Feast of the Seven Fishes or Festa dei Sette Pesci

Mr. Row Home Eats checking in. My parents were high school sweethearts. What does that have to with a food blog? A lot actually, in a somewhat round about way. Let me explain. They grew up in East Haven, CT, so growing up both sets of my grandparents still lived there. Being only about 3 hours away from our suburban Philly home, we made many a visit to East Haven over the years. I believe my first 15 Christmas mornings I woke up at my grandparents. Obviously, as a kid the presents were the highlight. Looking back now, the real presents were delivered the night before. My mom’s mother was a tiny woman. I never got the official measurement but I’m guessing somewhere around 4’ 10” which, as a child, was wonderful because she was on your level. Because she was Italian, Christmas Eve dinner was always the Festa dei Sette Pesci (Feast of the Seven Fishes.) The cooking began in the morning. My sister and I would be eating our Lucky Charms but our noses would be full of chopped garlic, fresh seafood and tomato sauce. My grandmother was in constant motion, stirring, chopping, draining pasta; Pavarotti’s big, bold voice coming from the record player. I am instantly transported as I write this. On that day I think the only time she sat down was to eat.

When we got older we were pressed in to service. I recall being on the fish batter detail. In front of me would be a huge stack of flounder filets and two big bowls, one filled with eggs and the other breadcrumbs. The goal was to use one hand for the dry ingredient and one for the wet. That usually didn’t work out and by the end my hands were encrusted in a thick paste and it was the best! A positive spin on playing with your food! Eating the food that night that I helped create gave me a deep appreciation on the craft of cooking and on a path to my love my food! It helped that she was constantly encouraging us to ‘Mangia, mangia’!

Recently we created our own version. Here are some highlights:

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Prepping stuffed calamari

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Shrimp cocktail is a staple

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Cucumber boats stuffed with smoked salmon cream cheese

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Stuffed calamari

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Baked scallops

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Fettucine and clams

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Other dishes included fried cod, crab “gravy” and broccoli with lemon

Thinking about doing it yourself? Here are a few pointers:

-Check out this article to read more about crab gravy and a suggested recipe

-If you’re in Philadelphia, you can (and should!) get all of the freshest seafood, along with suggestions, tips and great service at Ippolito’s Seafood in South Philly. If you go during the holidays, it will be packed but festive

-Two other Seven Fishes staples are fried smelts and baccala salad but we skipped them because we aren’t fans

-Give yourself lots of time to prep the stuffed calamari. It’s labor-intensive but worth it

-Crusty bread is a necessity to sop up all of the sauce and juices

-We weren’t initially going to share this last tip but…Trader Joe’s sells frozen fried cod and it’s not too bad

Chicken Ricotta Meatballs

A few weeks ago, Slow Food USA put out a “$5 Challenge,” encouraging people to come up with home cooked meals for under $5/person. Joy Manning over at The Oyster Evangelist took up the challenge and shared her results with the Inquirer. When I saw that she had made chicken ricotta meatballs, I knew I had to check them out. We are constantly trying to eat healthier and I was interested in exploring this meatball alternative (not to mention the last chicken meatball I had from Marabella Meatball Co. was the bomb.)

Chicken Ricotta Meatballs (adapted from Joy Manning)

2 lbs. ground chicken (Manning suggests purchasing chicken thighs and running them through your food processor)

2 cups ricotta cheese (get fresh ricotta if you’re able. I got mine from Salumeria in the Reading Terminal)

1/2 cup dried bread crumbs

1/3 cup minced onion (or to taste)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

-Combine the ground chicken, ricotta cheese, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, egg, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix gently until well combined.

-Form into meatballs the size of ping pong balls. They will seem very wet and gooey but have no fear.  Arrange on a silcone mat or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, turning after about 15 minutes, until golden brown in spots.

Before baking

After baking

See those crispy black bits on the silpat? Scrape them off and snack before dinner. I promise they’re divine.

-Transfer to a pot of tomato sauce and simmer until serving. I was planning on have a low-carb meal and serving them over zucchini noodles but ALAS, we had no zukes. This carboholic was just fine with spaghetti.

 

I was amazed by how light and fluffy the meatballs were and the ricotta seriously salvaged the dryness that is often prevalent in ground poultry. I made an abundant amount of meatballs but we somehow tore through them in just a few days. They were that good and absolutely packed with flavor. Next time I’m at the Reading Terminal, I’m hitting up Godshall’s to buy some ground chicken in bulk as this would be a great freezer meal.

