Best Fair Food: Peaches and Cream!

At Simple Good and Tasty this week, we're focusing on the 2010 Minnesota State Fair. So instead of recipes for your CSA box, I wanted to showcase one of the best new foods at the fair, the Peaches and Cream parfait from Salty Tart at the Produce Exchange booth, located across from the International Bazaar.

I first heard about it in July in this post by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl on the Dara & Co. blog at Minnesota Monthly's website: 

"I was talking to Michelle Nicholson, the pastry genius behind the Salty Tart... She's going to make coconut-milk-and-greek-yogurt softserve topped with layers of roast-peach compote... Is that a parfait? A sundae? Whatever it is, I want one. I haven’t been this excited about a new State Fair food in a good long while. Be sure to look for them in that quiet corner of the State Fair across from the International Bazaar, up near the Space Tower."

I mentally added "that peach thing" to my list of foods to seek at the fair; it was the only new fair food I tried. As I wrote in my article on going to the fair with children, our family always shares one order among four of us. Things got a little combative as we gobbled our way to the bottom of the cup.

It turns out we weren't the only ones who adored the parfait. Fair food articles at the Star Tribune and Heavy Table agreed it was a best new food at the fair this year. I'd go a little further; I think it was one of the best foods at the fair, period. It's definitely earned a spot on my must-eat list for next year.

Peaches, sadly, aren't suited to the Minnesota climate. For not-so-local items like these, I try to eat in season from the best, nearest source. Hartford, Michigan peaches are the ones the staff at my grocery cooperative, the Eastside, enthuses about every year, and are closest, about 500 miles; so I chose them to make the Peaches and Cream parfaits at home. Michelle of Salty Tart uses Sweet Dreams peaches from Washington, as they hold their shape well when cooked down. She uses coconut water to flavor the ice cream, but this becomes icy when making at home; you can serve it to drink instead. The ginger and cardamom are my additions; leave them out if they're not your thing.


Peaches and Cream parfaits
(serves 4 to 6)

For the peaches:
2 1/2 pounds peaches
1/2 cup sugar or local honey, or 3/4 cup local maple syrup (like that from Sapsucker Farms)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
1 vanilla bean
1 Tablespoon corn starch, diluted in 1 Tablespoon warm water.

Pit and cut peaches into 1/4-inch slices; you don't need to peel them. Combine in medium sauce pan with sugar or honey or syrup, ginger, cardamom, vanilla bean. Over medium-low heat simmer for about 20 minutes while a sauce develops, then add the corn starch slurry. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes more until sauce is thickened. Peaches should be soft but still hold their shape in slices. Transfer to covered bowl and refrigerate.

For the "cream":
2 cups local vanilla ice cream, softened
2 cups Greek style vanilla or honey yogurt (not many local yogurt choices, but you can make your own with local milk)

In a large bowl, use a spatula to combine the ice cream and yogurt, squashing down any lumps. Place in freezer-safe covered container, and freeze about an hour, until the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.

To assemble the parfaits:
Soften the ice cream/yogurt mixture if it's too hard. Starting with the ice cream, alternate two to three heaping tablespoons of ice cream and peaches, then garnish with crumbled gingersnaps; Michelle uses gluten-free cookies so more people can indulge. This looks pretty in a clear plastic glass, cup or wineglass, but will be just as delicious in a bowl.

Enjoy, and I'll be back next week with recipes for the local vegetables in your Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box!



Kristin Boldon is a frequent contributor for Simple, Good and Tasty, who also writes for the Eastside Food Cooperative's newsletter on health and wellness, and for her own blog Girl Detective. Her last post for us was "Tips for Making the State Fair Fun for the Whole Family."