“Ginger Peach Pan-what?” Josie was howling. “You’re doing something called Ginger Peach Pandowdy?” Why yes. Yes I am. And then my daughter fell off the chair laughing. And then from the floor, faux-hillbilly. “Paaaan-dowdy!”
Very funny. Yes, it’s called Pandowdy, and yes, Ginger Peach sounds like she’s waiting tables at Dollywood, and yes, it’s the finest reward of summer. We’ll make it – but first, let me tell you about that tomato up there, and what it’s got to do with Ginger.
The wonderful Margaret Roach, she of A Way to Garden and The Sister Project, invited me to participate in Summer Fest 2009. The Fest is a regular cross-blogging party: every week a new food-from-the-garden theme gets turned over to several stellar bloggers, including Margaret, Matt Armendariz of Mattbites, Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen, and Todd and Diane of White on Rice Couple. Also popping up: Shauna and Daniel Ahern from Gluten-Free Girl, Paige Smith Orloff of The Sister Project, and, for the love of pie crust, me.
And also you! Summer Fest is a great way to find new blogs, get new ideas and contribute a few of your own.
Summer Fest 2009
Tuesday, July 28: HERBS
Tuesday, August 4: FRUITS from TREES
Visit all of these terrific bloggers for amazing recipes, gorgeous photos, funny stories, and to share your own tips!
- Margaret Roach @ A Way to Garden: Peach Clafoutis
- Paige Smith Orloff @ The Sister Project: Plum Tarte Tatin
- Jaden Hair @ Steamy Kitchen: Chanterelle, Bacon and Plum Salad with Blue Cheese
- Diane & Todd @ White on Rice Couple: Refreshing Peach Coolers
- Matt Armendariz @ Mattbites: Apricot Ice Cream
Tuesday, August 11: BEANS-AND-GREENS WEEK (either or both, your choice).
Tuesday, August 18: TOMATO WEEK
Hopscotch around these great blogs, find what you like and please leave something to share, like recipes, links or tips. Do you have great tomato plants, a super apricot dessert? Introduce yourself, and comment away. If you’ve got a blog, grab the juicy red Summer Fest badge (created by Matt) and create a post of your own. You can swing by every breezy, delicious week – it’s summer. It’s a Fest. And all are welcome.
Now let’s return to our heroine, Ginger Peach. For my Fest guest spot this week, we’re making Ginger Peach Pandowdy, and we already know it’s hilarious, a cross between long-legged Daisy Duke and pale old Aunt Em. Oh, Auntie Em. When you live in Kansas, there’s no escaping Oz talk. Not here, of course – I mean the Oz talk waiting for luggage at JFK, or at a party in Santa Monica or on a boat down the Amazon, for that matter. If a rainforest tribesman heard you were from Kansas, I’ve no doubt he’d thump his stick and say, “Dorothy! Toto too.”
I moved here from Chicago and Greg hails from suburban Kansas City, suburbs like any other. Our university town, Lawrence, is full of artisan ales and sushi, scholars and lawyers and Kobe burgers. So what’s the matter with Kansas? Well, you can love the place – we do – but because it’s Kansas you’ll be on the defensive, for the rest of your sensible Midwestern life. You will, at some point, be confronted by guffawing conventioneers on one coast or another, slapping you on the back and demanding your ruby slippers.
C’est la vie Kansan.
And I’m sharing all this because? Well, I’d originally planned a different dessert, Ginger-Peach Empanadas, but then my mother called, and Josie required a chauffeur, and then a house fell on my head and there were little people. No, it did not work out at all. But I did salvage the peaches and the dough, and used them to make something else. I must say it was a masterful repurposing, in line with my beloved chef-mentor’s mantra, “We don’t eat our mistakes. We fix them.”
I loved this ginger-kissed bottomless pie, and suddenly full of can-do spirit, I envisioned a philosophical post about beating obstacles, and silver linings. I photographed the dish, sugared and sparkling, but as I breathed in peachy steam through the lens, I realized what I’d actually baked: a Pandowdy.
