Peach Galettes and Mascarpone Orange Blossom Cream

I am now several weeks into life in Charleston, and the stickiest parts of transition are thankfully behind me – finding work (pastry chef at Two Boroughs Larder and blogger at mac & murphy), a new bike, and a few solidly great girlfriends. So with all that achieved we can begin to immerse ourselves in the best food beginning I can think of in America’s south… The Peach.


Frankly, I was a bit salty about my fruit situation when I initially arrived. I left Santa Fe before the strawberries came on, and then arrived in Charleston after they had all been picked and devoured. What sweetened me amidst this berry tragedy was the illustrious South Carolina peach... the farmer’s market is teeming with their gold. 

At a recent trip to the market I found a particularly peach-adorned stand and asked the farmer if I could sample the goods. He nodded enthusiastically, seemingly thrilled with my audacious request. I find it to be a good sign – a farmer who displays fervor in fruit tastings.

So he confidently took up his paring knife, and with bare, soil-stained hands cut the fruit in half, juice dripping from his palms. He graciously gifted me the entire thing, and I felt how purely southern summer the moment was. I loved it! … The weather was hot and thickly humid, the people were overtly friendly, there were southern women wearing high heels and twangy accents. And I was eating peaches.

My own palms filled with the fruit’s liquid. They were like saucepans waiting for a task, and yet the task was simpler than any sauce... Just sink in. 
The peach was totally glorious. Smooth, without a hint of grain or mush. Ripened and sweet, the fuzz giving it a refreshing rawness. I think I may have given the farmer a high five. Ok yes I definitely gave him a high five. That peach was, after all, why the best dessert I’ve ever had is a simple, unadorned, piece of fruit.

All that is really required for absolute joy is the expectation that what is simple is also what is enough. 

That said, there are times when we want to play with and charm our produce. For instance, orange blossom water plays beautifully with peaches. Orange blossom water is a perfumed, clear distillation of... you guessed it... orange blossoms.  Added to mascarpone and cream, a classic is reborn smelling like my heaven.
So simplicity meets slight refinement, and yet retains its glory.
Not overboard, not complicated.
Just Enough. 

photo by Matthew Yoder

Mini Peach Galettes 
with Mascarpone Orange Blossom Cream

I made these golden nuggets for the Larder this week, using nectarines when I ran out of peaches. Both were fantastic. The pastries can be made in advance, filling and all, and then frozen till you’re ready to bake... They’re actually better if frozen first. The cream, however, will only be at its best the same day you make it. Orange blossom water can be found at most international grocery stores.

Yields 5 individual galettes

The Filling:
6 large peaches
1/2 cup sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon kirsch (optional)
2 teaspoons flour

1. Peel and slice peaches. Tip: To peel, bring a pot of water to boil. Cut a small X at the base of the peach and carefully immerse all the fruit in the boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain and run cold water over the peaches to cool them down. Skins should peel off easily.
2. Place peeled fruit in a large mixing bowl, and add the sugar, kirsch, and lemon juice. Set aside to macerate for 30 minutes.
3. Drain the resulting juices, and set aside. Add the flour to the peaches and chill in refrigerator.
4. In a medium-sized sauce pan, reduce the reserved juices on medium heat till they just begin to thicken. (It will thicken more as it cools.) Set aside and allow to cool.  

The Pastry:
Note: Feel free to use your favorite pie crust recipe here. This is my preferred version on this particular day. But hey… that’s me. 
Replace the lard with butter if you're without lard. 
Replace the pastry flour with AP flour if you're without pastry. 

¾ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup pastry flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
3 Tablespoons leaf lard, broken into chunks and chilled
5-6 Tablespoons cold water

1. Whisk together the flours, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
2. With your fingertips, rub the butter and lard into the flour mixture till broken into small chunks about the size of peas. Some can be smaller. Some can be bigger.
3. Make a small well in the middle of the mixture and add 1 Tablespoon of cold water. With your palms facing upwards, toss the mixture lightly to incorporate the water. Continue adding water, 1 Tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together.
4. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic, and chill in the frig for at least 15 minutes.
Tips: Use the ball of dough as a sponge to mop up remaining flour.
Use as little water as possible. Too much water will make the final crust chewy – not what we’re going for. Also the flour will become more hydrated as it rests in the frig.
5. Divide the disc into 5 equal portions. If you have a scale, you can weigh them out… Each should weigh about 2.5 ounces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to about 5 or 6 inches in diameter. Using a small bowl as stencil, cut the dough into a circle. Transfer to baking sheet and refrigerate. Repeat this with each portion.
6. Brush the center of each crust with the the reserved juices, leaving about 2 inches on the outside border.

