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California dreamin’

One of the upsides to my job is that I get to travel. Not internationally (although that would be AWESOME) but within the great state of California. I love seeing all the nooks and crannies that California has to offer. Spanning thousands of miles, California is a vast and beautiful land, with beaches and mountains hours away from each other. Growing up Northern California made traveling so easy because I was able to see so much and experience all the seasons.

Come mid-September, I will be making a week-long trek to Southern California where I will be conducting some very important training seminars. To be honest, I’m freaking out. These training courses are really important and the room for error is slim. While I work pretty well under pressure, there comes a point when I need a mental break. A complete lapse in the brain. You guys know what I am talking about, right? When you are working your tail off for a whole week, trying to compromise with a coworker who has the same temperament as you, you reach a point when you throw your hands up and say, “Enough!”

My “Enough” moment was reached on Friday, and I surrendered completely to it. Right after work (where I left, literally running out the door before anyone could stop me) I gussied myself up, grabbed some drinks with friends, and relaxed. The balmy summer night mixed with the loud ’40′s music and cute eye candy erased all my work-week nerves away.

I woke up Saturday morning and knew what else I needed to do to really the cap the week off. I made this Peach & Nectarine Cobbler. This was my first cobbler experience, and it definitely won’t be my last. I never knew cobbler could be so easy! A combination of seasonal summer fruit with sugar and cornstarch topped with a biscuit-like topping, this is a great dessert (or breakfast if you are like me) that can be made and enjoyed at any time. Dessert can be daunting during these last days of summer because who wants to spend an hour in their kitchen when they could be running around outside. But try this one. I swear, you’ll never want to go back to your non-cobbler days.

The original recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home To Yours” used fresh mixed  berries, but the days of blueberries and strawberries are sadly coming to a close. I enjoyed my fair share of these delightful treats but with Summer coming to an end, they are off to greener pastures. I swear, I am more sad to see the fresh produce go than the Summer sun. In lieu of fresh berries, I used organic yellow nectarines and yellow peaches. I kept the skin on them because I thought they’d add a little texture to the fruit filling. Unlike the somewhat soggy yet damn good Peach Pie I made earlier, the cobbler’s fruit filling had the perfect amount of juice and fruity goodness needed. The biscuit topping was almost too easy: ice cold butter, flour, milk. The original recipe used heavy cream but I substituted lowfat milk instead because that was all I had. It worked, but I bet the cobbler would have been richer with heavy cream. Anyways, dump the batter on top, and bake away.

What emerges from your oven 45 minutes later is a golden brown pan of utter Summer enjoyment. The bubbling fruit and the warm salty crust create something that I believe epitomizes the summer spirit. If I could, I would eat this everyday with a glass of iced tea and a big group of friends. While I can’t do that because eating this in my work cube might raise some eyebrows, I do plan on enjoying these hot August nights. And I am definitely looking forward to hanging out in Southern California come mid September. I’ve already made plans to meet up with some lovely ladies and I can’t wait to finally sit down and chat with them. In the meantime, there is cobbler and the hot sun.

fyi: I’m not sure what happened to these photos. They have a slight green/yellow tinge and after spending hours trying to fix it, I give up.  The color balance looks normal on my computer screen but something funky happened when I uploaded them on to Flickr. Just imagine that there is less green in these photos!

Summer Fruit Cobbler
Printable recipe
Origin: Dorie Greenspan
Yield: makes 8 servings
Cooking Time: 60 to 70 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

For the crust:
● 2 cups all-purpose flour
● 1 tbsp. double-acting baking powder
● 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
● 1/2 tsp. salt
● 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons; 3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
● 3/4 cup cold milk

For the fruit filling:
● 4 peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into small cubes
● 3 yellow nectarines, peeled, pitted, and sliced
● 3 to 5 tbsps granulated sugar
● 1 tbsp. cornstarch
● 1 tbsp. heavy cream, to brush the crust (optional)
● Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate and put it on a baking sheet lined with foil, parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

To make the crust:
Whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together in a big bowl. Drop in the butter and, with your fingers, toss everything together to coat the butter with flour. Working quickly, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a pebbly mixture. You’ll have pieces the size of peas and others the size of oatmeal flakes and that’s just right.

Pour the cream over the mixture, grab a fork and gently turn the ingredients until you have a very soft dough. You’ll probably have some dry ingredients in the bottom of the bowl, so reach in and mix and knead the dough with your hands until it’s all blended.

Turn the dough out onto a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap, cover with another sheet of paper or wrap and gently press or roll the dough into a circle with a diameter of about 9 inches. Refrigerate the dough while you put together the fruit. (You can keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours or you can wrap it airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months – you don’t need to defrost it before baking.)

To make the fruit filling:
Put all the ingredients in the buttered pie plate and stir to combine. (I always toss with my hands.)

Remove the top sheet of paper or plastic from the crust and, using a small sharp knife, cut about 6 slits in the dough, just as you would for a pie, then cut a circle out of the center. (I always use a large piping tip to cut the circular steam vent.)

Put the dough over the fruit. If the circle of dough is a little too big, you can trim it; if it’s a little small, don’t worry—it will look nice when the fruit bubbles over it. If you’re using it, brush the cream over the dough and sprinkle over the decorating or raw sugar.

Bake the cobbler for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the crust is puffed and golden brown and the fruit is bubbling all around the crust and up through the center vent. (If you think the crust is getting too brown, but the cobbler isn’t ready, you can put a loose foil tent over the pan. But don’t forget—you want the crust to be a deep golden color.)

Transfer the cobbler to a rack and let it cool for at least half an hour before serving. Serve the cobbler warm or at room temperature, with ice cream.

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August 31, 2009 - 7:01 am

whitneyinchicago - Beautiful cobbler!

August 31, 2009 - 10:31 am

juju73 - Your cobbler looks beautiful! After seeing the movie “Dying Young”, I’ve always wanted to see Mendocino.

Good luck with all of your training!!!!

August 31, 2009 - 12:39 pm

snooky doodle - wow looks good! wish I had some of this cobbler and some relaxing time ;)

August 31, 2009 - 3:32 pm

tara - Dorie Greenspan is a genius, no? I have a basket full of nectarines in our kitchen, and I do believe I just might know what I’m going to do with them – thanks so much and best of luck with your busy days ahead.

August 31, 2009 - 5:40 pm

Squill - Mmm, this looks delicious. I am ready to welcome autumn with open arms, but I will miss those beautiful summer peaches.

September 1, 2009 - 11:10 am

MollyCookie - What a beautiful dessert! You have such wonderful pictures. Great post!

September 2, 2009 - 1:24 am

syrie - You’re photos are lovely! No tinge at all. Good luck with the training.

September 6, 2009 - 2:12 pm

Kristen @ Simply Savor - that cobbler looks delicious!! all your talk about traveling around california is making me want to go. i’ve never been, but i hear once you have, you never want to leave :)

September 16, 2009 - 1:06 pm

justcooknyc - my mom used to always make me desserts like this… not sure why i don’t make them for myself now since i do bake a lot. and you know, i always worry about how my photos look at home on my Mac, and then i get to work and they look totally different on my PC… sigh.

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