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Archive for August, 2011

I stopped across this recipe many times–a couple times here, and another few times here.  Each time, it never occurred to me to bookmark it because it looked strange and… healthy.  It’s as though someone decided to toss a whole bunch of healthy ingredients together and called that a dish.  Hey, that’s what the whole wheat pasta thing does to anything ;)

A year after I first saw the recipe, I bookmarked it, so something must have happened between now and then.  I am pretty sure I haven’t been bought by the health factor because clearly, I have no problem with baking up a storm.  Not only that, the ingredients looked like they didn’t belong together.

At least, at first glance, and a few more glances.

After a while, I saw that perhaps, they do fit together in the nutty theme of things.  Whole wheat adds nuttiness, as does slightly browned cauliflower.  Walnuts are umm, self-explanatory.

Plus, the colors of the pasta look pretty.  I am always bought by visually-pleasing things ;)

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These days, I bake to get out of my head.  It’s easy to get so far into your head when you’re studying that I think a good way to unwind is to do something with your hands.  Anything that is tangible and quiet to get away from the noise in your head is a welcomed pause in the chaos of modern living.

I had a choice between a Chez Panisse fruit crisp or a Melissa Clark cobbler.  Both equally sounded like a fabulous place for a set of over-ripe nectarines to rest in peace.  I ended choosing the Melissa Clark one because it was different and it had browned butter.  End of story.

This was probably the most appropriate study break ever.  Thirty minutes tops to create a mess and wipe up, and back to studying I go.  Most of the time study breaks stretch out to an hour or an hour and half because of the number of steps involved.  Shh :P

This is probably the first cobbler I really enjoyed in recent memory.  It has so many nice textural components from the crunchy bits of sliced almonds to the chewy bits of the barely-formed buttery cake.  Then, there is the custardy middle, and the subtle tang of buttermilk.  Oh, and it’s fast to put together.  That’s always a plus.  What’s there not to like? :)

Brown Butter Nectarine Cobbler/ Cake

Printable Recipe

Adapted from the Melissa Clark Brown Butter Nectarine Cobbler/ Cake (via New York Times)

3 cups of nectarines or peaches, sliced in 1 inch thick pieces

3 ounces granulated sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 ounces flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 c buttermilk

1/4 c sliced almonds

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons Demerara sugar

1.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the fruit slices, 1/4 cup sugar and lemon juice. 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 to 3 minutes. Pour the brown butter into an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking dish.

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 the almonds, nutmeg and Demerara sugar. Bake until golden brown, 50 to 55 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm.

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Courtesy of Miss Chien

Right now, I am stuck with too many cookies.  All I can say is that I bake when I am stressed.  You know, the CPA exam studying will do that to you, and there is only so much of “share the love” you can do when you’re virtually pounding out 3 dozen cookies every other day.

I have stopped baking so much partially because of this, but more so because I have hit that point where I learned as much as I can as an amateur baker that baking another brownie doesn’t really excite me anymore.  That’s why, I posit, I have to make so many darn cookies–that batch just doesn’t excite me the way it used to a few years ago!

I have tried the cake decorating route.  I threw my hands over the straight-up cooking route.  I am starting to dabble a little more in food photography.  Nothing has quite found ground yet, so where do I go from here?

For now, I am just spending time with friends and showing them how to bake things like these chocolate sables.  My friend had chosen to make them because they were so beautifully elegant.  Then again, what of Pierre Herme’s is not beautiful or elegant?

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