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You should look for peaches that are unblemished and not too firm. Fresh peaches spoil quickly so don’t buy too many unless you’re going to use them.

Peaches a summer dish staple

Buy them while they’re in season and ready to eat

Fresh peaches are starting to appear in the produce sections these days, and I thought having a guide to help you pick out the very best will set you on the road to delicious.

You should look for peaches that are unblemished and not too firm. Fresh peaches spoil quickly so don’t buy too many unless you’re going to use them. Peaches don’t get sweeter after they are picked so make sure to get the ripest ones you can.

If you need to peel your peaches (and you don’t have to, there’s bunches of stuff that’s good for you in the skin), you should blanch them in boiling water for about 1 minute and then drop them into ice water immediately to cool and then peel. The skin should come off easily. Just know that peaches will turn brown very quickly after they are cut so you should sprinkle them with lemon or lime juice if you aren’t going to use them immediately.

The phrase peaches and cream can literally mean eating “peaches” and “cream” together in a dish or pie or cake or whatever way you desire. The following recipes all combine peaches and some kind of cream or cheese.

Kiwi Peach and Cream Salsa

You can vary the amount of fruit or onion in this salsa and a few drops of a hot sauce can be added if you like a little kick to your salsa.

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened (you can use chive cream cheese)

2 peaches, chopped

2 to 3 kiwis, peeled, chopped

1 red pepper, finely chopped

4 to 6 green onions, sliced thin, green and white parts

2 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley or cilantro

1/2 to 2/3 cup creamy Italian dressing

Corn chips or crackers

Spread the cream cheese on the bottom of a serving plate, leaving about an inch around the edge. In a bowl combine the peaches, kiwi, red pepper, green onions, parsley and Italian dressing. Mix to combine and then spoon the mixture over the cream cheese. Serve with chips and crackers. Serves 8 to 10.

Grilled Peaches and Mozzarella

1 tablespoon minced onion

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Zest of one lime

1 tablespoon honey

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

5 to 6 ripe peaches (not too mushy), cut in half and pitted

1 pound block or ball of mozzarella, cut into slices

1 head each romaine and bibb lettuce, combined

1/3 cup shredded basil leaves

In a small bowl combine the minced onions and vinegar. Whisk in the lime juice, zest, honey, salt and pepper. After the mixture is combined, add olive oil and whisk to combine then set it aside. Arrange lettuce on a large platter and set it aside.

Brush a grill or grill pan with oil and then grill the peach halves, cut side down for about 3 or 4 minutes or until there are grill marks and the peaches are warm. Flip them over and grill for 2 to 3 more minutes. Place the peaches on a cutting board and cut them into thin slices. Arrange the peaches and mozzarella slices on top of green in whatever pattern you like. Sprinkle the shredded basil over the top and then drizzle the dressing over the top and serve. Serves 8.

Peachy Cream Cake

3/4 cup self rising flour (yes, self rising)

1 package cheesecake or vanilla instant pudding mix (3.4 ounce)

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 large (about 28 ounces) can sliced peaches, drained – save the juice

8 ounce package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch deep dish pie plate. In a mixing bowl combine the flour, pudding, butter, egg and milk. Mix to combine. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange the peach slices over the top of the batter. In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor combine the cream cheese, sugar and 3 tablespoons peach juice and process for 2 minutes. Spread the topping over the top of the peaches, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the top of the cream cheese mixture. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Cool and refrigerate. Serves 8.

– Submitted by Charlie Aronoes of New York, N.Y. Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at ztlog@verizon.net or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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