Suzi's Blog

Berry and Peach Cobbler

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Cobblers are an American creation, really an adaptation to circumstances. In colonial America the traditional British suet pudding could not be made. Cost, ingredients and equipment all were hurdles too high for those colonial families. Instead, a base of stewed filling, fruit filling, was covered with a layer of uncooked biscuits or dumplings.

Variation on the cobbler abound and include the Betty, the Grump, the Slump, the Buckle, the Pandowdy, and the Sonker. Crisps and Crumbles have an oatmeal-based topping instead of that biscuit.

Cobblers have an inherent visual appeal with the biscuit atop the bubbling fruit. Lately, there has been a trend towards individual desserts served in ramekins or small Mason jars. People love these very “personal” desserts and there is a cottage industry out there of books and recipes where clever chefs and writers design new combinations.

And some great chefs have long endorsed this concept. This recipe is from Alfred Portale and reflects a sophisticated balance of fruit components, sugar sweetness, and vanilla aromas. This recipe comes from Alfred Portale’s Twelve Seasons Cookbook published in 2000. The book may have a few years on its pages, but this recipe is ageless.

For a weekend party or brunch, this recipe scales very well. Need kitchen help if you are making a herd of these? Enlist the kids. They love the tasks of stuffing fruit into jars and carefully positioning that top biscuit. This is a graceful way to introduce kitchen creativity to your kids. The benefits could be enormous. You may have a young Portale in your household, and it would be a sin to hold them back.


Summer Berry and Peach Cobbler

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 5 medium ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 2 pints black berries, or assorted berries
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • ½ cup sugar, or to taste depending on the ripeness of the peaches

For the topping:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Have ready 8 ramekins, each about 5 inches in diameter.

In a medium bowl, toss together the fruit and vanilla bean and reserve for the assembly.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine and flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and blend to combine. Add the butter and mix on medium-high speed, until the mixture is crumbly. Add the buttermilk and mix again until the dough is combined.

Remove the vanilla bean from the fruit mixture and discard it. Equally fill each ramekin with the fruit, leaving room for the topping. Top each ramekin with a dollop of the topping. Brush the topping with the last tablespoon of buttermilk. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Cool slightly on wire racks and serve with whipped cream or, even better, a Buttermilk Ice Cream.

Source: Alfred Portale’s Twelve Seasons Cookbook

Photo Information [top shot]: Canon T2i, EFS60mm Macro Lens, F/5.6 for1/60th second at ISO‑1600

 

 

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Killer Brownies from Marc Forgione

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Yesterday I posted a Coffee Nutella Ice Cream to be paired with this Killer Brownie. It’s dense and chocolaty. The crust, you can see from the picture, is thin and fragile. You could not frost these brownies, so ice cream is a sound way to “complete” the dish, although honestly it does not need anything in addition.

If you don’t want ice cream, then some whipped cream will tone down the intensity of this dessert. Or, you can go the other way. A glass of deep and dark red wine is a complement readily enjoyed.

Unlike most people, I can truthfully claim I have eaten more brownies than Oreos. Suzen and I have a shelf devoted to brownie books. Not cookie books. Brownie books. It is an American dessert, perhaps as much “the” American dessert as apple pie. The wife of the owner of the premiere Chicago Palmer House Hotel requested that her chef create a dessert for ladies attending the World Fair in Chicago 1893. The idea was to have something small, a cross between cake and cookie.

Bertha Palmer was married to Potter Palmer. He had founded a department store and sold it off — before it evolved into Marshall Field’s. He founded the Palmer House, only to lose it in the Great Chicago Fire. But he rebuilt and the Palmers were formidable and gracious members of Chicago society.

Bertha is forgotten now. But her desire, the brownie, is an institution as grand as any hotel or department store.


Killer Brownies

Yield: 8 really large ones

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup plus ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ⅔ cup cake or all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the butter and sugars in the bowl and melt and mix until creamed and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.

Sift the cocoa powder, flour, and salt into a bowl. Add half the cocoa mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just combined, scraping down the bowl continuously. Repeat with the remaining half.

Grease and flour an 8-inch square cake pan. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and transfer to the oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out dry but with a crumb or two. The top should look dry, crater like, and crackly, about 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside to cool completely. Trim off the edges first [you can save for a great ice cream topping] and cut into even squares.

Source: Cooking by the Book Staff with info from Wikipedia

Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/50th second at ISO‑2500