Sunday, August 17, 2008

Going Crazy for Peach Cobbler

How frustrating is it to be hungry and surfing food blogs? It's like asking for trouble.

You don't even have to be that hungry, you can be just peckish, and then start feeling sorry for yourself as you read about all the good stuff that is unavailable, SO unavailable, to you.
It's cruel, really.

So what are your options should you find yourself with a rumbling stomach and drooling onto your keyboard? Here are two that come to mind.

A) Get out before you are so blinded by hunger you will raid the pantry and eat anything you come across (usually chocolate, marshmallows, dried fruit and more chocolate). Switch sites immediately and start surfing your favorite online retail store for bikinis. That will get your mind off of food and onto exercise faster than anything else.
B) Hit 'print', head to the kitchen, tie on an apron, and attempt to recreate what had you salivating moments earlier.

Let's assume the latter is what most of us do.

Now for a reality check (don't you hate those?).
Here's the deal, although you may be a cook, perhaps even a professional chef, that doesn't always mean you can jump up and turn out exactly what you have seen on a blog.
If only it were that easy, but often you are separated by more than just preheating the oven and stirring ingredients together.
Here are a few roadblocks you may encounter. These are purely from my own experience, feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

1) Product Availability: Who has a stash of blueberry lager in the back of the fridge to make these Brewberry Brownies? Another creation from Sugar Plum, these unique brownies look like the perfect dessert to be whipped up on a weeknight and eaten straight from the pan while -what else?--surfing blogs, but how am I to get my hands on a beer called "Wild Blue"? (Warning: This problem is encountered more frequently if you tend to read blogs from another country where they have many products that are new to us. It works both ways, though, as I have had people ask me what crab apples or rhubarb taste like.)

2) Time Constraints: (this is my current biggest problem) Do you have enough non-interrupted free time to execute the dish correctly? OK, fine then, maybe you do, but then you read the recipe and there is the frustratingly inevitable step in the recipe that says to rest/marinade/chill the dish overnight. Arg! You need to eat it NOW!

3) Just Plain Lack-of-Skill: Ouch. Never fun to admit, but we know our limits, right? We need a few hundred hours of pastry experience under our belts before we can attempt some of this stuff.

For example, recently I was puckering and salivating over Aran's Delice D'Ete. Everything about it was calling out to me: the tartness of the raspberries, the Bavarian cream with its vanilla seeds, and the stylish way the dessert came together. I could imagine my fork cutting effortlessly through its flawless layering, but deep down I knew: this dessert was about as attainable to me as an Olympic medal. (Not just because I am Canadian, either!) I barely had enough time to read through and visualize the recipe, never mind grab a pen and make a shopping list. Little use that would be anyway, as Oprah probably gets more cooking time in her kitchen than I do. OK, so she probably doesn't lift a spoon, but you get my drift.

However, my spirits lifted, perhaps even soared when I saw this cobbler! Matt's gorgeous photo got my attention and his ode to the humble cobbler struck a chord. Here was something I could throw together during the rare occasion of a synchronized nap of my babies, using ingredients that were fast ripening on my counter top. Heck, I thought, if my stars were aligned right, I could probably make a cobbler, bake it and eat half of it before anyone woke up. Perfect!

And that's what I did. More than once.

In fact, if I counted correctly, I believe I made five peach cobblers in 48 hours, but who is counting anyway?

Let's see. Well, I started with two--and not little sissy individual ramekins like the one in the photo either, but big, deep dish pyrex cobblers. One I consumed hot out of the oven that afternoon with some help from Danny (this is the recommended way to eat them). The other one I brought to a potluck with friends that evening. The next day I made another one for us (much bigger this time) and two more in aluminum, take-out containers to deliver to friends who just had babies. After that I was out of peaches or I probably would have kept going.

The little ramekins are pretty cute, I guess, good for a photo, but you will never be satisfied with a small portion of this perfect summer-in-a-dish.
How simple is the cobbler? It's easier than a pie. I always get a mental block with pie dough; it's so much work to roll out sometimes. No spices or flavorings mask the flavor of the peaches, letting them be the star of the show. The biscuit batter is almost as light as a cake and has a delightful contrast of textures between the fluffy underside and the crusty top.
Enjoy the cobbler warm, with a mound of whipped cream.

