gail monaghan

This peach cobbler is quintessential Edna Lewis in all its Southern-summer deliciousness. The nutmeg sauce provides an unusual and appropriately old-fashioned accompaniment. I adapted the cobbler (mine has less sugar and less butter) from her book The Taste of Country Cooking. The recipe also appears in a slightly different form in In Pursuit of Flavor, where she remembers, “With the first juicy, sweet peaches of summer, we always made cobbler.” For Lewis, the whole point of this dessert is to taste sweet, fresh peaches–nothing else. She suggests using the sweetest fruit you can find and recommends the nutmeg Sauce, but admits that growing up, “we would just spoon the juice from the peaches up over the cobbler which is good too.”

The cobbler is well-matched with vanilla ice cream a la mode, as recommended in The Joy of Cooking, which describes cobblers as “simply deep-dish single-crusted fruit pies,” with the cruse “usually on the top, though occasionally… on the bottom.” It goes on to state, “Cobblers used to be made with pie dough, but a sweet rich biscuit dough is more common today.” Lewis’s pie-dough cobbler has the unusual aspect of both a bottom and a top crust, its slightly salty crunch intensifying the peach flavor even further. Introducing her recipe, Lewis notes, “In Virginia it is traditional to weave a lattice top pastry over the fruit, which is piled generously into a deep pie plate and mounded a little in the center.”

Edna Lewis’ Peach Cobbler
Serves 6 to 8


Butter Pie Pastry (recipe follows), lightly chilled
8 large ripe but still firm peaches (or substitute nectarines)
¾ cup sugar mixed with a pinch of salt
4 tablespoons (½ stick) cold unsalted butter cut into thin slices
Nutmeg Sauce (recipe follows)


1. Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish.

2. Divide the pastry disk in half. Roll one half between two sheets of wax or parchment paper to fit in the baking dish; line the pan with the dough, pressing it gently into the sides, bottom, and corners of the pan. Trim the overlapping dough from around the edges. Refrigerate the lined pan until ready to use, at least 30 minutes. Several hours or overnight will provide an even more tender crust.

3. Roll out the other piece of dough into a 9-inch square; cut twelve 9-inch strips, each about ¾ inch wide. Place the strips between wax paper and refrigerate them.

4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

5. Peel the peaches (peeling is unnecessary if using nectarines) with a vegetable peeler or by dipping each one in boiling water for 20 to 60 seconds, refreshing in cold water, then slipping the skin off. Remove the put and slice each peach into 8 wedges. 6. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the sugar-salt mixture over the dough in the pan. Mound the peaches in the middle. Sprinkle all but 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar mixture over them and distribute the butter slices evenly over the top.

7. Weave the pastry strips into a lattice by placing one lengthwise and then one crosswise, spacing them evenly, until they are all used. Moisten the ends of the strips with cold water and press them into the crust sides to seal. Don’t worry if they break. Just patch them back together as best you can.

8. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar mixture over the lattice.

9. Place the baking dish in the middle of the preheated oven, and immediately lower the oven temperature to 425. Bake until the crust is deep golden and the fruit juices are bubbling, about 45 minutes. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving with the nutmeg sauce, if desired. Note: Miss Lewis’s cobbler is quite runny. You’ll need a spoon to scoop up all of the delicious juices. If you want a “fork only” version, toss a tablespoon of cornstarch or 2 tablespoons of instant tapioca with the fruit before placing it in the crust.

Butter Pie Pastry
Makes enough for 1 (8-in) double-crust cobbler


3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
18 tablespoons (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) very cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces


1. Put the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine.

2. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is the texture of very coarse cornmeal.

3. With the motor running, add 3/8 cup ice water all at once and pulse just until combined. If too dry to come together, pulse in another 1 to 3 teaspoons of ice water. The dough should not become a solid mass. (This can also be done with a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers, but I find the food processor just as useful a method.)

4. Form the dough into a ball. Dusts with flour and form into a flat cake. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before continuing with the recipe

Nutmeg Sauce

2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt 2 teaspoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup boiling water
2 inch piece dried orange peel (see note) or substitute 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest or 1/8 teaspoon orange oil
3 tablespoons brandy


1. Mix the sugar, salt, cornstarch, and nutmeg together in a small saucepan. 2. Whisk in the boiling water, add the orange peel, and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.

