Peach Tart Tatin

Just a quick post today as we are all a-flutter getting ready for Noah’s third birthday! There is still a homemade pinata to paint, balloons to blow up, a dozen lemons to squeeze for his favorite drink (lemonade) and most importantly, a cake to decorate. I’m sure I’ll be up far into the night icing it-I don’t want to start it until he is fast asleep!!
At some point amidst all the busyness, I’m sure I will be shedding a tear or two over the fact that my baby, my firstborn, is growing up. Sniff!

We went for a walk yesterday, a few of Autumn’s early fallen leaves crunching under our feet, bundled up in warm sweaters, talking the whole way. At the stop sign he declared:

“A-R-R-E-T. That spells ‘Stop’.” and I had to laugh. Only in Quebec can things be this confusing for a child.

I had to post this peach tart tatin because it was one of my favorite desserts last month. There’s still plenty of gorgeous stone fruits available; it’s certainly not too late to make this for yourself. You really need a dessert to dig into as you get comfy on the sofa in the evening and welcome all your favorite TV shows back, right? (Top Chef: where ARE you?)


OK, so I don’t have a recipe for this, as I literally just melted some butter, added a sprinkling of brown sugar and the peach halves to the pan. I then dusted the peaches in cinnamon and topped the whole thing with a round of chilled puff pastry. Into the oven it went until the pastry was golden brown.
If you’ve made an apple tart tatin, you can make this! If not, you might want leave this useless post and check out a real recipe for tart tatin.

That’s it!

Going Crazy for Peach Cobbler

How frustrating is it to be hungry and surfing food blogs? It’s like asking for trouble.

You don’t even have to be that hungry, you can be just peckish, and then start feeling sorry for yourself as you read about all the good stuff that is unavailable, SO unavailable, to you.
It’s cruel, really.

So what are your options should you find yourself with a rumbling stomach and drooling onto your keyboard? Here are two that come to mind.

A) Get out before you are so blinded by hunger you will raid the pantry and eat anything you come across (usually chocolate, marshmallows, dried fruit and more chocolate). Switch sites immediately and start surfing your favorite online retail store for bikinis. That will get your mind off of food and onto exercise faster than anything else.
OR
B) Hit ‘print’, head to the kitchen, tie on an apron, and attempt to recreate what had you salivating moments earlier.

Let’s assume the latter is what most of us do.

Now for a reality check (don’t you hate those?).
Here’s the deal, although you may be a cook, perhaps even a professional chef, that doesn’t always mean you can jump up and turn out exactly what you have seen on a blog.
If only it were that easy, but often you are separated by more than just preheating the oven and stirring ingredients together.
Here are a few roadblocks you may encounter. These are purely from my own experience, feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

1) Product Availability: Who has a stash of blueberry lager in the back of the fridge to make these Brewberry Brownies? Another creation from Sugar Plum, these unique brownies look like the perfect dessert to be whipped up on a weeknight and eaten straight from the pan while -what else?–surfing blogs, but how am I to get my hands on a beer called “Wild Blue”? (Warning: This problem is encountered more frequently if you tend to read blogs from another country where they have many products that are new to us. It works both ways, though, as I have had people ask me what crab apples or rhubarb taste like.)

2) Time Constraints: (this is my current biggest problem) Do you have enough non-interrupted free time to execute the dish correctly? OK, fine then, maybe you do, but then you read the recipe and there is the frustratingly inevitable step in the recipe that says to rest/marinade/chill the dish overnight. Arg! You need to eat it NOW!

3) Just Plain Lack-of-Skill: Ouch. Never fun to admit, but we know our limits, right? We need a few hundred hours of pastry experience under our belts before we can attempt some of this stuff.

For example, recently I was puckering and salivating over Aran’s Delice D’Ete. Everything about it was calling out to me: the tartness of the raspberries, the Bavarian cream with its vanilla seeds, and the stylish way the dessert came together. I could imagine my fork cutting effortlessly through its flawless layering, but deep down I knew: this dessert was about as attainable to me as an Olympic medal. (Not just because I am Canadian, either!) I barely had enough time to read through and visualize the recipe, never mind grab a pen and make a shopping list. Little use that would be anyway, as Oprah probably gets more cooking time in her kitchen than I do. OK, so she probably doesn’t lift a spoon, but you get my drift.


