Saturday, July 30, 2011

Karla’s Perfect Peaches

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         It was one of those minor, but satisfying, coincidences: the first appearance of Karla’s peaches coinciding with a visit from my old friend, Lynne, who I hadn’t seen in several years. The important bit here is that Lynne is originally from the South—Birmingham and then Montgomery, Alabama, to be precise—and though she escaped at an early age and is a committed New Englander, there are a few things that are as died in the wool (as we would say here) about her as a Southerner as the love of the ocean is for us. One of those things is her adoration, and critical judgment, of a good peach. I remember her talking about peaches to me when I first met her—many, many years ago—and, like many Southerners, she often mentions them in the same breath as the words summer, childhood, Mother, and ice cream. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
So I was excited to see the little sign saying “Karla’s peaches soon!” and then the YFF (Young Family Farm) sign with a price equivalent to those harking from, well, South, but I didn’t see them anywhere. Sold out, I asked? No, just hadn’t washed them yet—they were sitting, hidden, in a big flat out back, waiting for their pre-sale bath. I asked to take some as-is, and picked out about eight beauties. A few I would grill and put into our all-grilled chicken salad; the rest I would give to Lynne to take home to eat, leaning over, dripping out of hand.
Lynne and I had such a nice visit, but of course, when we parted after a long leisurely lunch, I forgot to give them to her, and she to take them. She emailed me when she got home—oh, no!—just around the time I discovered them on the counter when I went into the kitchen to do the dishes.
Next morning I walked into the kitchen and was immediately struck with the powerful perfume of perfectly ripe peaches. Such alliterative peaches will peel, effortlessly, without blanching. Their flesh is the ideal texture. Lynne would eat them just as is. But I, as we know, like my stone fruits cooked, with pastry. Here is the Peaches saladquickest way I know to have that combination, perfect for perfect peaches.
Peach Pizza
This is a galette (crostata), thin and simple as a pizza.
The pastry from the apple galette post
4 perfect, just-ripe peaches, medium to large OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
¼ large lemon
Pinch salt
3 T brown sugar
1 T flour
2 tea sugar
¼ tea cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)
1 T maple syrup (optional)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Preheat the oven to 425F. Make the pastry according to the directions and chill.
With a sharp paring knife, run the point down from end to end to slit the skin; peel the peaches and discard the skins. (If your peaches are not quite ripe, you may need to blanch them for a minute in boiling water to facilitate peeling; and you could leave the skins on, of course.) Slice the peaches about ¼“thick and arrange them in one layer on a plate; sprinkle with lemon juice and salt.
On a rimless cookie sheet or back of a sheet pan, roll out the dough into a rough oval, about 1/8” thick (i.e., very thin). Sprinkle over the brown sugar and flour and smooth it with the palm of your hand to within an inch of the edge. Arrange the peach slices in concentric circles on the sugar/flour, leaving space between them. Sprinkle the peaches with the white sugar, mixed with the spice if using. Roll the border of the pastry in toward the peaches into a little levee.
Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes; reduce to 350 F and bake about 10-15 min more (adjust cooking times according to your oven). You will hear the peaches begin to sizzle right away; when the tart is done, they will be embedded in a thin, slightly gelled sauce. Remove to a rack to cool. Brush with a little maple syrup while warm if desired. Cut with a pizza cutter or very sharp large knife when lukewarm. Serve plain the same day it is baked, preferably as soon as it has cooled.

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1 comment:

Megan said...

Love your New England touch of adding maple syrup to a peach pie. But I bet it's really, really good.