Fattoush Salad with Yogurt Tahini Sauce

{fattoush salad at Ciachhetti}

{fattoush salad at cicchetti, way back in june}

IMG_0170

Hello, friends! It’s been awhile! I’ve pretty much taken the entire summer off from blogging, and now all of the sudden it’s the last day of August and I haven’t made any of the yummy recipes I had planned to post.  Summer pasta bakes, homemade goat cheese, corn cakes, ice cream, as many berry and peach desserts as possible, basically everything Deb has posted over the past few months (and she’s done it with a newborn!) – I’m pretty mad at myself. I have so many excuses: camera phone issues (thrice-shattered screen(s) made it hard to take pictures), actual camera issues (memory card full), computer issues (storage full so I can’t upload photos currently on camera, thus the full memory card), desire to spend free time at the beach and/or with my adorable niece and nephew rather than in the kitchen or trying to fix phone/camera/computer issues.

But I finally went to the Apple store last week (fourth trip in five weeks) and an adorable young guy at the genius bar fixed my computer for me. For free! It was so amazing. I completely expected him to tell me I needed to buy a new laptop, or that it would cost $800 to open mine up to tell me what was wrong, but instead he just helped me empty my trash and my little MacBook is good as new (I realize that doesn’t speak very highly of my technology skills!). My mom told me once that when I was born she wanted to name me after her anesthesiologist – that’s how I felt about this guy at the genius bar, except I’m not expecting a baby and I never even learned his name. But if I was, and I had, that’s how I would have felt, because that’s how excited I was/am to have my computer back. Whoop!

But I digress. Back in June, pre-technology meltdown, I went to dinner at Cicchetti for a girlfriend’s birthday and fell in love with their fattoush salad. So much so that I went back to Cichhetti the following weekend with the sole purpose of ordering the salad again, so that I could better analyze it for a future blog post. Two weeks after that, I actually made it. It was delicious. I even managed to take pictures somehow. And then I went to the beach for the Fourth of July with the two cutest babies on the planet, took approximately 10,000 photos of them playing in the ocean, and crashed my computer. A couple days later I dropped my phone on a cement floor and shattered the screen, which brings me to my above list of excuses.

IMG_0325

IMG_0332

IMG_0333

But better late than never, right? As much as I would love to close out August with a peach dessert (ideally this one), I can’t think about another blog post until I’ve shared this salad. It really is the perfect summer salad (perfect summer meal, even): full of crisp and juicy vegetables, fresh herbs, crunchy and salty pita chips, and tons of delicious middle-eastern flavors. In my attempt to recreate the Cicchetti version, I started with the ingredients they list on their menu: cucumber, red onion, crispy flatbread (aka deep fried pita strips), bell pepper, fresh herbs, and tahini yogurt. A google search provided that traditional fattoush also includes romaine lettuce (which the restaurant version used) and diced tomatoes (which the restaurant version didn’t use but I wanted to). So figuring out the vegetables was easy; the trickier parts were the tahini sauce and the crispy flatbread. I played around with both until I found a version I was happy with, and I encourage everyone to do the same.

There are a ton of recipes for yogurt tahini sauce online, I started with one (it was so long ago that I can’t even remember which one) and then added more tahini, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. For the flatbread, I chopped my pitas into little strips and then fried them until crispy in olive oil, and salted them right when they came out of the hot oil. Delicious, but not necessarily the healthiest addition to a salad. I’ve made this a few times since, and I just toast the pitas in the toaster and then brush them with olive oil and sea salt and run them under the broiler until they’re extra crispy. So long as you aren’t doing a side by side taste test, that way is just as good.  And if you want to save yourself the time and energy, you could just crumble a handful of store-bought pita chips over your salad and call it a day.  But if you’re in the mood, cutting the pita into matchsticks and frying them is pretty fun, and makes for a really gorgeous salad.

IMG_0331

IMG_0334

IMG_0335

I’m not a huge fan of raw onions, so if I were just making this for myself I might leave them out. But I understand that a lot of people like them, and they do add a good crunch. One of my favorite tricks (that I may have talked about before) is to soak a red onion in ice water after you slice or dice it. It needs probably at least 20 minutes of soaking time, but longer won’t hurt (I find the longer the better, personally), so I try to remember to chop my onion first and then get it in an ice water bath and stick it in the fridge, and then once I’m done with everything else the onion is usually ready to drain. It just makes the onion flavor a little milder, and also helps the onion stay cold and crisp.

When I had this salad at Cicchetti, it was served with the sauce spread on the plate and sprinkled with sumac, and then the salad and pita on top. So for purposes of my blog photo shoot that’s what I did; since then, I just toss all my veggies together, mix the sumac in with my yogurt tahini sauce and dollop it on top, and then serve it with a crunchy pita alongside (or a handful of pita chips crumbled on top).  Whatever will make it easier for you to make this salad, I will encourage you to do, because it really was one of the best things I ate all summer.

IMG_0336IMG_0337

For the Salad:
5-6 Persian cucumbers (or 1-2 regular cucumbers), chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 red onion, finely diced (soaked and drained if desired, see above)
1 heart of romaine, finely sliced into thin strips
1 package cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
Fresh mint leaves, chopped, to taste
Small handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

For the Yogurt Tahini Sauce:
2 cups Greek yogurt
1/4 cup tahini
Juice of one lemon
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste
Ground sumac, to taste

For the Crispy Flatbread:
3-4 pieces flatbread or pita, cut into matchsticks
Olive oil
Sea salt

Make Salad: Toss chopped cucumbers, peppers, onion, tomatoes, lettuce, mint, and parsley together; set aside.

Make Sauce: Blend yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in food processor until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread onto serving plates and then sprinkle sumac on top (or alternatively, plate salad first and then dollop the dressing on top).

Make Flatbread: Heat about 1/2″ of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add flatbread pieces and fry until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and spread on a paper towel-lined plate to dry; sprinkle generously with sea salt and let cool. [It took me about three batches to get all of mine done.] To bake instead of fry: toast pitas, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and broil until golden and toasty, about 2 minutes (watch carefully so that they don’t burn).

