Your viewing "Peach" (3 posts).

I confess: My priorities are largely driven by deadlines. If something is not due by x:xx pm on x day, it's likely that I will not get to it in a timely manner. However, my delay in sharing a peek at Lucky Peach, Issue 4 is due in part to the fact that I was studying for the bar like a mad person when it arrived in the mail.

You may recall my post about my first copy of Lucky Peach earlier this year. After absorbing Issue 3, I awaited the next like a patient kid on Christmas morning. Allow me to quickly rattle off a few reasons, in no particular order, why I like Lucky Peach:

 

  • It's published by McSweeney's, which means more, new, off-the-mainstream-track, interesting content. Perfume samples and advertisements for revolutionary skin cream, be gone!
  • This is a magazine for people who like three things: Words, art, and food, each equally important.
  • The contributors are people with a real opinion, an angle.
  • It's the opposite of a watered down, pleasing-to-the-masses glossy magazine, but it's also totally different from, say, Gastronomica, which takes a more academic approach.
  • Though irreverent in places, it's not superficial. The writers are people who know their stuff, which means I have a reason to read what they're saying.
  • It's experimental but coherent. Issue 4, for example, takes the theme "American Food" then twists up the topic and format. First, there's not so much a definitive editorial stance on American food as there is a selective, frozen-in-time cross-section. Jonathan Gold and Robert Sietsema chow down on bbq and talk American food. Anthony Bourdain and a film critic discuss a movie. Marc Maron describes buying an old cast-iron pan. Second, LP is fun, visually. There's a taco riff on Choose Your Own Adventure, hand-drawn illustrations, and recipes laid out like infographics.

Would you call it precious? Quirky? At first glance, maybe, and I fall into some gray zone where I completely buy into every word while simultaneously aware of the public disregard toward the so-called foodie. But I enjoy reading and rereading LP enough that in my opinion, it falls on the substantive side of the thin line.

So. I kept my eyes out for Issue 4, but it in fact came to me. During the summer, Rachel Khong, managing editor at Lucky Peach (and a fellow Yale alumna!), offered to mail me a copy, and it arrived right in the middle of my bar study summer. I carried it around with me like a security blanket, reading it in pieces to break up the monotony of memorizing the rules of civil procedure.

Now, I finally have a few shots so that you, too, can get a glimpse. Check out the photos below!

Issue 4 came with a special accompaniment: A copy of The Big Meal by Dan LeFranc. Reading the play is not easy, as the characters are laid out horizontally (as you see below). How to describe it? Relationships (family, romantic, etc.) rubbing together in various restaurants.

Ilustrations dot the pages of the play

I recall listening to Jonathan Gold on Good Food lending his opinion on Kansas City BBQ, and lo and behold, here he is, eating Kansas BBQ and discussing American food with Robert Sietsema of the Village Voice in New York. Does JGold know how to multitask or what?

An excerpt:

I [the author, Peter Meehan] didn't like the ribs at Oklahoma Joe's. Too soft, I thoguht, and I shared my opinion with Robert and Jonathan. We didn't disagree on the barbecue, but Jonathan took issue with the way I phrased my disappointment. "You looked at this and said, 'Oh, they really fucked up,' he chastisted. 'But no, they didn't. It just isn't our aesthetic. You've never seen such beautiful ribs in your life. And sometimes it's cool to see an aesthetic perfectly realized, even if it isn't your own."

As I mentioned above, a choose your own ad-er, eat-venture! I leave it a secret where these Taco Belles ended their journey (hint: it's a taco place just a short drive from my apartment).

Swan Oyster Depot in San Francisco

Recipes that I may or may not ever try but will look upon with curiosity

I've never heard of the movie Diner, but now I want to see it.

This is not a piece on the delicious history of cured meats but, instead, microbes.

Let's talk about sushi.

Note: These are my opinions only, and no one at McSweeney's or LP asked me to write this post.

Hello, Wednesday!  It's time to take stock of your first half of the week (and to brace yourself for the second).  During that time, you may also want to check out these journals, if you haven't done so already.  I found my copies at Whole Foods, but you could hunt them down elsewhere.

Lucky Peach

Combine the honesty and intensity of David Chang (Momofuku) & Crew with the starpower of McSweeney's, and you get Lucky Peach.  You'll find stories, interviews, recipes, essays on food science, stories on travel, and quirky illustrations, just to name a few.  Celebrities like Mario Batali and Anthony Bourdain make a frequent appearance, but, at least in this issue, so do military cooks and school cafeteria managers. 

If you're genuinely intense about food and food culture, and you're willing to take or throw a crass word, this is the journal for you.

 

Gastronomica

Somewhere at the juncture of food, history, and culture, you find a journal with the role of the three-sided dining table in art history on one page and an account of Libyan prison food on the next.  There are photographs, too, lest you shy away from so much text.  If Lucky Peach is for the lustful heart, Gastronomica is for cooled heels and open minds.