Garlic Scape Pesto

A few weeks back, I picked up some garlic scapes at the height of their season from Headhouse Square. I’d only worked minimally with garlic scapes, using them in a stir fry and grilled. I had seen a few mentions of garlic scape pesto and decided I’d give it a go. As a searched for a decent recipe online (I mean, how much of a “recipe” do you really need for a pesto?) I stumbled across this one from Dorie Greenspan. Food bloggers and other folks on the internet sang its praises so I figured I should check it out.

Dorie Greenspan’s Garlic Scape Pesto

Makes about 1 cup

10 garlic scapes, finely chopped (I used a bit more.)

1/3 to 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (to taste and texture)

1/3 cup slivered almonds (you could toast them lightly, if you’d like)

About 1/2 cup olive oil

Sea salt

Put the scapes, 1/3 cup of the cheese, almonds and half the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor (or use a blender or a mortar and pestle).  Whir to chop and blend all the ingredients and then add the remainder of the oil and, if you want, more cheese.  If you like the texture, stop; if you’d like it a little thinner, add some more oil.  Season with salt.

I ended up adding a little more cheese, olive oil and almonds because the mixture is REALLY garlicky and I wanted to tone it down a bit (not too much though!) The final product was a creamy green and tasted great mixed with pasta or smeared on sandwiches.

 

 

 

 

It’s Pesach Time: Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake (adapted from Epicurious.com)
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate (recipe called for bittersweet but I used what I had)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter paper. If you’re like me and ran out of wax paper, butter the crap out of your cake pan.

Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth. Might I argue that I have the best (invented) double boiler ever!

Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture.

Add eggs and whisk well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. If you happen to realize that you only have 1/4 cup of cocoa powder left, no biggie. Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate. Dust confectioner’s sugar on the top if you want to be extra fancy.

Unlike me, try to remember that you replaced your missing sifter and use that rather than sprinkling it with your fingers. It will look prettier.

If you want to get extra fancy, pull some frozen raspberries from your freezer and cook them into a compote with a touch of sugar. Serve the cake with a splash of compote and perhaps some ice cream if you so desire.

Mixed Berry Cobbler

Mixed Berry Cobbler (adapted from Betty Crocker’s blackberry cobbler)

2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) blackberries (do not use blueberries) (I used mostly frozen berries. No time to thaw!)
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted

-In medium bowl, stir together blackberries and sugar. Let stand about 20 minutes or until fruit syrup forms. (Whoops, missed that part too) Heat oven to 375°F.

-In large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and milk. Stir in melted butter until blended.

-Spoon blackberry mixture into 8x8inch square pan. Top with batter (it will be clumpy.) Now, for some reason, the recipe said to put the batter on the bottom and top with the berries. I obviously didn’t do that and mine came out just fine–I prefer it MY way!

-Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until dough rises and is golden. Serve warm with cream or vanilla almond ice cream.  If you’re my dad, you’ll sprinkle some blood orange ‘cello over the whole deal. Why the hell not?

Shepherd’s Pie (Turkey Style)

When I was a vegetarian, I made a lot of dishes with “fake meat,” as I liked to call it. Boca or Morning Star crumbles were a great substitute for ground beef or turkey as long as you appreciated it for its own flavor and texture rather than looking for a real meaty flavor. My very loving then-boyfriend (and current husband) patiently and hungrily ate all of my creations from stuffed shells to shephard’s pie–all incorporating some form of “fake meat.” I think he even liked most of them.

Since renewing my meat-eating lifestyle, we’ve made over some of our vegetarian classics, carnivore-style. Zach’s famous stuffed peppers and my shepherd’s pie were two meatless mainstays that would transition nicely to our meatier meals.

Turkey Shepherd’s Pie (adapted by me for me)

-1 tbsp. olive oil

-l.25 lbs ground turkey (or 1 lb. ground beef. Turkey cooks down a bit more)

-1/2 onion, diced

-1 carrot, peeled and diced

-3 cups of broccoli (give or take, I’m totally guessing here.)

-2.5 cups mashed potatoes (guessing here too)

-1/2 cup parmesan cheese

-1/2 cup bread crumbs

-seasoning of your choice

1. Preheat oven to 400′ and put a pot of water on to boil (for the broccoli)

2. Saute the carrots, onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft. Add the turkey and saute until brown.

3. Meanwhile, prepare mashed potatoes. I was short on potatoes and usually have a little more. The potatoes are my favorite part.

