My Favorite Peach Cobbler

I want to share one last peach recipe before the season ends. As you can see from previous posts, I love fresh peaches and one of my favorite ways to use them is in peach cobbler. I know there are many peach cobbler recipes out there, but this one, adapted from Sunset Magazine, is our family favorite. You can easily double the recipe to feed a crowd.

My Favorite Peach Cobbler
6 c. peeled and sliced peaches
3/4 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. minute tapioca
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 drops of almond emulsion or extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of kosher salt

Biscuit Topping
1 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4-1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of kosher salt
1/3 c. cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 c. heavy cream

For the Filling: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9×13 pan. In a large bowl combine all filling ingredients and mix well. Let sit 15 minutes for the tapioca to soften, then pour into prepared pan.

For the Biscuit Topping: In a bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Cut in butter and blend until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Stir in cream with a fork. Let mixture sit 2-3 minutes until cream is absorbed (it will be thick and sticky). Use your hands to break it into small pieces and place on top of fruit mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes, turning halfway through baking, until filling is bubbly in the center and biscuit topping is golden. Serves 6-8.

Cobbler before baking

Cobbler after baking

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Cucumber Tzatziki

Tzatziki (Greek yogurt sauce) is one of my favorite dips. During the summer months I will make it with locally grown fresh cucumbers. I use English cucumbers the rest of the year. This would be a good appetizer served with fresh pita bread, pita chips or lavash for a Labor Day get together. This recipe is adapted from Joanne Weir.

Cucumber Tzatziki
1 (24 oz.) container whole milk plain Greek yogurt
1-1/2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2-3/4 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. finely chopped mint
3 Tbsp. finely chopped dill
1 Tbsp. finely chopped flat leaf Italian parsley

Spoon yogurt into a large bowl. Add cucumber, garlic, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and sugar. Stir well. Fold in fresh herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Cover with plastic wrap and chill one hour before serving. Serves 6-8.


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German Yeasted Peach or Plum Cake

This recipe is adapted from one that a German neighbor shared with me. I have made it with apples before but since we have local ripe peaches and plums, I decided to try those as well. I am partial to the resulting peach cake but my husband favored the plum. You could also make this with apricots or nectarines. The yeast dough is soft and delicious and can be used as a base recipe for other sweet yeast breads.

German Yeasted Peach or Plum Cake
Yeast Dough
1 c. milk
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. instant yeast
1/2 c. vanilla sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
3-1/2 c. flour

Heat milk and butter together until butter has melted. Pour into a large bowl and add yeast. Let sit 5 minutes. Add sugar and egg. Whisk until well combined. Add salt and vanilla extract. Add flour 1 cup at a time. Knead slightly in the bowl to form a soft and sticky dough, but be sure not to add much extra flour. You want the dough to be sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise about 45 minutes. While the dough is rising slice fruit and make the streusel topping. Heat oven to 380 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a jelly roll pan. Pour risen dough into the prepared pan and use your fingers to spread it out to the edges of the pan. Place sliced fruit in rows on top of the dough and sprinkle with the streusel topping. Bake 15-20 minutes until dough is cooked through and the streusel is set on the fruit. Remove from oven to a rack. Serve warm or cool. Garnishing with whipped cream is optional. Serve 12-15.

4 peaches, sliced to 1/4 inch thickness or 8 plums, sliced

1 c. flour
1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 c. light brown sugar
pinch of kosher salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 c. cold unsalted butter, diced

For the streusel: combine flour, sugars, salt and spices then cut in diced butter to form crumbs.


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Breaded Swiss Chard

For the past few years our Swiss chard has not thrived in the garden. This spring we planted Bright Lights variety in a different area of the yard and it has done amazingly well. Swiss chard is one of my favorite greens and this recipe, given to me by my Aunt Fran, is our favorite way to eat it. When you bread vegetables it gives them a meaty quality that is appealing to children (and adults); it is a great way to get everyone to eat their greens. You can also change up this recipe by chopping up the greens, mixing them with egg and breadcrumbs, and forming them into patties before frying.

