Polpette di melanzane

One of the best things I've ever discovered about Italy -- along with the social acceptability of eating a whole pizza by oneself, and the option of choosing up to three gelato flavors per cone at the gelateria -- is the tradition of the Italian aperitivo. The aperitivo, if you're not familiar, goes a little something like this: around 6:30 or 7:00, you go to a bar or caf√© that offers aperitivo, where you order drink of your choice to be enjoyed along with some food, anything from taralli and olives and pizzette to a more substantial selection, things like bruschette and frittate and pasta freddaThe aperitivo is a way to get your appetite going before the main meal, a drink and a bit to eat before heading to dinner later on in the eveningThe food and drink together cost between 5-10 euro, depending on how abundant the food was, making it an excellent deal. In some cases the aperitivo can even tiptoe over in to the territory of apericena, a cross between the aperitivo and dinner (cena), where the food is served buffet-style, plentiful and substantial enough to become a mealAnytime I have a friend visiting Rome, I am sure to bring them for an aperitivo -- (oh yes, you heard right, only a few euros for the drink and as much food as you want!) I say smugly, every time. I can't help it, aperitivo makes me a showoff. 

The Italian aperitivo is also the theme of this month's round of Cucina Conversations, which brings me to these polpette di melanzane (think of them as eggplant -- or aubergine, if you prefer -- croquettes) which are pure aperitivo fare, bite-sized and appetizer-like, packed with sharp salty Pecorino, mellow eggplant, and lots of fresh bright parsley, then fried until crisp and deep gold on the outside and cloud-like and pillow-y on the inside. A few of these plus a glass of wine (or, in my case, Prosecco) will get your appetite going guaranteed, just be careful not to get too carried about and eat so many you're not hungry for dinner. Don't say you weren't warned: they're sort of addictive.

A couple of notes: If you can't get Pecorino where you are, Parmesan would be a good substitute. If you don't want to fry the polpette, you can brush them with a little olive oil and bake them in the oven, turning them during baking until golden brown on all sides. Regarding the quantities here, note you might need to use your judgement -- you might need more or less breadcrumbs to keep the mixture together depending on the consistency of the bread and how big the eggs are that you use. If the mixture seems too loose to form the polpette, add a little extra bread and/or bread crumbs by the tablespoon and they'll come together beautifully.

Finally, a few of my favorite places for aperitivo in Rome are RossoVivo in Prati (only 5 euros for a plate for two with mini arancine, frittate, and bruschette, among other things,) Oasi della Birra in Testaccio, and Max, not far from Circus Maximus and across from my place of work (hurray!) Freni e Frizioni in Trastevere is also good, but very popular and always packed -- be prepared to wait for a table.

Here are the recipes from my fellow bloggers this month:

Daniela of La Dani Gourmet has shared her recipe for acciughe alla povera (marinated anchovies). 

Carmen of The Heirloom Chronicles has prepared homemade limoncello.

Lisa aka Italian Kiwi will be making crostini con fichi, ricotta, e prosciutto (crostini with figs, ricotta, and prosciutto). 


Flavia of Flavia's Flavors will be making one of my favorites, taralli pugliesi.


Marialuisa of Marmellata di Cipolle has made crostini al salmone.

Last but not least, Rosemarie over at Turin Mamma will be preparing two classic drinsk, the Negroni and the Negroni sbagliato

POLPETTE DI MELANZANE

Ingredients:
2 medium eggplant
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup (50 grams) freshly grated Pecorino cheese
2 cups of stale bread, plus a bit more on hand in case needed
1/4 cup (59ml) milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper
3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
Breadcrumbs for coating
Vegetable oil for frying

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). While the oven is heating, start with your eggplant. Cut off the leafy tops of the eggplant and prick on all sides with a fork. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender and can be pierced easily with a fork. Wait until the eggplant is cool enough to handle and then cut in half. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon, discarding the seeds, then place in a colander to drain for about half an hour (eggplants contain a lot of water which would make assembling the polpette difficult). Alternatively, squeeze out any moisture using a clean kitchen towel (this is what I did, and it worked great). Put the eggplant in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, moisten the stale bread with the milk, and then squeeze well to remove any excess (you want just enough milk to revive the bread). Stir together the bread, Pecorino, eggplant, eggs, parsley, the salt, and pepper to taste. If the mixture looks too loose, add some breadcrumbs by the tablespoon and stir (see notes above).


