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Colorado Peaches


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Those juicy, delicious Colorado peaches, from the orchards of our glorious Western Slope are showing up en masse at area farmers’ markets and it’s hard not to buck the typical $4 a pound price and go for a whole case and save some money. But there are only so many pounds of the fuzzy orbs you can put away by slicing them on your morning Grape Nuts or your ice cream.T

PEACH JULEP
Ginger syrup:
1 – 1-inch piece of ginger root, peeled, thinly sliced or grated (for more flavor)
1 whole cardamom pod, cracked
¼ cup sugar

Bring ginger, cardamom, sugar and ¼ cup water to boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let cool and then strain into a jar or squeeze bottle, cover and chill.

JULEP
2 ripe peaches, peeled, sliced
8 sprigs of mint, plus more for garnish
8 ounces (at least) of bourbon (or, for a drier bite, a rye or rye blend whiskey)
4 ounces fresh-squeezed lemon juice (none of that stuff from the plastic lemon with the green cap!)
12 ounces of Left Hand JuJu Ginger beer

For each cocktail, muddle ¼ of the peach slices and two mint sprigs in a julep cup or double Old Fashioned glass (the stainless steel Planet Bluegrass cups are excellent for this); add 2 ounces of bourbon (or rye), 1 ounce of lemon juice and ½ ounce of the ginger syrup. Fill the metal cup or glass with crushed ice and add 2-3 ounces of JuJu Ginger Beer. Garnish with a mint sprig. You’ll know you’ve done it right when the metal cup gets all frosty on the outside and your friends grab their foreheads and wince in the delicious pain of an ice-cream headache after their first big swig. This is perfect use of award-winning Colorado Peaches and award-winning Colorado bourbon. I’d recommend varieties from Breckenridge or Feisty or TinCup.

Pro tips: Quadruple the ginger syrup recipe. I guarantee that you’ll use up the quarter cup in no time, so don’t screw around. And do put the stuff in a plastic squeeze bottle. It makes it easy and mess free to administer and makes you look like a pro. Remember: Too much is always better than not enough. (Yes, stolen from the foodie classic “Big Night,” but still no less true.)

Not all mint is created equal. I have four kinds of mint growing in the island in the middle of my gravel driveway (this corrals the invasive plants and keeps it out of my yard and other plantings): plain mint, peppermint, spearmint and chocolate mint. The peppermint and spearmint, with their unique flavors, are much more potent than my plain old mint… in a good way. Experiment and see what works best for you and your friends. Some like the bracing, mint-forward bite; others, not so much.

And as with any concoction, play with the proportions of the ingredients. Muddle several sprigs of mint instead of two; as mentioned, grate the ginger instead of slicing it. You’ll get a more intense flavor. I guarantee you’ll not want for Guinea Pigs to try your variations of this fantastic peach julep.

PEACH SALSA

Tell your friends to put a chip in it. Or pile it on top of a grilled chicken breast. Or serve it up with some grilled trout. When you taste this delicious peach salsa from the folks at A Spice of Life, you’ll be putting it on everything that comes off your barbie.

Ingredients:

1 large, sweet onion, chopped (yellow works, but this is a great place to use those fresh Vadalia onions that are in season at the farmer’s market)
1 jalapeño pepper (or other variety from your garden), seeded and minced (or, for more heat, leave the seeds in)
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons grated, fresh ginger
2 tablespoons olive oil (save the extra virgin; you’re just cooking with this)
6 large, firm, succulent, bodacious Colorado peaches, peeled and chopped
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (again, no green caps!)
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Prep:

Sauté the onion, jalapeño, sugar and ginger in the hot oil in a large (preferably cast iron) skillet over medium heat for at least 5 minutes or until the onion is tender. Stir in peaches and lemon juice, salt and cilantro and cook, stirring gently, for another 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature; store leftovers (there won’t be any unless you double the recipe) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. But in all seriousness, this peach ambrosia won’t last two days, let alone a concerted, late-night raid of the fridge.

Pro tips: Juicy, ripe Colorado peaches can reduce the jalapeño heat to a faint, background warmth depending on the size and intensity of your peppers. As mentioned, leave the seeds in (or use two) to punch up the heat if needed. This salsa can take it, thanks to the sweetness of the peaches. Also, you’ll lose some of the intenseness of the flavors if you serve this cold, so take that into consideration. This is definitely one of those salsas that benefits from making two or three versions using different peppers from your garden (Serrano? Cayenne?) and in different amounts for more (or less) heat.

Also, try roasting your peppers. A quick slather in olive oil and a roll on the grill until they are well roasted will lend a great smokiness to the peppers you use, as well as help blunt the spicy heat.

Author

Brett Calwood
Brett Callwood is an English journalist, copy writer, editor and author, currently living and working in Los Angeles. He is the music editor with the LA Weekly. He was previously a reporter at the Longmont Times-Call and Daily Camera, the music editor at the Detroit Metro Times and editor-in-chief at Yellow Scene magazine. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brett_Callwood

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