Southern Peach Cobbler

August 15th, 2010

“The cobbler is simple.  It’s homey, nothin’ fancy.  It cuts across socio-ecomonic lines and is eaten in red and blue states alike.  It’s history is one of immigrant innovative spirit.  A Peach cobbler is as American as Apple Pie.”  Kim O’Donnel – The Washington Post.
Our English ancestors brought us the fruit pies which they had baked in brick ovens for centuries.  When they arrived in America, they were forced by the primitive conditions to do most of their cooking over open fires. They put their sliced fruits in heavy cast iron pans and placed them in the coals to cook.  They added a topping of biscuit dough to them and placed a heavy lid on top so that the biscuit dough could rise and brown.  Thus the cobbler was born.
In the South, peaches were plentiful.  I can imagine the early settlers made cobblers because of the availability of the fruit and the frugality inherent in their makeup.  Nothing went to waste in the humble homes of our ancestors.  If biscuits were made for breakfast, any leftover dough could be used for a sweet cobbler.
Today in the South, most of the Meat and 3 style restaurants and the Barbecue restaurants feature peach cobbler on the menu.  It is a tradition and one that I have come to love.  I love cobblers, crisps, crumbles,  grunts,  pandowdies, buckles, brown betties and sonkers
But my favorite by far is peach cobbler and this recipe from All Recipes is the best.  The peaches are flavored with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  The biscuit topping is rich with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  Served warm with a scoop of ice cream, this is the flavor of late summer and perfect eaten while on the porch in the evening watching the fireflies and listening to the cicadas. 
8 Fresh Georgia peaches – peeled, pitted and sliced into wedges
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons conrstarch
For the biscuit topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup boiling water
For Topping:
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
In a large bowl, combine peaches, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and cornstarch.  Toss to coat evenly, and pour into a 2 quart baking dish.  Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, both sugars, baking powder, and salt.  Blend in butter with your fingertips, or a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Stir in water until just combined.
Remove peaches from oven, and drop spoonfuls of topping over them.  Sprinkle entire cobbler with the sugar and cinnamon mixture.  Bake until topping is golden, about 30 minutes. 
I am linking this recipe to the Two for Tuesdays blog hop carnival.  Go to Girlichef’s blog to view all of the links to blogger’s who are cooking up “Real” food;  food that is not processed and the kind of food that your Grandmother might have made.

Printable recipe

Savory Rainbow Chard Tart

August 9th, 2010

Sunday afternoons will usually find me in the kitchen trying new recipes and taking my time with my cooking.  This puts me in mind of the Slow Food Movement.  Part of their philosophy is to take your time and savor your food, know where it comes from, and keep it as authentic as possible.

This Sunday I made this beautiful Swiss chard tart from a recipe from Laura Calder, the host of French Food at Home on the new Cooking Channel. I love her show. I love her quiet and serene approach to everything she cooks. The episode in which she made the tart had to do with Grandmothers’ recipes; those tried and true recipes that are handed down through the generations on yellowed and dog-eared pages in old notebooks.

The tart was made in a springform pan instead of a pie pan so it had a very rustic appearance with high crusty sides and a deep filling.  It appealed to me on so many levels.  I loved the vibrant color of the rainbow chard stems and leaves, the custardy filling and the sprinkling of dried cranberries and almonds.

The one thing Laura Calder did not give on the program was a recipe for a pie crust, so I had to come up with that on my own.  I made an all butter pastry and increased the preportions by one half to fill the springform pan.  It would have been easier to mix the pastry in the food processor but I don’t always like the results.  I think the blade action heats the butter too much and the whole point to making good pastry is to keep the butter cold.  So I slowly worked my butter into my flour by cutting it in with a knife.  This was a satisfying task for a lazy Sunday afternoon.  According to the Slow Food Manifesto,  “A firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life”.  I choose to slow down and enjoy what I am doing, especially when the end results are so satisfying.


