Market to Table

A PEACHY DAY

Peach pie awaits a garden party

Peach tart awaits a garden party

DIARY: Cruising topless down to Niagara at the height of peach season.

RECIPE: Peach tart

One of the joys of having a convertible is cruising through the countryside with the top down. And so we found ourselves one recent mid-week day atop the Niagara Escarpment, a bit windswept, looking out over the great river below us, with a sea of green spreading to the horizon, hardly a building in sight. We’d turned off the GPS, just following country roads along the top of the mighty ridge which cuts a swathe across Southern Ontario.

We’ve picked up nut brown free-range eggs at a road-side stand. The farmer tells me the chickens also feed on marigold flower extract, making for a richer yolk. Later, when I make scrambled eggs for supper, they’re an extraordinary golden colour. Diane is on a low cholesterol diet, so hers are mostly egg whites. I’m not, so I add the extra yolks to mine. Yummy!

But where have the peach tree orchards gone?

But where have the orchards gone?

Now we’re on the lookout for fresh peaches. Once upon a time this was the heart of peach and apple groves, but now there are vineyards stretching as far as we can see in every direction. It’s progress, I suppose, and good for the winemakers, but I miss the orchards.

Tree ripened peaches at The Fruit Shack

Tree ripened peaches at The Fruit Shack

Back on the road, we find ourselves south of the highway and since we’re now headed for Niagara-on-the-Lake, I figure we might as well have a late lunch at Treadwell on the main street. We’ve never had a bad meal here since they opened at this location a couple of years ago. Chef-owner is Stephen Treadwell who believes in farm to table cuisine. His son James Treadwell is the busy sommelier who seats us at a nice table on the patio, where we can watch the passing scene.

A giant awning has been added since our last visit, making it an all-season spot, along with a new wine bar that opens after three. We’re both in the mood for fish and Diane settles for fish and chips (not on her diet, hem! hem!). Checking my Trip Advisor review later, I find that’s exactly what we had the first time we visited. The fish and chips must be good. I have a filet of mackerel served with a potato salad, which is very tasty, if served only slightly warm. Outstanding desserts finish the visit, crème brûlée and a raspberry concoction. Even though Niagara-on-the-Lake’s peach festival is only days away, there’s no peach dessert on the menu. Pity.

Passing through the little hamlet of Virgil, we visit the nice folks at The Fruit Shack, noted for home- and locally-grown seasonal fruit and produce. We stock up on tree-ripened peaches and fresh corn. We’re offered a buy-five-get-six deal on their amazing butter tarts by a friendly young woman, already an expert at upselling. Two of the tarts don’t even make it as far as the highway, they are so tempting. Once home the peaches ripen some more for a couple of days and are then entrusted to this delicious tart.

PEACH TART

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

by Nigel Napier-Andrews

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 50 mins
Delicious when fresh peaches are in season
Ingredients
  • 4 cups sliced peaches (4 or 5 fresh ripe peaches)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (or substitute “Splenda”)
  • 3 tbs cornstarch
  • 1 tbs butter
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tbs hot water
  • juice from half a lemon
  • zest from half a lemon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
  2. Using my never fail pastry recipe make a round sheet of pastry for a 9 in tart tin with removable bottom. (Or use a sheet of frozen pastry, which will fit the pan perfectly.) Prick the bottom thoroughly and bake at for 9 to 11 mins until light brown. Remove and cool on a rack before filling.
  3. Dunk the peaches in boiling hot water for a minute, then remove with a slotted spoon and cool until they can be handled. The skins should slip off easily. Cut in half to remove pit, then slice into three or four slices, depending on the size of the peach. Place peaches in a large bowl and season with salt.
  4. In a small bowl mix sugar (I use Splenda sugar substitute for diabetic friends), cornstarch, butter and hot water. Cut or grate the zest from half a lemon and chop finely, add to bowl. Squeeze the juice from the half into another container, remove any seeds and pour the juice into the bowl. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Overlap the peach slices around the outside ring of the tin, then fill the middle with a decorative style. Pour over the mixed filling and bake on a baking sheet (in case of spills) for 35 to 40 mins until golden brown and bubbling.
  6. Remove to a wire rack to cool and when ready to serve, push the bottom up gently to separate the removable ring. Plate and serve with fresh whipped cream, crème fraiche or ice cream.
I love this picture of Diane and I overlooking the Niagara Gorge, taken by a bystander.

I love this picture of Diane and I overlooking the Niagara Gorge, taken by a bystander.

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