Sweet or savory, now’s your chance to dive into peach-infused recipes
So, Dad’s birthday was this past Saturday. Happy Birthday, Dad! As usual, he wanted to throw himself a barbecue birthday party with the standard condition that no one attending the gathering (other than those of us who know better) be informed that it is his birthday. According to Dad, it’s just another day that he woke up and was able to get successfully out of bed. I guess that’s a good enough qualifier for having a birthday (shhh!) barbecue.
OK. Sounds good. Let’s have a party. My parents excel at hosting parties. For over 50 years, they have consistently received A’s (or 4’s) in this category. Passed down from my paternal grandparents, the art of successful entertaining is a talent both Mom and Dad share. My grandparents ingrained in my parents that you should always greet your guests at the door and within a set amount of time those guests should have a drink in hand. According to my grandparents, a proper host should be prepared to mix or offer whatever type of drink is requested. (No pressure there, right? As far as I know, bartending was not offered in home economics).
Dad’s rule is he will make you the first drink upon your arrival, then officially you are no longer a guest and you are on your own to help yourself. He wants anyone who enters his home to feel like family. Well, then I say they should help with dishes.
Another rule my parents follow is that when they invite guests into their home they provide everything. I always ask, what can I bring? The canned response is, “Your bodies!” Well, knowing that my parents brag about my culinary skills any chance they get, I cannot show up empty-handed looking like a boob when friends inquire about what I contributed. My glowing personality can only go so far.
So that being said, I started thinking of some summer party food ideas. I deferred to my sous chef (my 9-year-old daughter). I tell her that Grandpa is grilling rib-eye steaks and shrimp for his birthday. Without pause, she nailed it. “Something with peaches!” she blurts out. I feel like it is almost cliché to say I am bringing something with peaches in August. However, at the same time, I’d be a fool to not celebrate them this time of year.
We began looking through magazines and cookbooks wanting a little something out of the ordinary. I am searching for savory, she is searching for sweet. (I think she was a hummingbird in her former life.) We are both suckers for pretty pictures, passing on anything that does not have eye-teasing colors and textures. A spicy peach salad catches my attention and I get excited. I know we are having grilled rib-eye steaks, so I want something to compliment the richness of perfectly charred beef. I decide on a peach salad but already know I want to put my spin on it. A little heat from fresh chilies, pungent cilantro and creamy avocados will be an excellent accompaniment for the steak and equally pair well with the shrimp.
In the other room, my daughter was rolling her eyes and claiming that truly the best option would be to pair a perfect Grandpa grilled steak with a cake. Duh! She stumbles upon a beautiful apple cream torte recipe from an old Sunset magazine and suggests we make it with peaches. Man, I love this child! Yes, yes! But I am still going to make the salad.
We ran down to the corner peach stand and grab the peaches we need, plus a few extra. We cannot help it. You almost feel bad leaving peaches behind.
We got to prepping. We decided our version of the torte would call for three ripe but firm peaches; however, we somehow went through six or so before the cake was completed. Just a little quality control for us chefs.
The torte turned out picture-perfect beautiful and was certainly an excellent choice, but I cannot wait to dive into the slightly sweet yet spicy peachy salad. I am a savory kind of girl.
I make a quick salad dressing of equal parts lemon juice and olive oil, a little drizzle of honey, a large shallot minced, salt, pepper, and slice up a red Fresno chili pepper. I select three of the best peaches left and pack three avocados and remove a handful of cilantro leaves from the stems, knowing once we get there the salad will come together in a pinch.
With the peach cream torte complete and peach avocado salad prep ready, we were set. Sticking with my usual disobedient daughter behavior, we grabbed candles, balloons, wrapped presents, a happy birthday banner and showy birthday balloons and head over to Grandpa’s. I say if you make it to 72, that is something to be proud of!