Tag Archives: Southerners

Summertime means Peach Cobbler

There’s nothing like spending a hot day in a hot kitchen to get you in touch with your Southern roots–and today was hot.  But this journey started yesterday–a much milder morning.

Peach season is at its peak, and if you don’t seize the moment it will pass you by.  I had a glorious morning yesterday at the Grand Lake farmers market.  I bought tons of peaches at different levels of ripeness, with the intention of making a series of cobblers over the next few days.  Blossom Bluff Orchard had great, perfectly ripe peaches.  I couldn’t decide between O’Henry (slightly tarter) and Summer Lady (slightly sweeter) so I decided to get four of each for the first cobbler.  And since I was using Lee Bailey’s recipe, which calls for seven large ripe peaches for a 7″x9″ deep dish, and I only have an 8″x10″ deep dish, I figured eight medium-to-large ripe peaches would serve me well.

I got home and started preparing the dough.

flour

I always love the neat cone-shaped mountains of flour sifting produces.

While I was doing that, I decided to heat up a snack in the microwave.  Being at the end of a long line of Southern ladies who typically distrust such kitchen technology as a matter of principal, I made a mistake that only a microwave novice would–I stuck my finger in my food to check if it was hot yet–due to my utter disbelief that it *could* be hot after one minute in this strange contraption.

Well, apparently that specious technology has come a long way.  My food was hot.  So hot that I burned my finger badly.  It hurt so badly I had to keep it on ice for a full two hours.

I feebly refrigerated the dough with my nine remaining digits with the intention of returning to the project the next day.

***

Today went much better.  The burn had settled down, and I had nothing to distract me from my baking other than myself.  So I took my time.

soldiers


peaches

——


peaches2

peaches3

pit

assembled

After some deliberation, I decided to leave the skins on my peaches.  Maybe Bailey would turn in his grave–but I totally missed the line in the ingredients section of the recipe about skinning the peaches.  Anyway I like the skin–the flesh of any stone fruit attached to the skin is always my favorite part because it’s usually where the tart-ness lies, which balances all the sweet.

The hardest part of this truly simple recipe was rolling out the dough.  I just don’t do enough baking to know how to roll out dough very well.  Luckily, the recipe didn’t call for a perfect circle, but the rolling still made me anxious.  After I reverse-rolled (“window-shade style”) and released the dough over the dish, I knew right away I didn’t have enough.  The dough is supposed to spill over the sides while you fill the dish with the fruit, to later be flopped back over on top to cover it.

I didn’t panic, I just decided to make more dough.  This time a double amount (since I’m planning to make more cobbler soon anyway).

doughontop

But before I covered everything with dough, I made a few adjustments.  Bailey’s recipe calls for a full cup of sugar.  It seemed like a lot of sugar.  So instead of a full cup I did two-thirds.  And my oven, purchased in 2007, has never been calibrated.  Bailey recommends forty-five minutes (or until crust is golden brown) at 450.  I set my oven to 450 and checked the cobbler after thirty-five.  It looked good, but could be slightly more golden, so I gave it another five minutes.  Here it is cooling on the porch:

golden

I decided I had to eat it for dinner.  I hadn’t picked up the vanilla ice cream but I just couldn’t wait.

final

The final verdict:

I utterly enjoyed eating this cobbler.  Spooning the first portion was incredibly gratifying–largely because the color that these peaches produced in this recipe is phenomenal.  The deep orange and red is perfect, and the liquid produced by the cooking is this gorgeous pink-wine.  And the crust–the crust is it.  I couldn’t hope for a better one.

Now it’s my first cobbler of the season and I don’t want to speak too soon, but it was a bit on the sweet side for me.  The peaches were perfectly cooked–great balance of firm and soft (and I didn’t think the attached peels detracted), but to be truly critical, the bites with that bit of tart punch which I crave were too few and far between.  The peaches I used were very sweet to begin with, so if I were using similar fruit I might try to reduce the sugar to a minimum–just enough to create a good syrupy interior–without adding too much sweetness.  Perhaps a third of a cup.

