What is surprising is that peaches can take you from salad to dessert without being too sweet, too monotonous, or, well, too peachy. Carole Seminara and her husband, Joe Houde, innkeepers in Fredericksburg, also operate the cooking school, which is open to visitors year-round. Most lessons are $49 for two hours, include 4-5 recipes, and serve “ample samples” for consumption. For a September class of eight people, they prepared the peachy meal to show off the region’s local ingredients – not only peaches but jalpeños, goat cheese, pecans and various herbs.
While cooking, Seminara and Houde, both native Texans, effortlessly dropped Texas trivia, history and local gossip into the lesson, providing context for the meal. Peach farming came to the area in 1846 with the first German settlers, who recognized that the climate and soil were perfectly suited for peach production. Today there are 1,400 acres of peaches farmed, with 12 varieties commonly produced, from Bicentennial to Springold. Peaches attract tourists, and not just culinary types: people turn up for peach blossom viewing in late March, harvest from mid-May though early August, and orchard tours throughout the summer. -JANICE FUHRMAN
- 4 ounce fresh goat cheese
- 1 firm, ripe peach, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
- 1 large egg. Beaten flour
- light oil for frying
- 1 package washed, baby spinach
- 2 tablespoon spiced pecans for garnish
- Peach vinaigrette*
- *For the peach vinaigrette:
- 2 tablespoons peach vinegar (see below for recipe)
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon mayonnaise
- 5-6 tablespoon light vegetable oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cut goat cheese into rounds, dredge in flour, dip in beaten egg and coat in bread crumbs.Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Fry breaded goat cheese until slightly browned and warmed through. Set on paper towels to drain. Toss baby spinach leaves with a small amount of peach vinaigrette. Place about a cup of dressed greens on salad plate, arrange three or four slices of peaches over greens, set rounds of goat cheese in center of salad. Garnish with a few spiced pecans. Drizzle with a bit more peach vinaigrette.
Make peach vinegar by blending equal parts peach puree with unseasoned rice or white wine vinegar. Combine with mayonnaise and lemon juice in a small bowl. Stirring rapidly with whisk, slowly drizzle in the oil. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.