Tag Archives: Chilton County peaches

Food Memory: Bread Pudding

I have never met two bread puddings that are exactly alike and I rarely meet one that I don’t like. When I eat at a new place and bread pudding is listed on the menu, I almost always have to try it and see what version this particular kitchen has deemed acceptable.

Some version of bread pudding shows up on the menu of many southern dining establishments and dining rooms; some are dense and cake-like and others are more loose and cobbler-like. The Bright Star in Bessemer, near Birmingham, serves a tasty bread pudding with a rich bourbon sauce. The signature dessert at the Wash House in Point Clear on Mobile Bay is a Key Lime bread pudding that doesn’t sound promising but is actually quite good. It is also huge and filling and every time I’ve ordered it I have had to request a go box. Fat Girls, a tiny little barbecue joint on Highway 82 in Billingsley, Alabama, had a terrific bread pudding but it shut its doors a few years ago.

There seem to be as many versions of bread puddings in New Orleans as there are places to eat.

I don’t recall either of my grandmothers ever making a bread pudding so I have no family recipes to honor.

But recently I had some of Mrs. London’s bread from her family kitchen over in Madison sitting around and some Chilton County peaches that were getting pretty ripe and I decided that I needed to do something about it.  Scoot’s organic eggs from the farmer’s market were in the refrigerator and I decided to see what it was like to make my own bread pudding.

I do pretty well in the kitchen but whenever I make something I’ve never made before I need to do some research before I get started. I pulled down the cookbooks and culled the bread pudding recipes and then set to work.

I followed the basics based on what I read and then set about making my own version. I must say that this is such an easy dessert to make that I’m not sure why I never thought to make it sooner; I guess I was just satisfied to order it at restaurants.

The final result bears repeating, I think, and I’ll share it for whenever the urge might hit. I was frankly thrown a little off-guard with how basic and simple it was to make a pretty good bread pudding. I guess since I never thought to make it, I never thought about the process.

Here’s what I did; I messed with it a bit and, even though raisins are pretty traditional for bread puddings, I wanted to do peaches in mine. This is a very giving recipe and anybody cooking a bread pudding should tweak it with whatever their tastes suggest.

Peach Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

For the bread pudding:

1 cup milk

1 cup Half and Half

¼ cup unsalted butter

½ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

6 cups dry bread cubes

1 cup sliced peaches

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat milk, Half and Half, and butter over medium heat until butter is melted and milk is hot.
  3. Whisk sugar, cinnamon, salt, and eggs together.
  4. Stir in bread and peaches.
  5. Stir in milk, ½ and ½, and butter mixture.
  6. Pour it all into a 2-quart baking dish.
  7. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

For the bourbon sauce:

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup unsalted butter

3 tablespoons Half and Half

4 tablespoons bourbon (non-alcoholic vanilla extract may be substituted for the bourbon)

  1. In heavy sauce pan, stir and heat all sauce ingredients to boiling over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer, stirring frequently.
  2. When ready to serve, spoon sauce over the warm bread pudding.

Peaches, 2016

 

DSCN0447  We’re not even to the halfway point of calendar summer and I’m already starting to miss it. Nowadays public schools start ridiculously early and the place where I teach will be starting its fall semester before long. All of these things contribute to the feeling that summer is almost over. At least there is the salve of the impending start of college football season.

What really triggers my late-summer doldrums is the prospect of another local peach season coming to an end. On my most recent trip to Jimmie’s Peach Stand in Chilton County, one of the Harrison sons predicted that their peach trees would only be yielding for another ten days to two weeks this year. The drive to Chilton County and along back country roads to Jimmie’s is always a tonic for me and I hate to see it end each year around this time.

I have written about Jimmie’s in the past and about my regular trips during their season which usually commences around Mother’s Day and ends in late-July and occasionally into August. I try to get down every two weeks during the season and I try to only eat Chilton County peaches purchased at Jimmie’s.

In a conversation a few years ago, I asked Jimmie Harrison for recommendations of good peaches in north Alabama. “I always thought Mr. Isom grew a good peach,” he said, referring to Isom’s peach orchards near Athens. So when the Jimmie’s crop is depleted, I can usually rely on Isom’s for another basket or two (www.isomsorchard.com).