However, my spirits lifted, perhaps even soared when I saw this cobbler! Matt’s gorgeous photo got my attention and his ode to the humble cobbler struck a chord. Here was something I could throw together during the rare occasion of a synchronized nap of my babies, using ingredients that were fast ripening on my counter top. Heck, I thought, if my stars were aligned right, I could probably make a cobbler, bake it and eat half of it before anyone woke up. Perfect!

And that’s what I did. More than once.

In fact, if I counted correctly, I believe I made five peach cobblers in 48 hours, but who is counting anyway?

Let’s see. Well, I started with two–and not little sissy individual ramekins like the one in the photo either, but big, deep dish pyrex cobblers. One I consumed hot out of the oven that afternoon with some help from Danny (this is the recommended way to eat them). The other one I brought to a potluck with friends that evening. The next day I made another one for us (much bigger this time) and two more in aluminum, take-out containers to deliver to friends who just had babies. After that I was out of peaches or I probably would have kept going.


The little ramekins are pretty cute, I guess, good for a photo, but you will never be satisfied with a small portion of this perfect summer-in-a-dish.
How simple is the cobbler? It’s easier than a pie. I always get a mental block with pie dough; it’s so much work to roll out sometimes. No spices or flavorings mask the flavor of the peaches, letting them be the star of the show. The biscuit batter is almost as light as a cake and has a delightful contrast of textures between the fluffy underside and the crusty top.
Enjoy the cobbler warm, with a mound of whipped cream.

Peach Cobbler (original recipe from Everyday Baking) For The Filling:
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (depending on sweetness of fruit)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds peaches, halved, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, and cut again in half crosswise (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juiceFor the Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk1. Make the filling: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Add peaches and lemon juice; toss to combine. Divide filling evenly among four 8-ounce custard cups (or one 2-quart baking dish); transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. 2. Make the topping and bake: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, blend in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk; stir just until a dough forms. Drop dough onto peaches, using about 1/3 cup dough for each custard cup. Sprinkle dough with remaining teaspoon sugar. Bake until fruit is bubbling and biscuit topping is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes; serve warm.

Summer Peach Galette or A Country Party

Under the High Chair Travels: Northern British Columbia


As my three week return visit to my British Columbia hometown drew to a close, things were heating up for a party we were throwing in honor of my parents 35th wedding anniversary. We’ve never done anything like this for them and so we wanted to make it special, poignant, personal and beautiful. Fortunately, between my three siblings and I (and let’s not forget our amazing partners) we have the combined skill sets to create a memorable evening, so all we needed to do was put them to good use!

To my delight, the morning of the party dawned with sunshine and I was up almost as soon as those early rays. Before the first pot of French press coffee had even been drunk, I had turned out a few fruit tarts from the oven, a cherry and a peach, and the place was already starting to smell wonderful. I sat down with a muffin and listened to the grandchildren, ages 4, 2, almost 2 and 1, practice their special song for Nana and Grampa. With all the kazoos, maracas, drums and shakers it was a little hard to hear the words, but I was confident the guests of honor would be touched.

While others spent the morning cutting grass, trimming trees, hanging outdoor lights, scrubbing little hands and faces and a hundred other jobs, I was looking over a bountiful selection of home grown veggies, fresh berries and newly-caught fish and humming and hawing over the menu.

Finally it was decided upon: simple, fresh, and full of flavor:

Canapes

Fresh Garden Crudite with Chive Dip
Parmesan Straws
Green Pea and Curry Samosas
Sautéed Shrimp New Mexican style with Tequila, Lime and Cilantro
Crostini with Wilted Spinach and Asiago

Buffet

Bacon-Wrapped Maple Sage Pork Loin
Queen Charlotte Islands Halibut with Wasabi Cream
Roasted Chicken with Ethiopian Berberé Spices
Potato & Rosemary Strudel
Roasted Baby Beets and Carrots
Sugar Snap Peas with Lemon Butter
Wild Rice Pilaf with Pecans & Dried Cranberries
Fresh Mixed Greens with a Roasted Tomato & Balsamic Vinaigrette
Rosemary Baguettes


