Allow me to introduce myself… I am Tara Maxey, the sweet side of Heirloom‐LA Catering, with Matthew Poley being the savory pasta guru. If you happened to attend the Silverlake Wine Tasting this last Sunday you would have indulged in Corn Lasagna, Hand‐Cut Chitarra with Pea Tendrils and Gianciale, “Vitamin P” Pork Loin, and to finish, a Nectarine and Berry Crisp. That weekend was a little crazy.
Okay. It was a lot crazy.
We had four caterings besides the Silverlake Tasting and all requested a dessert. Big deal you might say, that’s what you do for a living. Yes, you’re right, but I’ve been over at Cake Monkey Bakery full‐time as of late helping them with their new breakfast pastry line, which by the way you can taste the offerings over at Intelligentsia in Venice. So like many of you with busy work schedules, I had to brainstorm how I could make a few crowd pleasers that were not too time consuming but still seasonal and fun.
When I brought this dilemma up to our purveyor (that’s restaurant talk for the guy who gets us produce when we can’t make it to the farmer’s market ourselves), he said he just got his hands on some amazing nectarines, and with reckless glee I responded, “Well hand ‘em over, honey!!”
Nectarines are my favorite stone fruit because, unlike peaches, they don’t need to be blanched and skinned, and oftentimes they have a spicier note to them, all of which makes my job really simple. For our party on Friday night, which was a B‐BQ, the host wanted a non‐dairy dessert so we cut the nectarines in half, brushed both sides with coconut oil and then grilled them and placed a dollop of merlot raspberry sorbet in the hole left behind by the pit.
For another party, which was a drop-off on Saturday, I chopped up nectarines and threw in some berries and used a white chocolate cake and pastry cream to make a trifle that is always a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Best made a day ahead, this trifle freed up my day to roll out pastry dough for individual nectarine galettes that I constructed for a more formal party on Saturday night. I topped them with a crumble that’s typically used for crisps and drizzled a cardamom caramel sauce after they had cooled and put a quenelle (a fancy scoop made with one spoon) of ginger ice cream on top. They were a hit but people were pretty full from all of Matt’s Seafood Salad, Carrot Agnolotti, and Slow Roasted Veal Breast that he had made tableside. No problem. We gave guests to go boxes and informed them that nectarine galettes make a fabulous breakfast. I don’t know if it was the wine or our send off, but they left looking really happy.
When I made the galette, I prepped more topping and nectarines than I needed because I knew I was making a course for the tasting at Silverlake Wine on Sunday. Instead of rolling out dough, I threw it all into casseroles like Nancy Silverton suggests and zig‐zagged that caramel over the top. Next to the crisps, I had bowls of Greek yogurt whipped with sage honey to take as you please. There was none left so I believe it was all pretty well received.
In short, nectarines are rich in vitamins C and A, and incredibly versatile for summer in desserts and salads. You’ll only see them at the market through September so enjoy them while you can!
Adapted from Nancy Silverton’s Pastries from the La Brea Bakery
For the Filling:
7 nectarines (about 3 pounds), pitted and cut into 1/8ths and then cut in half diagonally to equal 8 cups.
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons corn starch
1 heaping cup fresh raspberries
2 Tablespoons candied ginger, finely chopped (optional)
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla
1⁄4 cup crème fraiche
For the Topping:
1 1⁄4 cup pastry flour
1⁄4 cup sugar
3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
3⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 stick plus 1 Tablespoon (2 1⁄2 ounces) unsalted butter cut into 1 “ cubes and frozen
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 400F and have ready a 8‐9 cup capacity casserole.
In a large bowl, toss together the nectarines and sugar and set aside for 30 minutes, until fruit has released all it’s juices.
In a bowl combine all the dries, then add butter cubes and toss like a salad with the flour, smashing the butter into flat discs until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Then add the egg, and toss again, maintaining the crumbly texture. Do not overmix.
For the Filling:
Strain and reserve the juices from nectarines. Transfer nectarines to the baking dish.
Add the corn starch to the juice, whisking well to remove lumps and then stir in the vanilla and crème fraiche. Strain this liquid over the nectarines and toss to combine. Evenly distribute the berries and ginger (if using) throughout.
Crumble the topping over the fruit by squeezing it in your fist to create an uneven texture.
Bake 45 minutes to one hour until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is amber coloured.