Pour some breadcrumbs out on to a shallow dish. Next, roll the bread-eggplant mixture in to balls, rolling each in breadcrumbs to coat.

In a frying pan, heat enough oil to go up the sides of the pan, enough to cover the polpette (read here about shallow frying). To test if the oil is hot enough, throw in a breadcrumb or two; if it sizzles and starts to cook immediately, the oil is ready. Fry the polpette a few at a time (about 4) until golden brown on all sides, turning with a spoon as you go to ensure even browning -- this will only take a few minutes per batch. Place the polpette on a paper towel lined plate as you remove them from the pan, to let them cool slightly and remove any excess oil. Enjoy warm as part of your aperitivo. Makes 30 or so polpette.





Late Summer Fig Salad

I always get a strange feeling of melancholy in late August, when my favorite season, Summer, begins to wind down and give signs that its handing the reigns over to Fall (a season I've never liked for the pure fact that it comes after Summer). It starts to get dark out a little earlier for starters, and Rome, which has grown quiet as everyone has left for Summer holidays, slowly starts to fill up again --  the subways are again crowded in the morning, parking becomes once again problematic, the lines at the bar for coffee are again long. In the early morning and at night, the temperatures feel just barely chilly, a hint of what is to come in the next few weeks (I have always been befuddled by "Fall" people, the ones who welcome sweaters and boots and scarves. Pshhh).

There are a few things however that make Summer slowing down a little less bittersweet, and one of them happens to be Fig Season (!!!) In late Summer, magical, majestic figs are at their best, supremely sweet and juicy and not to mention versatile, lending themselves to both savory and sweet pairings, perfect at breakfast with yogurt and a drizzle of honey or eaten as is. They're the prettiest fruit going in the market, sparkly and pink and gem-like, hands down the most photogenic fruit or vegetable I've ever come across. Its almost as if figs know how special they are, their short season akin to a brief appearance at the party in the markets before moving on to bigger and better things, so delicate and easily blemished that you need to take special care with them.  

Now, I know what you're thinking, and let me stop you right there -- this Late Summer Fig is a salad, yes, but don't underestimate it. This is one of those salads that defies the boring-pile-of-lettuce-stereotype, a salad that I do (and you could) eat happily. We've got salty rich prosciutto, peppery arugula, summer-y basil, smoky crunchy hazelnuts, heavenly mozzarella di bufala, and glorious, radiant figs, the star of the show, all tied together with a a sharp-sweet mix of honey, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Every bite is a little different and every one is better than the next. Bonus: have you ever seen a prettier, more elegant salad?! Didn't think so.

A couple of notes: This salad is infinitely flexible; replace the hazelnuts with pistachios or pine nuts, the mozzarella di bufala with goat cheese or even feta cheese, or leave out the prosciutto for the vegetarians, if you want. You can use either purple or green figs here -- both work.

Looking for other fancy salad recipes? I've got these Nectarines with Arugula and Burrata, this Watermelon and Feta Salad, this Greek Panzanella, this Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad, and this Fennel Salad with Oranges and Olives. Looking for more fig recipes? I've also got these Roasted Red Wine Figs, two ways. 

LATE SUMMER FIG SALAD

Ingredients for the dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey

Ingredients for the salad:
6 figs
4 slices (about 2 ounces, or 55 grams) prosciutto, torn in to smaller pieces
4 cups arugula (80 grams)
1/4 cup (a small handful) hazelnuts
4 basil leaves
1 (125 gram, a little more than 4 ounces) ball mozzarella di bufala

Directions:
In a small bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients and set aside. Cut the stems off the figs and quarter them. Chop up the hazelnuts roughly, cut the mozzarella into pieces, and tear the basil in to smaller pieces. 
In a medium bowl, toss the arugula together with some of the dressing, just enough to coat. Distribute the arugula evenly on four plates, then top with the figs, prosciutto, hazelnuts, mozzarella, and a bit of basil for garnish. Drizzle the salads with more dressing (serve the rest on the side) and eat up. Serves 4.