Assemble: Spread yogurt tahini sauce on plates and sprinkle with sumac. Top with a large handful of tossed veggies and sprinkle with crispy flatbread (and additional sumac, if desired). Enjoy, ideally on a sunny deck with a glass of wine.

IMG_0168

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart with Orange Cardamom Shortbread Crust

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3

Once upon a time, back when I first started this blog, I posted so many recipes from this cookbook that I worried its author might sue me for copyright infringement. Or at least kindly ask that I stop posting all of her material, so that people still have reason to buy the book (which I strongly recommend, btw). I also thought my readers might find me pretty unoriginal. So I decided to take a break, but from time to time I just can’t help myself. This recipe is the first thing that comes to mind as soon as I see rhubarb hit the market each spring, so I thought it deserved a feature on B&B. It’s been an entire two months since I’ve posted (sorry!!!), but luckily this tart is gorgeous (and yummy) enough to motivate me to share it.  We already knew that strawberries and rhubarb were a delicious duo (thanks, pie), but the combination of fresh strawberries and silky smooth rhubarb curd (with no weird rhubarb strings) is really amazing.  And the orange cardamom shortbread crust is just to die for – I don’t usually love orange in sweets (give me lemon or lime any day) and I’m not a huge cardamom fan, but somehow here the combo really works.

photo 5 photo 4 photo-132

While I can’t call this recipe “super easy,” as I’m often inclined to do, it’s really not complicated, and yet your dinner guests will definitely think you’re an amazing pastry chef. However, it’s not quick. I made this particular tart last Sunday to bring to a birthday dinner, started it early-afternoon, thinking I would have plenty of time, and alas, I was pretty late to the party. Luckily I showed up with a beautiful dessert in hand, so no one seemed to mind too much.  You probably already have almost all of the ingredients in your fridge/pantry, which will save some time. The only two items I didn’t have on hand were the strawberries and rhubarb, which I picked up at the farmers market – no trip to the grocery store needed.

The recipe can basically be divided into two parts: the shortbread crust and the rhubarb curd.  Once you’ve prepared the crust dough, it takes over an hour to chill and bake, so you’ll have time to worry about the curd once the crust is in the refrigerator. Simply pulse the shortbread ingredients in the food processor and then press the dough into the pan and chill. So easy, it makes me want to make shortbread more often! The orange and cardamom is a lovely flavor combination, but I think this would be really amazing with lemon or lime zest too (see above re: not usually an orange fan).

photo 2-40 photo 1-46 photo-131

The second part is the curd. Don’t be intimidated – I had never made curd before I first made this recipe, but it’s not hard at all, just a little more involved. Squeeze the rhubarb juice from the purée (my four stalks of rhubarb yielded twice the amount of juice I needed – they may have been particularly juicy but I think you would be fine with 2 or 3 stalks) and combine with the sugar, eggs, yolks, and salt. [Note: I don’t know if I would attempt this recipe if you don’t have a food processor – you would probably be ok making the shortbread with a pastry cutter but you definitely need the food processor for the rhubarb.]  The time consuming part is the constant stirring – the recipe says 18-20 minutes, and although mine looked plenty thick after about 10 minutes, I kept stirring away until my timer went off, just in case. Melissa encourages the straining step to get that silky texture – there were definitely chunks of what I believe to be cooked egg that I strained out so I’m inclined to agree with her.

Once your crust is baked and your curd is finished, you get to put it all together (the fun part).  You could definitely make this ahead of time – either the crust or the curd, or both.  I’m not sure how long the tart would last once it’s assembled (whenever I’ve made it it gets devoured on day one), so if you wanted to make both in advance I would perhaps still keep the crust and curd separate until the day you want to serve the tart. Just bake the shortbread as directed in step 3, below, and then let it cool and store it in an air-tight container. Let the strained curd cool, place a layer of saran wrap directly on the surface of the curd, and store in the refrigerator. Once you’re ready to put it all together, pour the curd into the tart shell and bake for 10-15 minutes (Melissa says 10, mine didn’t look too set after 10 and so I gave it an extra 5, and even then I was still a little nervous it wasn’t done – but I was in a hurry).  Let the tart cool for at least an hour – see, I told you it was time consuming! – and then decorate with the strawberries.  I just hulled my berries and placed them cut side down on top of the curd, but you could cut them in half or slice them, and then arrange them any way you want. Sprinkle with powdered sugar (definitely don’t do this until the very last minute as the powdered sugar will kind of “melt” into the strawberries), pop the outer ring off of your tart pan, and place the tart on a serving platter.  People will tell you you’re amazing, and forgive you for being late to dinner.

photo 4 photo-133 photo 3

For the shortbread crust:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest (approx. the zest of one large orange)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

For the rhubarb curd filling:

10 ounces rhubarb, trimmed and cut into one inch pieces (about 3 cups chopped, I used 4 large stalks and had plenty)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the topping:

2 cups strawberries, rinsed and hulled
Powdered sugar, for sprinkling

To make tart:

1. To make the crust, place the flour, powdered sugar, orange zest, salt, and cardamom in the bowl of a food processor with the blade attachment and pulse to combine. Add the butter and run the motor just until a crumbly dough forms.

2. Scrape the dough into a 9-inch tart pan. Use your fingers to press the dough into and up the sides of the pan. Use a spatula to smooth the bottom, then chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line the tart dough with a sheet of foil and fill with pie weights. Bake until light golden brown, 35-40 minutes.

4. While the crust is baking, prepare the curd. Puree the rhubarb in a food processor until smooth, about 2-3 minutes (add a few teaspoons of water if necessary to help the rhubarb move, though try to keep this to a minimum so it doesn’t dilute the juice). Pour into a bowl lined with cheesecloth. Tighten the cheesecloth and squeeze out the juice with your hands, discarding the pulp. You should get about 2/3 cup juice.

5. In a double boiler or a stainless steel medium bowl set on top of a medium heavy-bottomed pot with 2 inches of simmering water, combine the rhubarb juice, sugar, egg yolks, eggs, and salt. Stir constantly, with a whisk, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides, while the liquid thickens, about 18-20 minutes or until it coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and whisk in butter until dissolved.

