Sunday, August 28, 2011
Peaches and Cream with a Honeyed Kick
As a man without a care in the world, seeking somehow to justify his constant idleness, I have always found such festive mornings in a country house universally attractive. When the green garden, still moist with dew, shines in the sun and seems happy, and when the terrace smells of mignonette and oleander, and the young people have just returned from church and drink tea in the garden, and when they are all so gaily dressed and so merry, and when you know that all these healthy, satisfied, beautiful people will do nothing all day long, then you long for all of life to be like that. So I thought then as I walked through the garden, quite prepared to drift like that without occupation or purpose, all through the day, all through the summer.
-Anton Chekhov ("The House with the Mezzanine")
Until but a few short days ago, such was my life. Days of drifting. Merriment. Healthy, satisfied and beautiful people...Yes, I am exaggerating, but can you blame me? In the past week I've experienced two earthquakes (mini ones, but still!), risen at the crack of dawn to talk about literature, had a yoga class with a woman who walked into the gym in three-inch heels and compared the human body's need for protein to a Maserati's need for the most expensive gasoline available....and then, on Saturday, as the Greek and I were biking back from the farmer's market, he hit into a bush, the bike's handlebar went into his side and he cracked his rib (don't worry, he's ok; the Tang Center has given him the all-clear. I would just like to add that I've been finding lots of grey hairs, more than I've ever seen before.).
Since I don't smoke (clearly, that would ruin my Maserati's engine) and my moments of worry are generally accompanied by the creation of creamy, buttery and/or sugary treats, I made ice cream instead. In times of trouble, I like to keep my hands and mind busy. I also then have something to feed to those who are in need of tender loving care.
You see, our plan--the reason for the trip to the farmer's market--was to buy peaches, lots and lots of peaches. We were but simple people on a simple quest: quality California peaches (despite a recent article in the NYTimes about the "Peach Wars" in the South, experience has shown me that California peaches can be tasty and juicy) for Peach Ice Cream. I don't know why I was craving this particular ice cream when you think of all the ice cream flavors that one can make--Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Coffee, Avocado (I could go on forever)--, in addition to the fact that I usually avoid fruity ice cream flavors for more "daring" combinations, but, in recent weeks, something about summer fruits, peaches in particular, had captured my fancy. And, in response, it made me want to capture them--to mix them with cream and shove the mixture into the back of freezer so that I can enjoy their taste for a few more weeks. Now that school has started, I'm wondering if all the things I love about summer are on the brink of disappearing. Seeing my cherry-, strawberry- and peach-less existence stretching out before me, my hoarding instinct has kicked into high gear.
But, really, what better way is there to capture summer? Ice cream is clearly the answer! And instead of following David Lebovitz's instructions to add a few drops of lemon juice to flavor the sweet, yet slightly tart (thanks to the addition of sour cream) peaches and cream mixture, I decided to fortify it with a few tablespoons of the Tennessee Honey Liqueur that the Greek had proudly pulled out of his bag last week on one of our last school-free evenings. I figured that we had earned it. Not only is alcohol an excellent pain-killer, but peach ice cream with a kick of a sweet and spicy whiskey will also most definitely help the medicine go down.
Peach Ice Cream
Slightly adapted from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop
Yields about one quart of creamy deliciousness
1 1/3 pound peaches (about 4 large peaches)
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. Tennessee Honey Liqueur
-Peel the peaches, slice them in half and remove the pits.
-Cut the peaches into chunks and cook them with the water in a medium saucepan, over medium heat and covered.
-Stir the mixture once or twice and remove when soft and cooked through; this should take about 10 minutes.
-Remove from the heat, stir in the sugar, then cool to room temperature.
-Puree the cooked peaches and any liquid (I had about 3/4 of a cup) in a food processor with the sour cream, heavy cream and vanilla until almost smooth, but slightly chunky.
-Stir in two tablespoons of Tennessee Honey Liqueur by hand.
-Chill the mixture in the refrigerator (overnight is best), then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
-Enjoy and cherish the taste of the peaches!