4. Steam the broccoli in the water until crisp tender. Be careful not to overcook as they will continue to cook in the cassserole.

5. Start your layering! Coat a dish (I like to use a round pyrex, but a smaller, rectangular shaped dish will do as well) with cooking spray and layer the meat into the bottom. Follow with the broccoli and top it off with the mashed potatoes.

Check out these pretty layers.

Top with parmesan and bread crumbs, if you like a little crunch. Bake in the top third of the oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese gets brown and delicious. Then, if you’re like me, forget to take a picture of the finished product. Enjoy!

An Attempt at Chocolate

Almost a year ago,  I was preparing to attend my sister-in-law’s ocean-themed bridal shower and thought I’d make seashell shaped chocolate treats from a mold I found at AC Moore. The motivation and/or time never materialized and I found myself with a ton of 1lb. bags of melting chocolate. Much to my husband’s frustration, I tossed them in the freezer and forgot about them.

Fast forward to this month. I ran over to Target to pick up a can of black beans or some tostito chips or maybe a pair of shoes (no, I was a good girl. No new shoes for me) and happened to pass the dollar bin. Target, genius marketers that they are, has the dollar bin right at the front of the store. You can’t miss it when you wander in! I found these adorable little ice cube trays and figured I could do something with them. Hey, they were only a dollar anyway. So I bought two. Of course.

At some point along the way, I had the bright idea to make Valentine’s Day chocolate treats for the students in my advisory at school. I figured my husband would be happy that I was cleaning out the freezer and the kids would stop complaining that we never have any parties. When I got home, I took a couple bags out of the freezer and tossed them in my makeshift double boiler. I’m into gadgets but I hate to have something taking up a bunch of space unnecessarily and a double boiler is just that. Besides, my contraption works just fine.

It took a while for them to melt, them being frozen and all. I probably could have microwaved them, but there’s something cathartic about melting chocolate over the stove. No? Maybe it’s just me. Check this out though!

Yum. When it finally melted, I realized that I didn’t have a plan on how to get the chocolate into the little molds. I ended up spooning some chocolate into one of these Le Creuset silicone “pinch” bowls that is just adorable (I love little things) and then pouring it into the mold. It worked quite well.

Oh right. Please excuse my ungodly purple nails. I filled the two silicone molds, tapped them to get rid of the bubbles and then tossed them in the fridge, somewhere between the key limes and individual cottage cheeses, to chill for 15 minutes according to the directions.

At this point, I had at least half a bowl of melted chocolate sitting in front of me. As I pondered what to do with them, I considered my options. Chocolate covered fruit? Nah, don’t have the right fruit. Oooh, chocolate dipped pretzels? Nope, don’t have them either. As I scanned my cabinets, I zeroed in on the walnut halves and thought I’d make chocolate walnut clusters. How exciting!

I mixed in the walnuts and realized that this had to be much nuttier than it was. I pulled the bag of almonds from the top shelf and tossed a few handful into the chocolate. Slowly, things started to come together. I took a spoon and dished out plops of the mixture onto my silpat.

I somehow managed to find a relatively flat space to prop the baking sheet inside my fridge and pulled out the molds. As I popped each chocolate out of its individual heart, I got progressively more disappointed. These looked like crap!

If anyone can shed some light as to why they have all that weird-looking discoloration, I’d love to hear. I’m sure I can google it but it’s not really that important to me. I gazed at the chocolates, wondering how to fix them and then I remembered–I had white chocolate too! I melted some white chocolate down into the decorating tube and went to town!

Now doesn’t that look better?

I fancied up the nut clusters too–why the hell not?

The clusters came out really tasty, if I can say so myself. It was fun having two different types of nuts in there, each of which has its unique flavor and consistency. The candies, well, I didn’t taste them but my advisory sure tore them up the next day. I guess they were good!

Now that I’m a budding chocolatier now and all, I recognize two things. 1. Chocolate making isn’t as intimidating as it seems. 2. Fancy chocolate making is probably pretty hard. I’ll never know though, and that’s just fine with me.