7. Place slices of peach in one layer in the center, again leaving about 2 inches. Bring the edge of the crust towards the center and make a fold every 1 or 2 inches, pinching to seal the fold. Now add another layer of peaches. Repeat with remaining pastries. Place galettes in freezer till ready for baking. 

The Cream:
Adapted from Ad Hoc
2 eggs, separated
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup mascarpone, at room temp
½ cup cream, cold
1 Tablespoon orange blossom water

1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk egg whites till foamy. Add 2 Tablespoons of the sugar and continue whisking (furiously whisking!) till you obtain stiff peaks. Set this aside.
2. In large mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks and remaining 2 Tablespoons of sugar. Whisk in mascarpone till incorporated.
3. In another bowl, whisk the heavy cream and orange blossom water (again, get furious on it!) until medium peaks form.
4. To the yolk mixture, fold in the whipped cream one third at a time. Then fold in the egg whites one third at a time, just until combined. Too much folding and you’ll lose the air you’ve worked so hard create.
5. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or for up to 1 day.

Bake and Serve!
1. Remove the galettes from the freezer and immediately place in a 375 degree preheated oven. Meanwhile, rewarm the remaining reduced fruit sauce in small saucepan over low heat. 
Tip: Never let a frozen pastry defrost before you bake it… A soggy mess you will have.
2. After about 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the peaches begin to brown. Remove from the oven and brush with sauce. Cool on wire baking rack.
Serve with a very generous portion of the cream right on top.

Mid-cooling. Pre-cream.


The Hope in the Marshmallow Tree, Part 5

What Charleston often looks like

From Atlanta to Charleston is a mere 5 hours and 300 miles. I’d told myself this many times as I prepped for the last leg of the trip.... 5 hours... a drop in the bucket compared to what had come before. 

But 5 measly hours turned into what felt like the longest stretch in all of America. I took the back roads, thinking the more scenic routes of Georgia would provoke some pleasant sense of nostalgia within. Perhaps I would have the energy to stop at the funky roadside diners who promised crawfish and catfish and more fried okra. It could be the perfect end to the long week. 

The novelty of the back roads dwindled quickly though, and for most of the drive I couldn't muster the energy to stop and pee, much less stop and taste the flavors of backwoods Georgia. 

Keturah’s diary of 1972 had been sitting accessible in the glove compartment the entire trip, set aside from the others who found home in their blue Rubbermaid.

Her life in 1972 had dramatically changed on two fronts... The aforementioned death of her husband Fred. And then her subsequent move from the farm to Schowalter Villa, the town’s Mennonite retirement center. In the days leading up to the move, through the lens of her daily writings, she vacillates.
April 5, 1972: I wanted to see the apartment they want me to go into at the Villa. Phoebe Yoder's apartment. I was really excited over it. 

April 6, 1972: But not quite as excited as I was last evening. 

April 15, 1972: So busy thinking about moving to the Villa. I do not want to go but feel it would be wise - as Pop had planed so much, for us both to go and now everything is changed. I am glad he could spend his last night here in our own little home on the far. But I think he would have been content in the apartment. 

Like Keturah, I was shuffling between two phases of life, trying to sift through the various available emotions.

And in a moment I didn't have the geographical foresight to anticipate I suddenly became a South Carolinian as I passed the big "Welcome!" sign. So far South Carolinian felt like a heavy heart, heavy eyelids and an impatient bladder. 

The beautiful city of Charleston did finally appear - exactly 5 long hours from the Atlanta departure and 6 long days from Santa Fe. I drove straight to meet the family at a restaurant downtown. The family includes sister Sarah, brother-in-law Matt, niece Sofia, and nephew Zeke. 

Some small piece of the the intricately-designed cobweb in my head cleared away as I had hugged my older sister and watched Sofia jump up and down behind her, a huge grin beaming off her little face, “Aunt Katie! Aunt Katie!”.

In the corner of the patio Sofie and Zeke had found a small niche within which they could create their own little home. I joined them there, their delight feeling contagious. Sofie gave me tour... 
“Here is the kitchen (she sweeps her little 4 year old arm over to the left railing of the roof). And here is our garden… This our cherry tree and our peach tree. And this is my favorite - our marshmallow tree. (she points to the 3 small potted bushes lining the railing).”

She is building her own world wherever she please, constructed of anything she pleases. A marshmallow tree… why not? I am building one here too and in the tiny corner of that patio, tucked away in their dreamy play garden, rife with fresh produce and sugar, is where it began.

There is hope in her marshmallow tree, I thought, more than in any car or clock or even a diary. Her marshmallow tree was beautiful, lush with gleaming white fruit and deep, deep roots , and I think… There is hope in marshmallows after all.