6. Strain the curd through a fine-mesh sieve.

7. When the crust is ready, take it out of the oven, remove the foil and pie weights, and lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Spread the rhubarb curd into the tart shell and smooth with a spatula. Bake for another 10 minutes, until the curd is just set (mine needed 15). Transfer the tart to a wire rack to cool completely, for at least one hour.

8. Just before serving, arrange the strawberries on top of the curd and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve at once.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Variations: as I mentioned above, I think the crust would be great with lemon or lime zest in place of the orange, perhaps without the cardamom (but it might be fun to experiment with different spices?). While the point of this recipe is kind of the strawberry/rhubarb combo, Melissa says rasperries work great too.  I also think this tart can serve as an example for other fun and simple curds you could try – I’m thinking about lemon curd with raspberries or blueberries, lime curd with strawberries, mango curd with…..what goes with mango? Anything really, but I imagine strawberries would be delicious. If you’re inspired to make up your own variation, let me know in the comments how it turns out!

photo-130

Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing

photo 1

photo 2

As much as I love September, it’s a hard month for blog recipes because it’s not exactly clear what season we’re in. Technically, it’s still summer. It’s generally still pretty hot outside (at least most days). I’m still living in tank tops and flip flops. Yet the word “September” connotes back to school clothes, leaves changing, colder mornings, and basically all things fall. Peaches and tomatoes are on their way out, but I can’t bring myself to post (or even make) apple or pumpkin recipes until after the autumn equinox, which is a whole six days away.  So in the meantime, I just haven’t posted anything.  But then I had my friend Julie’s “cole slaw” the other night, and I was newly inspired.  If this salad had to pick a season, it’s definitely fresh enough to pick summer – but it’s not trying too hard to be seasonal. It’s perfect for a mid-September barbecue, but truthfully you could make it anytime.

photo 3

photo 4

Julie is one of those people who, anytime she makes something you know it’s going to be good. You know this because she is good at everything she does. My mom always says Julie would have been the perfect pioneer woman (as opposed to herself, or either of her daughters, who wouldn’t have lasted a week on the Oregon Trail – we can barely go camping). Julie has five kids (and three adorable grandsons!), and still goes to Barre five days a week and makes dinner for her husband every night. How many people do you know that make an actual meal every night? I can count them on one hand. For those of us who need a little inspiration to make dinner even a few nights a week, however, this is the perfect salad – serve it alongside grilled chicken or fish (double the dressing recipe and use it as a marinade or glaze) and tell yourself you could have been a pioneer woman after all.

photo 5

photo 1

photo 2

Although the veggies take a little time to chop, this salad could not be easier. I say “salad” rather than “cole slaw” (which might be it’s technical name) because I detest cole slaw – or at least what I think of when I think of cole slaw, which is limp, soggy cabbage with disgusting, mayonnaise-y dressing, usually out of a bag or from a BBQ place (some other things I hate: mayonnaise, salad from a bag, BBQ). This salad could not be further from that, though – all the veggies are crisp and fresh and the dressing is made up of delicious things like peanut butter and soy sauce (using tamari makes it gluten free) and fresh ginger – and not a drop of mayonnaise. So, I’m calling it a salad, and like I said, it’s super easy. Whisk together all dressing ingredients, chop and toss the veggies, and that’s it.

photo 3

photo 4

photo 5

One year ago: oatmeal coconut chocolate chip cookies

Salad, previously: couscouskale, soba noodle, arugula, cucumber melon, green bean

Cabbage Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing, from my friend Julie

For the dressing:
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic

For the salad:
5 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (one large head will yield at least 5 cups)
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
2 cups shredded napa cabbage (I had to search for this at the grocery store – it looks more like a head of lettuce)
2-3 bell peppers (I used one red, one orange and one yellow but you could use any color(s) you like), cut into matchstick-sized strips
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick-sized strips
8 large green onions, cut into matchstick-sized strips
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

To make:
Combine all dressing ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth and creamy. Let sit at room temperature for thirty minutes (or while you chop your veggies, which will take about that long). Add all sliced and chopped veggies into a large bowl and toss to combine. You’ll need to use the biggest bowl you have, as this makes a ton (you might want to cut the recipe in half if you aren’t feeding a crowd or don’t want leftovers).  Toss salad with dressing just before serving (only dress what you plan to use immediately; veggies and dressing will keep well in the fridge for a few days if you store them separately).

photo 1

photo 2

Ombré Tomato Bruschetta

photo 2-9

Happy September, everyone! Can you believe Labor Day has come and gone? It felt so early to me this year. I hope everyone had lovely and relaxing long weekends. And now we’re back in the grind, ugh. But on the bright side, in the words of the funniest person I follow on Instagram, “I was sad that summer was over. But I was happy that it was over for my enemies, too.” That made me laugh when I read that “chapter” in his book, and I laughed even harder when I saw it in my Instagram feed this morning (in between the seemingly endless “first day of preschool” pictures – not that we don’t all love the first day of preschool pictures!!).

Luckily, summer isn’t actually over quite yet, and we still have a few weeks of tomato season left.  This “recipe” (if you can even call it that) was on the cover of my Martha Stewart Living last July, and has literally been on my “to make” list since then. I’m not sure how or why it took me fourteen months to make it, as bruschetta is one of my summer staples, but for whatever reason (probably because I never had all of the right color tomatoes) it did.  I finally made it for a Labor Day BBQ last night and it was sooooooo delicious that I had to post it, even though it’s less of a “recipe” and more of exactly what it sounds like – tomatoes on grilled bread.  But with fresh ciabatta, ripe heirlooms, and good olive oil and salt, this is literally better than birthday cake.  

