Sunday, July 22, 2007

The best of the summer

More often than not, it’s an ingredient that inspires me to cook rather than a recipe. Such was the case this 4th of July. I spent my fourth with friends in Northern California. One of the guests who came to our lunch brought white peaches from her farm. Her white peaches are legendary in Healdsburg where she and her family have an amazing farm and grow Muscat grapes to make a Beaume de Venise wine among many other things. She picked the peaches that morning and they were perfectly ripe.

The minute I saw the basket I was inspired to make one of my favorite summer desserts a peach galette. A galette is basically an open-faced fruit tart. It is the perfect vehicle for summer’s fruit. It’s not that I don’t like a pie, but I prefer a galette because of the balance of fruit to crust, it’s more equal and shows off the fruit more. I also like that you can roll out the dough and make it any shape you want, the more irregular the better, round, oblong, it doesn’t matter.

I used the Chez Panisse Fruit Cookbook recipe for the rhubarb tart and substituted with the peaches. There is nothing like a perfectly ripe peach and these were the best I’ve ever tasted. They were so easy to peel, the skin just came off, I didn’t need to blanch them to take the skin off. A secret tip, make the dough a day or so if you can because I find that it is lighter, flakier and tastes better.

I called on all my friends who were around and organized a dinner party basically for the galettes. The local grocery store had local halibut that the fisherman caught that morning so I decided to make fish tacos, my next best favorite thing to cook in the summer. I make them Baja style which means you make a mayonnaise which you put on the fish and serve them topped with chopped cabbage, cucumbers, radishes, avocados and cilantro.

The tacos were a huge hit and now it was time for dessert. I wanted to warm the galettes slightly and one of guests at dinner was Alice whose cookbook I used for the galette. She told me she likes to put the galette underneath the broiler for a minute or two so she took charge. It was actually another great tip I learned and will do from now on. It gave the crust a nice glaze and color and crisped it up. We served the galette with a scoop of Strauss Family Dairy’s vanilla ice cream which was insane. Needless to say everyone loved it and had seconds some would have had thirds if there was any leftover.

All I can say is the summer is not over and I will be making this dessert all summer long using what ever delicious fruit I can get my hands on wherever I am. If you don’t have access to delicious peaches or nectarines I suggest ordering from Frog Hollow Farms who ship right to your door.

Frog Hollow Farms


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