Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dinner, Days 2 & 3: pancakes, simple soup, and peach cobbler

Day 2 was Tuesday and we had pancakes. Not so exciting, really, unless you're a kid. Then they're great (picture the Kellogg's tiger here). And since it's peach season and I'm overflowing with peaches, we had them with peach syrup.

We use a pretty basic recipe for pancakes from The Joy of Cooking, but we always use half wheat and half white flour, and I usually add cinnamon to the dry ingredients.

My mom nearly always made homemade syrup for pancakes when I was little, or at least that's how I remember it. I've used Mrs. Butterworth's or Log Cabin here and there, but when I don't have maple syrup (because I'm so darn cheap, which is nearly always), I revert to her recipe. It's really easy and I think my family prefers it to all the other options.  It's a simple syrup made by bringing equal parts brown sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan, then boiling them for 15-20 minutes, depending on the heat and your elevation, until it's slightly syrupy. Or, for a more precise determination, your finger should leave a trail after you've dipped a metal spoon into the syrup and rubbed your finger along the back of it.

Sometimes we get a little crazy and add 2-3 T. butter to the syrup at this point, then let it boil another 4-5 minutes. Then nobody gets to request butter for their pancakes because it's already in the syrup and saves us the hassle. This time I also chopped up 3 peaches and added them to the syrup for about 2 minutes of boil time. It tasted really good. And then I could say there was semi-fresh fruit with dinner as well as whole grains. See, not too guilt-inducing.

Day 3 was yesterday, and I was starting to feel a little sick. Stuffy nose, sore throat, that sort of thing. (And today, lucky me, I'm much worse!) Since I'd opted for pancakes the night before, I couldn't resort to cereal or anything so un-vegetably for a second night. Besides, I wanted vegetables. So I made a really basic vegetable soup: I sautéed onions and celery, then added several chopped carrots, 1 clove minced garlic, and 4 chopped potatoes. I covered it just barely with enough water and simmered it until the carrots and potatoes were tender.

Next I used a beurre manié, a handy little trick I learned from paying close attention to a food show on tv years ago, to thicken the soup before stirring in about 1/2 c. of milk. (To make the beurre manié, stir together 2 T. butter and 2 T. flour until well combined.) I highly recommend you learn that beurre manié method, as most soups can't start with a roux and this tastes a heck of a lot better than whisked in cornstarch. But you do have to add fat. Still, it's a healthy soup.

I served it with homemade whole wheat honey bread. It's a revised recipe, not the one I posted about a year ago, and I hope to post it in the near future, preferably before I lose it.

I realized I still had about 10 ripe peaches in the bottom of my fridge that needed to be used, so I made a cobbler for the kids as bribery to get them to clean. (See how wicked I truly am?) I used my favorite ever cobbler topping, which is a sweet biscuit-style topping that always reminds me of making pie dough. In a very good way. And cobblers are so easy. Chop the fruit, stir in some sugar, throw it in the pan, and top with biscuit dough. Bake. Cool slightly. Eat with vanilla ice cream. Mmmmm....

Here's the recipe for the cobbler.

Peach Cobbler 
(or any other fruit variety)

about 10 medium peaches, peeled and sliced (or 6-8 c. other prepared fruit)
1/2 c. sugar, or to taste
1/2 t. cinnamon, optional

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. (12 T., 6 oz.) unsalted butter, very cold but not totally frozen
1 t. white wine vinegar (you can substitute lemon juice)
1/3 c. cold water

Preheat the oven to 400˚. Toss the butter in the freezer for a few minutes if it's not really, really cold.

Prepare the peaches (or other fruit) and add sugar to taste and cinnamon if you want it. Stir well and spread evenly in a 9" x 13" baking pan.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter up into 1/2" pieces and add to the flour. Working quickly with your fingers (like pie dough or baking powder biscuits), break the butter into smaller pieces and flatter pieces without warming it up and rubbing it into the flour too much. Combine the vinegar and cold water and stir into the biscuit dough until it's evenly moist. Drop/spread evenly over the peaches.

Bake at 400˚ for 35-40 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly in the middle and the biscuit topping is golden brown. If it's browning too quickly, turn your oven down to 350˚ about halfway through.

Cool partially (you know, about 15 minutes). Serve topped with ice cream or straight up!

1 comment:

Heidi said...

I am going to try to the syrup recipe. Yum!