Peach Archive

Thursday, August 22, 2013

almond-crisped peaches + uk book tour

almond crisped peach + mine

I hope, if we are going to continue to be good friends, that we can have an implicit understanding that there is no such thing as too many peach recipes. Not in July, not in August, not in New York, which grows surprisingly good peaches for a Yankee. And I know that as a writer and food person, I’m supposed to be on the lookout for my crutches, my overused ingredients. I should probably lay off the tomatoes, the caramelized onions, the feta, Dijon, strawberries, green beans, white beans and butternut squash. Sheesh, I should show some range! Maybe I will, you know, after peach season is over. Because I’m not done with them yet. I’m not done with summer yet. Maybe it’s this mild August we’ve been having or, I confess, the not-supposed-to-be-but-kinda-has-been fun of having a husband out of a job for the last few months, but once you become a summer person, it’s hard to react with anything but venom when you spy apples and butternut squash at the farmer’s market before Labor Day, as I did this week. How gauche!

butter + peaches + almonds + sugar
halved peaches, some freestone

But, you know, September’s not going to be too terrible. School resumes, which is pretty awesome if you’re three-going-on-four, we’ll all be back to the grind (sigh/yay) and oh, there’s this little trip I’m taking across the pond for a UK book tour.

ground almonds, sugar, butter, and maybe oats

Continued after the jump »

Monday, July 1, 2013

peach and pecan sandy crumble

peaches, pecan sandies, crumbled

If you think about it, isn’t it strange that we’ve nominated pie as our iconic summer dessert? Do understand, I say this as someone who frequently daydreams about going around the country and teaching people to make pie with a bare minimum of fuss, because I think the only thing standing between you and someone who effortlessly throws pies together because you heard someone was coming over is someone talking you through it once or twice… But I will also fully admit: pie is a pest. It requires very cold fat to be carefully worked into a floury mix until the pieces are exactly the right size. Too small, your crust is flat and crunchy. Too big, butter pools out and burns, leaving sad, tough flakes for crust. Too warm, the bits go small and absorb into the flour. Too cold, good luck rolling it out! And before you even know if the trouble will be worth it, you’ve got to roll out your crust with no holes or tears or your fruit filling will leak through and permanently glue pie-to-pan. And the fruit! Too thick, your pie cuts freakishly like Jell-O; too thin, it spills out everywhere, leaving a hollow crust in its wake. And don’t even get me started on lattice-tops. They’re for really sick people.

deeply toasted pecans
grinding the toasted pecans and flour

Given all of these high stakes, it’s a wonder we don’t all spend our summers, exclusively extolling the virtues of fruit crisps and crumbles, because they’re pie’s laid-back, easy-breezy sibling, the one whose arrival always brings applause. They give you nothing to carefully roll out; you just messily sprinkle the so-called “crust” over the top of the fruit, which can be thickened or not at all because if you’re not slicing it, who cares if it slumps? (And if the thought of fruit that sighs and puddles out onto a plate isn’t more appealing to you than fruit that stands up straight when you slice it, well, I beg to differ.) And the fat! Instead of asking butter to do the thing it would very least like to do on a hot day — that is, to try to stay cold — you begin by melting it.

melted butter into dry mixture

Continued after the jump »

Monday, July 23, 2012

peach pie

peach pie

I am sure I’m not the only person who has ever been out to eat and bit into something they knew they’d love and nearly sobbed with disappointment over what could have been but was not. “Why? Why did they have to go and ‘fix’ this? It wasn’t broken!” No? It’s just me? Well, good on you for having some decorum, or at least a better poker face than your narrator. I’ve done this when I discovered curry powder in a sweet potato pirogi (really, I’m grimacing as I type this). It’s not a popular opinion, but I feel this way about bacon in chocolate chip cookies. And if everyone could stop putting cardamom pods in vanilla ice cream and custards, I wouldn’t mind one bit. I like vanilla. I don’t think it needs any flavor enhancement.

