Thursday, June 9, 2011

Road Trip

You’ve heard me rant talk before about how good parenting skills are necessary even if your kids are grown and haven’t lived under your roof in years. This proved to be true again recently when our youngest son Eric visited the ATL.

His visit was twofold. He was attending a conference at Georgia Tech (which involved a long bus ride to and from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, this is relevant later) and he was here to pick up his tin can car (a well-used 2000 Jetta), which was living here because he didn’t want to pay for long term parking in downtown Philadelphia where he lives as a student. He planned to leave Atlanta on Wednesday, drive to NYC for a little R & R with friends, then drive to DC on Sunday to start his summer job.

There was just one small problem. Since last fall, he’s been living with severe back pain, and in spite of a cortisone shot and physical therapy, it wasn’t improving. He limped into our house after that bus ride and could do nothing but lie on his stomach and work on his laptop in that position. Sitting was out of the question. Our parental hackles went up.

At the end of the day, despite his protests, we got him to a pain specialist and informed him he was NOT driving to New York and DC. I don’t care how old they get (he’s 27), sometimes you just have to act like parents. So we put him on a plane, fueled up his Jetta and drove to DC to deliver his car. With no working radio or CD player, I might add. At least we had air conditioning. Oh, the joys of parachute parenting!

I did manage to cobble together some speakers and a plug-in iPod connection so we could listen to a book along the way. That would be Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton, chef-owner of Prune in NYC. (Sorry, Henry. You have unwittingly become an accomplice in my never-ending thirst for culinary knowledge and good dirt. Happy driving).

I won’t give anything away, but I will tell you that Prune will certainly be on my radar screen the next time I am in NYC. If I can get a reservation, that is. For the purposes of this blog however, I thought it would be fun to make one of Gabrielle’s recipes.

Until I did a google search. Oh, there were recipes from her, but none that I thought you guys would actually cook. I mean, do you really want a recipe for rabbit?

Then I found her recipe for Roasted Pear Tarte Tatin with Brown Sugar-Balsamic Swirl Ice Cream. It got me thinking … but pears? Sure, you can easily find them right now, but it’s not their best season. Peaches seemed to be a better choice. Especially since I live in Georgia.

Now about the ice cream. Brown Sugar-Balsamic Swirl sounded better with pears than peaches. But straight up brown sugar ice cream with roasted peaches sounded pretty good. Here’s what evolved:

DECONSTRUCTED ROASTED PEACH “TATIN”  (inspired by Gabrielle Hamilton)

8 peaches, peeled and halved, seeds removed
½ cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

Sprinkle sugar evenly over the surface of a 9-inch round baking pan. Cut butter into small cubes and distribute them over the sugar. Place peach halves over, cut side down. Place in preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Baste with the cooking juices and remove from oven.

Change oven setting from “bake” to “broil.” When top element is hot, return peaches to oven and broil for 2 to 3 minutes or until browned. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Using a slotted spoon, remove peaches to a baking dish. Pour remaining liquid into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until it caramelizes and starts to turn brown. Remove from heat and add cream. Stir to blend. Return to medium heat, if necessary, to smooth out.

Meanwhile, unfold the puff pastry sheet on a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper. If necessary, use a rolling pin to lightly smooth out any creases. Place a 9-inch round pan on top and cut around edges to produce a 9-inch circle of pastry circle. Place the circle on a parchment-lined baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Reserve pastry scraps for another use.

Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Bake the pastry for 20 – 25 minutes or until puffed and golden. Remove from oven and cool on a baking rack.

To assemble, place the pastry disk on a serving plate. Arrange the peaches on top and spoon caramel sauce over. Serve with a scoop of  Brown Sugar Ice Cream.

Serves 8


2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
7 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine cream and half-and-half in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in ¾ the brown sugar and salt. Heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is just warm but not simmering.

Whisk egg yolks and vanilla extract together in a separate bowl. Whisk in 1 cup of the warm cream mixture to bring up the temperature. Pour this into the remaining cream in the pan and stir well. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens and temperature reaches 165-degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from heat immediately and strain into a heatproof bowl. Let cool slightly, then place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well-chilled, preferably overnight.

Place into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

Yield: approximately 1 quart

*  As you know, a Tarte Tatin is traditionally made by placing pastry over fruit and sugar in a heavy skillet, then baking and inverting it so the crust in on the bottom and the fruit (usually apples) is on the top.  The point of this is to ensure a crisp crust but I have found that sometimes the fruit sticks to the pan.  The deconstructed method above (thanks, Gabrielle) completely eliminates this problem.

*  This is a great make-ahead dessert.  The peaches and caramel can be done ahead of time and refrigerated.  Bring peaches to room temperature before using and reheat the caramel over medium-low heat, then assemble.  You could pre-bake the pastry and keep it for a day or two in an airtight container but instead I would recommend just cutting it out, prepping it on a baking sheet and refrigerating it.  Then, thirty minutes before you want to assemble, pop it into the oven and bake.

*  Obviously I recommend serving this with my Brown Sugar Ice Cream, but it's also wonderful with whipped cream or good store-bought vanilla ice cream.  It's not bad "nekkid" either!

*  You can buy frozen puff pastry in the frozen foods section of your grocery store, usually near the frozen pie crusts and phyllo.  The Pepperidge Farm variety is perfectly fine and I have used it many times.  My favorite though, is this variety from Whole Paycheck Foods:

*  As I was putting this dessert together, I was watching "Fried Green Tomatoes" on the TV that resides on my kitchen counter.  Anyone remember the movie?  Not only is it one of my all-time favorites, but I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to help style some of the food for the movie.  Great memories!  Check out the glass plate in the first picture at the top of this post - it was one we used in the movie.  I have the entire set of 12 and I use them often for desserts.  Makes them that much sweeter!


  1. Liz, Give Andy my best wishes for a successful recovery from the back pain. He looks great in the photograph. Keep updated on his progress.

  2. Oops, sorry. Let's try Eric