Friday, July 08, 2005

Cobbler for a BBQ

An easy way to use up fruit without bothering to make a pie crust is to make a cobbler. A cobbler is a baked fruit dish of fruit topped with a sweetened biscuit topping. Actually, I think a cobbler could be savory as well, if you dropped pieces of buttermilk biscuit on top of a meat or vegetable base before baking it.
The name comes from the "cobbled" look that results from dropping pieces of dough onto the dish rather than rolling out a crust. It's a traditional American dessert and I would venture to say that it can be found in all parts of the country, as it can be made with just about any type of fruit. Berries, apples and stone fruits make the best, in my opinion. I think it's great to serve for company because it looks as good as it tastes and it's very easy. The filling can be prepared ahead of time, it has a fairly long bake and it can sit around for an hour before serving it, so it requires little attention.
My inspiration was a Honey Peach and Blackberry Cobbler from Cooking Light. Unfortunately, I had neither peaches nor blackberries and I didn't have enough fruit to make a 1:1 substitution in the recipe. Armed with a good idea, I made a blueberry and nectarine cobbler. I kept the lemon zest in the topping from the original recipe and I kept the "light"ness, by using only a small amount of butter. The topping should be broken up into small pieces and scattered around. It absorbs the juices from the fruit, so I don't feel anything is lost by reducing the butter as I have; a high degree of flakiness would be neither desireable nor noticeable in this recipe. The topping is not dense, but anything reminiscent of cobblestones should not be ethereally light.
I loved this. The hint of lemon was lovely and there natural flavors of the fruit really stood out. The topping was crisp the night it was made and pleasantly soft the next day. If a soft topping is not your favorite, then simply scoop out any fruit leftover the next day and use it to top oatmeal or yogurt.
I personally like to have cobbler plain, but it is also great served with a bit of vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

Blueberry and Nectarine Cobbler
For filling:
1 pint blueberries (2 cups)
8 nectarines
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
pinch salt

For topping:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
zest of one lemon
2-3 tbsp butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375F.
Wash and peel nectarines. Slice each into 8-10 slices, as desired. Wash blueberries. Place fruit into a medium bowl and add 2 tbsp flour, 2 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine then pour fruit into an 8x8 inch baking dish.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, lemon zest and the baking powder and soda. Using your fingers, rub in butter until mixture resembles very coarse meal. Stir in buttermilk. You should have a wet dough.
Drop the dough in golf ball sized pieces evenly over the dough. It will spread a bit as it bakes, so don't try to cover the whole surface. The pieces of dough do not have to be evenly sized, either.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until juices are bubbly and topping is a nice brown color. Let stand for at least 30 minutes before serving to give the juices a chance to thicken and reabsorb.
Serves 6-8.

By the way, does anyone have any thoughts as to which photo I should enter from June for this month's DMBLGiT?