Market to Table

ROADS LESS TRAVELLED

Peach lattice pie

Peach lattice pie

DIARY: We are driving around having a spectacular day getting lost on country roads in the Niagara region.

RECIPES: Peach lattice pie, Peach pie and Peach Melba.

We almost run over a chicken crossing in front of us. It wants to get to the other side, Diane points out with faultless logic. We pull into a driveway and a bronzed farmer and two very cute blonde children come out of the house to see who has arrived.The farmer has a strong Manchester accent. Diane, who is from the North can tell immediately. She asks him how come he’s here and he tells about emigrating to a better place for his family and starting a farm. The chickens are completely free range, he says, confirming the obvious. His eldest sub-teen daughter collects the eggs every morning, diligently washes them, and gets the revenue from egg sales as pocket money. We buy a dozen rich brown eggs from her, all different sizes, but very clean.

He’s also got baskets of ripe peaches for sale and we buy two of those as well. We put them in the tiny trunk of the car, which is lined with a hand-made Persian carpet, as are the footwells in front. The former Lancastrian finds it hard to believe that a Yorkshire lass can do so well as to have luxury carpets for mats in the car. He says so, but we are oblivious to the irony and are off out of his gravel driveway, tires spinning and a throaty growl from the exhaust, back on our journey to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Peach Melba at Treadwell

Peach Melba at Treadwell

It’s time for lunch and we arrive in the busy tourist town, where we discover a new restaurant that could quickly become a favourite. Treadwell is the brainchild of fellow Brit, Stephen Treadwell, the former Executive Chef from the town’s Queen’s Landing Hotel. We remember it fondly from sailing trips to Port Dalhousie. At the beginning of the summer Treadwell re-opened in NOTL on the Queen Street restaurant and tourist strip. We are greeted by his friendly son James, co-owner and sommelier. James offers us a complimentary glass of Bubblehead sparkling rosé from John Howard’s local Megalomaniac winery. It is perfect. Crisp and dry on the palate, with a hint of something to come in the effervescence.

A long, lazy lunch follows its amiable path and I top it off with a peach Melba dessert, something I haven’t tried in ages. It’s named after Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba and is shamelessly colourful. She was performing in an opera in London in the late 1890s and the Savoy Hotel’s French chef Auguste Escoffier created this dish to honour her. The blend of poached peaches, raspberry coulis and vanilla ice cream creates a transcendent taste sensation.

Home again, I look at the peaches, pick out eight perfectly ripe ones, squeeze them and smell their fragrance. These puppies are just right for a peach pie, I decide. And for fun, I decide to add a lattice top. The classic peach pie needs only peaches and sugar. I add a very small measure of cinnamon and nutmeg to enhance the flavour, but nothing more.

PEACH LATTICE PIE

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 4hr 10mins
  • Print

by Nigel Napier-Andrews

Peach piePreparation time 30 min
Cooking time 40 min
Cooling down time 3 hr

Shopping list

  • 5 cups (1.25 L) or about 8 medium ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar (NOTE: for a sweeter pie increase sugars to 1/3 cup each)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 9 in double crust pastry recipe or use frozen pastry