12 large Swiss chard leaves
3 large eggs
salt and pepper
2-3 c. Italian-style breadcrumbs
2/3 c. canola oil
1/3 c. olive oil

Begin by washing the Swiss chard leaves well then cutting off the stem. Place leaves in a metal steaming basket in a 5-quart stockpot. Pour about 1 cup of water in the bottom and steam the chard leaves for 3-5 minutes until just barely softened but still holding their shape. Let chard drain in a colander. Beat the eggs with salt and pepper in a deep bowl. Sprinkle breadcrumbs into a pie plate. In a cast iron frying pan combine canola oil and olive oil and heat on medium heat until a bit of breadcrumb sizzles when added to the oil. Roll up each Swiss chard leaf like a cigar and dip each piece in egg, allowing the excess egg to drip off. Then roll in the breadcrumbs and fry in hot oil until golden – about 2 minutes. Turn over and fry 2 more minutes until golden. Transfer cooked chard to a paper towel-lined plate. Let drain 2 minutes. Best served hot. Serves 4.


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Summer Garden Minestrone

This summer soup is a family favorite when the garden is abundant with tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and beans. You can make it throughout the year adapting the recipe to whatever produce is available. It takes a bit of time to chop the vegetables but it is worth the effort. I had some grilled cucuzza (an experiment) so I added it to the soup for this photo but if you don’t have it, just use more zucchini. It is delicious eaten fresh and even better the day after you make it.

Summer Minestrone
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
10 c. chicken or vegetable stock or a mix of the two
1-1/2 c. chopped fresh tomatoes
1 c. peeled and cubed eggplant
1 c. cucuzza squash, peeled (optional)
1 c. peeled and cubed zucchini
4 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 c. fresh corn on the cob
1/4 bunch fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
10 basil leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 c. cut Romano beans or other green beans
1/4 lb. thin spaghetti, broken
1 (15 oz.) can small white beans, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper to taste

In a 5-quart stockpot, heat oil on medium heat. Add onions and sauté 5 minutes to soften. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add celery and carrot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Add tomatoes, eggplant, cucuzza, zucchini, potatoes, corn, parsley, half of the basil and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Return to a boil , lower heat slightly, and cover. Cook for 5 minutes. Add green beans and spaghetti. Cook for 10 minutes. Add canned beans and cook 5 more minutes. Taste the spaghetti and potatoes to see if they are cooked through. When ready to serve garnish with remaining basil. Serves 6-8.


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Blueberry Peach Bread Pudding

I love fruit-filled desserts, particularly the combination of fresh blueberries and ripe peaches. This may be my best bread pudding yet, having recently discovered that store-bought cinnamon bread makes a great bread pudding base. I use a pale yellow cinnamon swirled yeast bread without nuts or raisins, available in the fresh bakery section of the grocery store. The pudding is light, creamy and loaded with fresh fruit. Take this to a summer barbecue or picnic and it will disappear quickly.

Blueberry Peach Bread Pudding
5 c. cubed cinnamon bread (about 1 medium loaf)
3 c. milk
1 c. heavy cream
5 large eggs
1-1/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 c. fresh blueberries
2 medium peaches, peeled and sliced thin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9×13 glass pan. In a large bowl combine milk, cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla, zest, spices and salt. Whisk until well mixed. Add cinnamon bread cubes to the custard mixture and mix. Let sit 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until bread has absorbed some of the custard and is soggy. Mix in blueberries and peaches. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes until pudding is puffed and set in the center. Let cool on rack. Serves 10-12.


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Apricot Maraschino Cherry Jam

We still have apricots here and thanks to several generous neighbors with mature trees, we have had an abundance of fruit. I have made apricot jam for years but this is a new variation I am enjoying this season. The recipe came from my husband’s step mom. It needs a week or two to sit and develop flavor. It calls for apricot jello in place of pectin. If you can’t find that flavor you can substitute peach or pineapple jello. It’s delicious on pancakes, crepes, toast or biscuits and very nice drizzled over ice cream too.

Apricot Maraschino Cherry Jam
8 c. puréed apricots – roughly 50 apricots depending on their size
1 c. chopped maraschino cherries (use a 16 oz. jar – save the juice)
1/2 c. maraschino cherry juice
1/4 c. fresh orange juice
8 c. sugar
2 (3 oz.) pkgs. apricot jello
2 drops almond extract (optional)

Begin by filling a water bath canner with water and bring to a boil. Sterilize 5 pint jars. Place lids in a small pot of water and bring to a boil. In a 6-quart stockpot combine apricot purée, chopped maraschino cherries, maraschino cherry juice, orange juice and sugar. Mix well. Turn the heat to medium high and stirring constantly bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for 8-10 minutes to reduce slightly. Stir in jello and return to the boil. Remove from heat. Add almond extract. Pour into 5 sterilized pint jars. Wipe off rims with a damp cloth. Screw on lids. Place in boiling water bath. Cover. Return to the boil and boil 10 minutes at sea level or 15 minutes at high altitude. Makes 5 pints.


