Monday Aug 23 2010
Rachel's Recipes: Fresh summer fruit makes it easy to cobble together dessert
By: Rachel Chaddock
While we don’t do it very often, I really do love having friends over for dinner. However (and this is a failing of mine), I also tend to overcomplicate things. I will work myself into a frazzle trying to put an elaborate meal together. While everything usually comes together, by the time supper is on the table, I am not only sick and tired of looking at the food I’ve been fussing over all day (or days), but I’m too worn out (my mother would say “overwrought”) to enjoy myself. I just want to go to bed. The truth is, your friends probably don’t want or expect fussy food - unless you are part of a fussy food club and then other people are probably contributing anyway. They just want to enjoy a meal with you. And while I know you can do better than a frozen pizza, there is no need to kill yourself to feed company. If you use quality ingredients, like seasonal fruit, your guests are going to be thrilled and you can actually have a good time too. We recently had a couple over for dinner who have been our friends for a while, and who mean a great deal to us. They’re practically family, and I mean that in a good way. My first thought (of course) was to start slaving away in the kitchen and really impress them, as they are both excellent cooks. For once, though, common sense prevailed. We grilled pork outside, I made classic skillet cornbread, and for dessert — fresh fruit cobbler. It was absolutely wonderful, our guests had seconds (and thirds, but I won’t tell who that was), and it was a lovely evening. And no one was overwrought. Keep in mind that this is a huge pan of cobbler, so it makes probably 10 to 12 servings, but the leftovers are excellent. Rachel Chaddock can be reached at email@example.com. She welcomes reader questions. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook. * * * Fresh Peach & Blueberry Cobbler 6 large peaches (or 8 medium), peeled, seeded, and sliced 1 pint fresh blueberries 1/4 cup brown sugar 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 2 teaspoons cornstarch For topping: 2 cups flour 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 tablespoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter 1/2 cup boiling water Optional: 2 tablespoons raw sugar Preheat oven to 425. Combine the peaches and blueberries together in a glass 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle over with lemon juice, sugar, and cornstarch and toss together. Bake the fruit mixture in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the topping. Combine together flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and, working quickly, blend it in to the flour mixture with your (clean) fingers, or be extra sanitary and use a pastry cutter or two forks. You want the mixture to look like a coarse cornmeal, but still see bits of butter throughout. Pour the boiling water into the topping mixture all at once and stir together until it is just combined but nowhere near smooth (as if you were mixing muffins). Remove the cooked fruit from the oven and, using a large spoon, plop the topping mixture over them. Don’t worry about covering all the fruit or being too meticulous about this; the topping will spread as it bakes. Sprinkle the raw sugar over the top (this step is not necessary; I just like the additional sparkle and crunch it gives. If you happen to have some in the house, by all means use it; if not, leave it off). Bake for 25 minutes or until the topping is golden. Serve warm, with whipped cream or ice cream on top.