Monday, July 27, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not…Make a Cobbler!

I’m ashamed to say I used to waste a lot of food. I’d go to the grocery store and buy with the best intentions of making lunches and dinners every day of the week. Then, I’d eat lunch out, or be too tired to cook, and all my food would go bad. I’d go to the store the next week, again with the best of intentions, and when I got home I’d have to throw out all my spoiled food to make room for the new food. The ugly cycle would continue.

Lately, I’ve been trying my best to be less wasteful, in many areas of my life. I use canvas bags at the grocery store, a reusable lunch bag at work, and I even take my lunch in Tupperware containers, instead of ziplock bags. When it comes to food, if I haven’t used something and I know I’m not going to use it before it spoils, I’ll try to freeze it, like with fresh blueberries, make it into a soup like with chicken or rice, or find some other creative way to use whatever might go bad.

Last night, I noticed I had almost an entire bag of nectarines that didn’t get eaten this week. I planned poorly and overbought this week, purchasing raspberries, blueberries, and carrots at Costco, then purchasing nectarines at the grocery store. I like nectarines to be really firm, and these, while still good, were very ripe, soft and juicy.

I didn’t know what to do with them, but I didn’t want them to go to waste. I was searching around online for a recipe, and I came across a recipe for a peach/nectarine cobbler. With a little tweaking of my own, I made a very delicious nectarine cobbler!! (I should note it was also my first cobbler ever – I never really understood cobbler before, but now that I like fruit, it sounded tasty.)

I got this recipe from the Food Network website, but I did a little tweaking of it as well (I do love to tweak things).

Here is the standard, un-tweaked recipe from the Food Network Website.

Filling:
4 c. sliced nectarines
½ c. cold water
1/3 c. unpacked light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Topping:
1 c. all-purpose flour
½ c. sugar
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ c. milk
½ stick (4 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened.

Garnish:
Cinnamon Sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare topping: In medium bowl, stir flour, sugar, baking powder. Add milk and butter and beat until smooth.

To prepare filling: In large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is thick and bubbly, about 5-10 minutes.

Pour filling mixture into 13x9 glass baking dish. Spoon topping over filling and spread carefully and evenly with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake 30-40 minutes until topping is golden brown and knife inserted into cobbler comes out clean.

So, now for my changes.

First of all, I don’t measure. I measure when baking, so my dry ingredients for the topping were measured. However, for the filling, I just cut up all the nectarines I had, added a ½ cup or so of water, and then spooned in a bunch of brown sugar, a little cornstarch, and some butter (in case you’re wondering the filling turned out beautifully).

In the topping, I added a splash of vanilla to the batter once it was mixed. I think this really added to it, and next time I’ll add a little more than a splash.

Here it is, step by step (although I may have forgotten to take pictures of a few steps, as I’m prone to do).

To begin, I took the skin off all of my nectarines with a knife, which was easy to do considering they were so ripe (and incredibly messy, since they were so juicy; yet another reason I like nectarines when they're firm).



Then I placed all of my nectarines in a saucepan (again, the recipe calls for four cups...I put in what I had left, which was about 6-7 nectarines). I put 1/2 cup of water over the nectarines, then added brown sugar, cornstarch, and unsalted butter.



After it had simmered over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, it looked all thick and yummy, like this.



While the filling was cooking, I made the topping. I put the flour, sugar, and baking powder in the super cute pink KitchenAid mixer, then I added the milk and butter. I also added a splash of vanilla, which I think added tremendously to the dish.



In a small bowl, I mixed the cinnamon and sugar, to sprinkle on top of the cobbler before it went in the oven. Then, I poured the filling into an ungreased 13x9 pan (it says to use a glass pan, but I used my favorite white porcelain pan...it bakes better than anything I've ever seen).





The recipe then says to drop the topping onto the filling and spread evenly and carefully with a spatula.

That was impossible.

Maybe I did it wrong, but my topping was rather sticky, and my filling still very hot, so the topping did not "spread evenly over the filling." Instead, I just mixed it all up, making sure there was some topping dough fairly evenly throughout the pan (I actually like the way this turned out, too, when the cobbler was done baking).



I sprinkled some cinnamon/sugar on top and put it in the oven. After just about 40 minutes, it looked like this.



I wish I could describe to you how good this smelled...it was absolutely amazing. Here it is on a plate - you should really make this, it was so good!



Just for fun, here's my baking center. This is the section of my kitchen where I keep all my baking supplies, and on the counter is my mixer. In the drawers below (that you can't see) I have cake decorating supplies, and all the mixer attachments, plus parchment paper and that sort of thing.





I've found that I do a lot more baking having everything in one place in my kitchen. And, I never used my mom's KitchenAid mixer when I was little, because I had to take it out from under the counter, use it, then put it away when I was done. Having it sitting on the counter makes me use it more often, and it's next to the fridge, so it doesn't take up much space, and it's hidden from view most of the time (not that I don't want to look at it, I just don't like having a lot of things out on my counter).

And finally, Bruiser. He was all worn out after a day in the kitchen!





Now for my next dilemma - what to do with my summer squash?

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