Thursday, August 04, 2005

White Peach Tarte Tatin with Rose Champagne & Raspberry Gelee

I was down to the last of the luscious Shimizu white peaches that my parents had kindly passed to me, the very generous gift of a close Japanese family friend who was visiting. Amongst the many peach cultivars grown in Okayama prefecture, the Shimizu is the most sought after for its ambrosial sweetness - each bite into its yieldingly succulent flesh floods the mouth with a divinely perfumed nectar, a scent so haunting that all you can think of is the passing of its all-too-brief season (the best specimens are picked late July-early August), and all you can do is eagerly anticipate the next. I stared long and hard at the remaining two of my stash (the rest having been voraciously scarfed next to the sink, sticky juices trickling down and licked off arm), wondering how I could best stretch them to feed company for dessert. Blushed the tenderest dusty pink and covered with a fuzz that feels like the finest Hungarian goosedown, the precious peaches are presented individually wrapped in tissue-soft paper and swaddled by cushioned netting, a coddled appearance that befits their coddled existence - to ripen the prized peaches to perfection before harvest, each and every fruit on the tree grows under the protective swathe of its very own bag.

I then stared long and hard at my cookbooks, before finally deciding on a tarte Tatin recipe from Claudia Fleming's The Last Course. I must confess that I find inverting a tarte Tatin (or tartes Tatin, in this case, given that each peach half makes for an individual tarte) tremendously exciting. It's the moment of truth - Will it satisfyingly slide out with a resounding plop, resplendent in its caramel-glossed glory as you beam with triumphant pride (and breathe a sigh of relief)? Or is it stubbornly stuck, a taunting burnt sugar catastrophe as you burst into tears contemplating your ruinous course of action? Call it living dangerously (well, I did have store-bought ice-cream in the freezer as a back-up dessert plan, just in case...), but if the kitchen gods are smiling, and more importantly, you've correctly gauged the juiciness/ripeness of the fruit - be it apples, peaches, or otherwise - in question and adapted the degree of caramelization and cooking/baking times accordingly, the gratification of unmolding a just-right tarte renversee is unsurpassed. In this particular instance, I needn't have fretted - the fruit was so juicy the caramel never stood a chance of overcooking. The peaches emerged burnished yet tender, candied from the syrupy, buttery and deeply flavoured self-made sauce. And thanks to the upside-down order of things, the puff pastry lid-turned-base, still crisp and delectably flaky. To accompany, an elegant rose champagne gelee also adapted from Fleming's book - I used raspberries instead of the white peaches called for to flavour the bubbly (not having enough peaches to stretch that far, and having always liked the combination of peaches and raspberries) - and a dribble of raspberry coulis. No need to bust out a Billecart-Salmon vintaged rose for this; a Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial Rose, which I happened to have at hand, or some such like, will do very nicely here.


Blogger Ruth Daniels said...

The peaches do look gorgeous and I love your descriptions.

11:14 am, August 04, 2005  
Blogger santos. said...

hi j! we get one blow-out shipment of shimizu white peaches a year, and that was last week. sadly, i lack the self-control to do anything but eat them, much like you do, over the sink and invariably all over me. the caramel in the tart tartin is gilding the lily, and the rose champagne and raspberry gelee is gilding the already gilded lily, innit? ;) gorgeous, sumptuous, elegant, yet oh-so-decadent. fantastic work, per usual!

ps--i always think of the springy netting the peaches come in as fruit bras....

11:22 am, August 04, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, j. i don't know which looks more fabulous: the beautifully burnished appearance of the finished tarte tatin or the pastel-hued silkiness of those fresh white peaches!

12:40 pm, August 04, 2005  
Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said...

Oh yum. I love tarte tatin!

And I love your descriptive text too. It makes me crave peaches... now! =)

12:42 pm, August 04, 2005  
Blogger Anthony said...

momo a gogo!

