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COOKING LOCAL Bourbon Pecan Peach Cobbler

September 16, 2011

Bourbon and Pecan Peach Cobbler with lavender-vanilla whipped cream

/>    Welcome back to the kitchen. Friends, this week I ask you: is there anything more beautiful

than a perfectly ripe, sun blushed peach? There are many fruits and vegetables that I greatly enjoy. But there is

just something special to me about those golden-red/orange globes of juicy goodness that brings out a passionate

food lust in me.
    One of my favorite late summer indulgences is selecting a giant,

completely ripe peach at the farmers market, moving away from prying eyes and onto a patch of grass, and then

assuming the requisite position:  legs spread wide, chin thrust out, elbows flapping like chicken wings, and

peach poised at mouth level.
When you bite into a really good peach, the amazingly complex sweetness

combined with a hit of tartness is almost overwhelming. If you catch me in the act, you will probably see my eyes

rolled back like a maniac, juice running down my chin and forearms with abandon. A good local peach is truly a

thing of beauty, and needs no doctoring at all to be enjoyed.
But because this stone fruit is the star of

this week’s cooking show, I wanted to offer some thoughts on incorporating peaches into your cooking. One of

my favorite newish food fads is grilled fruit, of which peaches seem to be the most popular. This is one of the

most ridiculously easy side dishes or desserts I have ever made.
Just cut ripe peaches in half and remove

the pit. Lightly brush your barbeque grill with oil and heat it up to medium high. Place the peaches on the grill

cut side down (the flat side) and cook for about 5 minutes. You want to get some nice charred grill marks on

there, because this will caramelize some of the peaches’ sugars and add an awesome layer of flavor.

/>Flip the peaches over and drizzle on some nice thick and sweet aged balsamic vinegar onto the cooked side. You

could even use a flavored balsamic like blackberry or lemon. The balsamic is of course optional, but it will add

an amazing glaze with a bit of tang to balance the peaches’ sweetness. Cook the peaches for another 2-3

minutes. If they are ripe, they don’t really need to cook all the way through, just get that nice grilled

flavor to them.
I like to use grilled peaches like this as a side dish for grilled pork chops, because the

sweet tangy fruit is the perfect foil for savory grilled meat. But these very same peaches can also be the perfect

dessert. Just put a half in each person’s bowl, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a dash of cinnamon,

plus maybe another little drizzle of that sweet aged balsamic vinegar (yes, it is delicious with ice cream, I

swear), and you have an awesomely simple yet somewhat exotic sweet treat.
Another all time peach favorite is

the classic cobbler. This is sort of like a pie, but instead of a crust underneath it has a flakey and buttery

dropped biscuit topping. I’m lead to believe cobblers are an American invention, using new ingredients to

attempt old world recipes.
Cobblers are very simple. You want to find nicely ripe, yet still firm peaches.

This can be a bit of a challenge, so it is a great opportunity to ask your farmer or grower when a given variety

is perfectly ripe, and what peaches are best for baking.
And because I am who I am and can never leave well

enough alone, I’m going to dress up the cobbler a bit with a few additions. I’m thinking bourbon and

pecan peach cobbler with lavender-vanilla whipped cream. Sounds pretty killer, right?
    For

this epic dessert we will need:

Ingredients
Cobbler filling:
•   

4-6 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches (blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds to easily remove the skins)

/>•    3/4 cup brown sugar
•    1 teaspoon cinnamon plus a dash of

nutmeg
•    1 teaspoon vanilla
•    1 tablespoon tapioca powder

(flour or corn starch are ok too, and all are optional if you like a really juicy cobbler)

/>•    ¼ cup bourbon
•    A small pinch of salt

/>Cobbler crust:
•    1 cup flour
•    1 teaspoon baking

powder
•    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
•    3 tablespoons brown

sugar
•    4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

/>•    2/3 cup buttermilk
•    ½ cup chopped pecans

/>•    A small pinch of salt
•   
•    1

tablespoon brown sugar, for topping
•    Whipped cream (I small carton) plus a dash of

vanilla and a pinch of food-grade lavender
Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

/>Generously butter a 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish or cast iron pan. Place the sliced peaches in the dish and

sprinkle with bourbon, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and tapioca powder. Mix gently and spread evenly

again. Bake for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile combine all dry ingredients for cobbler crust in a bowl. Cut in the

butter with a pastry cutter, a fork, or even your fingers, to make the texture like coarse crumbs or wet sand. Add

buttermilk and stir to form a soft dough, but don’t overwork it or it will end up tough.
Remove the

peach pan from oven and drop rounded spoonfuls of dough on top (hence the name drop biscuits!). Don’t worry

about there being gaps between the dough; it will puff up in the oven.
Sprinkle the cobbler with the last

tablespoon of brown sugar and return it to the oven. Bake until fruit is bubbly and crust topping is golden brown,

about 20-30 more minutes. Serve warm with freshly whipped lavender vanilla cream. I actually like to sweeten my

whipped cream just slightly with some maple syrup. And I’m also going to add a small splash of bourbon to

the whipped cream as well, because it will add a delightful boozy aroma to keep with our theme. But go easy, it

won’t take much booze at all to add the flavor, and too much can easily overpower the delicate whipped

cream. Oh, and I mentioned food-grade lavender, but in truth I just crumbled up some dried flowers from the

backyard, which worked just fine for me.
Yum! What a glorious bourbon and pecan peach cobbler, making perfect

use of perfect peaches. Actually, this is a great opportunity to use cosmetically damaged peaches, which can often

be bought very cheaply. Of course cobblers, like any old-timey recipe, are different in each grandmother’s

retelling. Some recipes call for way more sugar than I think you should need to use. Ripe peaches are very sweet,

so experiment with how little sugar you can get away with. And some recipes even use some fresh lemon juice to

balance out the sweet notes.
Well friends, we’ve done it. A beautiful dessert that is sure to impress,

but can actually be made on a weeknight in about an hour or so. I’d love to hear your family’s take on

cobbler, and how you’ve been enjoying the peach harvest. Send me any questions, comments, or suggestions to

Isaac@kohoradio.com. Cooking local in the KOHO kitchen, I’m Isaac Kaplan-Woolner.


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