Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Georgia Peach Cobbler

Dad and Sharmyn brought home a crate of white peaches on Sunday. They were soft and ripe and juicy, and so we needed to process them right away. Dad and I peeled and cut until we had a large bowl filled to the brim with sliced peaches. Many of them were turned into pie filling and frozen for further use. I also made Bellinis and this. But I knew that Georgia Peach Cobbler would be next. Maida's got a bunch of peach recipes, and this is the perfect time of year to make them. And I had the perfect opportunity: friends coming for dinner! My friend Karen and I walked several miles to work up an appetite, and then we fixed a giant feast involving rice and beans and enchiladas and pork loin. And peach cobbler.
This is a very strange recipe, I found. Generally cobbler involves fruit on the bottom and cake- or biscuit-like substance on top. But this recipe involves a very thick batter on the bottom, and then fruit, and then a LOT of syrup on top of that. It looked very scary going in the oven--I wish I had pictures. But eventually the syrup soaked in and some of the cake rose to the top and it all coalesced into a yummy cobbler.
I liked this but didn't love it. The peaches were very sweet, and with the standard Maida sweetness, the recipe came off as one-dimensional. I would add some lemon juice or use slightly less ripe peaches if I made this again. Karen liked the caramel-y taste of the brown sugar, and that was nice. She also made the suggestion that whipped cream, rather than ice cream, would make a good accompaniment for this cobbler.
I hope to make a bunch more cobbler-type recipes soon, so I can compare and find my favorite in the book. In the meantime, here's this recipe:

Georgia Peach Cobbler

2 lbs. peaches (ripe, but not too ripe), peeled and sliced (frozen are OK)
2/3 c. (4.5 oz.) brown sugar
1 T. (0.5 oz) butter
1-1/4 c. water (part lemon juice if your peaches are very sweet)

2 T. (1 oz.) butter, room temperature
1 T. baking powder
Pinch salt
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 t. almond extract
2/3 c. (4.5 oz.) brown sugar
3/4 c. (6 oz.) milk
1-1/2 c. (6 oz.) sifted flour

Put the peaches, sugar, butter, and water in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until the mixture just barely comes to a boil. Set aside while you make the cake.
Heat the oven to 375; grease a 2-quart baking pan (or bigger--err on the side of too big). Also line a cookie sheet with foil and put the baking pan on it.
You can make the cake with a mixer or a food processor. Cream the butter with the baking powder and salt. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts, and then sugar. The mixture should be pretty fluffy. On low speed (or in a few quick pulses), add half the milk, then half the flour, then the rest of the milk, and the remaining flour. Dollop the batter into the pan and spread it around--it will be thin. Scoop the peaches out of the syrup and spread them over the batter. Then very carefully pour in the syrup. It will come up to the top of the pan and you will be very worried about how this will all turn out. Keep the faith. Very carefully put the cookie sheet/baking pan in the oven and bake it for 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 325 and give it another 20-25 minutes. It's hard to test this for doneness, but it should be bubbly and the cake part should be golden brown. Serve this warm with ice cream or whipped cream and feel happy it's summer.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Brownie Cookies

Wow, Alicia was right! It's been a long time since I baked for this blog! Road trips are not conducive to baking and blogging, I find. But now I'm parked in Livermore for a while, so let the baking begin!
But this recipe is the last one I made in Pontlevoy. That was a good long time ago--probably about a month ago! I took pictures, but they're on Sami's laptop and not accessible to me. Oh well.
What do I remember about these cookies? They're ridiculously easy to make, and they're delicious. If you use the full amount of nuts, they really dominate the cookie. These cookies are very easy to eat, and fortunately they're also easy to give away. I gave some to Carole, the proprietress of Le Commerce, even though she wouldn't put on the Brazil-Portugal World Cup game for us to watch. I brought a bunch to a World Cup viewing party, where we watched the US go down to Ghana and consoled ourselves with wine, cheese, and brownie cookies.
These are certainly crisper than a brownie would be, but are still a fairly chewy cookie. Make them when you need a quick chocolate fix with just a bit more bite.