For the Pastry:
1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
11 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup ice water  (a little more if needed)

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Cut the butter into small cubes.  Add to the flour mixture and with a pastry blender or knife, cut the butter into the flour until it is in small crumbs.  Add the ice water and stir in with a fork until pastry comes together.  If dry, add a little more water.  Bring pastry together with your hands and form into a flattened disc.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Flour a work surface, and remove pastry from the plastic and roll it out into a 14″ circle.  Put pastry into a 9″ springform pan.  Return to refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour to firm up butter.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line pastry with parchment paper and fill the springform pan with dried beans.  Put springform pan on a sheet pan and blind bake the pastry for approximately 15 minutes. The butter in the pastry will leak from the springform pan a little so it is a good idea to have it on a sheet pan so as not to drip in your oven.  Carefully remove beans and parchment paper and continue to bake pastry shell for 10 more minutes or until lightly browned.  Set aside while you make the filling.

1 tablespoon oil
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 slices thick bacon, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 pounds Swiss Chard, preferably Rainbow Chard
3 eggs
1 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream and sour cream combined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
Handful of dried cranberries
Handful of toasted almonds or pine nuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a saute pan and fry the shallots until soft and translucent.  Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Remove to a plate.  In the same pan, fry the bacon until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp.  Remove to the plate with the shallots.  Divide the chard leaves from the ribs; chop the ribs quite small and shred the leaves.  First, fry the ribs in the bacon fat until tender. (Cook’s Note:  You may want to cover the pan for a few minutes to speed up the process.)  Add the chard leaves to the pan, cover and wilt, about 3 minutes.

Beat the eggs together with the creme fraiche, and season with salt, and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the shallots, bacon, chard stems and leaves, cheese, cranberries, and nuts, to combine evenly.  Fill the tart shell with the vegetable mixture with a slotted spoon so that any liquid will be left behind.  Pour over the cream mixture.  Bake tart on a sheet pan until the tart has set, about 30 minutes.

I am linking this post to the Two for Tuesdays blog hop.  You will find many blogs there with recipes and thoughts on cooking with authentic ingredients.

Grilled Mole Flank Steak

July 27th, 2010
We have been experimenting with spice rubs lately and while I was visiting my Son and Daughter-In-Law in Cary, Kristen made an extraordinary flank steak with a mole spice rub.  A mole is literally a “concoction” in Mexican cuisine.  It is a thick sauce which contains peppers, spices such as cinnamon, and always some chocolate.  Last night I decided to experiment with her recipe.  To duplicate the flavors of a mole sauce for my dry rub, I used chipotle chili powder, brown sugar, garlic powder, cocoa powder, and cinnamon.  
Granted, the above picture would never make the cover of Food and Wine magazine, but you get the general idea of the liberal coating of dry rub.  Also notice the old fashioned butcher paper in which the beef was wrapped.  I have been shopping lately at Greenlife Grocery in Asheville and they carry Brasstown Beef from Brasstown, NC.  Their motto is ” Real Beef, Raised Right, Around Here”.  Not only is their beef raised without antibiotics or added hormones, but it is dry aged as well.  Dry aging concentrates the beef flavor and takes at least two weeks.  Very few organic farmers do this because the water loss diminishes the weight of the beef by 9%, thus reducing the profit.  The advantage to the consumer is beef with more intense beef flavor.  Another interesting point from their brochure:  “Our hamburger is 100% comprised of meat from our animals; unlike most commercially available hamburger, which usually contains beef and beef by products from numerous different animals, old and young alike from throughout the country and imported from abroad.  Everybody who has ever eaten our hamburger thinks that it is the best that they ever had.”  Hmmm, Makes you wonder what is in that tube of hamburger meat in the Supermarket!
Another reason that I decided to do a mole rub on my steak was because of this attractive jar of Mole Negro that Michael and Kristen brought me from a recent trip to Mexico.  It has been sitting in my pantry waiting for just the right recipe.
Because this sauce is very thick, I used just 1/4 of a cup of the sauce in one cup of beef broth.  It has beautiful color. 
It was perfect drizzled over the flank steak.  Here is a link for ordering the sauce, but it appears to be out of stock at the moment.  Even without the mole sauce the spice rubbed flank steak is worth making.
1 1/2 pounds of Flank Steak
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder ( or regular chili powder )
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon coarse-grained salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix together the dry ingredients and coat both sides of the flank steak with them.  Let rest for 20 minutes while you light the grill.  Coat grilling rack with cooking spray.  Grill steak to desired doneness.
I am entering this post in the Two for Tuesdays blog hop.  We are all cooking up delicious meals with an emphasis on seasonal and fresh ingredients.  Hop on over to see what is happening.