Preparation and cooking

  1. I’ve written before about making perfect pie pastry, so I will skip this stage, except for one hint. I have quite warm hands, which makes pastry blending difficult, so I have discovered a perfect tool for mixing in the butter (illustrated). It has made life much easier, without a sticky mess adhering to my hands.Pastry tool
  2. Once you have the bottom layer of pastry pressed into the 9 in baking dish, preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Prick the bottom of the pie with a fork to allow air to escape and blind bake for no more than 10 min, or until the shell is a light brown. Cool shell completely before adding filling.
  3. While that is going on, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Dunk the ripe peaches into the boiling water and remove after a minute with a slotted spoon. The skins should slip right off. If they don’t, allow the peaches to cool and then peel with a small sharp knife. The problem is probably that the peaches were not quite ripe and you may want to add more sugar to your mixture to compensate. Slice the peaches into quarters to make pit removal easy and then slice again into thinner portions.
  4. Put the sliced, skinless peaches into a large bowl, add the lemon juice, and toss to coat.
  5. In a small bowl or measuring jug, mix the two sugars (you can increase the quantity for a sweeter pie), cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch well. Pour over the peaches a little at a time and toss gently so the peaches are well covered.
  6. Pour the peach filling into the cooled pastry shell. Then roll out the rest of the pastry and cut into strips about ¾ inch wide. Arrange the strips in one direction, then fold every other strip back on itself. Lay the longest remaining strip down at 90 degrees and cover with the folded strips. Repeat until the lattice is complete. Now crimp the strips to the edge of the pie and if necessary glue them down with a little water.
  7. Sprinkle some sugar on top for effect and bake in a 425°F (220°C ) oven until the crust is set and beginning to brown, about 20 min. Reduce the heat to 375°F (190°C) until the filling is bubbling, about 30 to 40 min. If the edge starts to brown too quickly, cover with little strips of aluminum foil.
  8. Cool your pie for at least 3 hr before serving. The longer you leave it the better it will taste and the filling will set nice and thick. Store, lightly covered at room temperature or in the fridge.

PEACH PIE

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 4hr 10mins
  • Print

by Nigel Napier-Andrews

Pie (2) - CopyPreparation time 30 min
Cooking time 40 min
Cooling down time 3 hr

Shopping list

  • 5 cups (1.25 L) or about 8 medium ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar (NOTE: for a sweeter pie increase sugars to 1/3 cup each)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 9 in double crust pastry recipe or use frozen pastry

Preparation and cooking

  1. Some cooks feel the bottom pie shell should not be blind baked if a top is to be added, even a lattice (above). So in this version, roll out the pastry as before, but after pushing it well into the corners of a lightly greased pie dish, simply add the juicy sliced peach pie filling. Don’t trim the pie yet.
  2. Roll out the second half of your pie pastry, moisten the edge of the bottom pie with milk, and lay on the top. After trimming all the way round with a sharp small knife, the pie top is crimped onto the bottom with a fork, to make a decorative edge. The left over pastry is rolled up and rolled out. Using the sharp knife, cut out five small decorative peach leaves, score them to make a leaf pattern, moisten their backs with milk, and press them gently into the centre of the pie. Between the leaves, cut slits to allow the steam to escape. Then brush the whole pie with a thin layer of milk.
  3. The pie goes into the oven for 20 min at 425°F (220°C). Since the edges will brown more quickly than the rest of the pie, it’s advisable to cover the whole rim of the pie with thin strips of foil.
  4. Reduce the oven to 375°F (190°C). Check the edges and remove the foil. Cook for a further 30 min.
  5. Remove and cool on a rack for a minimum of 3 hr before serving. It really does make a difference to the thickness of the sauce inside the pie.
  6. Store lightly covered in the fridge.

Serving suggestion
Top with whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.

PEACH MELBA

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 20mins
  • Print

by Nigel Napier-Andrews

Ingredients

  • 4 ripe peaches
  • 1 cup simple syrup (dissolve 1 cup of sugar in 1 cup of boiling water)
  • 1 cup raspberry coulis
  • Thin wafers or cookies of your choice
  • Vanilla ice cream

Preparation and cooking

  1. Plunge the ripe peaches into boiling water for 30 secs, remove with a slotted spoon, then cool in icy water. The skins should slip off easily.
  2. Cut the peaches in half, remove stones, and poach in a cup of boiling simple syrup for about 5 min. Remove from the syrup with a slotted spoon and set aside on a rack to cool.
  3. Once cooled, slice into eighths.
  4. To serve, spoon the peach slices into a bowl or parfait glass (see photo for Treadwell’s take), cover with a good dollop of raspberrycoulis, top with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and inset a triangular wafer into the ice cream. Finish with more raspberry coulis. Treadwell added crisp chocolate cookies which were delicious, but made the whole thing a bit sweet. I prefer the traditional wafer, but it’s your choice. Anything crispy will suffice.

This article first appeared on August 11, 2013.

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