lots of peaches into boiling water
poach for two minutes slipping the peach skins off
sadly, they didn't make it peach peeling, second try

Not that I’m innocent in this area. It seems that as long as web pages need updating, magazines need printing and food shows have new seasons to fill with programming, we’re going to have “new spins on the classics,” and I too have been known to hide bourbon in banana bread, do all sorts of unnatural things to latkes, and no, I will not apologize for the time I made a red velvet cake with red wine instead of the accepted vat of food dye. I found all of these things to be worthwhile improvements on the status quo in the same way that the person about to leave me a link to their favorite bacon chocolate chip cookie (the one that will change my mind) recipe in the comments does, but no doubt someone else out there found that that bourbon clashed terribly with bananas and feels justly that I owe them some cake.

chilled pie doughs

Continued after the jump »

Friday, September 2, 2011

peach butter

happy breakfast

We spent last weekend in New Orleans. I’d been invited to be on a panel about recipe development at a lovely conference, and we wove that together with a baby-free mini-vacation for our anniversary weekend. We’d only been to New Orleans once before, just a couple months before our wedding in 2005, not realizing how strongly we’d feel connected to the city when our wedding and Hurricane Katrina fell on the same date. Meanwhile, we managed to miss another hurricane — and her damages — entirely back home. We’re lucky people.

streetcar
we called her Irene

When we go away, we always have great plans to walk everywhere and eat freely, hoping to strike a balance. However, that arrangement works out a little better in a city that doesn’t have the still air and intense heat of a preheated oven — summer there is no joke! So, we walked slowly and ate immensely. I wanted to tell you about all of it — the tomato salad with battered Vidalia “chips”! the boudin! the po’ boys! — but when I typed it all together, it was a terrifying thing to behold. I couldn’t even own up to it on a weblog that extols good eating. [Hint: I had at least four dishes smothered in gravy. In three nights!] But I will tell you about the brunch platter that nearly did me in, and had it, it would have been a fine, fine way to go: eggs, grits, fried green tomatoes, bacon, a giant warm biscuit and the owner’s own peach butter made to slather upon it. “You’re going to have to roll me home from New Orleans!” I told my husband, after which we vowed to find healthier fare on our final day (but still ended up with a beignet breakfast, muffaletta lunch and then pralines boxed up as gifts. New Orleans is snickering at me right now, I know it is.)

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, September 2, 2010

peach shortbread

peach shortbread

Is there an unsaid rule that bar cookies have to be heavy and gooey? Two weeks ago, we picked up a cup of coffee on our way to the park so that the little monkey could continue his path of destruction outside our apartment, and I fell for something in the bakery case called peach shortbread, cut into bars. But instead of being thick and intense, it was delicate, light and barely sweet — a thin layer of shortbread, even thinner slices of peach and the faintest sprinkling of streusel on top. I knew I had to share it.

shortbread
peaches, tiled

And it wasn’t until I had jotted down “peach streusel bar” on my to-do list that I remembered a recipe for brown butter peach bars from that I found in a preview of The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook in The New York Times nearly three years ago, and have pined for since. (This recipe didn’t make it into the cookbook, but a rhubarb version — that looked almost as time-consuming and delicious — did.) Every summer, I swear, I’m going to summon the energy to make them. First, you make a peach jam from fresh peaches. It involves a candy thermometer. It takes an hour to cook. Then you brown butter and freeze it until solid. Then you make a crumb base with this butter, bake it for 20 minutes and let it cool. Then you make a custard filling with fresh vanilla bean, and brown more butter. This filling is spread over the baked crust, the peach jam is dolloped over that, and you bake it for 30 minutes more. I have no doubt that nirvana ensues, in fact, a reader recently told me that she tried them and they were absolutely worth it. But I got tired just typing this paragraph and I realized it was time for me to admit that it might not be worth it to me, especially since so much of time right now is spent doing things like this.

peach shortbread, haphazard

Continued after the jump »


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