Everything's Peachy in Palisade
It's summer in Colorado, and that means sunshine - and peaches? In the town of Palisade, there's simply no better way to celebrate summer than to sink your teeth into one of these homegrown delights. Fresh from Palisade's own PeachFest, here are a few recipes that left our mouths watering.
(This story originally appeared in the July/August 2013 issue of Colorado Life Magazine)
THE WESTERN SLOPE town of Palisade, which lies along the Colorado River as it flows from De Beque Canyon into the Grand Valley, is the perfect place to grow a peach. If you want proof, you can look at statistics – a 182-day growing season with 78-percent sunshine – or, better yet, you can simply eat a peach. It tastes like summer.
The Palisade Peach Festival on Aug. 15-18 is a celebration of the town’s famous fruit, complete with peach pie, peach ice cream and a peach-eating contest. Local chefs are on hand to demonstrate the deliciously diverse virtues of the Palisade peach, and their creations are by no means limited to dessert.
Diana Tarasiewicz, who lives down the road in Grand Junction, brings us her savory Palisade Peaches and Black Bean Salad recipe. A veteran chef and cooking instructor, she was hired last year by the Mesa County public schools to bring expertly cooked, farm-fresh food to local students.
Diana grew up in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France, where almost all of her family’s food came straight from their garden. Now that she’s in Grand Junction, the entire Grand Valley is her garden – in addition to the peach orchards and vineyards, the area offers a panoply of fresh, seasonal produce. “I pick up whatever is freshest, at peak of the season and harvested that day,” Diana said.
Coleen Bradley, co-owner of JayLeen Catering and Culinary Arts, became a regular at PeachFest during the four years she lived in Palisade. Her invention, Peaches and Cream Brûlée, strikes an ideal balance between the chef’s art and nature’s perfection as expressed in the Palisade Peach.
Peaches and Cream Brûlée
Coleen Bradley – Rose Hill, Kansas
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean OR 1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
6 whole ripe peaches
5 tsp sugar
Put cream in a medium saucepan. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape in seeds and add bean pod; bring to a simmer and then turn off heat. Combine 1/3 cup sugar and egg yolks in a mixing bowl, whisking until smooth. Slowly add warm cream to egg mixture, whisking constantly.
Set bowl containing egg mixture over a saucepan of simmering water; don’t let bowl touch water. Whisk mixture constantly for about 9 minutes or until it reaches 180° and coats back of spoon. Remove bowl from heat and put in an ice bath, stirring occasionally with a spatula; allow mixture to cool completely. (Can cool to room temperature, cover and chill overnight).
Cut tops off peaches and carefully hollow them out, discarding the pit; peaches can sit upright if thin portion of bottom is sliced off. Fill each peach with about 1/4 cup custard, smoothing so mixture is even with top of peach.
Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 3 hours. Sprinkle thin layer of sugar onto each custard-filled peach; caramelize sugar using a kitchen torch, keeping the torch moving at all times for even cooking. Serve within 1 hour of browning sugar.
Palisade Peaches and Black Beans Salad
Diana Tarasiewicz – Grand Junction
2 large fresh peaches, pitted, peel-on, ½” dice
1 large heirloom tomato, ½” dice
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup fresh raw corn (or canned)
1/2 jalapeño or serrano chile, finely diced (or to taste)
1 cup cooked black beans juice of 1 to 2 limes (to taste)
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
Dice all ingredients as per recipe. Add all ingredients to a large bowl. Mix and taste; if necessary, adjust seasonings to your preference. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to let all the flavors blend, or serve immediately with some tortilla chips. Salad can be kept refrigerated for two days, after which the flavors will start to fade. Great to enjoy alongside grilled chicken, pork or fish – goes especially well with salmon fillet.