Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Peach Dumplings and a Homecoming
My whole family is home now! Woohoo! My younger son, Isaac, returned yesterday after three weeks away at camp. Bob and I joke that Isaac has only been visiting Seattle this summer, but it really is true. After a school trip to Japan and a visit with his grandparents in Boston, MA, he was home for two days before we said good-bye again. This time Isaac jumped on the bus with his buddies and departed for camp in Olympia, WA. Camp Solomon Schechter is beloved by the campers and the kids begin counting down to next summer’s session as soon as they arrive home. For now, though, we have our family together under one roof (Sam just returned from Washington, D.C. a few days ago) and this is cause for celebration!
One of our favorite summer meals is peach dumplings. Yup, dessert for dinner! The recipe is Czech and comes from Bob’s mother, Ann. When I first met Bob (almost 24 years ago) his mom served peach dumplings for dinner one evening. I loved the dumplings instantly (and his mom!). And what’s not to love? Sweet, juicy peaches are wrapped in a cheese dough, cooked, sliced in half and served with melted butter, sour cream and sugar. Oh my! (Yes, melted butter, sour cream and sugar – over the years, I’ve erred in trying to make these healthier by substituting whole wheat flour, whole grain bread crumbs, cinnamon and yogurt. No luck there. I’ve embraced the white flour, sugar and sour cream for dinner!)
I was touched when my mother-in-law shared the recipe with me and it evokes warm memories of her when I pull it out. Grandma's Peach Dumplings are what Sam and Isaac request most when peaches are in season and make the perfect celebratory meal for us. I’m a happy mama with the whole family around the table again!
From my mother-in-law, Ann Cordes
For the dumplings
10 large, very ripe peaches
3 cups ricotta cheese (do not use homemade, the dumpling dough will be too soft)
3 cups unseasoned bread crumbs (very dry crumbs if using homemade)
3 cups all-purpose flour
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Rinse the peaches, dry and remove any stems (keep the peaches whole, no need to peel). Fill a large pot (8 quart) with water and start heating it on high heat.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and then stir in the ricotta cheese and bread crumbs. Alternate adding the flour and melted butter. At this point, I find it easiest to use my hands to mix the dough.
When you have a smooth dough, shape it into a log on the kitchen counter and divide into 10 portions. Flatten one portion in your hands and wrap around a peach, being sure to seal it well (roll it around in your hands like a ball to smooth). Repeat with the remaining dough so you have 10 dumplings. You can make them earlier in the day up to this point. Just seal them in plastic wrap so they don’t dry out and keep in the fridge.
When the water is boiling, use a slotted spoon to lower 5 dumplings in. Move them around a bit to make sure they are not sticking to the bottom. Cover the pot partially and when the water returns to a boil, turn the heat down a little so it doesn’t boil over. Boil for 20 minutes.
Remove the dumplings carefully with a slotted spoon. Sometimes the dumpling dough will split or start to come off the peach...don’t worry, it’s still delicious even if it’s not looking perfect. Boil the next 5 dumplings in the same way. Keep the first 5 warm by putting them in a bowl and covering with a kitchen towel.
To serve, slice a dumpling in half and slather on sour cream, sugar and melted butter to your taste. I find the dumplings slice best if they have cooled for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!