Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Maple, Ginger and Basil Stewed Peaches

It is not often that two days go by without me cooking at home so when three days went by I was starting to feel a little strange, almost like going through a withdrawal of some kind. To get my fix I went to my local grocery store, came home loaded with good eats and cooked several dishes in one morning.

One of them was the Apple Vichyssoise I wrote about yesterday. Another dish was a pan-seared pork chop with whole wheat couscous topped with peaches and ginger.

More often than not I top my pork chop with an apple compote, made with apples, brown sugar and Calvados (or whatever brandy I have on hand). Because Ontario peaches are now in season and I bought a few too many I decided to top my pork with peaches. It was delicious. You'll only need a few things and if you cut your peaches small it's all done in 10 minutes at most.

Your short ingredient list:
4 peaches,
1" knob of ginger, grated
2 Tbsp of Maple Syrup
1 Tbsp butter
4 basil leaves, thinly sliced (chiffonade).

That's it! In fact the plan was to cook the peaches just with ginger and maple syrup but my eyes landed on the bushy basil plant so I decided to throw in some basil. It was a fortunate afterthought.

1. Peel and dice peaches

2. Peel and grate your ginger. (Yes, I'm using a spoon for peeling. It's easier than using a knife in this case and you have less product waste)

3. In a small saucepan over medium heat melt the butter and add the peaches, grated ginger, maple syrup and basil. Cook for approximately 5-10 minutes, depending on the ripeness of your peaches. 

 Serves two as side. Tops three pork chops generously.

Apple Vichyssoise

"I've always loved that name, Vichyssoise" said a friend after seeing photos of the finished soup. She's right, it has such a nice sound to it. Although Vichyssoise might sound a little pretentious, it is a really easy soup to make. Really, it's potato and leek soup. Potato and Leek soup is Julia Child's first recipe in the "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Potage Parmentier, she called it. If you've never made it, you should try it.

Here's what you'll need, aside from a large pot and a blender:

4 potatoes (I used Yukon Golds, it's my go to potato, you can use other variety)
2 leeks, white and light green parts only
1 apple (Granny Smith in this case, other apple would work but try not to use overly sweet ones like Double Red)
1 stalk celery
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup cream
4 cups water
parsley for garnish

1. Wash and chop the leeks, peel the apple and small dice the celery stalk. If you haven't worked with leeks much and are not familiar with them, you should know leeks love dirt so give them a good wash. You can chop them and leave them in a large bowl full of water so the dirt can sink to the bottom or you can cut them in half lengthwise and wash them under lukewarm running water.

2. In a pot large enough to hold at least 8 cups of soup, over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the diced apple, celery and leek. Sweat them for 5 minutes or until leeks are soft.

3. While the vegetables are sweating, peel and dice your potatoes. If your knife skills need improvement still, dice your potatoes before you start. Don't worry about the size of them too much because you are pureeing the soup at the end. Just try your best to  have cuts that are somewhat uniform to ensure even cooking

4. Once the leeks are soft add the diced potatoes and the 4 cups of water and a pinch of salt and pepper. You should have enough water to cover the vegetables.

6. Simmer for 20-30 minutes;  remove from heat.

7. Puree and add the cream. Chill and serve garnished with parsley (or chives). You may have to adjust the seasoning after it is chilled.

If you're looking for other recipes for Vichyssoise, Lucy Waverman has a great recipe for Pear and Watercress Vichyssoise and there are currently eight Vichyssoise recipes on Food Network Canada. Laura Calder gets fancy and uses Vichy mineral water for her soup but most cooks seem to use water or chicken stock.

I hope you give it a go. It's 30 minutes you won't regret to have spent.