Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Peach Blueberry Gratin

The fruit was taunting me. "Fresh from Jersey!" the signs proclaimed as I passed mounds of soft looking peaches and containers of blueberries. It wasn't that I didn't know what to do with them. I knew all too well. Last summer I had labored over a pie that was straight from heaven, full of juicy peaches and blueberries that burst with flavor. The problem? Pie crust. Under the very best circumstances, I kind of suck at them.  Last years attempt turned out kinda wonky, as illustrated on the right. I pulled off a half decent one at Thanksgiving, but I benefited from it being a normal temperature in my apartment. Currently this place has reached about the 4th circle of Hell, strictly in a mercury moving sense. This recipe already has me blanching peaches to get the skin off, the added frustration of throwing a mass of crust in the freezer every 3 minutes just to keep it from melting on me was NOT going to happen.

Inspiration hit, when I ran across Smitten Kitchen's recipe for a blueberry peach cobbler. "Wait," I thought, "you can make a fruit desert without the pie crust tragedy?" My brain nearly exploded. I wasn't too keen on the dropping of biscuit dough on my dessert, it's a little hard to divide up all pretty. It started me on the research path though, and before I knew it I had discovered a little french dessert known as a Gratin. All the gooey filling, some crunchy topping, none of the melting and freezing. I had only known gratins in the potato form before and was never a huge fan. Take out the bechameled potatoes and throwing some yummy sugary fruit, however, and you've got one hell of a dish. This version uses bread crumbs to make the topping, but according to my America's Test Kitchen cookbook, the French are fond of it as a way to use up stale croissants. I used it as a handy way to use up the end of an Italian Bread Loaf.

There was one last way this dessert was going to help me out. My dearest friend Anne had just moved into a brand new apartment with brand new roommates. Nothing says "I'm awesome to live with" then coming in with a big tasty treat. I was going to make a housewarming gift. Instead of putting this in a traditional gratin dish I plunked it into my pie plate, but the one I own is a bit shallow. Oh darn, that meant there was enough left to fill four ramekins that I would have to keep. This could probably fill one deep pie dish, or a whole bunch of ramekins, or just portion it out as I did.

Blueberry Peach Gratin
Adapted from PARADE magazine (filling) and America's Test Kitchen (filling)

- 3 to 3 1/2 pounds ripe peaches
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup (packed) light-brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

- 3 slices high-quality sandwich bread (such as a pullman loaf) torn up, slightly stale
- 1/4 cup light-brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- pinch of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400°.

Using a paring knife, cut an X into the bottom of each peach. Drop the peaches into a pot of boiling water for 1 minute (this step is sometimes easiest when done in batches). Remove to a bowl. When they are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins, Cut peaches into 3/4 inch slices and place in a large bowl. Toss with the lemon juice to prevent discoloring. Add the blueberries, vanilla, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and the flour, toss well.

To prepare topping pulse all topping ingredients in a food processor until the mixture resembles course crumbs, about 10 pulses.

Distribute filling among pie plate and ramekins. Sprinkle topping over the filling evenly in all baking containers. Place containers on baking sheets. If using a pie plate, cover that with tin foil.

Bake 10 minutes. If the toppings on the ramekins are deep golden brown and the fruit is hot (blueberries will have burst), remove them from the oven (if not they can bake 5 minutes more). Remove foil from pie plate, and bake another 10 minutes, until the topping is deep golden brown. Let cool on wire rack before serving.

I took some of the ramekins out when they were only light brown, and then finished them in the toaster oven at 325° for 3 minutes later that night, making it perfect for dinner parties. Anne raved about her pie sized gratin, I'm not sure if her new roomies ever got any. The dish goes PERFECT with vanilla ice cream, and since my friend Megan had sent me vanilla beans last year I made my own ice cream for the occasion. If Will hadn't already gone ahead and married me I think this would have sealed the deal.


Thomas Andrew said...

Mmmmm that looks wonderful. Luckily I just picked up a bunch of blueberries. I just need to grab some peaches and I'm set. I'm excited to make this recipe.

The Food Apprecianado said...

oohhh mama! Tasty~

Ciara said...

This looks so delicious! And I love the idea of putting portions into ramekins. I'm DEFINITELY going to have to try this

foodies at home said...

I love the individual portions! Super cute and looks yummy!


A perfect fruity combination! It looks fantastic!

Anne Keefe said...

It was so yummy that I ate the ENTIRE thing by myself and forgot to share with my new roommates... Oops.

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