Now this may look like a cousin to the dessert pizza, what with all the peaches and the mascarpone cheese which you would be correct in saying is in fact a soft Italian sweet cheese, but I assure you this is far from anything you will find devoured at a children’s birthday party with a crushed cookie crust.
Let’s change gears here for a minute and talk about the Labor Day holiday. Did you have a good weekend? What did you do? More importantly what did you bake/make/consume? Are we all ready for fall yet?
While now you know my feelings on dessert pizza but what I can totally get behind are the San Juan Islands. If you are unfamiliar with these glorious islands about 2.5 hours north of Seattle, then I urge you to get on a plane, or in a car, and then on a ferry or another small plane and get yourself up to one of the 172 little PNW gems. Here are some photos from my weekend. They are all from my iPhone and most of them are edited with Instagram which basically is an app that makes your real life look better. Not that the San Juans need any help in this category.
One of the best parts of the San Juans is the ferry ride. If you are really fancy, you get to the islands on a tiny plane. I am not that fancy so I take the ferry. On the morning we left, it was so foggy you couldn’t see more than three feet in front of you. This is why fog horns were invented.
But once we arrived, the fog said, “okay, it’s time for me to go now so you can enjoy your vacation” and then it gloriously packed up its bags and went to Canada and we spent the morning walking on the beach and I took pictures of my feet. This is what you do on vacation.
See what I mean? Beauty. Pure form.
Oh and they have tons of deer on the islands. They actually swim from island to island, which seems like a lot of work to me and if I were a deer I’d probably try to sneak on to the ferry once and a while just to save a little energy. This one hung out for a bit but then got mad when I took a picture. It is saying, “how deer you disturb me.”
We had a picnic up here. Look at this view!!! I contemplated why I choose to live in New York and in a kitchen without a single drawer. I actually calculated how long I could last up here looking at out at this scenery and decided if I had time to prepare a few snacks and find a sleeping bag, I could last about 3-7 years.
This needs no caption except to say this is straight up iPhone 4S. No filtering or Instagram-ing.
If you have never to been to the Northwest, then I promise you that this is pretty much what every day looks like. We all ride the ferry to work while sipping on lattes and looking at this spectacular mountain view.
And last but not least, my mandatory vacation self-portrait shadow shot. Also: if I write a novel this will be the cover and it will have one of those vague titles that means everything and nothing all at the same time. You know, something along the lines of Awake at Dawn.
But back to this glorious end-of-summer snack. Peaches when cooked on flatbread become divine. Balsamic vinegar and honey when simmered together turn into a savory, sweet and sticky glaze that is perfect with fruit.
It may be September now but let’s give peaches one last shot before moving into apple, nutmeg, pumpkin and bourbon overload. Because that is coming. Get ready.
Sometimes I get bored while waiting for dough to rise and then this is what happens. Who says you can’t play with your food as an adult. I don’t, that’s for sure.
Make up a quick dough (remember how easy pizza making was?) and roll it out super thin. Sprinkle down a little cornmeal to make sure the flatbread doesn’t stick to the pan – and for added crunch – then spread out some softened mascarpone and scatter down a couple thinly sliced peaches.
Then bake it up! As it cooks the mascarpone will separate a bit from the heat in the oven and the oil will cook the flatbread so that is crispy and savory and sweet and generally a beautiful thing. The glaze really brings this classy bar snack to the next level. You may find yourself drizzling it on everything you can get your hands on and I happen to know from experience that on vanilla ice cream it is amazing.
Peach and Mascarpone Flatbread with Balsamic Glaze
Makes about 24 squares, or enough for 4-6 as appetizers
For the peach and mascarpone flatbread:
2 cups (250 grams) flour
1 teaspoon (4 grams) salt
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) sugar
1 heaping teaspoon active dry yeast (or about half of one 0.25 ounce package)
1/2 cup (125 ml) warm water
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
2 peaches (I used one yellow and one white)
1 8-ounce (226 grams) container mascarpone, room temperature
cornmeal, for dusting
For the honey balsamic glaze:
1/2 cup (125 ml) balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl mix together flour, salt, sugar and yeast. In a liquid measuring cup measure out the warm water then add the olive oil. Pour the liquid over the flour mixture and stir until the dough comes together. Dump all the clumps and bits on to your counter top and knead the dough until it comes together and a smooth ball forms.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl (how about the one you used for mixing – less dishes!), turn to coat and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for an hour or two or until it doubles in size. When it is ready or you can’t wait any longer, place the dough on your lightly floured countertop (it is still messy, right?) and gently punch out the air from the dough. Shape the dough into a ball and let rest for about 20 minutes under the plastic wrap. While the dough rests, slice the peaches into thin slices. I sliced mine about 1/4-inch thick, but I’d just try to aim for as thin as you can go without getting frustrated.
Heat your oven to 500 or as high as it will go. Find your rolling pin (if you are without pin – an unopened wine bottle works spectacularly well in this situation) and sprinkle a rimmed baking pan with cornmeal. The rimmed pan is important here as the mascarpone will get oily which is delicious for your flatbread but messy for the bottom of your oven.
Roll out your dough to fit your pan, and spread a generous layer of mascarpone evenly on the top. You may not use the whole container, but perhaps you can make scones with the leftovers. Arrange the peaches so they are slightly overlapping. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the crust is lightly brown, the cheese is bubbling and the peaches have softened. Remove from oven and let cool briefly before slicing.
While the flatbread is cooking and/or cooling make the glaze. Combine balsamic vinegar, honey and salt in a small saucepan and give the pan a good swirl to mix. Heat over medium heat until it begins to just bubble then reduce the heat slightly and let simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Give the pan a swirl every now and again to make sure everything is cooking evenly. Large bubbles will begin to form and the glaze is done when it has reduced by about half. This should take about 15 minutes total. The glaze will thicken as it cools.
Slice the flatbread into squares and drizzle with the glaze. Serve warm or at room temperature.