photo 3-7

photo 4-5

photo 5-4

There’s not much else I can tell you about this, except that I really hope you make it. My only notes would be: (1) I really do think quality of ingredients makes a difference here – fresh bread, ripe tomatoes, good olive oil and sea salt; and (2) don’t be scared of the raw garlic – I’m usually not a fan, but I’ve read so many recipes telling me to rub toast with garlic cloves that I just went for it and I feel like it added a necessary kick.  Aside from that, it’s all pretty self-explanitory.  This whole thing literally took me ten minutes, including toasting and slicing (and photographing!). It would be delicious with fresh mozzarella, although it doesn’t need it at all.  I thought the basil made it look pretty, but it would be fine without it – and that is saying something, as I think everything is better with basil. You don’t even need to do the ombré part if you don’t have the right colored tomatoes (except then it would just be plain bruschetta, which isn’t quite as fun). Basically what I’m saying is, we only have a few short weeks of summer left, let’s take advantage of them with ombré bruschetta, whatever way you want to do it. Just don’t wait fourteen months like me.

photo 1-12

photo 2-10

Tomato Ombré on Grilled Bread, from Martha Stewart Living

1 loaf good rustic bread, such as Ciabatta
2 cloves garlic, split in half crosswise (I only needed one)
2-3 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, in a variety of colors
Good olive oil
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil, for garnish (optional)

Slice loaf of bread in half lengthwise, and either grill on the barbecue (like Martha) or place under the broiler until toasty (like me). Rub the toasted (cut) side of the bread all over with the garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Slice tomatoes as thin as possible. Drizzle any accumulated juices over the bread, and then arrange the tomatoes on top of the bread according to color.  Drizzle with a bit more olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper (Martha gives you amounts of oil and salt and pepper to use, I just kind of eyeballed it).  Garnish with basil, if desired. Cut into wedges and serve.

photo 1-11

Peach and Crème Fraîche Pie

photo 3

I had a lot of things on my to do list this summer, and as per usual most of them (namely, my golf game, my tan, and my trip to the Hamptons) didn’t happen. But a few did, and happily one of those was to finally make Martha Stewart’s peach and crème fraîche pie. I saw this pie in her magazine years ago but never really had an excuse to make it – who makes pies, after all, besides grandmothers? Crisps and cobblers and just plain peaches with ice cream are so much easier. But the peach dumplings I made last year were such a hit that I thought maybe this summer I should try the pie.  And since we only have a few days left in August, which we all know is the month for peaches, I made it this past weekend. 

photo 2

photo 1

photo 2

Aside from the crust, this pie is so easy to throw together (although come to think of it, aside from the crust, so is every pie). I actually planned to use a store bought crust, but if you can believe it Whole Foods appears to only sell puff pastry, no frozen pie dough. Ugh. So my “quick dessert” that I planned to throw together in twenty minutes ended up taking the better part of an afternoon, but it was so yummy it was worth it. Simply peel and quarter your peaches and toss them with sugar and a little salt, mix together a quick crumble topping and then (once your crust is ready) you can assemble the pie in about five minutes.  When I searched google for this recipe, I found that Smitten Kitchen had beat me to it (even when I don’t intentionally blog her recipes, I still end up blogging her recipes – sorry Deb!).  In her notes she mentioned that the pie could use a little additional sugar, so when Martha told me to toss my peaches with two tablespoons granulated sugar, I added two tablespoons brown sugar as well.  I also added a little cinnamon to both the peaches and the crumble – not enough to detract from the simplicity of the pie, but just a pinch to spice it up a bit (literally, hehe).  There’s just something about the peach-brown sugar-cinnamon combo that is hard to beat.

photo 3

photo 5

My only note to this recipe (aside from the brown sugar and cinnamon, and my subtle hint to use frozen pie crust) would be to use a “pie shield” to keep the crust from getting too dark.  I’ve seen these in the baking section at Met Market a hundred times and thought they must be a total gimmick – but I made the mistake of walking to the coffee shop while my pie was in the oven and came back to a VERY toasty looking crust.  I tried to cover the edges with tin foil for the last few minutes of baking time, but it was too late.  It still tasted fine, but I was pretty sad – at least, until I noticed that Deb’s and even Martha’s crusts looked pretty dang brown (and Martha even tells you to cover your crust).  This might be less of an issue if you didn’t par bake, but just FYI.

photo 4

photo 4

Yum yummy yum.  The peaches and cream bake together into such a delicious custard, with the crumble adding a little crunch.  I served this on Sunday night after a long wedding weekend, and it was met with unanimously rave reviews. Everyone gobbled it up so fast I didn’t even have time to take a picture once it was all sliced up (it looked so pretty on the inside), which I think gives me an excuse to make it again – only this time, with a frozen crust. Just call me Grandma! 

Peaches, previously: dumplings with bourbon hard sauce, shortcakes

One year ago: pesto, two ways (and one is kale!)

Peach and Crème Fraîche Pie, from Martha Stewart Living

For the crust (you could use any crust you like, including store bought, but I’m going to give you Martha’s pâte sucrée recipe):
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold, cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

For the streusel: 
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cold, cut into pieces

For the filling: 
4-5 medium ripe yellow peaches, pitted and quartered (I peeled mine)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons crème fraîche (I used a little more)

Directions:

Crust: pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Add egg yolk, and pulse. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube until dough just holds together. Turn out dough onto a work surface; shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or up to two days.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Fit into a 9 1/2- or 10-inch pie plate (about 1 1/2 inches deep). Trim edge to one inch, fold under, and crimp as desired. Pierce bottom of dough all over with a fork. Transfer to freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover edge of crust with foil. Line crust with parchment paper, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake, covered, 10 minutes. Remove weights and parchment (keep foil on edge). Bake until pale golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly; remove foil; reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.

While the crust is baking, prepare streusel and filling.

Streusel: sift together sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon (if using) in a medium bowl. Using your hands or a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. 

Filling: put peach quarters in a medium bowl and sprinkle with sugars and salt; gently toss to coat.

Put pie together: once the crust has cooled a bit, spread two tablespoons crème fraîche onto the bottom of the crust and sprinkle with one-third of the streusel. Arrange peaches on top; spread or dot with remaining three (or more) tablespoons crème fraîche. Sprinkle with remaining streusel.

