Apps. Starters. Hors d’oeuvres. Different name associations, same full-fledged meanings. I am actually quite surprised I haven’t blogged more frequently about the meal-before-the-meal entities known as appetizers. Often times, I prefer appetizers to the actual meal, due to the fact that they are simple in nature. I attribute this tendency partly due to the influence of my father’s side of the family. On any given summer in Maine, you can spot countless cousins, aunts, and uncles plowing through a medley of apps that consist of, but are not limited to: chips and salsa (and/or guac), crab dip, cheese and crackers. There are many more that ebb and flow through the revolving door, but here I have pinpointed the staples. The point is that appetizers are paramount to me, particularly on vacation. In my family, we do overeating — and we do it well.
Peach season is in full flight, so I wanted to utilize these delicious stone fruits and parlay them into hors d’oeuvres of some kind. As it often the case with my postings, I referred to my steadfast Food Bible, Bon Appétit. I’m a devout follower, with no reason to deviate (I can only remember one disappointment stemming from BA). It is very easy to choice recipes from this food publication, simply because as you leaf through the pages, you want to cook them all. I chose to profile the Peach & Blue Cheese Toasts.
“The Golden Globes”, as Bon Appétit refers to them, are in their prime right now. Much like nectarines, plums, apricots, and cherries, peaches are a stone fruit. They are all fruits that possess flesh enclosing a “stone” or pit in the middle. The ideal peach has only a touch of rosy red color, with the vast majority of the outer shell showcasing shades of golden yellow. This year, I had enough foresight to buy some peaches, slice them into wedges, and freeze them for use during the winter months when all I’m yearning for is some summer sun and fresh fruit. I’ll settle for the latter in this case.
These peach and blue cheese toasts have a little bit of everything: a citrus-peach marinade, baby arugula greens, CHEESE, and a food stalwart in the form of country-style bread. The toasts are relatively easy to make and are the perfect starter for someone special, guests at a dinner party, or your very own self. The blue cheese-peach pairing is a real delight and I even thought about how tasty the peach-arugula-blue cheese medley would pair just as well in a salad, with some cashews or walnuts on top. As Bon App notes, “the best blue cheese for this is salty but creamy, not too sharp or funky”. Take heed. The inner child in me was also left feeling replete, as cheese toast was my go-to snack as a kid. Enjoy this more gourmet staple of my childhood.
Peach & Blue Cheese Toasts
Recipe from the August 2014 issue of Bon Appétit
2 large ripe peaches
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. honey
4 slices country-style bread
6 tbsp. olive oil, divided
4 oz. blue cheese (such as Roquefort or Saint Agur), room temperature
2 cups (loosely packed) trimmed purslane or baby arugula
Freshly ground black pepper
Using the tip of paring knife, score an X in the bottom of each peach. Cook in a large saucepan of boiling water just until skins begin to peel back where cut, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water; let cool. Peel; cut over a small bowl into wedges, collecting juices. Add lemon juice and honey and toss to combine.
Toast bread, brush with 2 tbsp. oil, and season with salt. Spread cheese on toast and top with peaches, leaving juices behind. Whisk 4 tbsp. oil into juices. Toss purslane or baby arugula with enough dressing to lightly coat in a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Arrange over toasts.
Need more of a peach fix? Please check out last summer’s Grilled Peaches over Mixed Greens with Ricotta, Avocado, and Sweet onion Dressing or the classic Peach Cobbler.