Grilled peaches and ginger ice cream made for a midsummer evening


Juicy, sweet, dribble-down-your-chin peaches are one of the real treats of summer.

Because there are dozens of varieties out there, each ripening at a different time, the season seems to stretch on forever.  By mid-July I’m usually ready to do something more with this delightful fruit than merely stand over the sink, eating it out of hand.  Still, I want to keep it simple to preserve the bright, sun-kissed taste.

Peaches and ice cream are a classic combo and this year I’m serving grilled peaches with a spicy, ginger ice cream.  Grilling caramelizes the surface of the fruit and concentrates the flavor.  Ginger serves as a dramatic counterpoint.  Pair the hot fruit with the chilly ice cream and you have an ideal dessert for these midsummer evenings when it’s really too hot to turn on an oven.

This is not a dessert for those white-fleshed sugar bombs that pass as peaches.  This recipe needs tangy fm-peachesyellow peaches with an undercurrent of acid.  The trick here is to find peaches that are truly ripe.  I only buy them at farmers markets, where growers are usually happy to give you a taste before you buy.

Your nose will tell you if a peach is going to taste good, but you also should also check the background color. In “How to Pick a Peach” (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), LA Times food writer Russ Parsons warns that the pretty red blush on a peach’s cheek is merely a genetic trait and not an indicator of ripeness.  He recommends looking for an almost orange background color as a sign that the fruit was allowed to mature on the tree.

Don’t worry, though, if your peaches are still too hard.  Let them sit on the counter for a couple of days and they’ll continue to ripen and soften.  Grilling also will bring out more flavor.

The ice cream comes from Su-Mei Yu’s inspiring cookbook, “Asian Grilling” (William Morrow, 2002).  I was drawn by its combination of fresh, chopped ginger and minced candied ginger with luxurious cream.  The results are amazing, with a velvet texture and a depth of ginger flavor that enlivens the palate.

It’s a great foil for warm, tangy peaches.  Plus, it’s so good by itself that I’m sure to continue making it long after peach season is over.

Serves 4

1 cup chopped fresh ginger with peel
½ cup water
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup heavy cram
2 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 cup minced candied ginger
4 ripe peaches
2 tablespoons melted butter
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted

Make the ice cream:   Place chopped ginger and water in a blender jar and whirl until pureed.  Place a large strainer over a medium bowl and line with cheesecloth.  Pour the ginger puree through the strainer and let drain.  Then gather cheesecloth, twisting the ends together, and squeeze out as much remaining juice as possible.  Reserve the juice and discard ginger.

In a medium saucepan, combine the half-and-half and cream.   Heat until warm over medium heat and set aside.

Combine egg yolks and sugar in the blender and whirl until creamy.  With motor running, pour in warm cream mixture in a steady stream and blend for 2 minutes.  Add ginger juice and whirl for 1 minute more.  Place covered blender jar in refrigerator to chill for at least an hour, until cold.

Pour mixture into an electric ice cream machine and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.  About 10 minutes before the ice cream is done, add the candied ginger.  Freeze until firm.

Pack ice cream into a freezer-safe storage container and chill for an hour or two.

When you are ready to serve, bring grill to medium heat.  Halve and pit peaches.  Brush cut sides with melted butter and place on grill, cut side down, and cook over direct heat for 8-10 minutes, turning every few minutes.  They should be browned in places and warmed through.

Serve peaches topped with a scoop or two of ginger ice cream and sprinkled with toasted almonds.

Note:  This recipe uses raw egg yolks, which may pose a health risk for very young children, pregnant women or the elderly.  If you are concerned, you may substitute pasteurized eggs, which are sometimes difficult to find, or use an egg substitute.

Adapted from “Asian Grilling” bu Su-Mei Yu

One thought on “Grilled peaches and ginger ice cream made for a midsummer evening”

  1. Wow, I should have tried your ginger ice cream recipe… mine requires cooking the ginger with sugar to make ginger syrup – tasty but probably slightly less fresh-tasting than this!

    Anyway, you asked about scallion pancakes – they’re quite easy to make. 3 parts flour (with cracked black pepper and salt as you prefer) to 1 part warm water; slowly add the water 2 T at a time, mixing until it becomes a dough; knead just until smooth. Let sit for half an hour. Roll out 1 inch balls into four inch pancakes, sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds, roll up like a jelly roll than form into a ball and roll out again; fry in oil until golden brown. Simple.

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