Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Exploring My Southern Roots, Part I: Peach Cobbler

A standard piece of cocktail party trivia I like to tell is that I was raised in the South. I love to tell people I grew up in Texas* and watch their reactions. To be fair, it's not like I lived on a ranch and lassoed cows after school. I lived in a cookie-cutter suburb and hung out at the local Barnes and Nobles when I wasn't at math club practice. Still, I was left with a deep love for cornbread and a tendency to blast country music out of my trusty rusty Honda Accord.

Lately, however, I'm realizing I should extend my Southern upbringing to desserts...

*There's a school of thought that Texas is not part of "the South". I don't want to hear it. 

Last Sunday was one of those freak days, where the weather goes up to the 60's and no one knows what to do with the obscene amount of sun. Well, except for those who own boats. They can be found out on the water. The rest of us have to settle for sunny spaces on land. Luckily, my friend Lincoln had a party on the rooftop deck of his condo building. Check out the view!

As if the view that wasn't enough, Lincoln had also smoked twenty pounds of pork shoulder the night before. Endless amounts of pulled pork plus an ample supply of beer and sun meant a good time (and sun burns) for all.

Below is a picture of my second plate of pork. The first plate disappeared too fast to be photographed. By the second plate, I realized that the "Atkins method" is way more efficient. Forget the bun, all I want is a pile of pork, slathered with South Carolina-style sauce and smothered with red cabbage slaw. It's not the most photogenic dish, but it's sure tasty.

Back to my self-proclaimed Southern heritage - my contribution to the party was a very large, very full pan of peach cobbler. This was my first attempt at making cobbler. I got the recipe from my trusty America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, which turned out to be one of the best recipes ever (recipe listed below). It's so much less fussy than pie, and you get a higher fruit/filling ratio. For me, at least, that's a good thing.

Is this blue-ribbon worthy or what?

Seattle is such a strange place. Most of the time it's cold and rainy, but just when you think you'll never see the sun again, the clouds will part for a little while and you'll see what a gorgeous city it is. Walking around Gasworks park at sunset, I realized that these rare days of sun is what I'll remember and miss most.

I'm super excited about Boston (yay play time!), but I'm not quite ready to leave Seattle yet. Give me one more summer.

Lazy Raspberry Peach Cobbler
Adopted from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
(Makes a 9x13 pan, because why would you want to make anything less?)

For the fruit:
3 lb frozen peach (you can substitute whatever frozen fruit you like, really. I added some raspberries because that's what I had on hand)
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
6 tsp corn starch
1 tbsp lemon juice (to taste, really)

Mix everything together, then bake in a 400 F oven until the fruit starts releasing liquid, about an hour if you put in frozen fruit, 20-30 min if you mixed the fruit mixture and left it in the fridge overnight, like me.

For the biscuit dough (feel free to double the dough if you like):
1 cup (125 g) flour
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
4 tbsp (2 oz) butter, melted and cooled
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Stir the wet mixture into the dry with a spatula, until the dough is just combined.

Prepare the cinnamon sugar topping by whisking 1/8 tsp of cinnamon with 2 tsp of sugar.

Stir the partially-cooked fruit filling to distribute the juices. Then pinch off pieces of biscuit dough and place them on top of the hot filling. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar.

Bake in a 400 F oven until the topping is golden brown and fruit is bubbling, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes or just go at it with a spoon, whatever.

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