À Peu Près

A little bit close, sort of, approximately. That was the theme of the day.  Might be the theme of things to come for a while.

I met up with my friend Lauren at the La Marsa market again to buy some groceries for the week. (We are running out of multi-vitamins so I really need to nail this shopping thing.  Just kidding Mom, your Grandkids will be just fine.) We gamely set about looking over the produce, there were eggplants, carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, squash the size of toddlers, a watermelon that I swear weighed 40 pounds, mountains of figs.....I could go on. It was a dizzying array of fruit and vegetables and not really a clear process as to how to proceed. Oh and did I mention that it was 106 degrees Fahrenheit? (That would be 41.1 Celsius for the Europeans in the crowd). It took me a while to get in the groove as I was pretty shy about my limited French, I still haven't mastered the money, and I was hell bent on finding basil. A very kind vender approached, asked if I was new (I guess it really showed), took my basket, set it down, shoved a bunch of red plastic bags in my hands and gestured for me to shop. So there you have it, how to shop in La Marsa market. Just go for it.

Somewhere along the way Lauren suggested that we should get our families together for dinner that evening and we set about with a loose plan for that evenings meal.  When cooking and eating seasonally it is hard to head to the market with a list, the things you need for a specific recipe may not be available. It's fine really, and you learn to hold things loosely. We talked about what we had in our baskets, what we had at home, what we had the energy to make and Voila, dinner was planned and the new theme of À Peu Près was born.

We had Lasagna (sort of) a mix of fresh pasta and as Lauren would describe it, "weird greens, unidentifiable cheese that seemed to resemble ricotta, pesto, and oven roasted tomatoes". I made a Caesar salad (sort of) and admonished everyone to eat every last bite as it took over an hour to make. Since I am without a salad spinner until our shipment arrives this was the most tedious salad I've ever made. For dessert we had what I affectionately called "eyeball tart" or since we are trying to add French words to our vocab "tarte oeil".

Most of you would call it a Peach Gallette (maybe very generously, a Rustic Peach Gallette) I call it a lucky break.  The pastry chefs reading this may want to skip ahead as you will soon see, everything was eyeballed in the making of this dessert. Because our shipment from Singapore has not arrived, I do not have measuring utensils, nor a mixing bowl, or rolling pin. I don't even have a baking dish and the one sheet pan I brought along in a suit case will not fit in my oven. I approximated what would be the right amount of flour, and sugar, cut in a bit of butter, added exactly 2 egg yolks and literally a handful of water. And now dear friends this is where the comedy of errors began.

I rolled out the crust onto my marble counter top using a bottle of Tunisian Syrah, 2008.  I placed the peaches in the center, folded up the edges of the gallette, and then went Hmmm.  How to transfer it to the broiler pan that I was going to use to bake it on. Um, after a brief attempt I unfolded the pastry, scooped the peaches out, wadded up the dough and found a silicone baking mat that I had brought in my suitcase. Crisis averted! I re-rolled the now overworked dough onto the mat, placed the peaches in the middle, folded up the sides, sprinkled it with sugar, and used the mat as a sling of sorts to transfer the gallette to the waiting pan and into the oven it went.

It was pretty freaking awesome if I have to say so myself.

Rustic Peach Gallette
For Lauren and Nico

For the peaches:
6 large peaches ripe, yet still firm, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
juice of half a lemon
For the crust:
2 cups of flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of butter, cold, cut into small pieces
2 egg yolks
ice cold water as needed to bring dough together

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat

Place the sliced peaches in a mixing bowl (if you have one, improvise if you are in the middle of moving countries), toss them with the sugar and lemon juice. Allow them to sit for at least 30 minutes, or up to an hour. After the peaches have macerated drain them saving the accumulated juices. Pour the juices into a small saucepan and reserve.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. Using a fork, gently work the egg yolks through the dough. If the dough seems dry add a tablespoon or 2 of ice cold water.  

Roll the dough out into a large circle, about 1/8 of an inch thick. Place the peaches in the center of the dough and then fold the edges of the dough up around the fruit.  If the dough splits just crimp it together. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar all around the crust.

Bring the saucepan of reserved peach juices to a boil over medium high heat and reduce them by half.  Pour over the peaches in the gallette and then bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is very browned.

It would be great with some ice cream or sweetened whipped creme fraiche.

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