by Libbie Summers
Long before my family moved to Savannah and even longer before I started working for Paula, I was introduced to her through a peach. Her Peach Cobbler recipe to be exact. My home base was in coastal North Carolina, but my work as a big deal cook on sailing yachts took me all over the world. I don’t know how I ever got a hat on because my head was so big! It was a hot August day and one of my dearest friends (who just happens to be my mother-n-law, Peggy) was visiting our family in North Carolina. She brought with her a recipe for Peach Cobbler from a Southern cook she was so fond of. A Miss Paula Deen from Savannah, Georgia. “Peach Cobbler that uses self rising flour?” I asked. I’m sure she saw the “what you talkin’ about Willis” look of skepticism on my face. I trusted Peggy not only because she is a fantastic cook herself, but because she had already made the recipe three times!
I wish I could tell you what else we had with our dinner out on the back porch overlooking the Bay River that night. All I remember was Paula’s Peach Cobbler. Summer in a bowl. The cake part so gooey and dense with the ripest Georgia and South Carolina peaches in their sweet juices floating under a cold scoop of Vanilla Bean ice cream. That moment in time was at least 6 years ago, but I can taste it like it was yesterday. Every summer when Peaches are at their very best, I will make Paula’s Peach Cobbler. Just two weeks ago I was cooking for one of those big headed yachting programs and made it for 15 people! Needless to say, there wasn’t a crumb left… You never know how you may be introduced to someone. Introductions can even come in the form of a peach. Thank you Paula for helping make my hats fit a little better these days.
To make your Peach recipes the best that they can be this summer, I’ve included a few nutritional facts, a little history as well as tips for selection, storage and cooking. Lastly, enjoy this brand new recipe from Paula for a White Chocolate and Rosemary Peach Shortcake. It came organically out of a photo shoot we had last week. Paula was making Peach Shortcakes for the images and she said she thought the recipe would be even better if we added some white chocolate chips (I added the rosemary…she loved!). So we did and here it is right out of her summer kitchen for you.
• Peaches originated in China and are mentioned in Chinese writings as far back as the 10th Century BC.
• The Peach was brought to America by Spanish Explorers
• In Queen Victoria’s Day, no meal was complete without a fresh peach presented in a beautifully stitched cotton napkin
• Various American Indian Tribes are credited with migrating the peach tree across the United States, planting seeds as they roved the country
• Thomas Jefferson had Peach Trees at Monticello, but US farmers did not begin commercial production until the 19th Century
• Today, Peaches are the second largest commercial fruit crop in the US, second to the apple.
• Peaches contain good amounts of potassium, vitamin C and A
• Aid in the stimulation of digestion and add color to the complexion
Selection and Storage:
• Choose peaches that are firm to the touch, but will give a little with gentle pressure
• The fruits should be free of bruises and have a fragrant peach aroma
• A mature peach will have a well defined cleft
• Although peaches will continue to ripen after being picked, the sugar production ceases once picked
• Under ripe peaches can be ripened somewhat by placing them in a paper bag punched with holes at room temperature away from sunlight.
• Refrigeration will extend the peaches life, but not more than a day. Peaches need humidity, so refrigerate in a plastic bag and use within a couple of days.
• Although the fuzzy skin is edible, it becomes tough when cooked. Remove the skin by marking an X at the end of the peach with a sharp knife. Blanch in boiling water for one minute and plunge immediately into cold water to stop the cooking process. The Skin should peel right off.
• The stone will give off a bitter flavor. Be sure to remove it before canning or freezing peaches.
Paula’s White Chocolate Rosemary Peach Shortcake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
4 cups bisquick
1/3 cup Sugar
1 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon Fruit Fresh (fruit preservative)
Splash warm water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
Fresh Rosemary sprigs
White Chocolate curls (super fancy)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
To make the shortcakes, mix the bisquick, sugar, milk, butter, white chocolate chips and rosemary in a medium size bowl and scoop out onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until done and remove from oven. Cool for 5 minutes.
Peel, core, and slice the peaches. Immediately sprinkle with Fruit Fresh to prevent peaches from turning dark. Add a splash of warm water to the peaches to moisten. Stir the sugar into the peaches, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
In a large mixing bowl or mixer, combine the heavy cream and sugar, and whip until peaks start to form.
To serve, split the shortcake in 1/2 and place bottom 1/2 on a plate. Top with a heaping spoonful of the peaches and their juices, a dollop of freshly whipped cream and the top of the shortcake. Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary and a white chocolate curl if you are so inclined.