Aren’t peaches just crazy good right now?
Unfortunately, there aren’t nearly as many Texas peaches on supermarket shelves and at roadside stands as usual this year, but the regular peaches in grocery stores right now are downright delicious (and cheap) this time of year.
Many of these peaches are coming from California, which is where the Masumoto family runs one of the most famous peach orchards in the world.
Their 80-acre farm south of Fresno has been in the family since 1948, and the organic peaches are prized by chefs from coast to coast. Owner David "Mas" Masumoto has turned his love of farming and family into a successful writing career: Since 1987, he’s published seven books and memoirs and is a columnist for the Fresno Bee.
But after all these years in the book and peach business, the Masumotos have finally published their first cookbook, "The Perfect Peach: Recipes and Stories from the Masumoto Family Farm" (Ten Speed Press, $22).
Masumoto, his wife, Marcy, and daughter, Nikiko, joined forces to write this book, which covers the basics like peach pie and jam but also includes innovative dishes such as mustard-peach glazed chicken, peach-stuffed French toast and this peach gazpacho, which perfectly balances the fruit’s sweetness with just enough savory ingredients to make an appetizer or light lunch.
Inspiration occasionally manifests itself in a mad scientist sort of fashion. This recipe is proof of that. I locked myself in the kitchen with a basket of vegetables from the refrigerator and a bucket of peaches until I came up with an exciting peach dish. With wild determination and some heat, a peach version of Spain’s popular summer soup was born. I remember when my mom came home that day and I rushed out to greet her with a huge spoonful of my recent creation: A willing tester, my mom’s eyes lit up with her first gulp. The experiment worked! Enjoy this savory soup ice cold as a starter or as a refresher between courses.
— Nikiko Masumoto
6 soft to gushy peaches (about 21/2 pounds), peeled, pitted and quartered
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. champagne or golden balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
Red bell pepper slices and avocado slices, for garnish (optional)
In a food processor, combine the peaches, cucumber, garlic, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup water, and pulse until coarsely pureed. Thin with the remaining 1/4 cup water if needed for a good consistency. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to chill thoroughly.
Just before serving, taste and adjust the seasoning with more vinegar, salt and pepper if needed. Stir in the cilantro. Ladle into bowls, drizzle each serving with a little oil, and garnish with the bell pepper and avocado. Serve at once. Serves 6 to 8.
— From "The Perfect Peach: Recipes and Stories from the Masumoto Family Farm" (Ten Speed Press, $22) by David, Marcy and Nikiko Masumoto