3. Cool a bit before stirring in the brandy.

4. Warm before serving but do not boil. (Note: I like adding a tablespoon of heavy cream while reheating. To dry the orange peel: Scrape all the white from the pieces of peel and dry on a rack for several days or until dry. Store for up to a month in a lidded jar.)


Scallion Pancakes


2 cups all-purpose flour

About 3 teaspoons fine salt

¾ cup boiling water

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil

Up to ½ cup cold water

½ cup sliced scallions including green tops

½  cup neutral oil or as needed

Ginger-Scallion dipping sauce, recipe below


1. Mix flour and 1 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl; pour in boiling water and quickly mix together until water is absorbed. Work in the sesame oil and then the cold water, about 1 tablespoon at a time, into flour mixture just until dough forms. Knead dough for 10 minutes. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and let dough rest for 40 minutes.

2. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface; divide into 4 equal pieces.

3. Roll 1 piece of dough into a large thin round; brush the top with vegetable oil and sprinkle with about ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ of the scallions. Pick up 1 end of the round and roll dough around scallions into a long scroll-shape. Take 1 scroll end and roll dough into a disk. Repeat with remaining dough, letting each disk rest for 10 minutes.

4. Heat about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Place 1 disk on a floured surface and roll into a ½-inch thick round; cook in the hot oil until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining disks.

Ginger Scallion Dipping Sauce

Makes about 3 cups


2 ½ cups thinly sliced scallions, including green tops

¼ cup grated or finely minced peeled fresh ginger

½ cup grapeseed or other neutral oil

4 teaspoons light soy

2-3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt to taste


1. Mix everything together in a bowl. Let rest for at least 15-20 minutes and then adjust salt and other seasonings to taste.


I finally got my hands on a copy of my new cookbook, It’s All In The Timing, due out in November! And am very excited to share it with you. 

Of all my cookbooks, I feel this one best addresses many of the problems we all face when planning a dinner at home, especially a well-timed one. 

I hope you’ll pre-order your copy today on Amazon and join me in a few weeks at one of my book launch parties.

Nigella Lawson’s Pappardelle With Lamb Ragu


Serves 2

1 ½ tablespoons garlic flavored oil

4 scallions (finely sliced)

1 teaspoon dried mint

1 teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

8 oz ground lamb

1 x 14 oz can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly

1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Pinch of salt

Grinding of pepper

8 oz pappardelle

Fresh mint to serve (optional)


1. Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta, and warm the garlic oil in a small, heavy-based pan that comes with a lid, and cook the scallions, stirring for a minute or so.

2. Sprinkle in the herbs and chilli, stirring again before adding the meat. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring, until it loses a bit of its pinkness.

3. Add the tomatoes, redcurrant jelly, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, then give a good stir and bring to a bubble. Partially cover with the lid and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. At the appropriate time, salt the boiling water and cook the pasta according to packet instructions (ours took eight minutes), and once cooked and drained, dress with the lamb ragù. Sprinkle a little bit of fresh mint onto each bowl to serve.

As a child Audrey and Katharine Hepburn were my two favorite actresses though I’m embarrassed to admit that when very young I could not keep straight which one was which.  

A bit odd as both were extremely beautiful and glamorous, but did not look alike at all. I guess it was the name. 

In any case, to honor their memory and my childhood, here is a classic recipe from each of them. Audrey’s spaghetti with tomato sauce is as basic and as good as it gets. And Katharine’s brownies—being almost flourless—are the moistest, chewiest and most chocolaty ever. Enjoy.

Audrey Hepburn’s Favorite Spaghetti Al Pomodoro

Katharine Hepburn’s Brownie Recipe

I find lamb so much more flavorful than beef. And in summer, I cook it on the grill whenever I can. This favorite recipe is beyond easy.  And an advantage of butterflied lamb is that it’s varied thickness provides rare, medium and well-done meat. something for everyone.  And when done, remember to let it rest at least ten minutes before slicing.

Grilled Wine-Marinated Butterflied Leg of Lamb  

Serves 12-16


6 pounds boned butterflied leg of lamb

2/3 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup chopped parsley

3 crumbled bay leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram or oregano (optional)

2 cups thinly sliced onions

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Mix the marinade ingredients together and marinate the meat (turning occasionally) for at least 12 hours, preferably 24.

Take out of the refrigerator 4-6 hours before grilling or broiling.

