My refrigerator is bursting at the seams. It’s summer, and after waiting so many months, locally-grown fruits and vegetables are finally ripening. I can’t help myself – it all tastes so much better than produce that’s been shipped in – so a trip to the farmers market requires a carry cart to lug it home in. Trouble is, I don’t know how we’re going to eat it all.
Let’s tally it up. Along with all the other stuff one keeps in one’s fridge, there’s a huge bundle of chard and another of basil, a bulging cauliflower, a bag of green beans, six pints of BC blueberries (on sale) and half a dozen ears of sweet corn. Meanwhile, taking up counter space, is a three-litre basket of ripe field tomatoes and another basket of ripe Niagara peaches.
So start cooking, I say. Peaches ripen quickly so I zoomed in on this easy recipe from Melissa Clark of the New York Times for Brown Butter Nectarine Cobbler/Cake, and before you knew it, the kitchen was filled with a lovely smell and my store of peaches was reduced by (only) half. This is rustic food, part cobbler, part cake, part pudding, a bit crispy around the edges and juicy in the middle, just as delicious for breakfast as it is for dessert. I like it warmed with a dollop of plain yogurt, although you could go whole hog and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
If you have an 8-inch skillet, preferably cast iron, you can brown the butter in it and then add all the other ingredients, thereby cutting down on dishwashing later. Of course peaches can be substituted for nectarines and they don’t need peeling, the fuzz just seems to melt away in the baking. This would also be good with a few blueberries or raspberries thrown in, if, like me, you want to use up odds and ends. Which reminds me, I need to open that fridge door and get cracking, there’s pesto to be made, and tomato sauce, and what am I going to do with all that chard?
- 3 cups fresh nectarines or peaches in ½-inch slices, or a combination, about 1 pound
- 5 ounces sugar (about ¾ cup)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 ounces flour (about ¾ cup)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons demerara sugar
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the fruit slices, ¼ cup sugar and lemon juice. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a simmer, then take the pan off the heat.
- 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.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, remaining ½ 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.
- Serves: 6 to 8