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Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes and Olives

We started growing Romano beans a few years ago and, although they don’t give as large a yield as the purple green beans, they are sweet and delicious and my favorite variety in the yard. This salad is made with a mix of speckled Romano beans and some purple green beans. You can use whatever variety of bean is available to you. It’s a light and refreshing way to use summer produce.

Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes and Olives
1 lb. green beans or Romano beans, trimmed
1 c. chopped fresh tomatoes
1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 c. pitted Kalamata olives or another variety, halved
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with fresh chopped basil and parsley (optional)

Fill a 4-quart pot with water and bring to a boil. Add some salt and add the green beans. Bring back to the boil and cook about 7 minutes until crisp tender. Drain and run beans under cold water to stop the cooking process. Let beans drain then place them in a serving bowl. To the beans add tomatoes which have been sprinkled with salt, red onion and olives. Mix. Add garlic, oil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Chill for 30 minutes or longer. Garnish with fresh herbs if desired. Serves 6.


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Grilled Citrus Herb Chicken

July has been hot this year, but the positive side of the heat is the ripening of garden and local produce. We grill often during the summer months and this citrus herb chicken is a family favorite. We are a dark meat family and I am a fan of boneless, skinless chicken thighs that cook quickly and stay moist. Rather than marinate the meat before grilling, we dip the hot grilled chicken in an herb and olive oil bath, then let it sit for a few minutes to absorb the flavors. It’s a perfect summer meal accompanied by fresh corn, Italian tomato salad, a bit of artisanal bread to dip into the chicken and tomato juices, some grilled eggplant, and zucchini, along with a ripe melon for dessert. Enjoy!

Grilled Citrus Herb Chicken
12-15 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
sprinkle of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder

Citrus Herb Bath
1 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. fresh orange juice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped herbs – rosemary, sage, parsley, basil and chives
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1 tsp. Za’atar or dried thyme to taste
1 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat grill on high to around 400 degrees. Sprinkle both sides of each chicken thigh with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Place meat on the grill and turn grill temperature down to medium. Close lid and let chicken cook for 7-10 minutes until the meat is partially cooked through. Turn chicken thighs over and with the lid up continue grilling 5-7 minutes longer until done. While the chicken is grilling combine the ingredients for the citrus herb bath and whisk until mixed. Pour herb bath into a glass pie plate. As soon as the chicken is cooked, take off the grill and immediately dip each piece in the herb bath on both sides. Transfer the meat to a serving platter. When all the chicken has been dipped, pour most of the remaining herb bath over the chicken and let it sit 5-10 minutes. Plan on 2-3 thighs per person. Serves 6-7.


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French Raspberry Custard Tart

This is my sister’s recipe and a family favorite. My daughter requests it for all special occasions. It can also be made with strawberries, which we will often have for Easter, and is delicious with blueberries as well.

1-2/3 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
zest of half a large lemon
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 c. cold unsalted butter, diced
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a food processor combine flour, sugar, lemon zest and salt. Pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse until butter is pea-sized. It should take 5-7 pulses. In a small bowl combine egg and vanilla and mix lightly with a fork. Add to flour mixture and pulse until a crumbly dough just begins to come together. Remove dough from food processor bowl and turn onto the counter. Bring dough together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface, into a round disk and fit into an 9- or 10-inch tart pan. Resist the urge to add too much flour to the dough while rolling. Bake the tart dough for 20 minutes or until golden and baked through. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack.

Custard and Fruit
4 c. light cream
1/2 c. granulated sugar
8 egg yolks
3-1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
pinch of fine salt
4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 c. apricot jam
2-3 c. fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries

In a saucepan combine the light cream and 2 Tbsp. sugar from the 1/2 c. sugar. Bring to a simmer. In a separate bowl whisk together egg yolks, remaining sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add 1/4 c. hot cream mixture to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. Return the egg mixture to the saucepan full of hot cream and continue cooking until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove custard from the stove and pour through a sieve into a bowl. Once the custard is strained, add the vanilla and cover with plastic wrap directly onto the custard surface. Chill several hours until cold.

Assembly: Melt the apricot jam on the stove until syrupy. Strain and set aside. Spoon cold custard into the pre-baked tart shell. Place the raspberries onto the custard. Brush the fruit with the warm and strained apricot jam. Serves 8-10.


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