Now, there are cobblers, crisps, Bettys, buckles, grunts and even slumps – and then, there is the truly old-fashioned Pandowdy: a dessert of fresh fruit baked under pie crust shapes. But Pandowdy did not sound like Ginger-Peach Empanadas. “Empanada did sound more exciting,” said Josie. “Cobbler. Can’t it be a cobbler?”
“No,” I told her, with a heavy blogger’s heart, “it’s a Pandowdy.”
And no matter. We accept the names of things and look for what lies beneath, striving to never judge dessert by its topping. Besides, that Ginger Peach – she’s a swell girl, not dowdy at all, and proud to be who she is: homey, sweet, a few piercings. And more than a little bit spicy.
GINGER PEACH PANDOWDY
3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
4 oz (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut in chunks
4 oz shortening, cold, in chunks
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 extra-large egg yolks, cold
4 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed
To make dough by hand: Stir flour, salt and powdered ginger together in large bowl. Scatter butter and shortening chunks over flour mixture. Using pastry blender or two knives, “cut” the butter/shortening into the flour, crumbling with hands as necessary, until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle sugar over mixture and stir in quickly. Blend egg yolks and water in small bowl, then pour over flour mixture. Combine everything (using hands) to make a smooth, firm dough. If dough seems dry, add ice water in drops, mixing to combine. Turn out dough onto parchment, wax paper or lightly floured surface, pressing to form a smooth, flat round. Cut dough in half, wrap each half, and chill until ready to use.
To make dough in food processor: Place flour, salt and powdered ginger in work bowl of processor fitted with steel blade. Pulse a few times just to combine. Add butter/shortening chunks over flour and process, using on-off pulses, until fat is reduced to large flakes. Sprinkle with sugar, and pulse 1-2 seconds to blend. Beat egg yolk and ice water in small bowl, then pour over flour mixture. Pulse mixture to combine, using on-off pulses, just until a rough dough begins to come together. If dough seems too dry, add extra drops of water and pulse just until dough combines. Turn out dough onto parchment, wax paper or lightly floured surface, pressing to form a smooth, flat round. Cut dough in half, wrap each half, and chill until ready to use.
Ginger Peach Filling
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch sea salt
7 large peaches, peeled, pitted, cubed and tossed with 2 teaspoons lemon juice
finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
1/2 cup (approx. 3 oz.) crystallized ginger, chopped in small dice
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk or half-and-half
1 tablespoon water
Demerara (turbinado, raw cane) sugar for sprinkling (or granulated)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Whisk together cornstarch, granulated sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and sea salt in large bowl. Add the peaches, lemon zest, crystallized ginger and vanilla, and toss well to combine. Pour filling into deep oval or rectangular baking dish, and set aside while you roll pie dough. (A lower, wider rectangular dish, like a 9 x 13 pan, will work but will result in a shorter layer of fruit.)
Assemble and bake pandowdy:
Roll out both chilled dough halves on a lightly floured surface, 1/4 – 1/2″ thick. Using a 2 – 3″ round cookie cutter, stamp circles from dough, gathering scraps and re-rolling until done. Set aside a small amount of dough for fluted rim and top decorations, if desired.
Now, starting on one side of peach-filled baking dish, top fruit with rows of dough circles, overlapping to form a “fish scale” pattern. Repeat until all fruit is is covered, pinching edges to sides of dish.
Fluted rim and decorations, optional: using both hands, roll reserved pie dough into long rope pieces. Press ropes around top edges of dish, pinching to join with dough circles. When finished, pinch rope edge down so that short triangles stick up, working around rim until done. Decorations: roll and cut “peach,” leaf or heart shapes, as desired. Brush back of decorations with water, and arrange atop dough circles.
Mix milk (or half-and-half) with water in small dish, then brush mixture over top of pandowdy. Sprinkle liberally with demerara (or granulated) sugar.
Place baking dish on cookie sheet (to catch drips) and bake in center of preheated oven for 20 – 30 minutes, until top crust browns and fruit juices bubble through. Serve warm, with ice cream.