Peach pie… mmmmm (La Festa al Fresco 2007)

Once again, just under the wire! Wait! What am I saying?? It’s early!! It’s not even close to midnight!

La Festa al Fresco 2007 – Tutti a tavola!

Just before leaving for our holiday, we noticed that our wonderful Polish butcher sells jars of a solid white substance in his refrigerator. We held up a jar and asked if the Polish girl behind the counter (PGBC) if it was lard.

PGBC: Yes. Is lard.
T: We’ve GOT to make a pie!!
PGBC: (eyes wide) You make lard pie??

Admittedly, I’ve never been a fan of pastry made with lard (can’t stand that gummy taste on the roof of my mouth when the pastry is cold). I’ve always insisted on using vegetable shortening. But of course, what with hearing more and more about the evils of transfats, we decided we had to try making a pie with lard when we got home.

wild rye bread Yes, yes, we know that lard is not necessarily all that good for us either. But at least it’s honest about itself! And our butcher’s lard in a clean jar must be superior to commercially produced lard, full of preservatives, housed in a greasy box that has been sitting on a supermarket shelf for who knows how long. The jarred lard must be refrigerated – it’s quite soft at room temperature. It just has to be better than the over-processed boxes of commercial lard filled with preservatives!

What kind of pie, you ask? Well, there really is only one kind of pie at this time of year, don’t you think? Peach, of course!

<rant>Now the difficulty with getting good peaches for pie is that for some bizarre reason, Ontarians seem to be perfectly willing to allow growers to pick produce when it’s lime green rather than waiting for it to ripen on the tree or vine. WHAT is with that??! It’s not as if they have to travel very far with the goods. The orchards and farms are not more than an hour away. The roads are not in such terrible shape that the ride is that bumpy. And even if you go to a roadside stall out in the country, everything at the stand will be green and hard! And the stall keeper will proudly tell you that everything was picked that morning!! Ask the person why and you will be met with a quizzical uncomprehending stare. How can we stop them from continuing with this ridiculous tradition?!</rant>

Okay, do excuse me; I’ll stop foaming now… where was I? Oh, yes, the peaches. A couple of years ago, we discovered that if we can find fruit sold in a basket, it is more likely to have been allowed to ripen further.

So we rode our bikes along our high street and stopped at each one of the several vegetable/fruit stores to examine their peaches. All of the stores were selling Ontario peaches. Some of them were selling Ontario peaches in baskets. But few of the peaches actually smelled like peaches. Few of the peaches were surrounded by wasps. And it was a sunny day…

And then as we rode by one store, we saw wasps galore, mostly hovering over the grape and peach baskets. We jumped off our bikes and carefully, carefully, brushed the wasps aside to pick up a peach. Even as we were brushing the wasps away, we could smell all the peaches. And they were in the shade! The peaches were soft, but not too soft, and a lovely reddish gold colour and yes, they smelled intensely of peaches!! The basket wasn’t cheap – $6 as I recall – but we decided we were worth it and bought a basket.

After T made the pastry, we blanched the peaches to peel them. It’s SO much easier to peel ripe peaches! The skin just fell away. We sliced them into a bowl, and yes, we had to cut away a few bruises.

And then T made a pie. A peach pie. A peach pie to rival The Peach Pie. My sister wrote best about that peach pie that we all still dream about:

We were driving along the highway coming back from [Niagara-on-the-Lake] when we passed a Fruit Stand. There were peaches that I think had just come off the tree. We stood and each ate a peach. I should say we bent over the ground with our chins out as the juice dripped down onto the dusty ground. That peach was the pinnacle of peach eating. As my sister was finishing her peach, I walked around the fruit stand to find a bucket of about 15 or so almost over ripe peaches labelled as “jam peaches”. The cost was a dollar or two. We took them home and made the most amazing peach pie – no jam for us!. Oh, my goodness – what a memory :bravo:. Every peach I eat is compared to that peach from about 15 years ago.

(click on image for larger view and more photos)

wild rye bread Yes, indeed, that long ago peach pie was unbelievably good. The peaches came through on their promise. And the pastry? The pastry!!! It is brilliant! It was light and crisp and flaky when it was warm. And the next night, when we had cold pie, there was not even a hint of gumminess at all! Why oh why didn’t someone tell me before that there was lard in that there butcher’s refrigerator?! Forget about boxed lard from the supermarket. Go directly to your butcher for lard. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

Trust me. You’ll love it!

