The events of the last week-and-a-half have been so awful that the idea of posting anything about food has seemed, well, inappropriate. Instead, I've been crying, obsessively reading news blogs, cursing the Bush administration, rinsing, repeating. But I feel like I should post something, anyway, at least to explain what a peach rattafia is.
Peach rattafia is essentially peach cordial made with brandy. So what I've got going on in the picture below is a quart of brandy, 3 cups of chopped, peeled ripe farmers' market peaches, and 1 1/2 cups of sugar brought to a boil with 1/2 cup water. I like cocktails, and I especially like trying old cocktail recipes from my collection of old cookbooks. Peach brandy is called for fairly often, and Hiram Walker is disgusting. The only choice is to make it myself.
This is my first attempt at flavored brandies, but I've made flavored vodkas (sugarless) before - apple, blueberry, caraway, dried cherry, and pink peppercorn. I didn't care much for the fruit flavors, although my vodka-loving friends liked them. (I'm more of a gin gal.) But the caraway and pink peppercorn vodkas were great, especially the latter. Don't let anyone tell you that pink peppercorns taste no different from black; they have a sweet edge that balances the peppery bite, and the full flavor came through amazingly well in vodka. If you try this, use good spices (Penzey's, for example), and taste the vodka every day until the flavor seems perfect to you. I found that about three or four days worked well for the peppercorn, just two for the caraway.
In comparison, the instructions for the peach brandy (adapted from Helen Witty's excellent Fancy Pantry) suggest at least a month of steeping. The peaches should be amazing by then. I'm keeping the jar in my fridge, because the days are still pretty warm, and I had a bad experience once with a blueberry vodka. The problem with city apartments is the absolute lack of the "cool, dry place." But if you had such a place, you wouldn't need to refrigerate.
I'll give the report back in a month or so.