Peach Cobbler (original recipe from Everyday Baking)

For The Filling:
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (depending on sweetness of fruit)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds peaches, halved, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, and cut again in half crosswise (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk

1. Make the filling: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Add peaches and lemon juice; toss to combine. Divide filling evenly among four 8-ounce custard cups (or one 2-quart baking dish); transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Make the topping and bake: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, blend in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk; stir just until a dough forms. Drop dough onto peaches, using about 1/3 cup dough for each custard cup. Sprinkle dough with remaining teaspoon sugar. Bake until fruit is bubbling and biscuit topping is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes; serve warm.


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Perfect -- I just got an email from a friend inviting me to come pick peaches from his tree! Now I know what to make when I bring home my haul.

Unknown said...

i have 4 peaches at home and don't know what to do with them...thanks for the idea ;)

Lucy said...

Ah I have the problem now - reading your blog has made me madly hungry for cobbler and the fact I have never eaten cobbler in my life isn't deterring me! Definitely one delish dessert to make in the (very near) future.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Everything you have mentioned is so true Aimee. Now that the summer camp is over I now have the time to execute the dishes I see.

Aimée said...

Hi Lydia- Lucky you!! That's going to be fabulous.

Hi Rita- Hope you enjoy it.

Hi Lucy-Never had cobbler?? You guys probably have a different name for it over there, no?

Hi Valli- Welcome back to your kitchen!!

Deborah said...

Love that - "summer in a dish." I'm always hungry when I blog surf, especially since I'm always hungry now that I'm pregnant!! I haven't made cobbler in much too long, and this one certainly is calling out to me!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Oh, darling! What about me now? I'm reading this at work! I can't run and bake!! Maybe I can trick my boss into thinking I'm sick... How is that? ;)

Varina said...

As an expat with a thin grasp of my host country's language (one of it's less prominent languages that it) I have never read a food blog from the country I live in, so I can completely sympathize with the associated supply problems. Heck every recipe calling for brown sugar silently mocks me. However, this cobbler is beautiful and I will make it, all I have to do is substitute apricots for peaches and find out what the French for buttermilk is.

Anonymous said...

Mmmmm i was fortunate enough to get a piece of this yummy peach cobler!!! it was by far one of the most amazing things i've eaten! and because there was fruit in it, i didn't even feel guilty!!! Aimee you are awesome!!

Culinary Wannabe said...

I totally feel you. I am always salivating over food blogs and am usually limited by at least one, if not all, of your reasons listed. I'm on a total peach kick though - we are getting married in a few weeks in GA, so I've been "testing" all of our different appropriately peachy flavored goodies. So this is right up my alley, especially since I already have peaches on hand - yay!

Anonymous said...

ok, this looks swell. i had a peach cobbler made by a friend recently and it was swell but this looks even better. And it does look pretty darn close to comfort food -- my theme for the day!

Aimée said...

Hi Deb- I know what you mean. I took eating for two to a whole new level when I was pregnant.

Hi Patricia- Lol, I can't help you there...

Hi Sabayon- Welcome to Under the High Chair!!Lait de burre should translate buttermilk, at least that's what it's called in Quebec!

Hi Liz!- Thanks! Glad you liked it. :)

Hi culinarywannabe- Mmm, I've been fortunate enough to taste fresh Georgia peaches and they are going to make your big day extra special!!

Hi bibliochef- Most certainly comfort food, and some of the best you'll ever have. Thanks for stopping by UtHC!

LyB said...

lol! I feel bad saying this but, we are bad at the Olympics, aren't we?

Now that that's out of the way, I know how you feel about kitchen time! I barely cook/bake these days but it seems the dishes are piling up anyways! What's up with that? With the peaches still in season, I'm definitely bookmarking this for when I find a little time in the kitchen! :)

Anonymous said...

Ah, hungry and surfing food blogs - exactly where I find myself at the moment. But look how well it turned out - I have a huge basket of fresh peaches ready to go in the kitchen, and now I have the recipe to go with them...thanks! (It's cobbler time)


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