Bake pie: at 375 degrees until bubbling and golden brown, about 50 minutes. Cover edge of crust with foil if it’s browning too quickly. Let cool on a wire rack 15 minutes. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.

photo 1

Dark Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Bread

photo 5

Happy stormy Wednesday, friends! Can you believe this weather? The cool(er) temps were a nice reprieve for a day, but two days (or three, per the forecast) is just too much! Although it’s hard to complain about the weather when (a) we’ve had such a gorgeous summer so far, and (b) we have way more important things to talk about, like zucchini bread with chocolate chunks, or my new baby nephew.

When we last met, I was impatiently waiting for Baby P’s arrival.  Anticipating that things might be a little busy once he got here, I had a week’s worth of blog posts drafted and ready to go – all I had to do was hit publish.  But then he was born, and I fell head over heels in love and forgot I had a blog. Or a gym membership, or a blow dryer, for that matter.  All I want to do is hang out with Cooper. But since I would hate for those blog posts to go to waste, there are a lot of B&B treats heading to your inbox in the coming weeks: lentil salad, tomato tart, peach pie…..get excited.

First, though, zucchini bread.  August is the month for zucchini, and when you buy five at the farmers market and it turns out you only need one or two (for a galette or a tart or perhaps even something that doesn’t involve pie crust), zucchini bread is the perfect way to use up the rest. I had developed a nasty banana bread habit before zucchini season rolled around, but luckily this recipe has cured me of it.

photo 2

photo 3

photo-16

Zucchini bread always makes me think of two people, my uncle Rich and my friend Courteney. We have a “family cookbook” in my family, and the zucchini bread recipe in the cookbook is called “Uncle Rich’s Zucchini Bread.” I can’t remember if Uncle Rich actually makes zucchini bread, or if the cookbook publisher (yours truly) was in a rush to assign everyone a recipe and just put his name on something random (I’m pretty sure it’s the former, but I couldn’t swear to it). Regardless, zucchini bread now makes me think of Uncle Rich. And it also makes me think of Courteney, who is always asking me for the recipe for “Uncle Rich’s Zucchini Bread.”

This is one of those great recipes where you can literally just dump everything in one bowl and stir. Counting your food processor or grater, that’s only two dishes to wash. The cake comes out of the oven crunchy at the edges but with a delicate and not-too-sweet crumb, and then of course the dark chocolate chunks.  I had intended for this to be chocolate chip banana bread, but the Whole Foods baking aisle leaves a lot to be desired and I couldn’t find the chips I wanted – so I went with chunks and I’m so glad I did. It’s still a cake-y type bread, but the zucchini does a lot to alleviate the guilt (and there isn’t that much chocolate). The recipe yields two loaves (or in my case, one regular loaf and two mini loaves) and freezes well, so you can have one now and save one for later. I divided mine between a cousin who has a new baby and a friend recovering from surgery, and it was the perfect treat to wrap in foil and store in their freezers. But it would also be the perfect thing to make and eat yourself on a gray and thunderstorm-y August Wednesday, or to bring over as an excuse to visit your new baby nephew.  Lots of options for us. 

photo 3

photo 1

photo 4

Zucchini, previously: ricotta galette, carrot muffinssummer squash tart

One year ago: peach dumplings with bourbon hard sauce (one of my top two most popular B&B recipes, at least in terms of how many people told me they made them and loved them), and can we just relive for a moment the best party I ever threw?

Dark Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Bread (adapted from a variety of zucchini bread recipes)

Yield: two loaves, or four mini loaves (or in this case, one regular loaf and two mini)

Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 cup oil (vegetable, olive, or coconut)
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
2 heaping cups grated, raw, unpeeled zucchini
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup dark chocolate chunks (or any chocolate chunk or chip of your choice)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two loaf pans or four mini loaf pans (I like to spray with “PAM for baking“). Crack your eggs into a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add oil, sugar, and zucchini; mix well. Add vanilla. Stir in flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Fold in chocolate chunks (and nuts if using). Pour into loaf pans and bake for one hour (mini loaf pans will take about 45 minutes). Remove from pans and cool on wire rack.

photo-15

Chocolate Chip Mint Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

photo 3-5

I saw these on my favorite blog a couple weeks ago, and obviously had to make them asap (I should really start to think about unsubscribing from all of these food blogs, as they make it pretty hard to stick to my diet “healthy eating lifestyle”).  I waited until I had a summer BBQ to attend, thinking they would be the perfect thing to bring.  I bet you guys can already see the issue, right? It’s a little embarrassing that I didn’t. As it turns out, ice cream + summer weather + car transport + rush hour = disaster (car transport alone was probably enough to seal their fate, but the 90 degree heat and traffic didn’t help).  Why didn’t I think to put them in a cooler? Unclear.

But here’s the thing, they were pretty melty to begin with. I debated even posting this recipe, because (a) do we really need a recipe for ice cream sandwiches? and also (b) because mine didn’t turn out that well. At least, at first. But as the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed….try, try again.  And while I may not apply that mantra to any important areas of my life, of course I’m going to try again at brownie ice cream sandwiches.

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

While a recipe for ice cream sandwiches is a little superfluous, a recipe for brownies is not. Deb’s brownies are the best – and so easy. Seven ingredients, at least six of which you probably already have in your fridge/pantry (I never seem to have baker’s chocolate, aside from the odd ounce I always have leftover from when I made these brownies the last time).  To make these ice cream sandwich-friendly, you just spread the batter into two layers, either in two 8×8 pans (ideal) or one 9×13 pan (which would also be fine). Secret option number three is to bake two batches in one 8×8 pan, if you can only find one, like me. It’s not the end of the world but next time I’ll use a 9×13, or look harder for my other brownie pan.

photo 1

photo 5

photo 2

The brownie part is easy (although I would note that these layers are pretty thin, so make sure to let them completely cool before handling, and even then be very careful.  I had the best luck when they were completely frozen). The tricky part is getting the ice cream to stay frozen. I considered glossing over my first attempt, but what is this blog if not an attempt to help you learn from my mistakes?

