I’m writing you this week from Brussels. Beau and I are staying with friends and recharging between the Paris photography workshop we hosted and the retreat we’re leading in Portugal. Since we arrived, our days have mostly involved sleeping late, cooking with all the gorgeous fall produce, leisurely meals with friends and long walks through the forest. Needless to say, I do not want to leave.
I don’t know what’s happening where you live, but in Seattle fall is in the wind. As we round the corner into September, summer has pretty much decided to call it quits.
Amazingly, I don’t mind at all. We’ve had the summer-of-all-summers here in the Pacific Northwest. I’m talking a glorious, sun-filled, resplendent season fit for picnics and sunbathing and plunging into the surf.
Also, the hardcore-nerd piece of my brain is permanently programmed to love back-to-school season. A chill in the air will forever trigger dreams of pristine notebooks and the smell of freshly-sharpened pencils and hours spent hiding away in the library.
There’s one thing I’m sad to be saying goodbye to though: the unbelievable peaches we’ve had all summer. I’ve never in my whole life tasted peaches as good as these. They are the platonic ideal of a peach: downy-skinned, juicy, heavy in the hand and with the lingering smell of peach blossoms still about them. Perfection.
These, I will miss.
So in these last days of the season, as the afternoon shadows get longer and we transition to sweaters and boots and bags heavy with books, I’m going to hold onto a little piece of summer with this peachy bourbon fizz.
The classic combination of bourbon and peaches is jazzed up with a subtle cardamom syrup and brightened with fresh mint and a little lemon. The soda keeps it light. It’s my perfect summer-into-fall cocktail.
Mix one up this weekend and let me know what you think in the comments!
- ¼ ripe peach, thinly sliced, plus additional to garnish
- 4 teaspoons cardamom simple syrup (recipe below)
- ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- 1 dash bitters
- ½ cup chilled soda water, or to taste
- 1 sprig fresh mint
*Note: This drink is pretty light. If you're in the mood for a boozier cocktail, add a splash more bourbon.
In a heavy pint glass, muddle the peach slices. Add the simple syrup, lemon juice, bourbon, bitters and ¼ cup of the soda water. Stir for 10-15 seconds then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a rocks glass filled with ice. Top with the remaining ¼ cup soda water (or more, if desired). Garnish with a peach slices or two and the mint sprig.
Makes 1 drink.
Cardamom Simple Syrup (double-strength)
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
Place the cardamom in a mortar and pestle and pound just to break the pods open and crush the seeds a little. Transfer the seeds to a small saucepan. Add the sugar and water and bring to the boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. When the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is clear, turn off the heat. Cool to room temperature then strain.
Since this simple syrup is double-strength, it will keep for up to 6 months covered and stored in the fridge.
Makes 1 cup.
A couple of weeks ago, I got an insane craving for pie. Maybe compulsion is a better word. I started dreaming of pie morning, noon and night.
But not just any pie. I wanted a slice of pie with a golden, shattering crust. And a perfectly set sweet-tart filling. It was going to have to be homemade.
So on a rare rainy Sunday, I got to work rolling dough then headed to the farmers market to scout the perfect fruit. The peaches from Collins Orchard are stupidly good this year; I mean juicy, honeyed, fragrant, peachy perfection. So I knew peaches were going to have to get involved. I decided to throw in a handful of inky blackberries and a hint of ginger and anise to deepen the flavors and bring the whole thing together.
After slicing and rolling and shaping and chilling and baking, I sat down to a really fantastic slice of pie. I’m proud to say it’s one of the best I’ve ever made. It took the better part of an afternoon. But we all know good things can’t be rushed.
And one bite of those fragrant peaches nestled beneath a flaky, buttery crust affirmed all the glory of summer. Long, hot days. Dips in the lake. And peach pie. Just the way it was meant to me.
- 1 recipe flaky pie dough (see below)
- 3 lbs firm-ripe peaches (about 6 large)
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
- 2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch, divided
- 9 tablespoons sugar, divided
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¾ teaspoon ground anise
- Pinch salt
- 8 oz blackberries (about 2 cups)
Flaky Pie Dough
- 1 lb + 2 oz (4 cups) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 8 oz (2 sticks) butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
- 5 oz (1/2 cup +2 tablespoons) lard, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup cold water
- 3 tablespoons cream or milk
- 1-2 tablespoons turbinado, demerara or sanding sugar (regular old sugar will work, too)
*NOTES: I wanted to sidestep the slick, gelatinous filling found in the worst sort of peach pies (remember when canned pie filling was a thing?). I’d never made a peach pie before, so I rummaged around on the interwebs for some pointers. Here’s what I discovered:
Peaches can release a lot of juice once you sprinkle sugar on them. If your peaches give off a lot of liquid, you’ll need to pour some off before baking to avoid a soggy crust and loose filling.
Cutting your peaches into large slices (about 1 inch) limits surface area and also helps limit the amount of liquid they give off.
Also: Lots of recipes say you need to blanch and peel your peaches. I don’t recommend it. I think it gives the peaches a slightly slimy mouthfeel. Plus leaving the peels on gives your filling beautiful blush tones.
Prepare the crust according to this recipe.
When you are ready to bake the pie, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425°F.
Cut the peaches into slices about 1-inch thick and place in a large mixing bowl. Gently toss with the lemon juice and ½ cup of the sugar. Set aside to rest for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, pour off the juice from the peaches and measure it. You should have about ½ cup of juice. If you have extra, discard it. Toss the peaches (and ½ cup juice) with two tablespoons of the cornstarch, the ginger, anise and a pinch of salt.
Place the blackberries in a medium mixing bowl and toss with the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons of the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of sugar. (You can add a bit more sugar if your berries aren’t super sweet.)
To fill the pie crust, pour half of the peach slices onto your well-chilled or frozen bottom crust. Arrange half of the blackberries over the peaches. Top with the rest of the peach slices and then the rest of the blackberries. Cover your fruit with your top crust then bake according to the directions here.
Allow your pie to cool a bit and firm up before slicing. Leftovers keep best covered at room temperature overnight. If you need to keep your pie for more than a day, cover tightly and store in the fridge.
P.S. I highly recommend having a slice of this pie for breakfast with a strong cup of coffee.