Pollo ai peperoni

After sour cream-rich waffles, ice cream-topped cobbler, and a pie made with zucchini and tomatoes, yes, but also a buttery pie crust, I thought it was time to shake things up in the Butter-Flour-Sugar Land this blog periodically becomes (sorry not sorry) with pollo ai peperoni, which contains meat, vegetables, and for extra points, also happens to be gluten-free (!!!)

But let's talk chicken, shall we?! It plays a big part in American cuisine, and Americans can't get in enough of it. You'll find it on every restaurant menu, in pot-pies and soups, in chicken finger form, served with pasta (no comment), on salads, and in soups, nestled among buttery dumplings, eaten fried, grilled, poached, or roasted. Italians, on the other hand, could take it or leave it -- I've found it plays a much smaller role in their cuisine. As far as the Italians are concerned, why go for the chicken when you could have veal (saltimbocca alla romana, cotolette alla milanese!) pork (guanciale, pancetta, porchetta) or beef (ragu alla bolognese, bistecca alla fiorentina)?! I've found that in Italy, a chicken breast is what one eats when one has been sick, or is trying to lose weight, and I can probably count on one hand the times I've seen it on a menu here. 

But there are exceptions to every rule -- there are a few classic Italian dishes made with chicken, and what they lack in number they make up for in flavor. There is pollo alla cacciatora, the classic pollo arrosto con patate, and the subject of today's post, pollo ai peperoni, a classic Roman dish with chicken and bell peppers as the stars, and tomatoes, white wine, and fresh herbs as the supporting actors. It makes the best of bell peppers -- late Summer is the start of their season -- and is packed with flavor, the sweetness of the tomatoes and peppers intensified with all the slow cooking, the chicken perfectly cooked and superbly juicy, the herbs waking the whole thing up and adding a little freshness. For me, it is Italian cooking at its best -- simple, straightforward, just a few ingredients required -- not to mention super easy, a matter of throwing everything together in the pan and letting it simmer away for a bit. What's not to like?! 

A couple of notes: If you're not a fan of oregano, you can also use thyme here. I forgot to pick up fresh herbs and used dried oregano, which worked fine in a pinch. Feel free to use a mix of different colored peppers -- some orange might have been nice here too. I used drumsticks because that's what I like, but feel free to use whatever other cut of chicken you want. Though you can use boneless and skinless chicken if you want to keep things healthy, bone-in chicken with skin on is the tastiest and works best in this recipe. As usual, I scaled this recipe down a bit as I was only feeding myself, with leftovers, so feel free to up the quantities if you're feeding a bigger group. Be sure as well to have a big enough pan to accommodate all your ingredients, with high enough sides -- if you have a Dutch oven, that's ideal here.

Looking for other chicken recipes? I've got this Pollo alla cacciatora in bianco, these Cotolette di pollo, and this Roast Chicken with Grapes and Olives. Want another Roman secondo? I've also got Saltimbocca alla romana.


POLLO AI PEPERONI

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound (500 grams) chicken pieces
1 clove garlic
2 large bell peppers (preferably different colors)
1 1/2 cups (250 grams) cherry tomatoes, sliced
3/4 cup (180 ml) white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste 
Fresh oregano, to taste (see notes)
1/4 cup water
Salt and pepper as needed

Directions:
Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet with high sides over medium-low heat. Add the garlic clove and stir it around for a second to let the butter and olive oil get nice and garlicky. Next, add the chicken pieces to the pan, cut side down. Cook the chicken for 20 minutes, turning once about 15 minutes in. While the chicken is cooking, slice up your bell peppers.
 