Jimmie’s peaches without any embellishment are perfect and this year’s crop seems to bear an overall larger fruit than usual. It’s impossible to have a surfeit of peaches but occasionally they get pretty ripe before I can get to them and I have some fallback recipes to make sure that not a single peach is wasted. I don’t make many pies so when I’m ready to throw peaches in the oven it’s usually in a cobbler.

Over the years I have collected some ways to take full advantage of peach season and their abundance and, with the local season’s end upon us, it’s time to share a couple of fresh and simple peach recipes.

The peach salsa is simple and has multiple uses. Use it however you would use any other type of salsa but I love it on a fish taco. The following recipe makes a nice batch.

Peach Salsa

2 large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and diced

3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions (white and green parts)

1 teaspoon grated lime zest

1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

¼ jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

Cayenne pepper to taste

salt to taste

Simply mix all ingredients together and serve.

The Peaches and Beaujolais dessert recipe originally came from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table cookbook. Over time I have used it so much without referencing the cookbook that I think it has morphed into my own version. In fact, I pulled out his recipe not long ago to copy for a friend and realized that I have taken liberties with the original. I had forgotten that the original uses granulated sugar along with the brown sugar.  Here  is how I basically make it these days:

Peaches and  Beaujolais

1 medium ripe peach, peeled, pitted, and quartered

1½  tablespoon dark brown sugar

4-6 ounces good Beaujolais or Morgon

Put half of the dark brown sugar in the bottom of a wine glass. Put peach quarters in glass. Drizzle the other half of dark brown sugar over the top of the peaches. Pour Beaujolais (or Morgon) over the peach and sugar mixture. For a really decadent variation, embellish the Beaujolais with Cointreau or Grand Marnier. Garnish with mint leaves.

Both of these peach recipes capture the freshness and vibrancy of the summer season for me and enhance that distinctive peach essence in an exciting way.

Make the most of the rest of your summer. Hmm … shouldn’t local figs be here soon?

Comfort Food: A Simple Peach Cobbler on a Rainy Summer Day

IMG_1875  I was in Birmingham for about a week trying to help my parents out while my father was in the hospital. Dad was released yesterday and I returned to Huntsville to get to a couple of doctors’ appointments of my own and take care of some things before returning to Birmingham this weekend.

The big plan for today was to cut my grass and take care of some outdoor chores before going to still another appointment this afternoon. The weather had other plans and my yard has been taking a drenching since late last night.

Since I have been away from the house, some of my fresh fruit and produce from the farmers market needed to be chunked. Most distressing was that my most recent basket of Jimmie’s peaches from Chilton County – probably my last Chilton County peach run of the season – was getting too ripe.

People tell me to freeze fruit and vegetables and leftovers before they go bad but I know from experience that if I put something in the freezer I might as well just dig a hole in the back yard and bury it: It won’t be touched again until it’s time to dump it. This is true of most people, I find, but they persist in throwing stuff in the freezer only to throw it out a few months later.

I hate to waste food and I especially hate to waste Chilton County peaches so I decided to make a peach cobbler to salvage a few of the peaches and to take back to my parents in Birmingham – neither of whom seems to be eating regularly or well during all of this sickness.

Here’s the quick and easy recipe and, of course, other fruits might be substituted for the peaches according to taste, availability, and preference.

Peach Cobbler

1 stick of butter

2 cups of sugar

2 cups of milk

Juice of ½ lemon

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

2 cups of self-rising flour

2½ cups of peaches (or fruit of choice)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the stick of butter in a greased 9 inch casserole dish and set the dish in the oven as it preheats, allowing the butter to melt.
  3. Mix sugar, milk, cinnamon, lemon juice, and flour in a large mixing bowl.
  4. When the butter is melted, remove casserole dish from the oven and carefully pour the batter into the dish.
  5. Evenly place the fruit in the batter.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes until the top is firm and golden. Let it cool and serve.

Enjoy the summer’s bounty. IMG_1880_1