May 22, 2017
Summer is a time for grilling outside. Everyone knows that grilling meat or corn is delicious but don't underestimate grilled seasonal fruit. The heat caramelizes the sugars creating a very delicious dessert. Peaches not only taste great right off the grill but also perfect for summer salads.
The peach (Prunus persica) is a deciduous tree native to the region of Northwest China between the Tarim Basin and the north slopes of the Kunlun Shan mountains, where it was first domesticated and cultivated. From Northern China the Peach tree moved to Persia and on to Europe. It is part of the Rose family like the Cherry tree I wrote about last month. To this day China remains the largest world producer of peaches, with Italy second. Italy is the main exporter of peaches in the European Union; the regions of Campania and Emilia Romagna account for more than 50% of Italy’s annual production. California produces more than 50% of the peaches in the United States (and grows 175 different varieties). So many peaches are grown in Georgia that it became known as the Peach State.
These one stone or pit fruits have values symbolic and magical as well as nutritional to the Chinese. They were an ancient symbol of fertility and it is said that they had and still have magical powers. The Chinese believe the peach is an omen. No wonder, its name, tao fu, means omen; it also means wood. The presence of the peach in folklore, literature, religion, paintings, embroidery, and in the affection of the people signifies luck, abundance, and protection. The fruit is believed to offer immortality or at least reaching very old age. Many a peach, illustratively speaking, is found in the hand of an elder or a Buddha. The wood of the peach tree is used for amulets and when worn around the neck, the peach pit is thought to drive off lurking demons. Peach flowers have interesting uses, too. They represent beauty in paintings and embroideries. The flowers and the fruit make foods taste and look beautiful, they even enhance sour foods such as when making vinegar. This fruit is very popular, even at the most auspicious holiday. It is used for New Year decorations.
4 ounces mozzarella balls
8 basil leaves
1 tablespoon balsamic reduction
Cut each peach so that there are 4 pieces about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Tip: Start at the end of the peach and cut the slices. Gently cut around the pit of the peach, then use the knife as a wedge to detach the peach slice.
Cut mozzarella ball into four even pieces. If you'd like the mozzarella to fit evenly within the peach slices, you may need to cut some excess off around the sides.
Assemble by placing a slice of peach on the bottom, followed a slice of mozzarella, and capped with another slice of peach. Finish by placing two basil leaves on top. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. If using toothpicks, you may need to cut the toothpicks in half so that they're the proper height.
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