2. When ready to cook, salt the meat and place it fat side down on a hot broiler or grill. Cook for 10 minutes and then turn with tongs and moisten with more marinade. Cook 5 minutes more and then check for doneness. If not done to your liking, continue to cook until it is, turning and moistening occasionally with marinade. Let rest ten minutes before serving, covered loosely with foil.

Bread pudding is one of my favorite desserts for fall, winter and early spring. This recipe–rich, boozy and laden with raisins, prunes and dried apricots and figs comes from my 2007 cookbook, LOST DESSERTS, and is about as good as it gets. It’s delicious as is but even  better topped with vanilla or rum Crème Anglaise of melty vanilla ice cream.

Classic Bread Pudding with Brandy-soaked Prunes and Apricots and Brandy Crème Anglaise 

Serves 8

¾ cup brandy, warmed

2 cup raisins

1 cup chopped prunes, dried apricots, dried figs or a mixture

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg.

½ pound best quality white bread, crusts removed and sliced very thin

unsalted butter to butter the bread

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons whole milk

1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs

2 egg yolks

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

Pinch of salt


1. Preheat the broiler. Butter the crustless bread slices on one side and cut in half corner to corner and soak the raisins and dried fruit in the warmed brandy with the cinnamon and the nutmeg.

2. Brown the buttered side under the broiler.

3. Cover the bottom of a 13-inch oval baking dish with the bread, toasted side up, in overlapping slices.

4. Boil the milk (with the vanilla bean if using). Beat the eggs and the yolks with the sugar and salt and then slowly add the hot milk to the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Strain the fruit and add any liquid to the custard.

5. Pour the hot mixture over the bread and then weigh the bread down with coffee cups, plates or whatever and let sit for 30 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 375. Nestle the soaked raisins and dried fruit amidst the bread slices and bake until set, about 20-30 minutes.

7. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.  Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Accompany with Brandy Crème Anglaise.

Brandy Crème Anglaise—

Makes 2  2/3 cups sauce

2 cups whole milk

6 egg yolks

Pinch of salt

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons brandy


1. Bring the milk to the simmer in a medium saucepan with the sugar and salt.

2. Beat the yolks.

3. Add the hot milk to the yolks, SLOWLY, and then pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Do not boil. When the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon, remove from the heat and immediately place the pan in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. When cool, stir in the vanilla and the brandy.

Audrey Hepburn’s Favorite Spaghetti Al Pomodoro


1 small onion

2 garlic cloves

2 carrots

2 stalks celery

2 (16 ounce) cans of pre-peeled roma tomatoes

1 bunch fresh basil, washed

2-4 ounces virgin olive oil

1 (16 ounce) box spaghetti noodles

4-8 ounces freshly grated parmesan cheese


1. Peel and dice the small onion, garlic, carrots, celery and put into a large pot.

2. Add 2 large cans of Italian pelati [pre-peeled roma tomatoes].

3. Add ½ of the bunch of basil with leaves left whole.

4. Add a long drizzle of olive oil.

5. Simmer on low for 45 minutes.

6. Turn off heat and let it rest at least 15 minutes.

7. Cook one package of spaghetti noodles [or angel hair] until al dente [with still a bit of a snap at the core].

8. Place pasta on large serving bowl or plate.

9. Pour sauce over.

10. Cut carefully the other ½ of basil and sprinkle over the sauce and pasta with lots of freshly grated parmagiana reggiano cheese.

Flambeed Bananas over Ice Cream/ Bananas Foster

Per serving:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 banana, sliced in half lengthwise

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

a pinch of cinnamon

1 tablespoon dark rum (such as Meyer’s)

Vanilla ice cream


1. In a large skillet, melt the butter until it turns light brown.

2. Add the bananas in one layer. After the first side browns and begins to caramelize (about 1 minute), turn and brown the second side. Sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon and toss and cook 1 to 2 minutes more until the sauce thickens and begins to caramelize. Don’t let it burn, but short of burning  the more sticky and caramelized, the better.

3. Turn off the heat but leave pan on the burner.

4. Meanwhile warm the rum in a small saucepan over medium heat. Tilt into the flame to ignite and pour carefully over the bananas. Shake pan and stir until all the flames die out. Be careful not to catch anything on fire.

5. Serve in dessert bowls over or under vanilla ice cream.