Deb says you can spread the ice cream over the first brownie layer, top it with the second brownie layer, freeze it for 30 minutes, and you’re good to go.  Perhaps she used better ice cream than me, or has a colder freezer.  But the below photos show my attempt and the sad, melty results.

photo-31

Frozen.

photo 3

Still frozen.

photo 4

Appears frozen-ish.

photo 5

Melty mess.  And this is before I had to put them in the car.

Needless to say, they arrived at the party looking less like ice cream sandwiches, and more like 32 thin brownie squares floating in a pool of mint green and vanilla swirled milk.  Tragic. But I made them again, and this time froze the ice cream all by itself in the 8×8 pan (lined with parchment) for a full 24 hours.  I cut the brownies and the ice cream separately and then put the sandwiches together and it worked perfectly. (When I cut the sandwiches the first time the ice cream oozed out – it probably would have been ok if the ice cream had been more frozen but I was afraid to try it out the second time.  Also I think if the sandwich was put together in the pan the cutting would go better as the ice cream wouldn’t have anywhere to go. If you try these at home, experiment and let me know how it goes).

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches, from Smitten Kitchen

For the brownies:
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

For the filling:
2 to 3 cups ice cream (one quart or two pints)

Heat your oven to 350°F. Line two 8×8-inch square baking pans with parchment paper.  Spray parchment with a nonstick cooking spray (I like to spray the bottom of the pan first so that the parchment sticks/stays in place, then spray the parchment and sides of pan generously as well).

In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, heat chocolate and butter together until almost melted (you can also do this in the microwave – heat in short increments, stirring every 20-30 seconds or so). Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Stir in sugar until fully combined, then eggs, one at a time and then vanilla. Stir in salt until combined, then flour. Try not to over-mix.

Divide batter between two prepared pans and spread evenly — an offset spatula will make this easier. Bake on different racks for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating once top to bottom and front to back, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each pan comes out batter-free. Transfer hot pans directly to freezer (you can put down dish towels or a cooling rack to protect shelves). Chill until cold and firm, about 15 to 20 minutes.

<<This is where my instructions will differ from Deb’s – but I would encourage you to try it her way first if you want.  Especially if you don’t have to transport yours, or if you have the time and energy to do a trial run.  But I think my way is a little more foolproof, albeit not quite as seamless.>>

For sandwiches:
Once brownies have cooled, remove one of the brownie layers from the pan and store on a cookie sheet or cooling rack (these layers are pretty thin so they’ll break easily if they aren’t completely cooled or frozen – be careful!).  Wipe down the 8×8 pan and re-line with parchment (no spray needed this time).  Scoop your ice cream out into the pan, and use a spatula to “smoosh” it into a smooth layer. Cover with parchment and use the second brownie pan to weigh the ice cream down (if you used a 9×13 or only have one 8×8, like me, you can skip this step). Return the ice cream to the freezer and freeze as long as possible. Deb said she only needed 20 minutes – I gave mine over 24 hours and it still started to melt pretty quickly.

When you’re ready to make your sandwiches, cut both brownie layers into 16 squares.  Remove ice cream from the freezer, lift it (using the parchment sling) onto a cutting board, and quickly cut it into 16 squares as well. Make the sandwiches and return to the freezer to let them re-freeze a bit. You’ll want a cookie sheet or a 9×13 pan if you don’t have two 8×8 pans, as it would be tricky to squeeze them all back into one 8×8.

S’more Chocolate Chip Cookies

photo 3

Mackels'more cookie as part of an ice cream sandwich - doesn't that look light and healthy?

There’s a new hot spot in Seattle this summer: Hello Robin.  Seattle friends, have you been here yet? If not, you should probably go tonight.  It’s a concept I wish I had thought of myself: a gourmet bakery/cookie shop that also sells Molly Moon’s ice cream (there’s a Molly Moon’s walk-up window attached to the shop).  So although you could get a plain cookie or a plain cone (yawn), the idea is you pick two cookies and a flavor of ice cream and “make your own” ice cream sandwich. Brilliant, right?

I went with my cousin Christina a couple weeks ago, and having a much more adventurous palate (and a better metabolism) than I have, she created the above sandwich.  She was so excited about the “Mackles’more” cookie part (isn’t that name hilarious?) that I set out to make something similar myself.  And while I’m sure the Hello Robin version is way more gourmet (they use Theo chocolate, I used Hershey’s), these are super easy and dang good. 

photo 1

photo 2

photo 4

photo 3

photo 5

photo 1

The cookie dough is the easy part. I used the recipe on the back of the Nestlé bag, but you could use whatever chocolate chip cookie recipe you like. I just used one and a half cups of chocolate chips and one and a half cups of marshmallows, for a total of three cups of “add ins” – the original recipe calls for two cups chocolate chips and one cup of nuts so I wanted to stick to three cups total. Mine turned out great, but you could definitely still use the full two cups of chocolate chips if you wanted to (although it would be a lot of chocolate with the Hershey bar on top). I’m not a huge nut-in-cookie person, but if you are, it would be fine to leave them in as well.

photo 2

photo 3

The tricky part is how to bake them. Nestlé tells you to bake your cookies for 9-11 minutes, and I wanted mine on the under-done side, so I put the cookie dough balls on the graham cracker squares and set my timer for 9 minutes. When I took them out of the oven, the graham crackers were dark brown and toasty-looking and there was a faint burning smell. So, I decided to experiment with different baking times.

First, I baked the cookies without the graham crackers for 6 minutes. I then attempted to scoop them off the baking sheet and put them on the graham crackers and bake them together for the remaining 3 minutes. The problem was, at 6 minutes the cookies weren’t really cooked enough to stay in one piece when scooped up, especially as the marshmallow pieces tended to be really sticky. Most of the cookies survived, but it was messy. I tried again at 7 minutes – same issues, but slightly easier to pick up and reposition on the graham crackers. At this point I finally turned on my brain and remembered that even when you bake a cookie for the full amount of time, you still need to let them sit and “set up” for a couple minutes before you take them off the baking sheet. So for my fourth batch, I baked them for 7 minutes, took them out of the oven and let them sit for 2 minutes, scooped them up and put them on the graham crackers, and baked them for the remaining 2 minutes. They looked great, they didn’t make a huge mess when I scooped them up, and I felt really brilliant. And then ironically, Christina came over to taste test for me and what do you supposed her favorite version was? The original almost-burnt ones.  She said they tasted like a campfire – which I suppose is appropriate for s’mores. 