 
When the 20 minutes are up, add 1/2 cup of the wine to the pan with the chicken, and let it evaporate, about 5 minutes. When the wine is evaporated, add the peppers and tomatoes to the pan, placing them around and under the chicken. Add the last 1/4 cup of wine to the tomato and peppers, and let that cook off for a minute or two. Finally, add the tomato paste and the oregano or thyme, and give everything a good stir and a season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan.
 
Let the pollo ai peperoni cook for about 45 minutes, occasionally removing the lid on the pan to stir the peppers and tomatoes. After 45 minutes the chicken should be ready, but depending on what pieces of chicken you've used, this could take up to an hour. Test if the chicken is done by cutting in to the thickest part of the chicken -- if the juices are clear and the meat isn't pink, you're good to go. 
 
Remove the chicken to a plate and turn your attention to the tomatoes and peppers. Add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and swirl around to loosen the sauce up. Let cook for another five minutes or so.
 
Fish the garlic clove out of the sauce and discard. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings if necessary, then transfer it to a platter and top it with the chicken. Eat the whole thing with bread on the side to not let any of the sauce go to waste. Serves 2.






















Corn, Tomato, and Zucchini Pie


This recipe wasn't supposed to make it to the blog. In fact this Pie came about because I had, with much anticipation, been planning to make Caramelized Corn with Tomatoes and Bacon (!!!) a summer-y, American side dish meant to showcase the season's tomato and corn, and the bacon, well that goes without saying. Bacon, as we all know, bestows its signature smokiness and saltiness and richness upon every ingredient it touches, and makes them all the better for it. In fact I'd estimate it makes everything aleast 10 times more delicious.

But when I was ready to make my Caramelized Corn with Tomatoes and Bacon (!!!) I couldn't find any bacon. This might seem obvious as I'm in Italy, where bacon isn't so common, but my local Carrefour supermarket actually carries good old American-style sliced bacon, they just seemed to be out of it (or perhaps hadn't bothered to order it lately?! I don't imagine Italians are as fond of it as I am). I rummaged among the mortadella, the guanciale, the prosciutto, but it wasn't them I wanted, it was bacon I was in search of, and it was nowhere to be found. I toyed with the idea of substituting pancetta, but I knew it wouldn't be the same thing, and plus it didn't feel right to put pancetta with corn or butter or in an American dish at all. I moped briefly in the cold-cuts section of the supermarket and then rallied. 

I had already found the other ingredients needed for my recipe -- the corn, tomatoes, and basil -- and I did have half an onion and a zucchini kicking around the fridge, waiting to be used, and fate would have it that I had some leftover sour cream, the usual large quantity of butter, and some newly purchased whole wheat flour at home, too. The result was this improvised, supremely Summer-y Corn, Tomato, and Zucchini Pie, or flaky, buttery, whole-wheat pastry wrapped around candy-like caramelized onions, juicy tomatoes, sweet corn, emerald green coins of zucchini, and lots of melted cheese, with a bit flowery basil thrown in for good measure. Its a cross between this Cherry Tomato Crostata and this Three-Cheese Zucchini Tart, one of those savory pies I love so much that wears many hats, excellent as a starter, a light lunch, or on your brunch menu, able to accommodate whatever veggies are in season or whatever you happen to have hanging out in your fridge. The leftovers were superb, too.

I'll be honest: I didn't even miss the bacon. 

I'll be back in a few days with some Italian recipes to balance out all the corn and waffles and sour cream we've been seeing on here lately -- in the meantime, have a good weekend everyone! 

A couple of notes: If you don't have any whole wheat flour, feel free to use (all) all-purpose flour. Use any cheese here you like -- I used mozzarella because its what I had on hand, but Gruyere would also be nice. Adjust the quantities of the vegetables in the filling as you see fit -- if you want more corn, add more corn! Less tomatoes? Add less tomatoes! Note that I made this while my sister was away on vacation and it was just me at home, so I made a smaller pie -- the quantities below serve about 4. If you want a bigger pie, feel free to double the quantities of the crust and filling. Finally, if you aren't up for making the crust from scratch, you could of course always use a store-bought pie crust, but I will say the homemade crust is pretty spectacular and comes together quickly. 

