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For the Love of Pecans: Cynthia Graubart
By Stephanie Burt, The Southern Fork
“Pecans are always around in my cooking,” says food writer, teacher, recipe developer, celebrated cookbook author, and television producer Cynthia Graubart. “They’re my go-to nut, and I always have them in the freezer. I learned early that they go straight into the freezer when they come in the house. It keeps them fresh, of course, but it also keeps them out of my sight!”
While pecans are good for snacking just on their own, all aspects of cooking fill most of Cynthia’s days. She works both singularly in her Atlanta kitchen and in collaboration behind the stove, in front of the camera, and on the page with a variety of authors, editors, and chefs, from Nathalie Dupree to the food editors of the Chicago Tribune and Better Homes & Gardens.
“When I’m writing a book, I’m very methodical,” she explains. “I use a grid to decide chapters, then I start filling in spaces. Her “nights-off” cooking, however, is a completely different approach. “It’s the shooting-from-the-hip approach,” she says. “And I’m always beating myself up for not taking fuller notes.”
She is always still creating in her off time, of course, and she uses a massive culinary reference library she’s compiled at home to provide foundation, inspiration, and technical pointers. Her most recent books, Strawberry Love and Blueberry Love, were both published this year by Storey Publishing, and she pulled pecans from the freezer for multiple recipes in them.
Specifically, when it comes to blueberries -- still a worthwhile culinary ingredient in the winter if you use quality frozen berries -- she prefers the pairing of pecans with them over any other nut. “Part of it is textural because a fresh pecan is soft, and there is a round flavor that just goes really well with blueberries. And also the healthy quality and just that hint of crunch make them exceptional.”
This winter when company’s visiting or you just want to provide a little comfort, this easy quick bread will do the trick. It takes the idea of fresh-out-of-the oven blueberry muffins and transforms them into an easy loaf for gift giving or sharing over a leisurely breakfast. And bonus -- a couple of slices toasted under the broiler and slathered with butter will make any weekday morning special.
Excerpted from Blueberry Love (c) by Cynthia Graubart, photography (c) by Keller + Keller photography, used with permission from Storey Publishing.
MAKES ONE 9-BY 5-INCH LOAF
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, cut into ½ -inch cubes
¾ cup chopped pecans
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries