Memories of a Georgia Peach…..
My grandmother (Big Gog) hailed from Macon, Georgia and every summer when we were kids she would drive her little white Corvair up to visit us in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Tucked snuggly behind her seat would be an old fashioned wooden bushel of luscious pink Georgia peaches. Next to it, like a little sister, was always a peck of pecans, still in their shiny, hard brown shells.
I’ll never forget the delicate sweet smell of those peaches. There was even a hint of it on her cheeks when I hugged and kissed her hello as she unfiolded her tall frame from the little car. She woud have most likely eaten her fill of those peaches on that long drive up.
Those summers were filled with memories of a wide assortment of warm juicy peach and pecan pies, tarts and cobblers, most days enjoyed for breakfast. It gets hot and humid in Pittsburgh in the summer and Big Gog would rise early to get in her baking before the kitchen got too hot and sticky. The fragrance of pastry baking would waft up to our rooms and we would stumble into the kitchen, rubbing the sleep from our eyes, just in time to see her pulling something mouth watering from the oven. She smiled a lot during those long visits and so did we.
Looking back on those summer days I just love the fact that it seemed like a perfectly normal thing to serve your kids peach or pecan pie for breakfeat every day. I’m pretty sure the neighborhood kids thought it a little odd, but we sure didn’t mind.
My brother and sister and I would be saddled with the arduous task of shelling those darned hard nuts for her creations. And heaven forbid if you had any little bits of shell in your pile, look out!
Fast forward to living Northern California in the days of mass farming and I am hard pressed to find a peach as delectable as those fuzzy beauties. In fact, peaches don’t even have fuzz on them anymore. Farmers markets are the only hope of recreating that oh so sensual experience of forking up a big pile of sloppy, juicy, sweet goodness into your mouth and sighing……. Now that’s what I call summer!
Sonoma County Farmers Markets
The good news is that almost anywhere in the country now farmers markets are upping their game and bringing to your table the best of the best from their hard labor. Please do try to support your local growers. The prices may be a tad higher but you’ll be rewarded with something that will hopefully give your family some wonderful summer memories to pass along to their kids.
Here’s a list of the Farmers Markets in Sonoma County, just north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge.
Rustic Peach Galette
It really doesn’t get any easier than this! My “cheat” shortcut for pastry in a pinch is frozen Puff Pastry Sheets. You can get them in any market. What’s so great about them is that they keep for ages in your freezer and you’re never without the first step to a great dessert.
- One sheet of thawed puff pastry ( its best to slow thaw in the fridge)
- 6-7 nice ripe peaches ( any stone fruit, apples or pears work well for this)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 Tsp vanilla extract or almond extract (both work well but taste very different)
- 1/4 slivered almonds
- 1 Tbls butter
- 1/2 lemon
- pinch of salt
Preheat your oven to 450
- In a medium saucepan bring water to a boil
- Slip a few peaches at a time into the boiling water for 4-5 minutes watching carefully.
- When skins start to tear or slip off remove to an ice bath
- repeat until all peach skins are loose
- Gently peel the skin off the peaches and slice into a a clean bowl
- add the sugar, extract and lemon and a pinch of salt.
Toss gently and set aside for a few minutes while you prep the pastry
For the Pastry Shell:
- On a lightly floured board roll out the pastry to about 1/8 inch even thickness
- Cut it into a circle, you can use a pie pan or plate as a template, I just wing it, it’s “rustic ” afterall
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and butter lightly, baking spray is fine too
- Roll the pastry circle onto your rolling pin and tranfer it over to the prepared baking sheet
Keep it cool or refridgerate if needed, until ready to bake.
Take the peaches that have been mascerating and strain them through a fine seive into a saucepan. Thicken these juices over a medium heat until reduced by about half. This will happen quickly so don’t walk away!
Retreive the pasrty and plop the peach slices into the center of the dough circle. Begin at the top and make small folds like you would a pie crust but covering the outside 2 inches of the peaches leaving the center of the peaches exposed. You’ll want to be sure you have a nice firm rim of folds so the juices don’t run out during baking.
With a pastry brush, brush the dough very lightly with a little milk, dot the peaches with butter and pour the reduced juices over the peaches. Sprinkle a little sugar over the whole pastry.
Reduce heat to 425 and bake for about 20 minutes, checking periodically for browning, if its getting too brown reduce the heat to 400. Sprinkle with the almond slivers and bake another 10 minutes until golden and crust looks nice and crisp.
Let it cool 5 minutes and gently lossen the crust from the parchment paper. If you let it cool on the pan it may stick to the paper. Then transfer to a rack to cool a bit more before serving.
Plate with a sprig of fresh mint and scoop of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!
Cheers to summer!