Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Summer Peach Galette or A Country Party

Under the High Chair Travels: Northern British Columbia

As my three week return visit to my British Columbia hometown drew to a close, things were heating up for a party we were throwing in honor of my parents 35th wedding anniversary. We’ve never done anything like this for them and so we wanted to make it special, poignant, personal and beautiful. Fortunately, between my three siblings and I (and let's not forget our amazing partners) we have the combined skill sets to create a memorable evening, so all we needed to do was put them to good use!

To my delight, the morning of the party dawned with sunshine and I was up almost as soon as those early rays. Before the first pot of French press coffee had even been drunk, I had turned out a few fruit tarts from the oven, a cherry and a peach, and the place was already starting to smell wonderful. I sat down with a muffin and listened to the grandchildren, ages 4, 2, almost 2 and 1, practice their special song for Nana and Grampa. With all the kazoos, maracas, drums and shakers it was a little hard to hear the words, but I was confident the guests of honor would be touched.

While others spent the morning cutting grass, trimming trees, hanging outdoor lights, scrubbing little hands and faces and a hundred other jobs, I was looking over a bountiful selection of home grown veggies, fresh berries and newly-caught fish and humming and hawing over the menu.

Finally it was decided upon: simple, fresh, and full of flavor:


Fresh Garden Crudite with Chive Dip
Parmesan Straws
Green Pea and Curry Samosas
Sautéed Shrimp New Mexican style with Tequila, Lime and Cilantro
Crostini with Wilted Spinach and Asiago


Bacon-Wrapped Maple Sage Pork Loin
Queen Charlotte Islands Halibut with Wasabi Cream
Roasted Chicken with Ethiopian Berberé Spices
Potato & Rosemary Strudel
Roasted Baby Beets and Carrots
Sugar Snap Peas with Lemon Butter
Wild Rice Pilaf with Pecans & Dried Cranberries
Fresh Mixed Greens with a Roasted Tomato & Balsamic Vinaigrette
Rosemary Baguettes

Dessert Table

2 Rustic Summer Galettes: Summer Peach and Okanagan Cherry
Vanilla Bean Panacotta with Strawberries
Dark Chocolate & Wild Strawberry Cupcakes
Citrus & Cointreau Cheesecake
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Great, now with the menu decided upon and the prep well underway, there was only one thing I was worried about: Noah. The poor little fellow had received three simultaneous black fly bites around his left eye the evening before while we were dining al fresco. To our dismay, his eye had swollen nearly shut during the night and by lunch time on party day, half of his face was looking an angry purple color and hot to the touch. Not good.

We administered an antihistamine, but by 4 PM, an hour before guests are to arrive, and with my oven full of roasting birds and pork loins, yet my son's condition worsening, we made the decision to take him to emergency.

Now if anyone knows me, they know I do not enjoy giving up control of my kitchen at any time, and it's especially difficult when there are 26 guests coming and I’ve got the gist of the menu in my head. However, my baby’s health is unquestionably my number one priority, so I handed my apron over to my sister, Haidi, and off we went.

While Danny distracted Noah in the waiting room, I was outside the hospital on a cell phone trying to get my other minor emergency under control. I didn't care if I was getting some funny looks, if I could still be at the helm from a distance, so be it!
I barked orders at her like a drill sergeant:

“Take the chicken out of the oven and cover it with foil.
Baste the pork loin with the maple syrup mixture. Do NOT forget to bring the strudel up from the basement so it can temper! Remember, the cheese straws HAVE to bake at 450F or they won’t crisp nicely"
"Oh and take the halibut out of the fridge so it can come to room temp. And if people start arriving, send a batch of samosas as appys BEFORE you send shrimp, because once people see seafood, they won’t eat anything else, OK?"

"Are you doing OK??”

I knew she would be fine and when we returned an hour and a half later (with antibiotics) we drove up on a picturesque, perfectly executed little country party...

Guests milled about near the blue delphinium beds and sipped summer drinks selected from an outdoor bar. They seemed to be contented as they munched on canapés, including some crispy Parmesan cheese straws offered my adorable niece, Lyra. Jazz tunes floated out the French doors, and onto the deck, where the children played together-their clothes clean for now. The sun was just starting to slant behind the gigantic Hudson Bay Mountain and there was no rain in sight!

