Can it be true? Is autumn just around the corner? For the millions suffering through record-breaking triple digit heat around the nation, autumn must seem like a far-off dream, but at our home in Breckenridge, Colorado, I see the signs everywhere.
Although it's a beautiful August day with temperatures in the mid-70's, we've experienced a multitude of frosty mornings intermittently since mid-July. That's early even for those of us residing at 9,300 ft elevation. One of our mature aspen trees has lost its upper tier of leaves and its tiny, west-facing green leaves are beginning to fade – a sure sign they'll turn to gold before long.
While shopping at the Dillon, Colorado farmers market yesterday, surrounded by majestic mountains and boxes of juicy, ripe Palisade peaches and an abundance of tomatoes whose garden-fresh aroma made my mouth water, I discovered a box of early-Jonathan apples. I use early-Jonathans when I make apple butter in the fall, so spying them when we're barely into mid-August was a wake-up call that autumn is indeed nearly here.
Early last week, I decorated Swan’s Nest's front entry for a Vail HOME Magazine photo shoot, destined for their September/October issue. As I unpacked boxes of autumn garland, Indian corn, pinecones, and pumpkins in every color, shape, and size, I couldn't help but notice that the colors were reflective of what was beginning to happen in nature all around me – tall, purple lupines going to seed; meadow grasses lighter in color than the week prior; and willows in our wetlands showing the first hints of gold.
But, before it completely disappears, we'll enjoy summer's final weeks as we cook thick steaks, juicy bison burgers, sweet Olathe corn, and garden-fresh vegetables on the grill, sip glasses of rosé with friends in the sunshine, savor leisurely dinners on the front veranda while gazing at the Tenmile Range, and I'll bake luscious fruit tarts and cobblers with the berries and stone fruits I find in my markets. With that in mind, here's my recipe for the Palisade Peach and Pluot Tart I baked last week after a trip to the farmers market. You'll love that there’s no need to skin the fruit before baking!
Palisade Peach and Pluot Tart
|3/4||cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes|
|4-5||tablespoons ice water|
|1||pound pluots, about 6 medium, rinsed and sliced|
|1 1/4||pounds peaches, about 4 large, rinsed and sliced|
|1 1/2||tablespoons flour|
|1||egg, for egg wash|
|1||tablespoon clear sparkling sugar or 2 teaspoons granulated sugar|
|1||8-inch-by-11-inch tart pan with removable bottom|
Place flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to mix. Add the butter and pulse until it is pea-size.
Add 4 tablespoons ice water and process at low speed until the pastry is crumbly. If the mixture feels dry, add the remaining ice water and process just until the pastry comes together and forms a ball. Remove the pastry, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill at least 30 minutes or until it is cold.
In a large bowl, gently stir together the pluots, peaches, sugar, and flour; set it aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a floured pastry cloth or counter, roll the pastry into a large rectangle. Fold the pastry in half and transfer it to the tart pan. Unfold the pastry, fit it into the pan, and trim the excess pastry by running a rolling pin over the top of the pan. Gather the trimmings together into a ball, roll it out, and cut the pastry into ¾-inch strips using a fluted pastry wheel or knife. Place 6 strips at a diagonal across the top of the tart; then turn the tart one-quarter turn and place the remaining pastry strips across in a diagonal to form a basket-weave pattern.
In a small bowl, whip the egg and water together with a fork. Brush some of the egg wash over the pastry strips and along the edges of the tart and sprinkle them with sparkling sugar. Place the tart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Remove the tart from the oven and transfer it to a wire rack to cool.
Yield: 1 11-inch tart