Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Simple Summer Cobbler

At this time of year, the berries are appearing at every Farmers Markets and those of you who grow berries are harvesting daily. There are jams & jellies and salads and berry ice cream and, well you get it.  There are lots of possibilities.  Still sometimes the best thing you can do with a mix of berries is a cobbler. This particular cobbler, with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top is perfect for the 4th of July.

This is a very flexible recipe.  I made this based on the size cobbler I wanted, but you can double all of the ingredients and just use a 3 quart baking dish; for the following I used a two quart glass baking dish.  You can also use a good cast iron skillet. Next time I'm using my skillet!

Recipe:  Summer Berry Cobbler


2 oz (4 Tblsps) unsalted butter - cut into pieces

1/2 cup of flour

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon of baking powder

Scant pinch of salt

1/2 cup of milk

1 1/2 cups mixed berries (I used raspberries and blueberries)


Position the rack in the middle of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees
Put the butter in your baking dish and put the dish in the oven as soon as you set it - the butter will melt totally as the oven reaches temperature

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until well combined

Add the milk and whisk until combined - a few lumps are fine

Take the baking dish with the melted butter out of the oven and pour the batter over the butter

Scatter the fruit over the batter, adding more fruit into the center and less around the edges

Bake until the top is a rich golden brown; about 40 minutes

Sprinkle with powdered sugar

Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mixed Leafy Greens & Ricotta Pie: A Technique/Recipe Using the Bounty of the Season.

This is another one of those "recipes" that I think is really more "technique". You can adapt this with many ingredients. It's basically about using leafy greens, good cheese or cheeses, eggs, some aromatics, some seasonings and a pie crust and having fun.  This is the kind of dish that you can eat hot with a salad for dinner, have at room temperature on a buffet, or just grab a slice to take for a very delicious brown bag lunch.  It's also totally wonderful as a midnight snack. 

Here's what I did with this first go around. On the right hand side of the first picture you'll see my main ingredients. I needed to harvest a good deal of leafy greens from our garden.  In the bowl is Lacinto (black kale), mustard greens, kale,  and Swiss chard.  I also had a big bunch of Par-Cel (leaf celery) from my garden.  

From the Farmers Markets I had: Some Trumpet Mushrooms, Purple Spring Onions and Garlic Scapes. I had a container of gorgeous ricotta from Caputo Brothers Creamery. I also had some eggs and a hunk of Reggiano Parmigiano.  I had a small piece of Guanciale which I diced and fried up. You  could use bacon, salami or no meat at all. I had a spice called Berbere - an Ethiopian chili and spice blend (which is actually pretty widely available) - and I decided to go with that for my mixture. And, best of all, I had pastry doughs in the freezer.

The important things to remember:

Wash your greens thoroughly.  Blanche your greens in some boiling water for just a minute or so - longer for the "stronger" greens like black kale.  Take them out of the boil and put them into a bowl of ice. Hold them there. 

Chop your aromatics - in my case, the Scapes, the Spring Onions and the Par-Cel.  I also chopped the mushrooms.

Then take your leafy greens out of the ice and chop them - chop them all together and chop them very well.  I like to be able to use stems - there is flavor and nutrients there - but you have to do a good chop!  Mix your greens and your aromatics together. Stir well. Add a bit of salt and pepper. This is when I also added my Berbere spice. Stir well. 

I beat together one cup of milk and four eggs. To that I added the ricotta (in my case 1 1/2 cups). I whisked the egg mixture and ricotta well. I poured the egg and cheese mixture into the greens and aromatics and stirred it very well.  I added the diced Guanciale and again stirred very well.

I moisturized a Springform Pan with a bit of Ghee. I added the defrosted pastry dough to the pan.  I then spooned the whole mixture into the dough in the pan (see picture).  I sprinkled the top of the mixture with grated parmesan. Then I folded the dough up in a seemingly attractive manner. I brushed the top of the dough with some of the whey from the ricotta. An egg wash would work as well.

Bake at 350 degrees for between 50 minutes and an hour. Let it rest for a bit before removing the sides of the springform pan.  Note:  I pulled it out and grated more Parmesan over the whole pie for the last 15 minutes. It makes a nice crusty top. 

So - try it with what you like! You need the veg. You need some spices to build flavor - or just go with good salt and fresh ground pepper. You need a binder ( the cheese and eggs and milk). And, you need a pastry shell of some kind. 

Play with your ingredients! And don't forget to share!