August 31, 2013
A wonderful thing happened. A talented and generous person came into my life. She came over last Saturday and for 4 1/2 hours she helped me style props for food photographs. This wonder woman patiently stood by as I attempted to utilize my new technical knowledge of camera, light and composition, while juggling making lunch – Tuscan Bread, Heirloom Tomato and Peach Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and the above Peach Galette.
Who is this masked crusader; this prop stylist to the stars? She’s a woman who has devoted 30 years to her craft and styled some of the most notable cookbooks. Her name is Deb Donahue. I encourage you to check out her website for a taste of some of her beautiful work.
If I seem overly profuse in my praise, let me tell you what Deb said as we were packing up her props: “So we’ll get together in 3 weeks and do some more. Maybe some pumpkins.” I’m the luckiest girl in the world, right now.
When I saw the above photo, I started to cry. My critical eye is aware of it’s flaws. But I also love it, especially because it has given me confidence that, with time, I can make beautiful photographs for my cookbook, a necessity in the competitive world of publishing. Unless celebrity is the next to knock at my door.
For the dough
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons butter, cut into 10 pieces
1/4 cup cold water
For the filling
6 large peaches, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon lemon juice, optional
1/2 cup sugar + extra for sprinkling
3 tablespoons flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place the flour, salt, sugar, salt, and butter in a bowl and, with a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut up the butter into the flour until the largest pieces are the size of peas. Take a fork and break up the butter some more, pressing against the side of the bowl. Add the water and stir to combine. With your hands, form the dough into a ball, flatten and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place the peaches, lemon juice, sugar, and flour in a bowl and stir to coat the peaches. Roll out the dough into a 12″ round and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Arrange the peaches in the center of the dough, leaving a 3″ edge. Fold the edge up onto the top of the tart. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle sugar over the top. Place the galette in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or creme fraiche.
Note: For 30 years, I’ve used a food processor to make pie dough. A few weeks ago, feeling lazy about dragging out the machine and wanting to avoid the annoying task of washing the dough off of it’s sharp blade, I grabbed a mixing bowl and my much neglected pastry blender. Pulling together a single pie dough was quick and an enjoyable, tactile exercise. The resulting crust was delicate and much flakier than the ones I make in the food processor. I’m hooked.
We finished the photo session with a peach still-life.