Two weekends ago, we went to Ben’s parent's’ house about an hour outside of town, and picked roughly 45 peaches to take home off their booming peach tree. The stars (and nature) seemed to perfectly align, as I was recently sent an early copy of The Peach Truck Cookbook to share a recipe or two from. In my humble opinion, there are a few things that make a cookbook amazingly inspiring. First, being the story. I feel like with cookbooks, we often get so lost in the recipes, I see people flipping through the forward or the pre-recipe stories that are full of subtle, beautiful inspiration. Then, we have photos that make you want to eat all of the foods through the book, using only your face. Finally, we have wisdom. PASS ME THOSE HELPFUL TIDBITS. I’m like Ms. Pacman with helpful tidbits! I’ll eat them up all day long whilst avoiding those ghosts. Everyone has methods that are uniquely theirs, honed by culture, tradition, hell, even the way we operate our bodies.
The Peach Truck cookbook offers all the aforementioned things that add up to an inspiring cookbook in spades. Truly, one I’ll covet each peach season for years and years to come. What I really enjoyed about Jessica and Stephen’s story, is that among the elements that made me dream of an idyllic farm life, they were not shy in talking about the stark struggle of farming. Beautiful in both its bounty, and its brutality, I found this book to be such a lovely metaphor for life. Certain trees look like they’re thriving, only not to deliver what was visibly promised. Other trees look like they’re struggling for life, and then give the best fruit of the season. They came onto the Nashville scene where people had already-established, long-term relationships with the farming community. They had to slow-grow it. Make connections. Put themselves out there, even when they were unsure of the outcome. Metaphors for life, wrapped in the most delicious fruit of the season. Very clever, indeed.
The recipes in this book are so stunning, I had the hardest time choosing what to make first. Ultimately, the fried peach hand pies won the household vote (of 2). Perfect pie dough half-moons get folded over bright, gently spiced peach compote, which, by the way, would be incredible on biscuits, scones, waffles- INSERT PASTRY HERE - You’ll be glad you have extra on hand.
Begin by making your compote. This whole process, begins with slicing peaches, which is way easier after blanching them. Simply bring a large pot of water to a boil, and in the underside of each peach, delicately make an “X” with a paring knife, being careful not to pierce the flesh. With a large bowl of ice water standing by, blanch the peaches for about 30 seconds, before transferring to an ice bath to cool. After they are cool, peel and slice your peaches until you have about 2 cups.
To make the filling, pace the peach slices in a medium saucepan. Add the lemon juice, granulated sugar, and cardamom. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Break up the peaches slightly with a spoon. Mix the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl, and pour the mixture into the pan with the peach mixture. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, and stir in the butter until it hs melted. Cover and chill for 2 hours, or until cold.
Next is the pie dough! Place the flour and salt in a food processor, and pulse a few times to combine. Add the shortening and butter; pulse eight times, or until the mixture resembles large peas. Add 10 tablespoons of the ice water, and pulse eight times, or until the mixture starts to come together, adding additional water as necessary, 1 tablespoon at a time. Squeeze a small amount of dough in your hand. If it holds together, you’re good to go. If it crumbles apart, add more water. Divide the dough in half, and form each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
To make the pies, line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out one dough disk on a lightly floured surface to 1/8” thickness. Using a round cutter, cut out six, 5” rounds. Place the rounds on one of the baking sheets, and refrigerate. Repeat with second dough disk.
Place a heaping tablespoon of the chilled filling in the center of each dough round. Do not overfill! No one wants compote floating in oil, am I right? You will want a minimum of 1 inch of exposed dough around the edges. Using a brush or your finger, wet half of the outer edge of the circle with water to help the dough seal. Carefully fold the dough in half to make a half-moon shape, pressing the edges to seal. Use the tines of a fork to crimp and secure the edges. Refrigerate the hand pies while heating the oil.
Fill a Dutch oven or deep skillet with vegetable oil to a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set it nearby. Carefully place 3 or 4 hand pies at a time in the hot oil and fry until deep golden brown, about 6 minutes, turning as necessary to ensure even browning. Drain the hand pies on the paper towels and dust with powdered sugar (I also dusted with cinnamon sugar, because I can never leave well enough, or in this case, amazing enough, alone). Serve the same day, warm or at room temperature.
These pies are like artisan-style apple hand pies (you know the ones), but with the brightest summery notes. I highly recommend serving with some vanilla ice cream for dipping because, again, I’m excessive. I strongly suggest pre-ordering this sincere gem of a cookbook. I’ve got my eye on the fish tacos with peach pico next. Thank you to Jessica and Stephen for letting me share one of your beautiful recipes in advance!
Fried Peach Hand Pies
2 medium peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced (about 2 cups)
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tbs cornstarch
1 tbs cold salted butter
5 c all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c plus 2 tbs cubed, cold shortening
6 tbs cold unsalted butter, cubed
10 to 16 tbs ice water
Vegetable oil, for frying
Powdered sugar, for dusting