August 26, 2013

A Taste of Summer: Perfect Peach-Ginger Pie

There are certain foods that have a fleeting life, their peak flavours sharpened by memory and desire.  Tomatoes have long been my obsession;  I can't bear the thought of not having my fill of that juicy, sweet and acidic burst of summer.

But lately I have a new diversion.  How is it that I never noticed how perfect a perfectly ripe peach really is?  The joy of finding one that is both firm and juicy, not too soft, the juices running down my chin, the flesh ripping away cleanly from the stone at the centre.   

When I can buy them by the basketful that’s when the fun really starts.  Peach salsaButtery peach briochePeach-plum ginger jam. And my newest peach obsession: peach pie.   

I wanted to think about how to create a new flavour profile for this pie; something that added depth without overpowering the indescribable taste of a fresh peach.  The lovely ginger zing of my peach-plum jam was playing in my mind, but I knew that, sadly, the lone piece of ginger in the house was well past its due date.

As with so much of cooking, the answer was right in front of me, or rather right in my fridge.  At this year's Big Summer Potluck, I came home with a treasure trove of Gourmet Garden goodies.  Do you you know Gourmet Garden? It's the brilliant solution to having every fresh herb you could wish for at your fingertips, beautifully preserved and ready to use a dollop at a time.  No more soggy cilantro or past-its-prime parsley.  Best of all, no more withered stub of gingerroot hidden at the bottom of my crisper.
With a tube of Gourmet Garden's fresh ginger paste at hand, I knew I had the perfect complement to my perfect peaches - and the makings of a peachy pie.  Fresh made easy, indeed.

Peach Pie
makes one 9" pie

2 ½ lbs peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
¾ c sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice (Meyer lemons if you have them)
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger or 1 tbsp Gourmet Garden Ginger Paste
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp mace
¼ tsp salt
3 tbsp instant tapioca, ground
½ c ground gingersnaps 
Your favourite pie dough, enough for a double crust pie. Mine is here.  
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 425F.

2. In a medium saucepan, cook peaches, sugar, lemon juice, zest, ginger, cinnamon, mace and salt over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.  Take off heat and stir in tapioca.

3.  Prepare pie dough by rolling out a 10" inch round for the bottom.  Fit the dough into your pie pan and sprinkle the gingersnap crumbs evenly along the bottom.  Let the dough rest in the fridge for 10 minutes before proceeding.

4.  Pour the peach mixture evenly into the pan.  Brush the edges of the dough with the beaten egg.  Top the pie with another round of dough and crimp the edges.  Make a few decorative slits on the pie top.  Let the dough rest again for 10 minutes before baking.  This pie is very pretty with a lattice top too.*  

5.  Bake the pie on the middle rack of the oven for 10 minutes at 425F.  Lower the heat to 350F, and bake for another 40 to 50 minutes, or until the top is golden and the juices of the fruit are bubbling.

*Hint for lattice top lovers: make the lattice top on a piece of parchment paper, and once done, slip it on a cutting board and into the freezer for a few minutes.  It will be much easier to position on the pie.

August 13, 2013

Storytelling and a Big Summer Potluck

 Part of the generous breakfast feast at BSP4

I’ve been trying to find my way into a story about the latest Big Summer Potluck. I had an idea that I would write about storytelling itself; the power and magic that’s inherent in hearing someone share something deeply personal, meaningful, or just plain funny.  The way that a room full of half strangers, half friends, can be woven together over tales of beekeeping, bread, ice cream bars and boyfriends.  About why hunger is more than handouts and how determination and a small idea can grow and help create community.  Or maybe the moment when, with a startled gasp, you recognise yourself in the story being told. 

I’ve been thinking the story would be about wearing green to remind myself to be good to the earth; about the incredible will of a lone woman to win over a powerful tortilla machine; about shortbread cookies and rhubarb shrubs.  

Or maybe it would be about once-a-year friendships that rekindle over pulled pork and coconut cake.  About sponsors who give much more than products and prizes.  About generosity of spirit and a welcoming hospitality that’s as big as the state of Pennsylvania and as intimate as a family gathering.
                  The beautiful Anderson home: cool and serene on the outside, 
warm as a bear hug on the inside

As I pour through my too few photos and my fulsome memories, I'm reminded that stories unfold over time and space, that the telling in one place of a singular event might capture the essence, but not the whole.  But that's okay.  Because I know I will be telling stories, as I have already done, about this extraordinary weekend for months to come.
 The official kick-off potluck dinner

Sabra fed us in the morning and gave us great snacks for the 
journey home
 OXO treated all BSP attendees with the tools of their choice and hosted an Instragram contest...

 ...which I won in the Bakers' category! Can't wait to pick out my new OXO tools

With special thanks to:
Maggy, Erika and Pam, our amazing hosts
Joe, Jeni, Jessica, Robyn, Coach Mark, Jessamyn, Brian and Abby,
 our inspiring speakers and teachers
OXO, KitchenAid, Gourmet Garden, and the rest of the generous and delicious sponsors