Panzanella Salad

July 20th, 2010

The only vegetables thriving in our garden right now are the tomatoes.   We have had very little rain so the squash and cucumbers have succumbed and the pepper plants are not producing blossoms.  In the spring the garden shows so much promise, but the vagaries of summer can dash one’s hopes for a bountiful harvest.  But the tomatoes are beautiful and we have been enjoying them on sandwiches and on toast for breakfast.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy tomatoes is in a panzanella salad and as luck would have it the Barefoot Blogger founder, Tara of Smells Like Home, has chosen one of Ina Garten’s panzanella salads as one of the BB recipes of the month.  She chose Ina’s Greek Panzanella and you can go here for the recipe.  That recipe includes calamata olives and feta cheese.  I chose to do Ina’s standard panzenlla salad which has no cheese, but lots of fresh garden vegetables, warm croutons to soak up the juices, and a garlic and mustard vinaigrette.  By the way I want to thank Tara for keeping the Barefoot Blogger’s website active and for tracking the 198,593 Friday night dinners we have cooked for Jeffrey.   You would think he would thank us.
I would also like to include this recipe in the Two for Tuesdays blog hop.  We are a group of bloggers who post about Real food and stress the importance of local, fresh, and unprocessed food.  Check out Girlichef’s blog for a listing of all of recipes for this Tuesday.
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread , cut into 1 inch cubes ( 6 cups )  I used a Sourdough baguette
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 to 3 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 red onion cut in half and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained
For the Vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large saute pan.  Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned.  Add more oil as needed.
For the vinaigrette, whisk together the ingredients.
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers.  Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.
Note:  If you are not eating the whole salad in one sitting, add only half the croutons to half of the salad and reserve the rest separately for a second serving.  This will keep the croutons crispy the second time around.

Fried Green Tomatoes

July 6th, 2010

Nothing could be finer than a fried green tomato in the summertime. I have picked a few red tomatoes now, but because we are having a very dry summer they have been slow to ripen. That bothers me in the least. There is something about a fried green tomato that evokes the sultry southern days when cooks did what they could with what was available in the garden. Cornmeal and flour were always in the larder and could turn those hard bitter tomatoes into something to be relished. I declare, even spam could be turned into a thing of beauty if you breaded it and fried it. My Mother used to do that and we cheered when she served it. But since this is Two for Tuesdays where we talk about “Real” food, pretend I didn’t mention the Spam. A fried green tomato is real food that is fresh from the garden.

It is made even more authentic if you fry it in a cast iron skillet. There is really no hard and fast recipe for this. You can use what you have on hand. The general idea is to dip your tomato slices in flour, then in an egg mixture which can include milk or buttermilk if you have it and then in cornmeal or a mixture of cornmeal and breadcrumbs. Here is my general recipe.
2 to 3 green tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 cup of flour
1 to 2 eggs
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
1 cup cornmeal
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for frying
Dip the sliced tomatoes in flour, then in the egg mixture and then in the cornmeal. Place on a sheet pan. When all of the slices are coated, heat enough oil in a cast iron skillet to come up to about 1/2 inch. When oil is hot add about 5 or 6 slices to the pan. Do not crowd them. Cook on one side until they are brown and then flip and brown the second side. Drain on paper towel and add more slices to the oil. Add more oil if necessary. The fried green tomatoes can be kept warm in a 250 degree oven until ready to serve.
We are serving up lots of good food this week on Two for Tuesdays (242). Go to this link on Girlichef to see what everyone is doing.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.