Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Oui, oui! Summer Peaches the French Way

Now most of us are thinking like this, this 4th of July week:


Me? I'm thinking like this cat who loves art:





Who lives near here (see the red, white and blue tints), a gate house:

Which is on the grounds of here, Chenonceau chateau in the Loire Valley in France:

Why would I be thinking about France this week?  Well, I mean there is that who thing about France helping us win the Revolution so we could blow up fireworks in our cul-de-sacs in perfect freedom.

But also because France is where I learned the secret for the best fruit dish in the world. And a lot of fruit is coming in. Blueberries, blackberries and peaches, peaches, peaches.

When we visited the castles of the Loire Valley, we stopped at a little restaurant in Chenonceaux, the town near this famous chateau that spans a river. We were the only ones in the restaurant because you know it was 7:00pm and folks there eat at 9:00! I don't remember anything about the meal except the BEST PEARS I'VE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE.

Yes, they were. Since the owner wasn't busy, she told me the recipe, the secret ingredient for this marvelous dish. And I practically fainted on the spot. SO SIMPLE. She cut up the pears, sauteed them in butter, added a bit of sugar and then, the secret ingredient, vanilla.

Now I know vanilla is the most purchased ice cream flavor in the US. I know half the heroines I read about in books wear vanilla-scented perfume. But I didn't know you could put vanilla on plain fruit and turn it into a masterpiece of flavor. Biggest culinary revelation ever.

So now I put vanilla on all my fruit and suddenly I don't feel deprived that I can't have a pie crust (darn wheat allergy) along with it. Who needs pie when you have fruit that reaches new heights of deliciousness?

So I am thankful for France being a good friend to America in her time of need and to giving me one of the simplest ways to enjoy summer's bountiful fruit crop.

This week it was peaches. They look deceptively plain but if you want to gild the lily, add vanilla ice cream and a cookie:

   
Sauteed Fruit, Chenonceaux style

2 cups fruit
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar (any type but I use organic or brown sugar)
1 teaspoon or more vanilla to taste.

Peel fruit.

Melt butter in pan over medium heat.

Add fruit as soon as butter is melted.

Stir until fruit has softened a tad.

Add sugar and vanilla and continue to stir until evenly distributed.

Serve warm, plain as a side dish or with ice cream for dessert.

So what about you? What ingredient is your secret weapon? What is your favorite simple recipe for July 4th? Do you dream of running away and living in a castle?


 



19 comments:

  1. How I love this post. I love all things French. And French peaches....divine. What a charming story about the peaches and the special ingredient. See? French people are very nice and giving, contrary to the stereotype. So, I spent almost six weeks in France many moons ago. I've been back since then but not for six glorious weeks. I have a sad association with Chenonceau though. My French teacher who was the chaperone on the trip punished the group of us for something rather silly and decided NOT to stop at Chenonceau on our road trip from Paris to the Loire Valley then on to the South of France. Since it was the castle I most wanted to visit, I was devastated. I never forgot how punitive he was to all of us for something silly one of the students had done.

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    1. Oh, so sad. Did you get back as an adult? My French teacher for my first trip there was a former OSS spy and drove a yellow Mercedes at home. Mrs Morden was so appalled by a hostel where we were to stay one night in Paris that she found us a lovely boutique hotel and put it on her credit card instead. She was the antithesis of your teacher.

      As for French folks, it's just a matter of not being an ugly American but they also had a campaign a while back about not living up to the surly stereotype. We all can learn.

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    2. Oh, no!! That's so awful for a teacher to do that!!

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  2. I've never been to France but I want to live in that cottage!!!!! No peaches here yet but I'm saving this recipe for when they do come. Sounds divine and so simple!

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    1. Kav, it's a gatehouse. I've seen more gatehouses turned into homes than I can shake a stick at. They are so lovely.

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  3. I do this all the time as a topping for pancakes, but I never knew it was French! And I agree--we can all learn. Always. Lovely post, Julie!

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    1. Oh, Piper, I do the same thing. Somehow fruit seems to make pancakes seem a bit healthier.

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  4. is vanilla vanilla extract? I just had a peach for breakfast - plain though LOL!

    I've never really wanted to visit France except for the food! I've wanted to see England, Scotland, and Ireland but from what I've heard I'd probably have to go to France for meals- that Scottish food and English food sounds kinda disgusting :-(

    that teacher sounds like a jerk - if I'd paid for that trip I'd have sued him for doing that. well or had my parents do it! that was a trip of a lifetime for probably most of the class and he deliberately ruined it.

    Susanna

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    1. Yes, vanilla extract though I buy the organic or use a vanilla bean pod.

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  5. Peaches are so wonderful. I've gone peach picking in Oklahoma before and made jam that lasted for months.

    Another trick I learned is to cook them with cinnamon candies (those tiny red dots) and water then freeze with with the syrup you made. OMG Amazing yummy.

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    1. I remember a little old lady trying to find them in my grocery store. It was after Christmas and Valentines and they were sold out.

      Would regular cinnamon work?

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  6. So simple, but it sounds wonderful!! Thanks for sharing the secret!

    I've been AWOL! I just turned in my book late last night. I'm so relieved! But now must catch up on life.

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    1. She's alive!!!!!!

      And you are right in the middle of peach country!

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    2. BARELY alive. LOL Feeling the sleep deprivation today.

      Yes, we have yummy peaches around here!

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  7. Replies
    1. Totally. They are already gone. Must buy more!

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  8. I say pass the bowl.... I could just gobble this up right now!!! My mother used to make a glaze like this, but I never thought of it as French, either. I just thought of it as delicious! What a great and simple treat, Julie!

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    1. Ruthy, when you think about it, you had so many settlers from Europe bringing their recipes and spices, that their influences seem to have been here all along.

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