Welcome to the new and improved Carano's Cucina. I make a lot of kick ass food and go out to some amazing restaurants. Take a look around and make yourself at home :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Move Over GA, SC Has Some Kickin Peaches!

Several years ago we went on a trip with my whole family to Charleston, SC to celebrate my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary. We chose Charleston because it was kind of in the middle between those of us in Ohio and my brother and sister, who had moved to Florida. While there, I discovered the joy of South Carolina peaches. Before this, I had always preferred nectarines. I don't know why, since I don't have an aversion to the fuzz on a peach. I just had my preference and that was that. Then I ate a South Carolina peach and all that changed. It was the best peach I had ever had. It was juicy and not too soft but soft enough that the juice ran down your chin and down your arm and it was so good you wanted to lick your own arm so as not to waste a drop. Since then I seek out SC peaches in our stores. So when my mother in law told us she was going to Myrtle Beach for a few days with my sister in law and her family, I asked her, if it wasn't too much trouble and she happen to see a roadside stand, could she get me some peaches. When they got back, I got the call... "I got you some peaches." Thrilled and excited to bask once again in peach rapture, I headed over to their house to pick them up.

The problem was, when I got them home and actually looked at them, they were kind of past their prime after being jostled around in a hot car for about 10 hours on the trip home. So what can you do but make pie?

I happen to really love Martha's "Our Favorite Pie Crust" recipe so that's what I use. She claims you need a pastry cutter, but I use a fork and it's perfectly fine. This recipe makes one pie crust. So if you want a top crust on your pie you'll have to double it. Start with 1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour mixed with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon sugar in a bowl.

Add one stick of cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces.

Now you will need that pastry blender or, like I said, a fork. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Make sure the butter pieces are no larger than the size of a pea.

Sprinkle the mixture with two Tablespoons of ice water and work it through the dough. You want the dough to be able to hold together if you take some in your hand and squeeze it. If it doesn't, then you will need to add more ice water. Add it one Tablespoon at a time. It should look like this:

When you get it that consistency, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a disk about 3/4 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour to firm up.

While the crust is chilling, prepare your peaches for pie heaven! They need to be peeled so you will need a large pot of boiling water. You will also need a large bowl of ice water. I used about 8 peaches of varying sizes. They weren't overly large but they weren't small either. Drop the peaches, about two or three at a time, into the boiling water for about 10-15 seconds.

Take them out after that 10-15 seconds and immediately drop them into the bowl of ice water.

Once they are cool enough to touch, the peels will slip off easily.

Slice the peaches and put in a bowl and toss with a little lemon juice.

By this time, your pie crust is probably ready to be rolled out. Take it from the fridge, unwrap and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough carefully. You don't want to break it and you want it to be as much of a circle as possible. Make sure as you roll, you move the dough around so it doesn't stick to the surface. Add more flour to the board if necessary and make sure you flour your rolling pin. But don't over flour, you don't want a dry crust. The dough should be about 1/4 inch thick.

When you have it in the size you need and know it will fit in your pie plate, roll the dough around your rolling pin.

Gently unroll the dough into your pie plate.

Cut off some of the excess, but not all. With the excess that is left, tuck it under the plate.

From here, if you have more pie crust talent then I, you can do all kinds of fancy stuff to the crust. But since I'm really not very good at that, I just lightly crimp it with a fork.

Now take your peaches and mix them with 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and a liberal grind of fresh nutmeg. This isn't any ones recipe, just a mixture I threw together based on how I've seen peach pies made in the past. The mixture will most likely be pretty juicy which is why you need some cornstarch in there to thicken up those juices while it bakes.

For me, you can't go wrong with a streusel topping. I prefer it over a second crust. For an easy streusel topping, combine a half a stick of unsalted butter, softened, with 3/4 cup of flour, 1/4 cup light brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Use your handy dandy fork again to mash it all together and make a crumble. I wanted to add chopped pecans to the topping, but when I went to get them, I discovered I didn't have any. Doh!

Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the pie.

Put the pie on a baking sheet. Trust me, don't skip this step! You do not want to clean peach lava off the bottom of your stove. Bake the pie at 450 degrees for the first 8-10 minutes. Then lower the temp to 350 and bake for another 45-50 minutes.

You can let it cool, or you can eat it warm. You can serve it as is or add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. You can do whatever want with it, but now matter how you serve it, it won't last!


Karen said...

Heaven on a plate!

Chexy said...

Gimme some o'dat pie! yum! nice plate!

aliciag829 said...

Looks delicious Kathy! Funny you said that about the peaches. I have always hated peach fuzz and preferred nectarines myself until I went down to the Carolinas last month to visit my parents. I ate the juiciest, most delicious peach I've ever had in my life. I've actually been thinking about making a pie. I think you've just inspired me! Miss seeing ya in the cake class. Hope you're having fun. - Alicia

Kathy said...

Hey Alicia! Thanks for coming to the blog! Aren't those Carolina peaches insane? Truly never knew how good a peach could be until I had them there.

Not sure what is going on with Cake Class II. First they didn't have me listed at all, then they called to apologize that they didn't have me down, then it was canceled, then it was on again but they only gave us one day notice to when it was going to start. I'm all discombobulated about it LOL