And speaking of local produce, there seems to be no end to the bounty. We have been having the most wonderful corn on the cob! (Happily, corn doesn’t seem to be picked ridiculously green) And today, as we bicycled through Kensington Market, we saw that there were Ontario grown hot red shepherd peppers. These too always appear to have been vine ripened. They aren’t terrible hot (perhaps a 3/10) but they are wonderfully sweet. If you’re in the area, race over to Augusta Avenue to get some! These peppers only appear for a short time in September. They’re fabulous added to tomato sauce.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It turned out that the girl at the butcher shop had never made pastry before – she rarely eats pastry. She told us she uses the lard for cooking potatoes. So we tried that too. Oh my. Oh my!! And we thought that oven roasted potatoes made with olive oil were delicious but oven roasted potatoes made with lard are even more delicious!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
La Festa al Fresco this year is co-hosted by Ivonne (Cream Puffs in Venice) and Lis (La Mia Cucina). They wrote:

La Festa al Fresco is the blog world’s biggest patio party. […] [P]repare any dish you like. […] The only rule is that it must feature a fresh, seasonal ingredient, preferably something that grows in your neck of the woods.

The deadline for the event is midnight [EDT] on September 3, 2007.

Lis and I are polishing the patio and tables as we speak. Tutti a tavola for La Festa al Fresco 2007!

For more information about how to participate, please see

wild rye bread

Ivonne and Lis have asked for a 100×100 pixel image to use in the roundup. I hope this will do.

(Click on image to see larger view)

edit 9 September 2007:
Ivonne and Lis have posted the La Festa al Fresco 2007 roundup!

 

This entry was posted in baking, cakes, pastries, cookies, etc., crossblogging, dessert, food & drink, various other events, whine on by .

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  • MrsBrown

    mmmm peach pie!

    I made plum pie today with plums from our niece’s 5 plum trees. She forced the plums on us–at least she said that she forced them. Apparently some of the people to whom she’s given plums have not wanted them (!?!!). The plum pie was excellent but I used vegetable shortening that I’ve kept frozen hard so that I can grate it into my flour and not touch it with my hot little hands. The pastry is flaky and delicious. The plums are perfect–not too sweet. Mmmm plum pie.

  • bing

    I haven’t been using shortening for a while. I love the pie crust that a mixture butter and lard gives; I’m looking forward to trying “real” lard. (For other shortening requirements, I use margarine – every recipe I’ve tried has worked fine with margarine substituted for shortening.)

    Speaking of corn, we had corn from the supermarket that Was Not Peaches And Cream!!!! Hoorayyyyy. Not that I don’t like peaches-and-cream corn; I do. But there are so many other kinds. This corn was a fairly light yellow – slightly more of a corn taste than P&C and very crisp.

  • First of all how did you know that peach pie is my very FAVOURITE, Elizabeth! I love it! Every year in August my mom and I try to go to Niagara-on-the-Lake for their peach festival (where they sell perfectly ripened peaches!).

    Secondly, you have to tell me what butcher you went to in order to buy the lard?! We prefer to make pies with lard but I’d rather use homemade lard. However, I’m not about to start making it myself!

    Finally, thank you so much for bringing this gorgeous pie to the party!

  • ejm

    Plum pie!! I love plum pie!! (I too am perplexed that anyone would reject the plums!) And I must say I’m very envious of your niece, MrsBrown. Five plum trees!! I’d love to have even one plum tree!

    I absolutely loathe and despise margarine, bing. The colour, the taste, the packaging, the name… I think maybe I cannot get out of my memory the really awful taste of the margarine we had as kids – the one that came with a little tab of lurid yellow dye that we mixed in so the margarine wouldn’t be a deathly white colour. And I know what you mean about the corn. We had “yellow” corn when we were on the west coast. It was a WONDERFUL change from peaches and cream!

    Ivonne, I’m so glad that you love peach pie as much as we do. We get our lard at Warmia on Roncesvalles. There is another location for Warmia as well – we’ve never been there though so don’t know for certain if they sell lard there too.

    Warmia Deli Ltd
    323 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto, Ontario 416-531-4861
    1846 Dundas St E Mississauga, Ontario 905-270-7182

  • bing

    I think they should have come up with a new name for the soft kind of margarine; besides not being horribly bad for you, it tastes better. It doesn’t really have any resemblance to that nasty hard white stuff with the colour glob, lurid indeed.

  • ejm

    Even though margarine is no longer made with transfats, it still contains modified palm and palm kernel oil. (I wonder HOW they modify the palm oils….) And then there is also this alarming fact ;-)

    Margarine is but one molecule from being PLASTIC…. (This fact alone was enough to have me avoiding margarine for life and anything else that is hydrogenated , this means hydrogen is added changing the molecular structure of the food.)

    You can try this for yourself, purchase a tub of margarine and leave it in your garage or shaded area, within a couple of days you will note a couple of things, no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it, (that should tell you something) it does not rot, smell differently… Because it has no nutritional value, nothing will grow on it, even those teeny weeny microorganisms will not find a home to grow… Why?

    Because it is nearly plastic. Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?

