Saturday, July 31, 2010

on churros, community

Sorry it's been awhile, friends. My computer's life came to an unfortunate end, and the recovery process has been a little painful. Rest in peace, Pippin. (His remaining functional parts are for sale, if you're interested!)

I came to an important realization this past week, which was this: food is best done in community. It sounds a little too obvious to be profound, but for the longest time I really did not understand what that meant at all. While the pleasure of cooking absolutely anything you want the way you want it for and by yourself is undeniable, I am seeing, ever gradually, that there is great richness to be found in the sharing of the food experience. Surveying some of the memorable foods shared over the past week...garlic ice cream (3 times!), garlic fries, garlic chocolate peanut butter cups at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, tacos and coffee and churros at Tacubaya, a late night dash for diner food + ice cream, a too-large batch of yeasted waffles.

Yes, the visible reason for all of these get-togethers was food. But each encounter, in my mind, is characterized less by the garlic and cinnamony-sugary goodness and more by the waves of giggles, time to empathize with each other, insights gained, bonds sustained. It seems that breaking churros together is one of the most beautiful things you can do with another soul.

(Next up: cinnamon ravioli?!)

Monday, July 19, 2010

what the %@$# is cobbler?

Um...hi, friends. Sorry you had to see that.

Anyway, it is summer now, full-blown summer. Triple-digits-every-day summer, walk-around-outside-for-10-minutes-and-get-an-awesome-flip-flop-tan summer, don't-forget-to-wear-deodorant-SERIOUSLY summer. Ah, summer. I love, love, love, love summer.

Guess what else happens in summer? If you said "ginormous $10 flats of peaches!", you are right on. And do you know what happens when the speed at which those peaches are ripening is greater than the speed at which you can cram said peaches into your mouth?

The answer, dears, is peach cobbler.

The problem, dears, when you try to put action to words, is that there is no clear definition of what cobbler actually is. In my mind, it is supposed to look like this, but the kind I've had more looks more like this. And here is a hilarious tale of one woman's quest to define it. Biscuit-like topping or batter surrounding fruit? Some even insist that it must be double-crusted. (Shudder. No. That's a pie.) (To further complicate your life, there also exist fruit desserts in the form of crisps, crumbles, slumps, grunts, buckles, bettys, pandowdys, clafoutis, fools, sugar highs, and headaches.)

This weekend I opted for the batter version. Kind of a cop-out because I really do think that biscuit-top cobbler is the real thing, but I found the batter version scribbled down on a card somewhere in the house. It also closely resembles PW's rendition. Further awesomeness.

This little cobbler went to Alameda.

Friends, any way you assemble it, I promise that this is good! (And it is MANDATORY that you top it with vanilla ice cream. You heard me. Mandatory! Yes, you are responsible for this material for the exam.)

Peach Cobbler

1 stick butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 1/4 cups + more sugar
1 cup self-rising flour (can substitute 1 cup all purpose flour + 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt)
1 cup milk, room temperature
(at least) 4 cups peaches, peeled and cubed (or enough to cover the bottom of your baking dish + a little bit more)

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter or spray a baking dish. (You can use a 9x13 dish for a thinner cobbler or a smaller dish for a thicker one.)

Combine the cubed peaches in a bowl with a tablespoon of sugar and let sit. This will help get them all syrupy and yummy.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the sugar, the flour, and the milk. Whisk in the melted butter. Batter should be on the thin side and very smooth.

Pour the peaches into the baking dish. Pour the batter on top of them. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over the top.

Bake for an hour or so. (A 9x13 pan should take about that long, a smaller pan will need more time.) 10 minutes before it's done (just starting to brown), take out the pan and sprinkle another tablespoon or two of sugar or so over the top. You want it to be crunchy, people.

When it reaches golden brown status and smells amazing, you have yourself a peach cobbler! Awesome! Smother with ice cream.

Monday, July 12, 2010

all ears

It was a mere 6 months ago when I decided to start posting every week. It was partly for you, reader, to be reassured that you could come here every week and hopefully gain a new little tidbit to chew on and hopefully cook or bake yourself. It was also for me, as I hoped I would be motivated to try new things, establish a writing routine, improve my baking and photography skills. I think these things have occurred in middling amounts, but I bet there is so much more out there. However, at this moment...

I feel stuck.

It's not that I lack delicious things in my life. Rather, as this "weekend meditation" so thoughtfully put it: blogging about food is tricky sometimes, especially when what you eat is not particularly unique or attached to a meaningful/witty/interesting story. Case in point: I sat down this week to an untold number of heirloom tomato/fresh mozzarella/basil salads (yes, me, the president of the I Hate Salads club). Wonderful? Yes. Blog worthy? Ehh...

Other noteworthy eats from the past week: polishing off the ice cream brownie cupcakes, these scones (in mini form!), a summer squash gratin gone horribly wrong (I blame the pyromanic oven broiler), the best bbq chicken to ever flirt with my lips, Lois the Pie Queen, my very first cup of Philz5 minute pho, fried chicken sandwiches and cookies at Bakesale BettyRemedy coffee, the most potent hot chocolate I've ever experienced at Bittersweet.

Yes, it was all tasty beyond compare (save the burnt-to-a-crisp gratin). But now that I've returned from la la land (aka the Bay Area), I'm jonesing for newness. This is where you come in.

I need your ideas! Tell me about things you want to learn, things you've always wondered about, things that would excite you enough to get you into the kitchen! Tutorials on how to do X? Explanations on topics Y or Z? Your own guest spot? Better photography? (If so, lend me your camera! :) Every suggestion will be, at the very least, seriously considered. I'm all ears, and if you didn't catch this already, I am in desperate need of inspiration (from you)! Help!!

What do you want to see here?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

all of my favorite things! in one!

So. I'm going to get right down to business. Make some brownie batter, grab some ice cream, chop up some chocolate, whip some cream, and make yourself some brownie ice cream cupcakes. Do it. Do it now.

No frou frou talk today. Just the quick and dirty. I want you to make these asap, and yes, I feel like being bossy about it. Tablespoonful of brownie batter in each foil cup. (I used this brownie recipe). Bake till done. Let cool on counter. When cool, stick in freezer. While in freezer, take out whatever ice cream you want to use and put that in the fridge to defrost. When brownie part is pretty cold, fill up the cups with the softened ice cream. Freeze again. Make chocolate ganache: pour 1/4 cup cream, heated to just below boiling over 3/4 cup (4.5 oz) chopped up chocolate, let stand 30 seconds, stir until smooth. Spoon over ice cream cupcakes and return to the freezer yet again. (Oh yes, and don't forget to spread around: otherwise they'll look like some of the Globby McGlobbersons up there.)

This part can all be done ahead. But right before serving: freshly whipped cream Yes, this is necessary.

And stick some raspberries on top. Not quite necessary, but hey. They're in season, it's the country's birthday, and aren't they just so cute?!

Now unwrap. Take the hugest bite you've ever taken because this is going to be good.

You're sooooo welcome.

(Bon Appetit, October 1991 via Joy the Baker. Truth: she has the best ideas always.)