Looking for other savory pies? I've got this Butternut Squash Galette, this Three-Cheese Zucchini Tart, and this Cherry Tomato Crostata, plus this Torta Pasqualina. Looking for other dishes with zucchini, tomatoes, or corn? I've got this Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad, these Stuffed Zucchini, this Tomato Cobbler, this Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil, and these Savory Tomato Shortcakes.

CORN, TOMATO, AND ZUCCHINI PIE

Ingredients for the pie crust:
3/4 cup (98 grams) tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (65 grams) whole wheat flour
8 tablespoons (112 grams) butter, ice cold and cut in to cubes
1/4 cup (about 55 grams) sour cream or full-fat yogurt
1/4 cup (59ml) ice cold water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 egg for the egg wash

Ingredients for the filling:
1/2 large onion
2 tablespoons (28 grams) butter
1 medium zucchini, cut in to rounds and then the rounds cut in half
1/2 cup (100 grams) corn kernels
3/4 cup (about 110 grams) cherry tomatoes, larger ones halved
2 tablespoons of basil, chopped (or more or less to taste)
1 1/4 cups (about 140 grams) grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt

Olive oil, as needed 
Pepper
Basil to garnish

Directions:
To make the crust: Whisk together the flours and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle the cubes of butter over the dough and using a pastry blender (or your fingertips, if you don't have one) cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter and flour mixture. With a wooden spoon, mix in the liquid in until a dough begins to form; be careful to not overwork the dough. If it seems too wet, add more flour a tablespoon at a time. Turn the dough out on to a floured work surface and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

To make the filling: Start with the onions. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet and cook the onion over low heat pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Place the onions in a bowl and set aside. Add the zucchini, corn, and tomatoes to the pan where the onions were along with a little olive oil so they don't stick. Saute the zucchini and tomatoes for about 4-5 minutes, or until they're all slightly softened and the zucchini is light brown (note that the veg will continue to cook in the oven). Add the zucchini, corn, and tomatoes to the bowl with onions. Add the basil and stir to combine. Set the filling aside to let it cool slightly. When cooled, add the cheese and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, plus pepper to taste. Taste the filling and adjust the seasonings accordingly. 

Time to assemble your pie! Once the hour is up, take your dough out of the refrigerator. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 8-inch round. Transfer to an greased baking sheet (wrap the dough around the rolling pin to help you transfer it from counter to baking sheet) Alternatively, if your oven is small like mine and you can't fit a whole baking sheet, you can lay the dough out over a greased 9-inch spring form pan and use that.  

Spread the filling over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit (note that this doesn't have to be perfect -- see my photos). Brush the border of the dough with a beaten egg to make it shiny, and bake in the oven until golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven, and let it cool for a bit. Garnish with extra chopped basil. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm, or room temperature. Makes (1) pie, serving 4 generously.



Blackberry Sour Cream Waffles

A couple of months ago I was invited to dinner at the house of my friends Lavinia and Deni (you may remember them from this post here). Deni, who is Hungarian, made us a delicious Hungarian meal (a preview if you will for the trip we were to take to Budapest not long after, where we ate stupendously). He prepared a cauliflower and carrot soup, roast chicken and potatoes with a side of pickles, and a dessert made with chestnuts and whipped cream, plus offered us p√°linka, Hungary's traditional fruit brandy, in all different flavors. But back to that first course -- when it came time to eat the cauliflower soup, Deni disappeared briefly in to the kitchen and reappeared, like magic, with a container in his hand. “Sour cream, to top the soup?”

I nearly gasped.