 

Vietnamese Noodle Salad a.k.a. Adventures with my Mandoline

Fridays are usually take-out nights in the Row Home Eats household. After a long week, there’s nothing like curling up to a movie and a Los Jalapenos steak, pepper and onion burrito (hold the rice, add guacamole, please.) We don’t have to worry about cooking and our weekly food supply has diminished just in time for our Saturday shopping expeditions at the Reading Terminal. This Friday, however, we had some extra marinated flank steak calling our name. My butcher, Harry Ochs, has an amazing soy-ginger marinade that they use on flank steak and chicken breast. It’s normally available pre-packaged but, if not, they’re always happy to marinate your choice of meat to order. Flank steak is a difficult topic for us because I enjoy my meat a little more well done, while my carnivorous husband, Mr. Row Home Eats, likes it rare. We recently discovered a happy medium–we cut the steak into skewers and the pieces can be cooked to order. Happiness all around.

As I was contemplating the sides to go with our marinated steak skewers, my husband suggested an Asian noodle salad. The evening took off from there. Have I mentioned that Vietnam is my favorite restaurant? Have I devoted extensive posts to my adoration for Vietnamese food? Why is it, then, that I have never attempted to make it at home? That was it. I was sold on making a Vietnamese noodle salad topped with grilled steak similar to my favorite vermicelli bowl at Vietnam.

I did a little googling and came across this recipe. I didn’t realize it was Bobby Flay until just now so you can stop making fun of me. I did, of course, make major alterations to the recipe based on available ingredients and taste preference. My amalgamated recipe follows.

Bobby Flay’s Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad, adapted

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (omitted–Mr. RHE doesn’t like spicy)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (used more like 2-3 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (didn’t have. Used 3 tbsp soy sauce instead)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt(omitted)
  • 1 pound dried rice vermicelli
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • cucumber, halved, peeled, seeded and sliced into thin halfrounds
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (omitted, didn’t have.)
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded napa cabbage (probably used closer to 1-2 cups. What can I say, I like cabbage)
  • 1/4 cup chopped dryroasted nuts

I started by slicing and skewering the flank steak to prepare it for the grill.

While we waited for the grill to pre-heat, I pulled out my mandoline and began wreaking havoc on my kitchen. I was inspired to use my mandoline after my recent post on kitchen tools. My friend, Alexa, commented that she loved her mandoline and I realized that I’ve only used it once, rather unsuccessfully, since we received it as a wedding gift. Another friend, Brad, shared his unfortunate mandoline experience (unfortunate for his finger, that is) and I was intrigued. Perhaps I should give my mandoline another shot, I thought.

Last time I used the mandoline, I was less than successful. It was difficult to get the hang of it and I couldn’t get a clean “sweep” back and forth. This time I started with the easy English cucumber. The mandoline glided back and forth effortlessly–I was back in business! Then I moved on the the cabbage. I was excited to try the julienne blade as I had only ever used the straight slicer. It wasn’t entirely unsuccessful.

Most of it got into the bowl I placed beneath…it went a little more downhill when I switched to carrots. In the end, I got a nice amount of sliced and julienned vegetables. I think they look rather pretty!

My mandoline was a little worse for the wear. Does anyone have tips as to how to remove carrot stains?

As I finished playing with my mandoline, the water started boiling for the rice noodles. As I was just about to toss them in, my husband came in and informed me that we were out of propane halfway through the cooking process. Chalk that up to another typical cooking experience. Sigh. Under the broiler they went and I began prepping the sauce.

I combined the soy sauce, lime juice, honey, cilantro and garlic in my mini-Cuisinart. See, I TOLD you I use that thing a ton! I was wondering why Bobby didn’t use any rice vinegar in his recipe so I tossed a bit in the mixture. After I whirred the thing a bit, I deemed the mixture a bit thin and decided to add some peanuts. Where did I get said peanuts? Well, for those of you who might have thought that I was some fancy foodie, think again. I picked the peanuts out of a bag of trail mix that was sitting in my fridge. Yes I did. Nothing is beneath me, my friends. Here’s the Cuisinart in action.

After the sauce was made, I brought the water back to a boil and tossed in the rice noodles. Instructions said to boil for 2 minutes but they weren’t quite ready and I added another minute or two. Then I drained them and covered in cold water, rinsing them well. The rice noodle give off  a lot of gumminess so the rinsing is key. Also, this is a cold noodle salad and we want to keep it that way. Here’s a boring white on white picture (with a shadow) to show you what it looks like at this point.

I pulled the flank steak out of the broiler and it looked darn good. We don’t need no stinkin’ grill!

While the steak was cooling a bit, I tossed the noodles and vegetable slaw with the dressing. I didn’t think the dressing would be sufficient (it was only about a cup) but it soaked into the noodles nicely.  I also threw in some more ground peanuts, sliced green onion and some extra cilantro on top.