    Eeeheeeeheeeee! :-) :-D (I know it’s old but it’s still funny…) Read the rest of the article to see a handy chart that shows the amount of polyunsaturated fat (I gather that is another of the bad ones) in various margarines: The Difference Between Butter and Margarine

    (The real reason that we don’t eat margarine is that we prefer the taste of butter OR olive oil. But pastry made solely with butter or olive oil isn’t quite as light and crispy as pastry made with lard or shortening. Hence switching to lard for pastry….)

  • niece’s mother

    I must speak in defense of “the people to whom she’s given plums [who] have not wanted them…” It wasn’t so much that they didn’t want them but that they lingered neglected and forgotten on the counter by all passers by. The said people left town before eating them up — except for said niece — I am very glad those plums ended up in a good home and found their way into plum pie. Mmmm! Wish I’d been there to eat the pie!

  • bing

    Polyunsaturated fat is one of the good ones. :p

    Yikes. Water is only one atom away from bleach!!!!

    Back on topic, I want some peach pie!

  • bing

    Hey, that :p was supposed to be a stuckout tongue, not a pig. : p

  • thank you so much for posting our apple & lavender event Elizabeth. Hope you’re going to join. Lavender & apple, peach pie?

  • ejm

    Ha. That’s what you get for using those sideways faces, bing. :whee: I thought that polyunsaturated was considered less good than unsaturated. Aren’t polyunsaturated fats manipulated in some way?

    I haven’t yet decided if we’ll be actively participating in the TGRWT: apple & lavender event, av. Our garden lavender has just barely established itself so I don’t yet know if I can safely take any of it. (The last two winters have been very bad and lavender has not survived either of them, even though the previous plant did just fine in previous winters) Interesting notion to combine peach and lavender – however, I’m not sure if they would complement each other because they are both so perfumed.

  • bing

    Polyunsaturated fats occur in nature. Fish, cereal, whole grain. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsatured fats.

    Here is wikipedia on unsaturated fats: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsaturated_fat

    An unsaturated fat is a fat or fatty acid in which there are one or more double bonds in the fatty acid chain. A fat molecule is monounsaturated if it contains one double bond, and polyunsaturated if it contains more than one double bond. Where double bonds are formed, hydrogen atoms are eliminated. Thus, a saturated fat is “saturated” with hydrogen atoms. In cellular metabolism hydrogen-carbon bonds are broken down – or oxidized – to produce energy, thus an unsaturated fat molecule contains somewhat less energy (i.e fewer calories) than a comparable sized saturated fat. The greater the degree of unsaturation in a fatty acid (ie, the more double bonds in the fatty acid), the more vulnerable it is to lipid peroxidation (rancidity). Antioxidants can protect unsaturated fat from lipid peroxidation. Unsaturated fats also have a more enlarged shape than saturated fats.

    I can see disliking margarine on grounds of taste, but not really on grounds of badness any more. During this Margarine Discussion, I read one article that pointed out how margarine originally rated Dreadful compared to butter. But butter is butter and can’t really change, while margarine can be continually upgraded in quality and taste.

    Yikes, I don’t want to seem like a margarine zealot. I love butter. Butter and Lard rule for pie.

  • ejm

    I stand corrected about “polyunsaturated” (I wonder why I thought it was one of the bad ones!?) Now when asked why I refuse to eat margarine, I’ll make sure to say it’s solely because of the taste.

    Vegetable shortening, on the other hand, must be still considered to be one of the bad fats – for it to be solid at room temperature, (without looking at the label) I’m thinking it MUST contain transfats and hydrogenated oils.

    Although… this excerpt from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shortening is interesting:

    Shortening containing no trans fats has grown in usage, notably with the 2007 reformulation of Crisco such that it contains less than 1g of trans fat per 12g serving.

    But having made the switch to lard for pastry, we’re unlikely to switch back to using vegetable shortening. And I STILL can’t see how the shortening manufacturers are managing to make sure that the shortening stays solid at room temperature.

    More interesting reading from wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisco):

    Many nutritionists are already warning that Crisco’s formula change may be little more than a marketing move. They argue that fully hydrogenated oil may not be any healthier than trans-fat containing partially hydrogenated oil. Fully hydrogenated oil contains another artificial fat known as interesterified fat.

    The whole thing really seems more and more like a science experiment to me. I don’t think I want to be one of the test subjects any more.

    >I love butter. Butter and Lard rule for pie.

    Yes indeedy.

    Oh, by the way, did I remember to mention that left over peach pie is GREAT for breakfast?

  • bing

    I used to vaguely think that vegetable shortening was ok until I read the label. If the _reformulated_ Crisco contains about 8% trans fat (where _none_ is too much), imagine how bad the original was.

    Left over peach pie is possibly even better than fresh peach pie.