Sunday, September 25, 2011

Open Faced Peach Tart

I mentioned in the previous post that I had a couple of entries that should have been posted in August. This is number two. I thought I'd better get it in before it would no longer be relevant to the season.

August is always bittersweet for me; the sun is noticeably setting earlier and earlier and warm days give over to cooler nights, signalling the lazy days of summer coming to an end. But the sweetest part of August is the incredable peaches that are at their peak. Our peaches come from the picturesque Niagara region just a short hour and a half drive south of Toronto, and they are at their peak from around the middle of August to early September. They are wonderfully juicy and sweet to eat as they are, but as a summer dessert, who can resist peaches baked in a flaky pastry?

So here it is, an open faced peach tart that is to die for. I could easily eat this pie all year long. You certainly can get peaches at the market all year long but they are never as good as they are right now, so I try to make as many in this short period as I can and with no regard whatsoever to the state of my waist.

I found this wonderful recipe by Bonnie Stern in the newpaper. If I recall the introduction to this tart recipe correctly, she was at at friend's cottage when she decided she would make an open faced peach tart for dessert. She didn't have a rolling pin to roll out the dough so she used a bottle of wine instead. Now that's what I call quick thinking and making do with what you have on hand. I love making this tart because it is so easy to assemble; just one piece of dough to roll out, no fluted edges to fuss over and no slitting the top.

The pie dough is prepared and set aside.

The peaches are tossed with flour, brown sugar and cinnamon to coat well and centered onto a rolled circle of dough. You must remember to place the dough on parchment paper before adding the filling or you'll never move it onto the baking sheet. I have found the easiest way to do this is after you have rolled out the dough to fold it in half, then in half again and center it over the parchment paper before opening it up again.

The dough is then folded over to encase the peach filling.

And brushed with an egg wash which will give the dough a nice sheen and bake up golden brown.

The pie dough is further enhanced with a sprinkling of turbinado sugar and put into a hot oven to bake.

I like to serve it barely warm with a scoop of ice cream.

To change it up I have added sweet plums along with the peaches

or paired the peaches with blueberries.

Open-Faced Peach Tart


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt and sugar
¾ cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
¼ cup ice water or more


4 large peaches, sliced but not peeled
½ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. cold butter diced

1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. coarse sugar

For pastry, place flour, salt and sugar in large bowl. Mix together, Add butter and cut into flour with a pastry blender or your fingertips. Add water and toss mixture until moistened. Lightly knead into a ball. You will probably need an extra few tablespoons of water. You can do all this with a food processor if you have one.

Roll dough out on a floured surface to a 12 inch circle. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Toss peaches in centre of pastry. Fold the edges over the peach mixture overlapping as you go leaving centre open. Brush pastry with egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake in a preheated 425 F oven for 20 minutes. Lower heat to 375 F and bake 30 to 40 minutes more, until golden.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Grilled Pizza

I have a couple of blog entries that I should have posted in August but I was so busy, including a trip to Florida for a week, that I just kept putting it off. So I finally had to bite the bullet and sit myself in front of my computer and write about this wonderful grilled pizza. By the way the term bite the bullet comes from pre-anaesthetics days where soldiers who unfortunately needed amputation of limbs from war injuries were given a bullet to bite on to help endure the pain and prevent them from biting off their own tongue, while the limb was sawed off. Of course writing about grilled pizza really isn't painful at all, as a matter of fact it brings back memories of a delicious way to make pizza without heating your kitchen in the middle of a sweltering summer.

First you have to prepare the dough and you can use any favourite pizza dough. This one happens to be Fougasse Dough by Patricia Wells that I've written about before. The dough is divided; I've divided it into four pieces and each piece is stretched out on parchment paper to fit half of my barbeque grill. The parchment paper helps to transfer the dough to the grill.

The dough is placed under a large plastic tent where they are left alone to rise for about half a hour or so.

When the grill is preheated and ready I transfer two sheets of dough to my deck table.

I lift one of the sheets and quickly and nimbly invert the dough onto the hot grill. When I first heard of grilling pizza I had visions of dough dripping down between the grills making a sloppy mess. Instead as soon as the dough hits the grill it coagulates and firms up immediately. I leave the parchment on the dough until it has firmed up and then peel it off carefully. At this point with your tongs on hand you lift a corner of the dough to inspect for grill marks and to access if the heat has to be adjusted. You don't want it to be too hot otherwise the dough will burn before you put the toppings on.

I completely forgot to take pictures of toppings ready to go, so please imagine a bowl of tomato sauce, sliced mozzerlla, fresh basil leafs, and sliced prosciutto nearby.

When the underside of dough has nice grill marks like this and the top has bubbled up you turn it over and quickly start adding the toppings. It is also wise to wear oven mitts to protect your hands from the heat. At this point I add another sheet of dough on the other half of the grill.

Really you can add any toppings you wish. The key here is to not overload the dough. I think the simplicity of a Pizza Margarita works very well here. I upped the anti on a couple of the pizzas by adding sliced prosciutto after they came off the grill. I think this method of cooking pizza is the next best thing to a wood burning oven. It is incredibly delicious. I especially like to have it with a mesculin salad which makes quite a memorable meal.

I wish those poor soldiers had had this to bite on instead of that awful bullet.