Friday, September 9, 2011

Nectarine Cobbler

I've been getting a nectarine/peach CSA from Rama Farm for a number of years now. Last Saturday, Tom picked up our first box of organic nectarines. Since I'd been away for a wedding, and it was late Monday before I fired up the dehydrator and started slicing the nectarines. One of the varieties I really like is called Red Haven.

Red Haven nectarines start out as cling stone, but when they mature they are a free stone variety. These two terms refer to how the fruit clings to the seed. For fresh peaches you want to slice get free stone varieties. You can see the one on the left isn't quite a freestone. You should be able to pull the seed out easily. It can be hard to pit freestone nectarines. See how juicy they are in the picture? Too bad you can't smell the sweet fragrance.

The Cooking Assistant loves the fragrance of cut nectarines. Last summer he snagged some on a kitchen towel on the counter. The towel hung over the edge. I wished I had a video or how he must have pulled the cloth with his teeth and the treasures came tumbling down. He ate at least three before I rescued the remaining fruit.

Don't let this guy in the room with your fruit alone.

It doesn't matter what he's doing, he's quick to pose with food. What won't he pose with? He's obviously disappointed if food isn't on the table, he could never be an actor or a poker player.

Preserving the harvest
After I filled the dehydrator, I sliced some for freezing. I don't like canned peaches or nectarines. I a few large jars of peaches from Rama Farm in the fall, but I grew up with fruit cocktail and canned pears and those jars of fruit don't get opened very quickly. Sometimes I think I've had enough canned fruit in my life.

But I love frozen nectarines and peaches and dehydrating fruit is high on my like list. It also makes great gifts.

Think desserts and beyond
First, I had to try out this nectarine salad dressing idea I'd been dreaming about. I pureed one nectarine into an already made Italian dressing that I'd put together a few days ago. Then I added a bit more vinegar to balance out the sweet tones. I want easy fixes that taste fabulous.

It was a perfect combination. Give it a try. Just remember that a fruit based salad dressing won't keep as long as a simple vinaigrette.

Tom (Mr Salad Man) gave it a thumbs up. My Cooking Assistant and sister Chloe licked their lips.

I'd saved enough fresh nectarines to make this cobbler. I used a frozen pie crust. How easy is that?? I'd gotten the crust awhile back and after I used half of it I'd dropped the other half on the floor. So after I thawed it, I gathered the pieces nto a ball and rolled it out.

Here's the recipe:

Nectarine Cobbler
(Make 1 9-inch cobbler; Serves 4)

1 frozen 9-inch pie crust
7 fresh nectarines, pitted and sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 or 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon organic cornstarch
Butter and cinnamon sugar (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Thaw pie crust. Then gather into a ball and roll to fit your baking dish.

2. Place nectarines in a casserole dish. (You can find great casserole dishes at Goodwill and garage sales.) Add lemon juice, 1 to 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier and cornstarch. If nectarines are really juicy add an additional half tablespoon of cornstarch.

3. Lay the pie crust over the nectarines, pushing the corners and sides of the pie crust down. It doesn't have to be even. It will have a rustic look. Make 4 to 5 slices with a knife, radiating out from the center. Spread the top with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, if desired. (The butter will turn the crust a beautiful brown and the cinnamon sugar sparkles.) I tend to butter less, so the top is lighter. Make your own rules.

4. Bake for about 50 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or coconut sorbet.

I'll be at the Tumwater Library tomorrow at noon and I'll talking about farms, farmers and food. I think I'm sharing a recipe, too. But first I'll stop and pick up our second box of nectarines from Rama Farm. Looks like I'm getting set for gifts during the holiday season.

Hope you enjoy this one.

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