Pie.  Not a word in my vocabulary.  Not a craving of mine, nor my childhood experience.  Just a line in the diner menu, a word that stirred communal drool at hometown gatherings.

This was my first pie.  Lemon meringue doesn't count.  I'm talking flaky butter crust, oozing fruit inners.  Why now?  Pie intimidated me-all that talk about soggy crusts and deflated tops.  And if you know me, then you know I (1) don't like sweets and (2) am allergic to most fruits.  Why do I like baking? Unclear.  There is something about the precision of baking that appeals to me.  When I pull something out of the oven, I eye it not with lust but with a cold, clinical stare.  I examine it for deformities, flaws.  I taste it to see if it has the right texture, a balance of sweet and salty.  I declare it a success or a failure.  Either way, I don't eat it.  I find people who do.

I'm glad I waited.  If there is ever a time to bake a pie, it's summer.  Ripe fruit is abundant, waiting to be encased in delicate pastry and scant sprinklings of sugar. 

Off I went, shopping.  I picked up organic strawberries and yellow peaches, and the rest was a blur.  Before I knew it, I was pulling out a fiery pie with molten fruit lava exploding through the lattice crust.  It took serious patience to wait two hours for the pie to cool in front of the open balcony door.

So, I don't mean to sound arrogant, but this was the best fruit pie I have ever had.  I know that's not saying much, given my normal disdain for sweets.  But Mike can attest.  The fruit was moist, yet the bottom crust stayed intact.  The crust was golden, flaky, buttery-a perfect complement to the warm, thick filling.  The best part?  The pie tasted like fruit, not artificial gunk.  The brown sugar added just a hint of sweetness without masking the peach and strawberry flavor.  

It's summer.  Time to enjoy nature's bounty.  Go make a pie. 

 

Tossing the fruit in brown sugar and letting it drain
before adding it to the pie dish.
 


Rolling out the chilled dough 


Glistening fruit 


Lattice top.  Ignore that raggedy edge (this is pre-trimming).


Into the oven it goes!



Perfection.

Summer Strawberry Peach Pie
Variation of Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Recipe from Epicurious

Ingredients

Crust:

3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
10 tablespoons ice water

Fruit Filling:

About 4-5 ripe organic yellow peaches, peeled and sliced
About 1-2 cups organic strawberries, hulled and halved
1 cup packed golden brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Glaze:

1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water

And 1 nine-inch diameter glass pie dish

How To

[1] DOUGH| I had a fit with my food processor and did this by hand.  You mix your flour, sugar, and salt into a large bowl.  Cut in the shortening and butter using a pastry blender.  Do it gradually but work quickly so the shortening and butter don't get too warm.  When the mixture looks like coarse crumbs, add ice water two tablespoons at a time until you get a wet dough.  Form the dough into a ball, divide in half, make each half into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour, until firm. 

[2] FRUIT FILLING | While your dough is chilling, combine your peaches, strawberries, and sugar in a strainer with a bowl underneath.  If your fruit is ripe (and it should be), the juices will seep out.  Though fruit juice is generally a good thing, you want to avoid a filling high in liquid so that your bottom crust doesn't become too soggy.  I let my fruit sit for as long as the dough, turning it occasionally with a wooden spoon and draining the excess liquid.

[3] CRUST | Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  On a well-floured surface, roll out one disk of chilled dough into a round about 13" wide.  My photos show that I made these measurements with ample guessing.  Carefully line your pie dish with the dough, leaving about 3/4 inch hanging off the edges.  Roll out your second disk of dough into a 13" round.  Slice it into strips about 1/4-1/2" wide.  Now, you are going to add the fruit to the pie dish.  Combine the fruit with the cinnamon and cornstarch.  Gently ladle the fruit into the pie dish.  Use your dough strips to form a lattice on top of the fruit, pinching around the dish to join the strips with the excess bottom crust.  Trim to make the crust somewhat even. 

[4] BAKE | Before you put the pie in the oven, brush the egg glaze over the crust.  Place the pie on top of a baking sheet, and put this into the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes, then decrease the temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake until your crust is a deep golden hue and the fruit filling looks viscous.  1 hour and 25 minutes at 350 degrees was just right for me.  Once done, move your pie to a cool spot and let cool completely before serving.

NOTES

  • The original recipe called for white sugar, which I didn't have.  I used brown sugar for both the crust and fruit filling, and the results were none the worse.
  • Using ripe fruit is key, since your pie is only as good as the ingredients you use to make it.  If your fruit's not ripe, you'll have to compensate with sugar, and the result might be less fruity and more. . . well, sugary.  Also, I am a believer in organic fruit, but that decision is up to you.  I will say, though, that though I paid a premium for this fruit, the taste was incredible.


 

 

 

 

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