Hay bales and snowcapped mountains make for an idyllic setting as Lyra offers treats.

In the kitchen, things were moving along nicely. I grabbed an apron and kicked it into fourth gear with the goal of having the buffet served in half an hour. No sweat!

The evening was a great success, unfortunately I was too busy rushing around trying to keep a buffet hot for 26 guests, and I forgot to shoot any photos of it, but it was lovely and people were appreciative.

Dessert was popular with the children...

To my surprise (and despite being stalked by nephew Marley) the cupcakes lingered on the dessert table, while the peach galette with whipped cream disappeared quickly and people were looking for another. Sorry folks, but below I have included the recipe for your baking pleasure.

After dinner, the children sang for their grandparents and it brought tears to a few eyes.

We toasted my parents and their inspiration to us all and gathered for one big photo before the babies went to bed. Danny, Noah and I were to fly out the next morning, so it was a bittersweet moment, but one I won't soon forget, nevertheless.

A Rustic Peach Galette

½ lb Puff Pastry
7 ripe peaches
¼ cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg, beaten

Roll out puff pastry in to about a 14 inch round. Refrigerate until chilled.

Half peaches and slice in to ½ inch wide wedges. In a heavy sauce pan on medium heat, melt butter and add sugar. Let sugar dissolve and bubble for a minute or so, then add peaches and stir to coat with butter mixture. Cook gently for a few minutes until the peaches soften slightly and release some juice.

Combine cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice together and add to peach mixture. Stir gently as the cornstarch thickens and coats the peaches. Simmer for a few minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 375F
Remove puff from fridge and arrange peach filling in the middle, leaving a good 2 inches around the edge. Fold up sides of puff party into the peaches, overlapping slightly until peaches are enclosed within a circle of puff. Brush pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake until pastry is golden, about 25 minutes.


Anh said...

What a great party! I truly wish I could attend! :)

And your peach galette is perfect for this gathering.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Looks a though you had a very special day despite the trip to the emergency department. What a wonderful and tempting buffet for your family and friends to enjoy!!!

Tammy said...

Absolutely stunning, all of it. The food sounds amazing as always. Your family photo is also fabulous.

Sandy said...

Oh, you must have been exhausted that night. What a beautiful party and it must have been so touching for your parents. I can see Noah's puffy cheek, poor little guy. Hope he is well now.
Your menu looks fantastic, the galettes are gorgeous!

April said...

Excellent! I wish I could have been in BC this year! I know how hard it is leaving... you all look great, it's good to be together on a yearly basis

Helene said...

Great family shots! That menu is to die for! I would have been all over that dessert menu!

Anonymous said...

yes, that was a night to remember...I would not say that I am a "sweets" person, and I went back for seconds. DESPITE personal crisis, you pulled it all together, A. Hooray!

Anonymous said...

great party, great food and a great way to document it !
I got hungry reading about it and I even ate leftovers for a WEEK !

Aimée said...

Hi Anh- Thanks for stopping by! I'm honored, as I really admire you blog.
You would have been very welcome at the party!

Hi Valli- Well, you know how beautiful it is in BC. Once one has the setting, it's easy to host a great party.

Hi Tammy- Thanks, girl! Soon we'll be breaking bread together, eh?

Hi Sandy- I actually got a second wind around 10PM and sat down with a big plate of food! Noah's eye infection cleared up in a few days, thankfully.

Hi April- BC misses you, I am sure.

Hi Helen- Thanks! I'm all about the sugar, too.

Hi Haidi- I love that I can entice to you to the dark side with my cooking. :) Thanks for EVERYTHING.
Luv you.

Hi Josh- A WEEK?? Come on. Life is rough, eh?

Nora B. said...

Dear Aimée,
That was a truly enjoyable read. You have a wonderful family and sounds like the anniversary celebration was enjoyed by all (Noah, too?).

The menu looks fabulous and the food looks perfect! Thanks for the galette recipe.

Half Baked said...

I enjoyed reading about your party. The food looks wonderful! I'm going to make the peach galette for dessert tonight!


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