Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Celebration of peaches

Last weekend I co-hostessed a peach party—basically, a dinner gathering to which everyone brought a dish that showcased peaches. Fortunately, many of my friends are adventurous in the kitchen and always up to try new things! We ate everything from peach quesadillas to grilled peaches with berries. My contributions: peach curry soup and gingery peach punch.

I later took a bunch of pictures of a serving size of
this soup. But I neglected to retrieve them from my
camera before leaving the house in search of internet.
Peach Curry Soup

Olive oil
1/4 cup curry powder
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2- 1/2 large onions, minced
7 cloves garlic, minced
2-1/2 (15 oz.) cans chopped peaches in lite syrup (not drained)
2-1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2-1/2 cups coconut milk
2-1/2 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
Cayenne to taste (optional)

Pour oil into a large pot over medium heat. I didn’t measure the oil, but I probably used somewhere between 2 and 4 Tbsp. Add the curry powder and chili powder and heat for about a minute. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onions become transparent, about 8-10 minutes. This is when it will start to smell amazing!

Add peaches, peach syrup, ginger, coconut milk, and broth. Simmer on low for 45 minutes, adding salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne as needed. I left out the cayenne entirely and thought it had plenty of kick. If you have more than my miniscule heat tolerance, though, you’ll probably want to add some cayenne.

Yield: 10 servings

Verdict: Good! I wasn’t sure what to expect, having never made peach curry—or any sort of peach soup—before. But I thought it turned out well. My only real dissapointment was in the lack of creaminess. The coconut milk I bought initially was much more watery than I expect from canned coconut milk. It actually reminded me of the coconut juice (for lack of a better term) that characterizes soups in Papua New Guinea. They grate fresh coconut flesh into a bowl, add water, spend some time squeezing out the milk into the water, discard the coconut flesh, and use the milky water as a base for soup and/or to cook rice. It’s delicious—and the next time I want to make coconut rice, I’ll buy Goya brand again. But it was not ideal for adding lots of richness to an Indian-inspired curry. But I digress. I used about a cup of Goya coconut milk, then ran to the store in search of a thicker brand. Unfortunately they only had the reduced fat kind. Which was creamier than the Goya coconut milk but still not what I wanted.

Changes to make next time: I might puree a portion of the soup to make it thicker. And if I can find some cardamom here without paying an arm and a leg, I would love to add that next time. This soup would be good over rice, and you could easily add chopped chicken at the beginning or cooked shrimp at the end.

I forgot to take a picture of the punch until after most people had
gotten a glass. So it actually made a lot more than this!
Gingery Peach Punch 

1 carton Tropicana Peach Orchard Punch (I think it was a half gallon), chilled
2 liters ginger ale, chilled
12 oz. orange juice, chilled
Fresh ginger, peeled
1 orange, sliced

Dump the liquids into a large bowl and stir to combine. Either slice or grate the ginger and add. Grating will add more intense ginger flavor; slicing will make it easier for guests to not get ginger floaties in their cups. Top with orange slices for garnish. Depending on how big a bowl or pitcher you own, you may need to start with half of the liquids and replenish as needed.

Yield: A lot. There were 9 of us at the peach party, and there was punch left over at the end.

Verdict: Tasty, cool, and refreshing! The combination of peaches and ginger is a classic winning combination. The orange juice added a lovely complementary flavor without competing. And the ginger ale created a slightly subtle sparkling effect. Going into the party, I was more excited about the soup, while the punch was an afterthought—and an experiment! But I got more compliments on the punch than the soup. I’ll definitely make it again.

Changes to make next time: The only thing I think I will change is to grate the ginger instead of slice it. The slices were fine, but grating the ginger would have infused the punch more with ginger.

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