Might be a silly question , but why is it lower case "t" tarte and capital "T" Tatin? It's a nicely detailed touch.

a taunting burnt sugar catastrophe is more Ian than Claudia.

3:43 pm, August 04, 2005  
Blogger Joycelyn said...

hi ruth, thanks for your kind words :)

hi santos, thanks! i had to exercise every ounce of self-control not to wolf down the last bras...or control briefs in this peachy derriere case ;)

hi midge, thanks! you're very kind :)

hi ag, thanks for dropping eating peaches as fast as the season lasts...

hi anthony, i got too lazy to repeat the whole sisters Tatin/curnonsky legend, but thought it would be churlish not to make some sort of reference - capital "T" seemed like an economical way out.
you found me out - i have a secret goldeneye fixation ;)

6:06 pm, August 04, 2005  
Blogger Unknown said...

ooohh! those peaches look very delicious, I especially like these big and plump ones which allow you to big generously into them and just have the juices flow down your chin and your fingers - sink stance of course a requirement!! :)

9:28 am, August 05, 2005  
Blogger Reid said...

Hi J,

I would love to try this sometime. I'm not really a peach kind of person, but these make me want to eat 'em.

Beautiful photos!

1:38 pm, August 05, 2005  
Blogger Michèle said...

Hi J, i have been hooked on peaches as of late, and yours look perfect! The Tarte Tatin sounds and looks delicious.. I think I may have to look for a recipe, its too hard to resist.. :)

3:59 pm, August 05, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tarte Tatin sounds really good !And your blog pictures are always good enough to eat.
By the way I've tagged you for the Childhood Food Memories Meme and hope you have time to write it.

8:16 pm, August 05, 2005  
Blogger eat stuff said...

WHY aren't peaches in season!!!!!!
hmmm maybe I will have to make an apple tarte tartin instead....?

12:44 am, August 06, 2005  
Blogger Nic said...

Simply beautiful, J. I love the way you were able to stretch the peaches to serve company - and I agree that raspberries and peaches are a wonderful combination!

12:52 pm, August 06, 2005  
Blogger Joycelyn said...

hi eatzycath, thanks - i love the messily delicious affair that is eating peaches too ;)

hi reid, thanks!if it's any persuasion, baked peaches taste totally different from the fresh deal...

hi michele, thanks!glad to hear you like tarte tatin too...

hi deccanheffalump, thanks! ruth tagged me too - happy to play! will try to get round to it...

hi clare, i love tarte tatin anything...

hi nic, thanks for dropping by. call me shallow, but one of the various reasons i love the combination is how the colours look great together ;)

5:20 pm, August 06, 2005  
Blogger ac said...

ooo J, looks really complex, but you make it sound simple. looks festive enough for CNY tho :P

oh, thanks for dropping by earlier. comments answered :)

6:23 pm, August 07, 2005  
Blogger tara said...

Gorgeous as per usual - this post is pure poetry! And on a conceited note, a perfect recipe for my recently peach-obsessed palate.

10:26 pm, August 07, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

only one word to sum up my impression as I saw your blog... PEI FU!!! :) Great job!

3:38 pm, August 08, 2005  
Blogger Joycelyn said...

hi ac and mellie, thanks :) you are very kind

hi tara, thanks! glad to see you settling into your new home ;)

2:47 pm, August 09, 2005  
Blogger Pille said...

Hi J - another beautiful post! I quite like peaches, esp when I'm travelling in Southern Europe. But I've never had them baked, and am now quite curious after you've mentioned that they're totally different. Might even do a decent job of the under-ripe ones mostly available in the UK maybe?

5:21 pm, August 09, 2005  
Blogger Joycelyn said...

hi pille, thanks :) am inclined to think baking would intensify the present sugars in the underripe fruit plus soften it...there's also the added sugar in case the fruit is tart...curious to try baking on underripe supermarket peaches to see if technique works...cheers,j

8:05 pm, August 09, 2005  

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