Sour cream is used quite a bit in American cuisine, as a topping for Tex Mex enchiladas, tacos, or chili, in dips, or, most importantly, in lots of American baking where it lends a certain tenderness, richness and tangy-ness, improving every baked good it touches. It can be used in cheesecakes, muffins, cakes, pie crusts, pie fillings, and even scones and biscuits. And sour cream, you see, was supposed to be one of those ingredients like buttermilk, cheddar cheese, okra, sweetened shredded coconut, Graham crackers, and (not mini) milk chocolate chips, or rather, things I had never seen in Italy and had always known to be unavailable here. Sighting sour cream in Rome was the culinary equivalent of spotting a comet that passes once every 100-something years, or an animal that was thought to have been extinct for ages, but had reappeared. What was it doing here?!

“Where’d you get that?!” I demanded.

“What, the sour cream? Pam, the supermarket,” they answered. “Not all of the Pams have them, but some do. So do you want some?”

Yes, yes I did, thank you very much.

A couple of months after that, in a small supermarket not even close to where I live, I, like magic, stumbled upon sour cream (panna acida in Italian) again in the dairy aisle, hidden among the heavy cream and butter. It was the same brand that Deni and Lavinia had found at Pam. I seized the occasion – who knows when it would arise again?! – and grabbed two containers, hurried home, and subsequently made these Blueberry Pie Bars and then Blackberry Sour Cream Waffles.

Even in the heat of the Roman summer I still find breakfast doable – the morning is the time before the heat has really sunk its teeth in, and before the thought of eating anything above room temperature is unbearable. Plus the waffle iron, unlike the oven or the stove, doesn't heat the kitchen up, and having procured my beloved sour cream and picked up some lovely looking blackberries, I decided to strike while the (waffle) iron was hot and whip up these waffles. These are tender and fluffy thanks to all the sour cream, cinnamon scented to boot, studded with tart sapphire-like blackberries and scrumptious when served with maple syrup and extra berries on top. I loved them and I think you will too. 

A couple of notes: You could substitute blueberries or raspberries for the blackberries here if you'd like. If you don't have whole wheat flour, you can use just all-purpose flour no problem. If you can't find sour cream where you are, I'm sorry! but you can substitute plain full-fat yogurt with good results. The amount of blackberries may seem relatively small, but as I learned, too many blackberries that get subsequently squished in the waffle iron and make the waffles tricky to remove from the waffle iron in one whole waffle piece. If you don't care about presentation, and want your waffles extra blackberry-y, then go ahead and add more. You can keep the waffles warm on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven as you cook the others. Finally, feel free to add a little lemon zest here instead of the cinnamon, if you want Blackberry Lemon Waffles.

Looking for other waffle recipes? I have these Banana Pecan Waffles, these Savory Prosciutto and Cheese Waffles with a Fried Egg, and these ever so perfect Classic Waffles. Prefer pancakes to waffles? I've got these Cornmeal Blueberry Pancakes, these Pumpkin Pancakes, these Classic Pancakes, and these Savory Squash Pancakes. Prefer french toast to pancakes or waffles? I've got Pumpkin French Toast and these Individual Baked French Toasts. Want other blackberry recipes? I've also got this Blackberry Cheesecake Galette

BLACKBERRY SOUR CREAM WAFFLES

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons (42 grams) butter, melted and cooled 
3/4 cup (140 grams) blackberries
5 tablespoons (50 grams) sugar, divided
1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (98 grams) whole wheat flour (see comment in Notes)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
3/4 cup (180 grams) milk
1 cup (224 grams) sour cream

Directions:
Place the blackberries in a small bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the sugar; mix together and set aside. 
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sour cream, melted butter, and vanilla. In another separate medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Add the blackberries and stir once or twice to incorporate them. Preheat the waffle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions (mine only takes a few minutes to heat up).

Once the waffle iron is hot brush with extra melted butter so your waffles don't stick. Using a ladle, distribute the batter evenly over the waffle iron surface, keeping in mind that the batter will spread a little when you close the waffle iron. Close the iron and let the waffles cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Use a fork to carefully remove the waffle from the oven and slide it on to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter to make more waffles. Serve your Blackberry Sour Cream Waffles with maple syrup, extra blackberries, and if you want to do as I did, a glass of blood orange juice. Makes 4 large waffles.

Recipe adapted from www.food.com.