I mixed it all up and put the remaining cucumbers on top.

Then we dug in! I prepared myself a bowl with a couple slices of flank steak and, if I can say so myself, the dish looked eerily similar to my favorite place!

I topped mine with some sriracha because I like the heat! Then we settled down to an evening of Mad Men on DVD. The noodle salad was a hit! It had a very strong lime/acidic flavor, probably due to the extra rice wine vinegar I added. The vegetables and chopped peanuts added a welcome crunch to the chewiness of the noodles and the steak was, not surprisingly, a perfectly charred, meaty addition to the bowl. A word to the wise–this dish does not keep well at all. The noodles harden up a bit and the flavor subsides substantially. If you’re going to make it, be sure you eat it all the same day. It’s so darn good that it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Lobster Dinner

When one goes to New England, one must engage in typical New England behavior such as devouring enormous amounts of lobster and forgetting how to pronounce the letter “r” at the end of words such as chowder (chowdah) and bar (bah.) It’s truly a cultural experience. Although we have yet to indulge in lobster rolls (waiting for our side trip to Maine,) we perpetuated the tradition of a family lobster boil. It didn’t hurt that lobster (lobstah) currently stands at $4.99/lb which is UP one dollar from last week!

My husband and I volunteered to pick up the lobsters from one of the multitude of lobster retailers along the bay. We were directed to Captain Joe’s by my father-in-law. This is after we stopped to stock our cooler with ice and get cash from the ATM because the lobster shop was cash only, of course.

It was nice to have some sort of direction because there were tons of viable options along the bay, including a place that lured people in with the alluring scent of a smoker–a respectable side business. When we pulled into Joe’s, there were empty lobster pots stacked around the parking lot. Can’t get much more authentic than that.

We walked up to the garage-like building that butted the harbor.

Unassuming, right? And I didn’t even notice the Porta-Potty until I posted the picture. How appetizing. The structure had openings at both ends and you could see where the lobster boats unloaded right into Captain Joe’s garage. We walked towards the back of the room, wondering if we were doing the right thing. You don’t want to look like an outsider or tourist at a place like this. At the very back, right hand side of the room, sat about a dozen lobster tanks and two men occupying themselves with something, obviously lobster-related. I was trying to fit in and all so I didn’t blatantly take a picture of the set up, although I did take a quick shot of the “price list.”

It’s hard to read, but I kid you not when I say that the lobster were $4.99/lb. That’s right, kids. They were cheaper than steaks and even some fancy, Whole Foods chicken breasts. Lobstah!?!

OK, I lied. Apparently I took one quick picture of the lobster containers. This ain’t fancy, folks. The lobsters were divided by size and stored in these long containers.

Here is a view from the dock where they “receive” the lobster–I literally stood in the edge of the dock.

Because I’ve been trying to write this post for about a month now, I’m not going to get into the lengthy argument, ahem, conversation we had about the preparation of the lobster. I will say two things, however, There were a few strong opinions and one too many cooks in the kitchen. My husband’s aunt had recently read an article in Yankee Magazine with a different technique of cooking lobster. They advocated steaming them in a couple inches of very salty water instead of boiling them.  The recipe came from Bertha Nunan, owner of the Nunan’s Lobster Hut in Kennebunkport, Maine and my husband’s aunt was very emphatic that we try it. Bertha Nunan believes that boiling the lobster leaves the crustacean too soggy, while steaming it allows for the perfect consistency. As a former vegetarian who has a terrifying lobster slaughtering experience, I wasn’t a fan of steaming them. I was a fan of the quick and dirty boil–we’d put those little suckers out of their misery in a snap–but realized that there were two many opinions and retired to the deck with a book in hand.

A few minutes (and lots of talking, pots clanging and timers beeping) later, my father-in-law emerged with this:

The Nunan method was a success! The lobster was perfectly cooked and the heavily salted water imparted just a hint of ocean flavor to the meaty lobsters. We pounced on them with dishes of butter by our sides and this beautiful tomato salad compliments of my sister-in-law. We had corn too, but I was too busy with my lobster to grab a photo.

Fannie Farmer’s Peach Cobbler

On the way back from Kathy’s Cafe on Friday, my husband and I stopped at Dincher’s Roadside Farmstand in Tivoli, PA to grab a few tomatoes for dinner. Fifteen dollars later we left with a a carton of tomatoes, half a dozen ears of corn, garlic, lemon, nectarines and a bushel of peaches. OK, it probably wasn’t a bushel and I’m not even entirely sure what a bushel entails, but let’s just say we bought a lot. For some reason, my non-baking self smelled the peaches and became immediately inspired to make peach cobbler. We were busy making a tasty pasta meal for dinner that evening (oh yeah, have to blog that one) so I figured I’d save the cobbler for the next night when I had a little more time.