Dessert Table

2 Rustic Summer Galettes: Summer Peach and Okanagan Cherry
Vanilla Bean Panacotta with Strawberries
Dark Chocolate & Wild Strawberry Cupcakes
Citrus & Cointreau Cheesecake
Gingersnaps
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Great, now with the menu decided upon and the prep well underway, there was only one thing I was worried about: Noah. The poor little fellow had received three simultaneous black fly bites around his left eye the evening before while we were dining al fresco. To our dismay, his eye had swollen nearly shut during the night and by lunch time on party day, half of his face was looking an angry purple color and hot to the touch. Not good.

We administered an antihistamine, but by 4 PM, an hour before guests are to arrive, and with my oven full of roasting birds and pork loins, yet my son’s condition worsening, we made the decision to take him to emergency.

Now if anyone knows me, they know I do not enjoy giving up control of my kitchen at any time, and it’s especially difficult when there are 26 guests coming and I’ve got the gist of the menu in my head. However, my baby’s health is unquestionably my number one priority, so I handed my apron over to my sister, Haidi, and off we went.

While Danny distracted Noah in the waiting room, I was outside the hospital on a cell phone trying to get my other minor emergency under control. I didn’t care if I was getting some funny looks, if I could still be at the helm from a distance, so be it!
I barked orders at her like a drill sergeant:

“Take the chicken out of the oven and cover it with foil.
Baste the pork loin with the maple syrup mixture. Do NOT forget to bring the strudel up from the basement so it can temper! Remember, the cheese straws HAVE to bake at 450F or they won’t crisp nicely”
“Oh and take the halibut out of the fridge so it can come to room temp. And if people start arriving, send a batch of samosas as appys BEFORE you send shrimp, because once people see seafood, they won’t eat anything else, OK?”

“Are you doing OK??”

I knew she would be fine and when we returned an hour and a half later (with antibiotics) we drove up on a picturesque, perfectly executed little country party…


Guests milled about near the blue delphinium beds and sipped summer drinks selected from an outdoor bar. They seemed to be contented as they munched on canapés, including some crispy Parmesan cheese straws offered my adorable niece, Lyra. Jazz tunes floated out the French doors, and onto the deck, where the children played together-their clothes clean for now. The sun was just starting to slant behind the gigantic Hudson Bay Mountain and there was no rain in sight!

Hay bales and snowcapped mountains make for an idyllic setting as Lyra offers treats.

In the kitchen, things were moving along nicely. I grabbed an apron and kicked it into fourth gear with the goal of having the buffet served in half an hour. No sweat!

The evening was a great success, unfortunately I was too busy rushing around trying to keep a buffet hot for 26 guests, and I forgot to shoot any photos of it, but it was lovely and people were appreciative.

Dessert was popular with the children…

To my surprise (and despite being stalked by nephew Marley) the cupcakes lingered on the dessert table, while the peach galette with whipped cream disappeared quickly and people were looking for another. Sorry folks, but below I have included the recipe for your baking pleasure.


After dinner, the children sang for their grandparents and it brought tears to a few eyes.

We toasted my parents and their inspiration to us all and gathered for one big photo before the babies went to bed. Danny, Noah and I were to fly out the next morning, so it was a bittersweet moment, but one I won’t soon forget, nevertheless.


A Rustic Peach Galette ½ lb Puff Pastry
7 ripe peaches
¼ cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg, beaten Roll out puff pastry in to about a 14 inch round. Refrigerate until chilled. Half peaches and slice in to ½ inch wide wedges. In a heavy sauce pan on medium heat, melt butter and add sugar. Let sugar dissolve and bubble for a minute or so, then add peaches and stir to coat with butter mixture. Cook gently for a few minutes until the peaches soften slightly and release some juice.Combine cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice together and add to peach mixture. Stir gently as the cornstarch thickens and coats the peaches. Simmer for a few minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool. Preheat oven to 375F
Remove puff from fridge and arrange peach filling in the middle, leaving a good 2 inches around the edge. Fold up sides of puff party into the peaches, overlapping slightly until peaches are enclosed within a circle of puff. Brush pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until pastry is golden, about 25 minutes.