Brownie Cookies

2 0z. unsweetened chocolate
4 oz. semisweet chocolate (I used 2.5 oz. unsweetened and 3.5 oz. semisweet and had good results)
4 oz. (1 stick) butter
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla
1 scant cup (6.5 oz.) sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/2 c. (6 oz.) sifted flour
6 oz. walnuts, in medium pieces (cut this down to about 4 if you want a less pronounced walnut presence)

Heat the oven to 375; line some cookie sheets with foil or parchment. Melt the chocolate and butter either in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave at 30-second intervals. Add the salt and vanilla, then the sugar, eggs, flour, and walnuts, stirring after each addition. Scoop out the dough by teaspoonfuls onto the parchment or foil. Get your hands wet and roll the dough into balls. Then use a fork to flatten the cookies a bit. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies look dry. Cool on a rack and prepare to enjoy the chocolatey goodness--with or without sporting events on TV.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Even without the raisins, I haven't been baking

I was looking through some of Maria's posts to see what she has been up to. And discovered that she has been doing a whole lot of baking plus a whole lot of other fun things. I saw in one of her posts that she wanted me to come back, and that I didn't have to use the raisins. Ha!
Maria: You say that you need motive and opportunity to bake -- and that part of opportunity is the opportunity to foist your baked goods off onto people. My problem is that I haven't really had a whole lot of motive or opportunity. I'm not sure which is more lacking. Motive. I really do love desserts. And I find I have been buying desserts lately, which means that I need to get back to baking. But I just can't seem to find the motivation to do it. I'm not sure why. Maybe because you are so far ahead of me that I will never be able to catch up. But maybe it is more because of the second factor: Opportunity.
I just never seem to have an opportunity to do any baking lately. The weekdays are out unless I REALLY need to have something baked for an event. I just get home too late to imagine doing much more than making dinner (I do make dinner though, every night). And the weekends are packed so full so stuff that there is never time for baking. And then the second part of opportunity: when I make something that feeds a lot of people, I don't have a lot of people to feed it to! Now Maddy is leaving for college and I no longer have the ability to send her to school with all of my baked goods. Natalie might take them, but it's different. Possibly I can ship baked goods to Humboldt. I'll have to look into that. That might lead to motive . . .
I have had some opportunities to make some of the things on my lengthening list. I don't even think I can remember much about them. I finished off the Ginger Snap recipes by making Whole Wheat Gingersnaps. They were alright. I don't remember them being anything to write home about. But I have really never found a ginger snap cookie I like better than Trader Joe's Triple Ginger cookies, so it's hard for me to make them.
I also made Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies. Don't really remember them. Guess that was a while ago.
Maddy made David's Cookies and brought them to school with her. I never tasted them, but apparently her class loved them.
I made the Texas Truffles. These were fun but messy to make. And they wasted a huge number of pecans. I loved these for the first day. After that I kept trying to eat them. I foisted them off onto Sam's softball team, and never heard whether they liked them or not. These were awfully sweet.
I made the New York State Apple Cobbler. This was one of my favorite desserts so far. I loved the cheddar with the apples, and I really love apple cobbler. I ate giant quantities of this dessert and didn't want to share it with anybody. Even Pete liked this dessert. I'm sure another Pete -- Pete Cogswell -- would have loved this as well.
I made the Miami Beach Sour Cream Cake. It's funny. I clearly remember making this cake. I remember carefully pouring the syrup over the cake and I remember how heavy it was. But I don't remember what happened to it. Maybe I brought it camping.
I made the 8-hour Cheesecake. I did bake it for 8 hours and it came out perfect in every way. That was a very popular dessert with Pete and Maddy.
I made the Blackberry Pie. This is my very favorite recipe, hands down, that I have made from Maida's cookbooks. I have made it so often that the pages are completely disgusting. I am going to admit here that I cheated when I made this pie and used a frozen pie crust I had bought for a quiche or something because I lacked OPPORTUNITY to make pie crust (I had just about an hour to make this pie -- and it bakes for an hour). As usual, I loved this pie!
And I made Cristina's Brownies. Man that recipe makes a lot of brownies. I can't really imagine ever giving anybody a brownie the size that Maida recommends these be cut into. I cut them in half, and they still looked awfully large. These were taken by Maddy to her last day of high school party, and apparently were very popular. Fortunately, Natalie and I rescued some so we were all able to enjoy the brownies.
Maria will be in the States for a few weeks. Maybe she won't be able to bake during that time period. Maybe I should take over for her for a few weeks. Although looking at my calendar, I'm not really seeing much opportunity!