The next day was a gorgeous, sunny Saturday–one of the last beach-worthy days we’ll get up in the mountains as the temperature tends to run 10 degrees cooler than here in Philadelphia. I spent most of the day lounging at the beach and sailing with my father, an activity that deserves a non-food related post all to itself. As a side note, I spent the weekend reading The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove by Cathy Erway. Erway spent two years “not eating out” in New York and blogging the process. More about this later.

Mid-afternoon I tore myself away from the beach to run home and prep the peaches for the cobbler. Marion Cunningham (p.s. Wikipedia gives Marion NO love!) told me that I can peel peaches by dipping them briefly in boiling water and then removing the skins with a sharp knife. This technique has always scared me for no good reason. Hence my permanent face off with tomato sauce, or any recipe that involves peeling tomatoes, for that matter. Much to my surprise, this technique was SHOCKINGLY easy. I dipped the peaches in the water for 15-30 seconds and drained them with minimal splash burns to my arms and torso. I then brought them outside to the back deck and peeled them with my fingers. I don’t need no stinkin’ knife! The skin slipped off like (insert a cheesy simile here.) Aren’t they gorgeous?

I set them aside for later that evening. We were making these little guys,

so I wanted to time the cobbler so that we were able to eat it hot out of the oven. I’m not sure why the picture’s sideways but you get the idea.

Fannie Farmer’s Apple Cobbler (I substituted peaches. Marion told me it was ok)

Ingredients

12 tablespoons butter, melted

3 cups peeled and sliced apples (I used peaches, duh)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 375′. Pour 4 tbsp of the butter into the bottom of the pan and spread the peaches over it (I felt as if 4 tbsp was a ton of melted butter and only used 2-3 tbsp. It was still a lot)

Before I continue, let’s remember two things–I am not a baker. I don’t do well with recipes that require, um, following. In something like peach cobbler, say, one tbsp of baking powder is a heck of a lot different than zero tbsps. Remember this for later.

Mix 1/4 teaspoon of salt with 1/4 cup of sugar and sprinkle over the peaches. This is where my problems start. I think I need to do a blog post on something I’ve recently deemed “OPKs” or “Other People’s Kitchens.” I’ve done a fair amount of cooking in OPKs lately and always seem to encounter a problem. In this situation, I discovered that my parents did not have any sugar. After pitching a minor fit, I found a rock solid box of brown sugar in the fridge. My mood improved as I especially love brown sugar. After watching me dangerously saw hunks of sugar off of the larger mass, my mom told me that I could microwave the sugar to soften it. That didn’t work too well.

I returned to my hacking ways and got enough brown sugar chunks to equal 1/4 cup or so.

Pour the remaining butter into a bowl, add the milk and egg and mix well.

Mix the flour, baking powder, remaining 6 tbsp of sugar (somehow I missed that she gave this measurement and channeled my 7th grade math class to figure out 2/3-1/4)  and remaining 1/4 tsp of salt in a bowl. It was about this time that I realized that my parents did not have any baking powder. I frantically paged through the cookbook trying to find another recipe–a crumble, a brown betty???–that did not require baking powder, and ordered my husband to start reading recipes to me. It was at that moment that my mother saved the day and recalled that there was baking powder in the pantry. Mom to the rescue! By that time, however, I had already added the flour to the egg/milk/butter mixture with a big old dash of what the hell. I never understood why baking makes you mix things in separate bowls anyway. How picky and unnecessary. I then glopped the batter onto the peaches, tossed it in the oven and prayed.

Look at the sugar chunks. Ridiculous.

Bake the cobbler for 35-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown. OK, apparently you’re supposed to cook until a toothpick inserted in the cobbler part comes out clean. I didn’t do that, mine just looked done. While it was baking, we enjoyed these little fellas (which took a little longer than expected, but that’s another story)

If you have never tried beer can/beer butt chicken, please do. It’s the easiest thing in the world and the result is a lovely tender meat with a crispy and well-spiced skin.

The cobbler had a slightly cobbled appearance with a lovely golden brown top.

And we enjoyed it with a scoop or two of vanilla fudge ice cream from Hillside Farms, the best dairy in the whole wide world.