Every other Saturday, Jeff and I wander through the vendors’ stands at the Nashville Farmers’ Market.
Usually we have an idea of what we want – a few heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn to grill for supper, a week’s worth of fresh eggs – but there are always surprises. A particularly irresistible loaf of sourdough bread. A table full of vacuum-sealed ham hocks begging to be slow-cooked in a pot of beans or greens. Baskets of purple bell peppers.
Last weekend, the market was full of women carrying that Saturday’s surprise, walking around the booths with bouquets of sunflowers resting in the crooks of their arms, like wayward pageant queens looking to christen a corn maze.
Among the squash and kettle corn and lady peas, two things started calling out to me: the perfume of ripe peaches and the sight of plump blueberries.
I’d been thinking about making Ina Garten’s Peach and Blueberry Crumbles, and seeing the two together tipped me, stomach-skewering blueberry allergy be damned.
That afternoon, I peeled and sliced the peaches into thick wedges, added lemon and sugar and flour, stirred in the blueberries and said a little prayer. While the fruit mingled, I made Ina’s very generous crumble topping, certain that the goodness of all that butter, brown sugar and cinnamon would protect me from any blueberry-induced unpleasantness.
It’s so hard to love something that doesn’t love you. That treats you bad. Real bad.
I refrigerated the crumbles until dinner, because catching the scent of dessert baking in the oven while you’re having dinner is one of Life’s Great Pleasures. It leads directly to another one of Life’s Great Pleasures, taking your dessert straight from the oven and crowning it with ice cream that instantly starts to liquefy into the cracks and crevices of the crumble, creating pools of melted ice cream surrounded by molten fruit lava.
It’s as much a transfusion as a dessert, sending all that sunshine through your veins.
It was so good, I forgot I was allergic to blueberries and finished the whole thing.
And I felt fine.
Peach and Blueberry Crumbles
From Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa at Home”
Serves 5 to 6
For the Fruit:
- 2 lbs firm, ripe peaches (6-8 peaches)
- 2 tsp grated lemon zest
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint)
For the Crumble:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 lb (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 1 minute; then place them immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches, slice them into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins.
- For the topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, cinnamon and butter in a food processor. Pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or Silpat®, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.