with the syrup. I hate to waste, and I had some wonderfully flavored simple syrup at my disposal, so I added it to my chamomile tea. And then, I melted under the covers into good dreams of warm summers. Wheee!
A rough recipe for three peaches (rough, since I didn't really measure anything)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Heat equal parts sugar and water in a pot (I used about a quarter cup of each)
3. Add a scraped vanilla bean and its contents, a quarter teaspoon of ground ginger, and a dash of cardamom (because cardamommmmmm ... ), and bring to the boil, letting the sugar dissolve
4. While waiting for the sugar to dissolve, halve the peaches and take the stones out, then nestle the halves into a baking dish
5. Once all the sugar in your pot has dissolved, pour it over the peaches in the baking dish, and set in the center of the oven
6. Depending on the peaches' firmness, bake until their softened and cooked through--20 to 30 minutes
7. Serve warm with some cool, billowy topping that makes you think "Mmmmm" when you picture it
*Portions of this post and the photos were cross-posted to a following post documenting the night's menu.