11 September 2008
Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone
It's break time! I want to take a brief intermission in my blogging about Switzerland. It was a great trip and I hardly realized how many food stories I was collecting while I was there. But there are some things that, no matter where you find yourself, just take you home.
This morning I left my home office, walked downstairs to put in a load of laundry, then stopped off at the kitchen for a late morning snack. I picked up a peach I bought at the grocery yesterday. It was perfectly ripe when I brought it home and I offered it to my daughter but for some reason she had left it on the counter uneaten. I picked it up, tested its weight and ran my thumb over its fuzzy pink skin as I took it to the sink. It was a white peach with a few small bruises that I trimmed away. As I sliced it and bit into it while gazing into my backyard through the kitchen window, the soft fragrance and pleasant flavor transported me to my childhood in Kentucky...
I was on the enclosed breezeway of the house I grew up in standing beside the cedar stained picnic table there drenched in the soft hot sunlight of late summer streaming through the windows. My Dad and my aunts were standing around extolling the wonders of the peaches they had just brought home from Bray's Orchard. There was a large fragrant crate of them there on the table and the scent slowly permeated the air around me. Their pink fuzzy skin was soft and beautiful. I was given one and as I bit into its delicious fruit the delicate sweet flavor and the gentle tartness on my tongue filled me with joy as the sticky juice ran down my arm.
I have had a special place in my heart for white peaches ever since.
What is the difference between white peaches and yellow peaches? I think it is something like the difference between white and yellow grits. It is a matter of tender subtlety versus brash intensity. A white peach has a delicate flesh that bruises easily and shows its bruises even more so. The flavor is not quite as sweet or sour as a yellow peach but is perhaps a bit more of a complex blend of the two. It is different and yet the same. Like I am now different than the little girl who ate that perfect white peach with rapture sitting on the concrete back porch steps of my childhood home... and yet I am the same. I still find a smile curling the corner of my lips as I bite into this luscious peach in my hand and notice the juice running down my wrist.
And that brings me to a recipe that was shared by a friend who made this for us in his backyard earlier this summer. It isn’t even a recipe, actually, but more like a wonderful idea, perfectly executed. After attending a concert together, we went back to our friends' house to get our car. They asked us to stay for dessert, nothing difficult or too fancy, just a sweet bite to end the evening. We sipped wine while my friend turned on the barbecue, quickly halved some peaches and put them on the grill. After a few minutes he turned them and scooped some mascarpone cheese into the center, sprinkling the surface with a little sugar. When the peach was cooked through, hot and a little soft, he placed them on plates drizzled them with honey and passed them around. Amazing! They were light, creamy and tangy sweet. The complexity of the honey added a perfect sticky sweet finishing touch. We ate them around the fire pit in the darkness savoring every bite.
Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone Cheese
3 Peaches (ripe but not too soft)
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
a little white sugar, brown sugar or Splenda
Honey, to drizzle
Cut peaches in half and remove the pit. Scoop the center out a little bit if desired. (The peaches I had were so pretty inside that I skipped this step.) Brush the top edge with butter if you like.
Place cut side down either directly on the grill or on a piece of aluminum foil placed on the grill depending on your preference and the firmness of your peach. Grill 4 or 5 minutes or until the peaches begin to soften.
Turn peach halves over. Scoop approximateley 1 Tablespoon of mascarpone (Italian cream cheese) into each peach center. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Grill another 4 - 5 minutes, or to desired doneness.
Remove peach halves to serving plates and drizzle with honey.
Note: Though white peaches are delicious and are available locally right now, my friend made these using yellow peaches and they would probably look prettier in this dessert because of their heartier texture.
And one more thing: This dessert is delicious as is! That said, when I made it at home I had some Berry Basil Sauce on hand and offered it as an option to spoon over the dessert. I had a few takers. They told me it made a nice addition.