Peach chutney (with a cherry on top).

This week’s second post is somewhat abbreviated as I am officially ‘vacationing’ in the Buckeye state. Having arrived after an uneventful 12-hour car ride and suitably plied with good red wine and fed a lovely meal outside on the patio by the in-laws (thanks Mike & Kay!), my good intentions of loading this post last evening were shot. So forgive my tardiness but please rush out and buy some fresh peaches to make this awesome chutney. Down South, this year’s peach harvest is on the decline but apparently up here along the Great Lakes, peach season has just begun. I am pleasantly surprised by this tidbit of information, because I didn’t know peaches grew this far north. Our South Carolina peach crop was especially ‘peachy’  good this year and I was inspired to make this chutney so we can enjoy their flavor, albeit punched up a bit, all year long.

This recipe is straightforward and although I added cherries, you could make it with only peaches as the main fruit (just substitute extra peaches for the cherries). I use golden raisins and lots of whole cloves. Use the best spices you can – nothing old – fresh spices makes a big difference in the taste. If you’ve never tried making it, give it a go. It’s a forgiving recipe and you’ll surely find lots of delicious uses for this condiment.

Chutney is delicious on roasted and grilled pork and chicken, served with cream cheese and crackers as a snack or appetizer (handy to have when company rolls in) and a myriad of other fun foodie amusements. I’ll be posting some of these in the coming weeks. And homemade preserves always make a welcome housewarming or hostess gift.

Ingredients for this chutney include fresh peaches, cherries and golden raisins.

No need to peel the peaches but you must remove the pitt from the cherries.

Mix the sugar and the vinegar to make a syrup. Then all you do is…

add in the onions, fruit and spices. Smells so good!

The heat in this chutney comes from hot cherry pepper which I slice and cook with the chutney for awhile.

Once the chutney has the level of ‘heat’ I want ( which isn’t much) I remove the pepper. Since I give some of these as gifts and we have a 4-year-old I don’t make spicy hot chutney. It has a bite but not a “my mouth is on fire” burn.

The chutney is just about ready. The fruit should be soft but not cooked beyond recognition.

Fill the hot, prepared jars. Wipe the rims clean and seal with hot, sterilized lids and rings.

Peach Chutney – with a cherry on top!

Ingredients

  •             10 cups peaches, washed and diced – no need to peel
  •             2 cups fresh cherries, washed, stems remove, pitted and cut in half
  •             2 ½ cups packed light or dark brown sugar or a combination
  •             2 cups chopped onions
  •             2 cups raisins
  •             2 ½ cups white or cider vinegar
  •             1 fresh red sweet pepper, washed and diced
  •             1 hot pepper, washed, cut in half and seeds removed
  •             1 heaping tbl. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  •             1 tsp salt
  •             1 pinch cayenne pepper
  •             1 tsp. tumeric
  •             2 tsp. mustard seeds
  •             ½ tsp. cinnamon
  •             1/4 tsp ground cumin
  •             1 tsp. ground coriander
  •             1-2 tsp. whole cloves*

Preparation

Mix spices (last 7 items listed above) plus the salt in a small bowl, set aside. In large heavy nonaluminum pot, combine sugar and vinegar over medium heat. Stir and bring up to a boil. Add peaches, cherries, onions, raisins, red pepper, ginger and spices; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring often, for 45 minutes or until thickened. Add in the hot pepper and stir. Cook another 5 minutes stirring every minute or so.

Remove from the heat. Discard the hot pepper. Pour into hot canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe rims with a clean cloth and seal with prepared lids and bands. If any of your jars do not seal within 15 minutes of being canned, process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. When a seal is made you will hear a ‘pop’ and if you push down lightly on the top of the lid with your finger it will not bounce back. If it does, it is NOT sealed. Makes 12 half pints.

* I love cloves so I use 2 teaspoons but if you are not so inclined use less.

The Mayonnaise Wars – Throw it at Me!

My recipe for shrimp spread or dip, if you will. Not even my husband, a true "non-mayo-er" can resist this appetizer. I wonder if he realizes there is mayo in it. Cats out of the bag now!

In the landscape of southern cooking – and eating – there may be no more divisive ingredient than mayonnaise. Feuding families split over which brand they prefer: Kraft, Hellman’s, Blue Plate or my personal favorite, Duke’s. And believe it or not, there are even those who not only don’t like mayonnaise, they admit that even the thought of it makes their duodenum cramp a bit.

True Southerners would consider those folks the politically incorrect “c” word – crazy. (And being ever so polite would never actually say this to their face.) This is likened to not enjoying a warm bowl of creamy grits, homemade hushpuppies, or worse yet, turning your nose (and your tongue) up at pit-roasted, hardwood smoked pork barbeque. Sacrilege.

Considering myself to be a non-judgmental type person I will admit that I too, find it hard to believe that someone would not like all the delicious eats that include mayonnaise in their ingredient list. First off there’s potato salad, then there’s the BLT sandwich, deviled eggs, pimento cheese, and yes, even ranch dressing.

When presented with a “non-mayo-er” situation an uneasy feeling of disbelief sweeps over me. Something is wrong here and I must ascertain the answer ! Like a therapist searching for the clues of life-long anguish, I pester the non-mayo-er, pleading with them, “but why don’t you like it?” There must be something sinister lurking in your past, way back there, behind the pickled jalapeños and the expired yogurt, that slammed the door on all delights deemed, nay doomed, mayonnaise-y in your refrigerator of life.

When I say that my own husband is one of these non-mayo-ers, you may be surprised. Believe me, he will be surprised to read that I’ve spilt the beans regarding his little aversion in the blogosphere. But I am not here to judge or defend. Actually I am here to state that I love mayonnaise and all that it contributes to my spring and summer table.

Apologies to Paula Deen, but I won’t be “slathering my corn with mayonnaise” or recreating my own Mother’s beloved congealed salad recipes (most of which contain mayo) verbatim on South by Southeast. However, I will show how simple it is to make homemade mayonnaise, a superior condiment to any jarred brand, in my opinion. And offer recipes (with step-by-step how to) for some delish sides like old-fashioned potato salad and new favorites like Madras chicken salad sliders.

Duke's Mayonnaise. Created by Mrs. Eugenia Duke in Greenville, SC in 1917 (Yes, 1917!). Since 1929 it has been produced by the C.F. Sauer Company, still in Greenville using the same time-tested recipe. And happily the market for Duke's is expanding. You can even get it in Pennsylvania and west into Missouri now. Go Duke's!

That being said I do buy and use Duke’s Mayonnaise. This is my “family mayo” and no other brand graced the threshold of my parent’s kitchen, ever. Even though my mother is very frugal, no off brand mayo for her either, only Dukes would do. And heaven forbid, she would never allow the “whip” (you know what this is!) into a grocery cart much less onto a tomato sandwich!

What makes this specific brand so good? To me, it’s because I’ve grown accustomed to Duke’s – the clean flavor with just a subtle tang of acidy vinegar kick, I suppose. And honestly, I know what to expect and I appreciate that. Consistency is an undervalued commodity.

So, do you have a favorite mayonnaise? Or other condiment that you cannot live without? What makes it special? Throw it at me (but be nice, please). I would love to hear all about it!

Blue Plate. This is a southern mayo straight out of New Orleans via Gretna, LA. It's a cajun staple.

Kraft. There's a style and a size for everyone, pretty much.

Hellman's. There was no 'light' version at my local grocer, however, there was olive oil, for the cholesterol conscious.