By Julia Sullivan, as told to Daniel Modlin
One of the things I realized during the pandemic and throughout 20-years of cooking is that the amount of times I get to cook for friends and family are few and far between. And so when I get the chance, I try to keep it simple. After all, I don’t want to overwhelm myself when I don't have to be at the restaurant.
I have a group of friends that I always do the holidays with, but during the pandemic, we gathered quite a bit for family dinners, always on Sunday or Monday. When it’s my turn to host, I’m always trying to work with ingredients that I grow in my home garden.
These days, I'm mostly making a pasta dish with a bunch of ingredients from my garden. I blister some tomatoes—I really like cherries, sweet 100s and sungolds—and then just let them really stew in their own juices. I’ll typically add in some greens like Kale or Swiss Chard, and of course, lots of basil. As a side, I’ll usually serve some sort of salad, but I don’t grow a lot of lettuce—it’s too hot here in Nashville—so I’ve been chopping up cucumbers and serving them with fresh herbs from my garden.
But the way I’ve been finishing meals these days is with my Stepmother’s Peach Cobbler Recipe, which we actually serve at Henrietta Red, too. I’ve done it the last two Sunday nights in a row, and it’s always a hit. For what it’s worth—I don’t actually know where the recipe originated from—probably not my stepmother.
But it’s something I always remember her making, and it’d always be in the summer with peaches or blackberries or some combination of the two. She’d always make it when we’d go to the beach with the family in South Carolina.
Of course, Tennessee doesn’t have a lot of peaches, so when you’re road tripping from Nashville to the South Carolina coast, there’s lots of food stands with peaches and boiled peanuts. We’d always stop and stock up with enough stuff to last us a week and we’d always make this cobbler.
To me, as a kid, the recipe always seemed very tedious. One of the things she’d do is she’d boil water to blanch the skins, but nowadays, I just skip that step, and just cut the skins off and throw them in. I find that, especially if you’re using blackberries and peaches together, the filling will turn this beautiful pink-and-orange swirl color.
I love this recipe because it's relatively easy to make, and it’s really delicious. All you need is one pan and the only difficult thing is coordinating that the filling is hot when you’re dropping the biscuits on top. The biscuits are really sweet—and while there are so many different ways to make a cobbler, this is my favorite. With a little ice cream and in-season peaches, there’s nothing better.
Chef Julia Sullivan’s Stepmother’s Peach Cobbler Recipe