I usually make fruit crisps for an easy summer dessert (June 2016) because they are inexpensive and go together quickly, but a cobbler strikes me at my Texas roots with its biscuit-like topping and homey appearance. The topping is "cobbled" rather than smooth; and is generally dropped or spooned on in small clumps over the fruit, allowing bits of the filling to show through. A great ending for a late summer bbq. Just add some homemade ice cream or whipped cream and you're all set! Priscilla, this recipe's for you.
Texas Hill Country Nectarine Cobbler
8 nectarines, pitted and sliced
4 T sugar
3/4 t cornstarch
juice & zest of one lemon
1 t vanilla
pinch of kosher salt
1 1/2 c flour
2 T sugar
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 t baking powder
1 c buttermilk
6 T unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 400°F and set rack to middle position. In a large bowl, combine nectarines with sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice/zest, vanilla and salt. Stir well to combine. Scrape peaches and any juices into an 8- by 8-inch baking dish and set on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake on middle rack for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine all dry ingredients for cobbler crust in a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers, to make the texture like coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk and stir to form a soft dough, don't over mix. Drop spoonfuls of biscuit dough all over nectarines, smoothing slightly to avoid any overly thick sections and mostly covering the fruit, return cobbler to oven and cook for 25 minutes more until the biscuit topping is browned and a knife comes out clean when inserted through the top. Let rest at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream on the side.
My favorite fig tree is finally starting to produce! It's a Calmyrna fig, the green ones with the pink insides. Figs are simply amazing. They are beautiful, delicious and versatile. Use them with artisan cheeses on a cheese board, in pancakes, with yogurt and honey, in smoothies, breads, cakes and salsas...there are endless possibilities, but don't wait, the season is short and they'll be gone before you know it. I wanted to use figs in my menu for a dinner party I had the other night, something to go with fresh salmon. I have used a dried fig and olive tapenade on salmon before (from the Jimtown Store) and I thought why not do a fresh version? Here is an easy, fresh fig and olive compote that is sweet, salty and savory. Use it on grilled chicken too!
Fig & Olive Compote
8 fresh figs, Calmyrna or Mission, cut in half from the top and through the center
1 T juice & zest of one lemon
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, stripped
1/2 c oil cured black olives, pitted and cut in half
1 T extra virgin olive oil, more as needed
1 T white or dark balsamic vinegar, more as needed
pinch of sea salt & a grind of black pepper
Mix all together gently. Taste to adjust seasonings, oil and vinegar. Let sit at room temperature for a couple of hours to blend flavors. If not using right away, refrigerate the compote but bring to room temp before serving. Serve along side or on top of grilled fish or chicken. I think this would be great as a sort of chutney, with cheeses too. Serves 8.
Last week I was lucky enough to cook for a group of guys who call themselves the "Dingos". I am still not quite sure where the name came (I never did find out who to ask about the origination) but they were a fun bunch to cook for and they really loved my food. I made them my easy chicken molé along with a fresh corn flan and some grilled summer squash with a pumpkin seed-garlic butter. Typically, molé takes hours to develop the depth of flavor from the spices, but not this recipe, it's SO EASY, really!
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 c chopped onion
1 medium clove of garlic, chopped
1 t New Mexico style chili powder
1/2 t black pepper, kosher salt, cayenne & cinnamon
1/4 t anise seeds
1 T toasted sesame seeds
1/4 toasted. sliced almonds
1/2 c tomato purée
1/2 c chicken stock
3 T semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 lbs, boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
1 serrano chile, minced
1/2 c cilantro leaves
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spices, sesame seeds and almonds and cook for about a minute. Stir in the tomato purée, stock and chocolate chips. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until flavors develop and the sauce thickens and darkens a bit, about 10 minutes. Purée in a blender, thinning with 1/2 cup of water if necessary, about 30 seconds. Pour 1 cup of molé over the chicken in a bowl and toss to coat. Grill the chicken, turning once, until browned, about 10-12 minutes. Put the chicken on a platter, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, the minced chiles and surround with lime wedges.
Page number 47 of my Helen Corbitt cookbook is stained and covered with jottings. This is the page with the recipe for poppy seed dressing. It belonged to my parents (evident from both my mother's and father's handwriting), I guess he got it in the divorce. It was among my Dad's cherished belonging's, and when he passed away, I grabbed it. Oh, I do have a copy of my own but there is something about using his copy, with all of his hand written notes that makes me feel a connection to him still. I grew up in Texas and during my life at home with my parents, we had poppy seed dressing in the refrigerator all summer long. It goes together in minutes and is simply divine on summer fruit. It pairs especially well with Texas grapefruit with avocados but I like it on melons, berries and stone fruit too. Don't let the color put you off...it looks wonderful on the fruit and as my friend Gail says, “there are not that many grey foods.” Thank God!
Poppy Seed Dressing (modified from the original)
1 1/2 c sugar
2 t dry mustard
2 t kosher salt
2/3 c apple cider vinegar
3 T onion juice (1/2 of a medium yellow onion, puréed in a blender and strained)
2 c Wesson oil (Helen's fave), do not use olive oil
3 T poppy seeds
In a blender jar, mix sugar, mustard, salt and vinegar. Add the onion juice and then the oil, in a steady stream until thick and emulsified. Add poppy seeds and pulse a few times to mix. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Makes 4 cups.