I’m sure I’ll continue to enjoy eating this one–and in the mean time I’m ready to try another.

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Monday Morning Links

  • Vena Cava has amassed a comprehensive to-do list for LA.  I’m homesick. (Viva Vena Cava)
  • P.S.: Vena Cava’s Fall 2009 collection just hit stores, see the collection (Style.com) and shop (Barneys)
  • UPDATE: how did I miss this?  Am I the last to know about this or what?  Please advise.  (Amazon)
  • Dylan Fareed makes a video of Santa Monica beach, I’m still homesick. (Dylan Fareed)
  • On a separate note: Thankfully, I’m not the only one who is tortured by the issue of pruning lavender. (Gardenweb)
  • It’s peach season, and this looks really good.  (The Kitchen Sink)
  • But it just makes crave a real old-fashioned cobbler, and there’s no one I can think of I trust more on the subject of peach cobbler than Lee Bailey (NPR)

peach4Image from thekitchensinkrecipes.com

I think I’ll just have to make both.

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Great Grandmother’s (Maternal Side) Mayonnaise Recipe

As taught to my mother in the 50’s by Eddie, an extraordinary woman who worked for the family and who had learned the recipe from Great Grandmother…and I quote my mother [my input in brackets]:

Now you must understand that when Eddie was teaching me to cook, or rather I should say I was hanging around the kitchen while she cooked,
hoping I might fathom the mysteries of all that delicious food she served us;  when I asked her, after she had put something in the oven, “When will it be done?” her reply was invariably  “When its cooked.” [do you see why it took me so long to learn how to write short sentences being that I was raised by a Memphisonian mother?]

So I will give you the amounts and it may take your own intuition to get the mayonaise to the point where Eddie would exclaim the concoction to be “Just right.” [this is the case with most family recipes, including recipes from the paternal Yankee side]

1 egg yolk
1 lemon
1 dollop of mustard [you must intuit “dollop”]
salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic pressed  (if desired)
1 bottle of olive oil [you must intuit how big this bottle is–but here I will give you a hint–perhaps 12, but that is only derived from my own intuition, and therefore is not exact]
1 teaspoon paprika
lots of elbow grease [there are probably electric tools that can take the place of this, but it won’t taste as good and won’t be as much fun or memorable]

First you take a nice size mixing bowl and one small bowl.

Crack the egg on the lip of the small bowl and separate the white from the yolk by tossing the yolk from one half of the egg shell to the
other and letting the white fall into the small bowl.  Either keep the white for another more virtuous day or discard.

Put only the yolk in the large mixing bowl.

Squeeze the lemon and add only the juice (no seeds) to the egg yolk.

Add the mustard to the egg and lemon juice.  I use Dijon,  post-life in France but Eddie used Colman’s powdered mustard [since 1814, but new and improved website with audio] after adding water as directed.

Salt and pepper  and paprika to taste.

Post life in France [the first time this phrase was written I edited it; after having read it twice I left it in],  I started adding the garlic at this point.

Take a fork or a wire whisk and make an emulsion of the above ingredients.

Take a deep breath.  This is the crucial step.

Add the olive oil in a steady,  slow stream;  all the while whisking all the ingredients to form a stronger emulsion. This will happen
gradually.  Much elbow grease will be expended.  You might notice a little bit of olive oil off to the side of your bowl;  hurry there and
bind it with the emulsion.  You want to stop adding the oil when the mixture reaches saturation.  It will not be the consistency of a store-bought mayonaise,  but you do want it to come to a peak when you lift the whisk.

If you go  too far and add too much oil the mixture will separate and you will have  a nice dressing but no mayonaise.  To quote Elizabeth David “Start again,  this time more circumspectly.

Sprinkle the mayonaise with paprika.

You may serve it directly or cover and chill for later but not terribly much later!

“Mmmm just right”

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