Taking a closer at the authentic Mackles’more pics, they look pretty toasty.  And if they’re making them in mass quantities, I doubt they’re stopping halfway through to scoop up half-baked cookies and put them onto graham crackers. Another bonus of cooking them for the entire time is that the graham crackers will stay crisp. So the next time I make these (which will be soon), I’ll go back to my original version (cookie dough on graham cracker from the beginning), but perhaps reduce the baking time for a minute, or bake them at 350 rather than 375.  Sorry for that way-too-detailed explanation, but I just wanted us all to be on the same page. Anyway….. 

Once the cookies are done and out of the oven (regardless of graham cracker baking time), immediately place a hershey piece and mini marshmallow in the center of the cookie. Serve warm – plain, or as part of an ice cream sandwich (if your metabolism is better than mine). 

photo 4

photo 3-4

Chocolate chip cookies, previously: Oatmeal Coconut, Pumpkin 

Chocolate Chip S’more Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

For the Cookie Dough:*

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1.5 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1.5 cups miniature marshmallows

*Note: I used the basic chocolate chip recipe on the back of the Nestlé Tollhouse bag, only scaling back the chocolate chips a bit, omitting the nuts, and adding the marshmallows. You could use any chocolate chip cookie recipe you like so long as you add the marshmallows.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Beat butter, sugars, and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl (or stand mixer with paddle attachment) until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Gently stir in chocolate chips and marshmallows.

For the S’mores:

Graham crackers, each cracker broken into two halves (as you would do for a s’more)
Miniature marshmallows
Hershey bars (one bar for every dozen cookies)

To Bake: 

Roll dough into approximately one-inch/teaspoon sized balls. Place 12 graham cracker halves face up on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and place cookie dough balls on top. Bake for 8-9 minutes (see detailed explanation, above). Remove tray from oven and before they cool too much (not longer than 1-2 minutes), gently press a hershey morsel and mini marshmallow into the warm cookie. Hershey piece will melt but will eventually re-harden, and both the chocolate and marshmallow will be set in the cookie.  Serve warm if possible (even putting them in a 200 degree oven for a couple minutes before serving will warm them up and melt the chocolate a little).

photo-27

Summer Squash and Zucchini Tart

photo 1

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. And now we’re back to the grind (blah). In an effort to make our Monday morning a little less painful, let’s talk about tarts.  And by “tarts” I don’t mean the fruit kind – which feel like dessert – I mean the cheese and veggie kind, which feel like something you can eat for/before dinner rather than having to wait until after.

I made this tart for the first time a few years ago, pre-blog.  Pre-Instagram, even, which is tragic, because it makes for really pretty pictures (and we all know I love me some Instagram food pics). It’s the perfect thing to make if you have a pile of squash and/or zucchini laying around from an overly ambitious farmers market splurge, or puff pastry icing over in the back of your freezer.  I had both, which is what inspired me to throw this together the other night.

photo 3

photo 2

Your zucchini/squash slices will look prettier if you slice them with a mandoline, but if you don’t have one just slice them as thin as possible by hand. I suspect you could also use a food processor with the slicing blade here, but your squash would have to be skinny enough to feed through the top so I’m not sure how it would work out (if you don’t have a mandoline and want to try it this way, let me know how it goes). You could always cut your squash in half lengthwise and it would still look gorgeous. Sometimes I go to a lot of effort (i.e. getting out my food processor, clearing off a space on the counter, cleaning it afterwards) to get out of even a little bit of work (slicing a zucchini). The advantage here, though, is that the squash will cook better the thinner it’s sliced.

The ricotta filling is simple and delicious, and can be tweaked any way you like. You could use more parmesan, or omit it all together. You could add the feta in here in addition to the topping, or in lieu of. Same with the parsley and lemon – leave it in or leave it out. I might have added the basil here too if I had thought of it (yum).  I love the parsley and lemon, though, as they really brighten up the filling and work well the the zucchini and squash.

photo 4

photo 5

photo 1

If you haven’t used puff pastry a lot before, this part might look a little daunting, but I promise you it’s really not. The best tip I can give you for working with puff pastry is to allow yourself enough time for it to defrost (either overnight in the fridge or for at least an hour on the counter – the package will give you more detailed instructions). The few times I’ve had issues with it, it’s been due to either pastry that’s still frozen, or pastry I let sit out too long that’s gotten gummy.

Once it’s (properly, and not overly) defrosted, simply unfold the square of pastry onto parchment and roll it into whatever shape you’d like (rectangle or bigger square). I find it’s easiest to roll it directly onto the parchment, but you can always roll it out on the counter and then slide it onto your cookie sheet if you think you can manage. Mine looks deformed regardless, but I’d like to think that had I not been rushing I could have rolled it into a perfect rectangle and it would have stayed that way.

Once you have your pastry rolled out into the shape you want, fold over the edges to form a crust and then “score” the pastry.  You technically don’t have to fold over the edges, but I like to as it gives the tart more of a crust (since mine never turn out quite as pretty as they do in the video!). Poke holes over the inside crust with a fork, line with more parchment, and fill with pie weights to keep it from rising.

photo 2

photo 3

After twenty minutes in the oven, take the pastry out, remove the parchment and pie weights, and press down the inside crust if necessary (it will still rise a bit). Cover with the ricotta mixture and arrange your squash and zucchini slices on top. I like to alternate between the zucchini and summer squash, but you can do it any way you like. Twenty more minutes in the oven (longer if your squash slices are thicker or don’t look a little shriveled), then remove the tart and brush with butter (or olive oil), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for five minutes more, until toasty. Garnish with feta, parmesan, basil, and/or whatever else you like. I like to serve this as an appetizer, but it’s perfect with a salad as a light lunch or dinner too.  It’s great warm or room temperature, but I love it cold. 

