Friday, August 12, 2005
When I was a young girl we had a neighbor who showed me how to blanch peaches. I was quite shocked as I had never seen anything like this before. A minute in boiling water, then into a bowl of ice water and she could peel a peach with her thumb nail??
"WOW" I thought then, "I bet my mom has never seen anything like that... she makes me eat the fuzzy part!" I was a kid and didn't know that the peach 'fuzzy part' was good for digestion, full of vitamins... blah blah blah... you could eat a peach without skin! Nor did I realize that since she grew up on a farm and since my grandmother was no slouch at preserving, Mother was quite aware of (albeit uninterested in) the ease of blanching peaches.
These are super easy if you do not bother yourself with the tedium of folding, turning and rolling to create your own puff pastry. It is so simple to go to the freezer case and buy delicious and simple P3pperidge Farm puff pastry sheets. They come as two sheets in a package and each sheet makes 4 perfectly portioned turnovers. And it won't take you hours in mixing and rolling the dough.
Carefully unfold one thawed sheet onto a floured board, cut with a sharp knife or pizza wheel into 4 equal squares. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of peach pie filling (recipe below) near one point of the square. Brush edges with water. Fold over corner opposite filling to make a triangle. Press edges with a fork to seal. Using a knife or kitchen scissors, cut a hole over the filling to keep it from exploding during baking (this doesn't completely ensure zero explosions, as you can tell from my photo, but it helps). Brush the tops with egg wash (one egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water) then sprinkle on Course or Turbinado sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden.
If you have made your own filling, no one (who loves you) is going to care whether you made your own puff pastry, honest.
Fresh Peach Pie Filling
adapted from Le Cordon Bleu Professional Baking
1lb. 4oz. peaches, blanched, peeled and cut from the pit (I find this is easier than attempting to halve the peaches and get the pit out when they are peeled and very slippery) weighed after slicing
4 ounces sugar
1 ounce cornstarch
2 ounces cold water
1 tsp. Madagascar Bourbon vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Saute the peaches until slightly soft (you will want some largeish chunks in the final product so don't cook the peaches too long at this point) if peaches are very ripe, simply heat them slightly.
Mix cornstarch with water.
Add vanilla and spices to peaches in pan and bring to a boil. Slowly drizzle cornstarch+water into boiling liquid, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. After cornstarch has been added, boil one minute more. Remove from heat and add to unbaked 9-inch pie crust or place in half pint jars for preserving.
If preserving, be sure jars have been properly sterilized and are hot when adding the hot pie filling. Close jar tops tightly and return to hot sterilization water (jars must stand upright and water should cover jar top completely). Boil filled jars for 7 minutes then remove from water and allow tops to 'suck down'. Preserved pie filling may be stored at room temp. for 6 months but if you're anything like me, you'll be dipping in at every opportunity. Once opened and seal broken, filling should be kept in the fridge for just a couple of days. It is possible to freeze an opened jar, but the filling tends to get a bit runny.
Peaches and Cream Crepes
I know I'll get hate mail for this one, so go ahead and send it, if you must.
Again, I went the easy route here because I do not own a crepe pan and do not ever have intention of buying one, as it would just take up more space in my basement. I bought crepes... "what??" you say... yes, I did! I happened to see them at Whole Foods Market and decided to give them a try. They weren't terrible... obviously not fresh, but I can say I tried something new, and that's what's important... no wait... the important part was... um... yes, that I tried something new. I filled the crepe with peach filling and a bit of sweet yogurt cheese (recipe below). I like this sweet yogurt cheese quite a lot, especially in blueberry turnovers but in the crepes the sweetness of everything just got a bit muddled and ended up too sweet. So, try the yogurt cheese some time if you're going to make some tangy blueberry or lemon turnovers.
Sweet Yogurt Cheese
1 package cheesecloth
4 ounces vanilla yogurt
Open package of cheesecloth (it should be one large sheet). Fold in half 3 or 4 times until you have a folded piece that is about 8x10. Place folded cloth into a medium sized mesh strainer. Without stirring, pour yogurt into the center of the cheesecloth and gather up all ends to make a tight package. Secure with rubberbands or twist ties. Place a few bags of dry beans on top of the tied package and place the whole works in the fridge overnight. In the morning, you will see that much of the liquid has been pressed out of the yogurt and you have a lovely, sweetened cream cheese type product.