In his Love Song, J. Alfred Prufrock wonders â€œdo I dare to eat a peach?â€ and I have to say, I see his point. Itâ€™s an act of hope over experience, so often, a flirtation with bitter disappointment.
I recently discovered as fact something that I had long suspected; peaches are scientifically unreliable ripeners. Once picked, capriciously, they may or may not ripen. As with any fancy Southern Lady, you might hope for yielding sweetness, but most often get a sour slap in the mouth. There are no guarantees.
Essentially the peach that you buy is the peach that you get. The ideal fruit should be fragrant. It should yield to a gentle touch. And if youâ€™re lucky enough to find a perfect specimen, might I suggest that you run yourself a bath, sit in it and get to slurping, juice running down your arm, until youâ€™ve sucked every last drop of scented sweet nectar off the stone â€“ a true Monday treat. But most peaches are going to take a little bit more work.
Miss Rebecca, a blond, blue eyed belle with a propensity to say things like â€œlife is so hard when youâ€™re slim because you just canâ€™t find pants that fit through the hipâ€ and to whom the adjective peachy might well be applied, informs me that this is National Peach Month, so I ought to make the most of it.
â€œWhy on earth would you know that?â€
â€œMy whole familyâ€™s in the canning business. Weâ€™re from Georgia.â€
â€œI didnâ€™t know that.â€
â€œReally? I wore gloves at Easter.â€
â€œAh.â€ I had wondered.
â€œI love peaches. Weâ€™re famous for them. My sister won a peach compote competition. And the very next day she gave birth to twins.â€
Now that really would give J Alfred Prufrock something to worry about.
Peach and Bourbon Tart
Ingredients (serves 4 – 6)
1 sheet of defrosted puff pastry 1 cup of ricotta (or thereabouts) 4 â€“ 6 peaches (just over a pound, which will in turn make 2 generous cups of peach slices) 2 â€“ 4 tbsp light brown sugar for the peaches and Â½ tbsp for the base 1 tbsp bourbon for the peaches and Â½ tbsp for the base 1 tbsp butter Vanilla ice cream to serve
- Lay the pastry sheet onto some parchment and roll out to get rid of the creases. Score a border around the edge and prick the pastry in the middle with a fork.
- Peel and slice the peaches
- Toss the peach slices with 1 tbsp of bourbon and 2 â€“ 4 tbsp light brown sugar (depending on how sweet the peaches are already, and how sweet you like things to taste). Leave to marinate for a few minutes
- Mix the ricotta with Â½ tbsp of the bourbon and Â½ tbsp of brown sugar. Spread it over the pastry inside the border
- Tumble the peaches on top and dot with the butter
- Put the tart onto a tray and into a pre-heated oven and let it cook for 20 â€“ 25 mins. If your oven is a bit old and unreliable, like mine, turn the tart around half way through cooking in case one bit of oven is hotter than another and the tart cooks unevenly (i.e. one part raw, one part ash, as in my oven).
- Once cooked, the peaches should be caramelized and bubbling.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream
How To Peel A Peach
- Put a pan of water on to boil and fill another bowl with ice water.
- Score a small cross (about 1cm) at the bottom of each peach, cutting through the fuzzy skin.
- Plunge the peach into the boiling water and leave for 30 secs.
- Fish it out with a slotted spoon and dunk it into cold water â€“ you donâ€™t want to cook the peach.
- The skin should be peeling back where you cut the cross. Use a paring knife (or your fingers) to peel the skin off.