photo 4

Zucchini/summer squash, previously: Summer Squash and White Bean SautéZucchini and Ricotta GaletteCarrot Zucchini Muffins 

Tarts, previously: Leek and Swiss Chard

One year ago: Black Bean and Couscous Salad

Summer Squash Tart

Serves 6 a side, 8-10 as an appetizer 

1 sheet frozen puff pastry
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 small zucchini
2 small yellow squash
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
1 egg, lightly beaten
Small handful chopped parsley
Zest of one small lemon
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Small handful basil, torn or julienned

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut a piece of parchment paper into a rectangle that will fit on your cookie sheet and sprinkle it with flour (you could use a silpat sheet here if you had one). Roll your pastry out on the floured parchment into a rectangle just smaller than the parchment. Fold the edges of the pastry over to form a thicker crust, and then with a small paring knife score a one-inch border within the crust (being careful to not cut through the pastry). Carefully transfer your pastry crust, on the parchment, onto the baking sheet.  Use a fork to prick small holes all over the bottom of the pastry, line with another sheet of parchment paper, and cover with pie weights.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges are puffed and golden brown.  Remove the pastry from the oven and let cool.  Remove pie weights and top parchment.

Thinly slice the zucchini and squash (ideally with a mandoline, but by hand is fine if you don’t have one).

In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, 1/4 cup parmesan, egg, parsley, and lemon zest.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Spread mixture over the pastry shell and arrange the zucchini and squash slices over the top. Return to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Remove and brush the tart with the melted butter.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the crust and veggies are golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the feta cheese and additional parmesan.

Let tart cool at least 10-15 minutes.  It can be served immediately after cooling, or later at room temperature or cold.  Garnish with basil before serving.

photo 1

Brown Butter Nectarine Cobbler/Cake

photo 4

I have a “secret” pinterest board called “B&B – to make.” You know the secret pinterest boards, the ones you’re supposed to use to “pin” things for your wedding, or a party you’re planning, where you want to organize all your ideas but you don’t want other people to see, lest you ruin the surprise? Well, I have one for my blog, where I pin recipes I want to make at some point in the future (normal, right?). The problem is, I never rarely check my board to see all of the things I’ve pinned, so it’s kind of a wasted effort (much like most of what I do on pinterest, incidentally).

However, two things happened the other day, completely independent of each other. One, I had all these nectarines ripening on the counter, faster than I could eat them, and had been wracking my brain to come up with a way to use them. Two, I was searching for inspiration for a summer dessert (not related to nectarines) and for whatever reason thought to check my pinterest board. And, what do you suppose I found? A recipe for a nectarine cobbler, from none other than my very favorite, Melissa Clark. Kismet!

photo 5

photo 2

photo 3

Nectarines are a bit of an underrated fruit, I feel like – why is that? When I see peaches I see pies, crisps, cobblers, shortcakesdumplings, ice cream – you name it. When I see nectarines all I ever think to do is eat them. Which isn’t the worst thing in the world, as they’re delicious just sliced up and served plain. But baked into a cobbler, they’re as good as any peach dessert you could dream up. And you don’t even have to peel them!

This “cobbler/cake” is essentially made up of four (very simple) layers – browned butter, buttermilk batter, nectarines, and an effortless topping.  I didn’t read Melissa’s article about the “cobbler/cake” until after I had already made it (she usually includes an article along with each recipe she posts in her column, where she writes about her creations much more eloquently than I ever could) – had I read it sooner, I would have made this in my cast iron skillet (and it would have been adorable).  As it were, I planned to make it in an 8×8 baking dish as the recipe instructs, but couldn’t find my good 8×8 pan so thought I’d get creative with some ramekins instead.

photo 3

photo 2

photo 4

photo 5

photo 1

To start, brown the butter (tips, if you need them).  Whisk the dry ingredients and buttermilk into a batter and pour it on top of the brown butter.  If you were using a skillet, you could melt the butter and then pour the batter right on top and use it as your baking dish (that many fewer dishes to wash!).  In my case, I divided the butter into four ramekins and then dolloped the batter on top. The cooked fruit and syrup go on top, and the cobbler is finished with a crumble topping of sliced almonds, nutmeg, and demerara sugar.

Melissa doesn’t tell you to toast your almonds beforehand, but I’ve had bad luck in the past with almonds never toasting quite enough when they start out raw, so I toasted them in a skillet over low heat for a few minutes beforehand.

photo 2

photo-20

Seriously, have you ever seen anything cuter? They were almost too pretty to eat.  Only almost though, as of course we still managed to inhale them. (You might note that the recipe says it feeds 6-8, but I only had four ramekins so I decided each ramekin was for two people – and if anyone ate a whole one by themselves I’m not telling.)

Everyone that tried it asked me for the recipe, which I always take as a good sign.  Melissa never disappoints – I think this will be my go-to dessert recipe for summer 2014. You could definitely do it with peaches too (although I’ll be saving my peaches for the aforementioned dumplings), or any stone fruit. The nectarines will be hard to beat, though – underrated fruit no longer. Thanks, pinterest!

photo 3

photo 2

Brown Butter Nectarine Cobbler/Cake, from Melissa Clark via The New York Times 

Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes (plus cooling)

3 cups (about 1 lb) fresh nectarines (or peaches), sliced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar, divided
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons demerara sugar

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the fruit slices, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup sugar. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a simmer, then take the pan off the heat.

2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until it smells very nutty, turns golden, and flecks of dark brown appear, 2-3 minutes. Pour the brown butter into an 8-by-8-inch baking dish (or divide into ramekins, 4 large or 6-8 small).

3. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Pour the buttermilk into the dry ingredients and mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Scrape the batter on top of the brown butter – use a spatula to even out the batter but be careful not to mix it into the butter.  Scatter the nectarine slices and juice on top of the batter without stirring.  Sprinkle with almonds, nutmeg, and demerara sugar.  Bake until golden brown, 50-55 minutes (45 for ramekins). Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool.  Serve warm, ideally with ice cream.

Yield: 6-8 servings

photo 2

photo 3