Peach Cobbler

One of my dearest frolleagues (friend and colleague) and an ardent follower of this blog once pointed out that the best way to eat seasonal fruit and veg was essentially just leaving them as is. For example, if tomatoes are their peak in the Summer, just slice them and eat them with a little salt, pepper, and olive oil, at most  most, and if cherries are at their best, he reasoned, it would be best to eat them fresh, no need to stem and pit and bake them in to a pie (he was skeptical when I told him I had taken to roasting cherries for Cherry and Goat Cheese Crostini -- in hindsight, I can sort of see his point). In his book, the less one does, the better, and I certainly agree -- let cherry-ness or the tomato-ness or the blueberry-ness shine when they're at their best, no need to confuse the natural flavor with other ones. 

And yet.

If you're of the same idea then, I guess you wouldn't want to take a bunch of seasonal, at-their-best peaches, slice them, toss them with a little lemon juice, and bake them until even juicier and sweeter, now would you? You would probably also be against topping the aforementioned peaches with a cake-y, buttery, topping, the perfect vehicle to absorb all those lovely peach juices and add a little texture contrast, just barely sweet in order to let the peaches shine. I'd go as far as to presume as well then that serving this warm out of the oven with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream would be a bad idea too, right? You would thus probably not be a fan of the resulting Peach Cobbler, and would most certainly have no problem turning down a serving of it for dessert, correct?!

Hmmm. 

I've come to conclude that sometimes, just sometimes, less isn't necessarily always more, and that occasionally, a few little touches here and there can actually take something that is already great to other levels of greatness, albeit slightly fancier, more elaborate ones. Peach Cobbler (a dessert from the American south, if you're not familiar) exemplifies this, taking already delicious summer-y peaches and dressing them up a little, elevating them from simple summer snack to perfect summer dessert. This recipe (from my culinary bible, Bon Appetit) is just what a cobbler should be -- its simple and straightforward, peach-centric and downright delicious, plus it was a cinch to make and was in the oven before I knew it. Because when you have a dessert this good, the last thing you want to do is have to wait too long to eat it, right? 

A couple of notes: You could probably add a handful of raspberries or blueberries or strawberries to this cobbler to make it a Peach Berry Cobbler. Feel free to add a little cinnamon to the peaches or topping if you want too. Serve this warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and you won't regret it, or eat the leftovers cold out of the fridge like my sister and I did -- its surprisingly refreshing when its over 100 degrees out. 

Looking for other Summer fruit desserts? I've got this Blueberry Pie, these Blueberry Pie Bars, this Plum Cobbler with Cinnamon Biscuits, this Summer Berry Cake, these Strawberry Chocolate Shortcakes, this Blackberry Cheesecake Galette, and these Raspberry and Blueberry Shortcakes. Want other recipes with peaches? I've got this Peach Raspberry Buckle and this salad with Peaches, Burrata, and Arugula. For good measure while we're on the topic of cobblers -- this savory Cherry Tomato Cobbler with Gruyere Biscuits.

PEACH COBBLER

Ingredients:
6 large peaches, cut into wedges (not too thick or too thin -- see my photos below)
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 cup (130 grams) flour
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (12 tablespoons, or 168 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup (59ml) boiling water

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 Fahrenheit (215 degrees Celsius).

In a medium bowl, toss the peaches together with the sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Pour the peaches in to a lightly buttered 2-qt. baking dish. Bake the peaches in the oven for about 10 minutes to give them a head start.
Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles sand (or, if its super hot out where you are like it was in Rome when I made this, the resulting mixture will look more like a dough as the butter will melt faster than you can blend it in). Stir in the water until just combined -- the mixture should look like a batter now.
When the 10 minutes are up, remove the peaches from the oven. Drop spoonfuls of topping over them, then use a spoon to spread the mixture evenly over the peaches. Put your cobbler back in the oven and bake until the topping is golden brown, about 25 minutes. 
Let the cobbler cool for at least half an hour before eating to let the juices and peaches set a bit. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Serves 4-6.


Recipe from www.epicurious.com.