Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Lessons of Cheryl's Kitchen - Dessert Comes First

[UPDATED: Added my Mother's Comments Below.]

I've always considered my mom to be more of a baker. The list of cakes, pies, cookies, breads, and other goodies from the oven are far more prevalent in my mind than the other things she makes. Within these recipes, the highest order of them are the sweets. My mom is definitely a force to be reckoned with when it comes to dessert recipes. From the simple covered dish-style desserts, to rather complex cakes and pies, she's a whiz with things of the sweeter persuasion. Which, I'm sure is why I have such an insatiable sweet tooth.

Now, although I'm sure I'll write about a few of these different desserts over the course of this series, one recipe sticks out as the first one due to its flexibility, simplicity, and irresistibility. Not to mention that I made it just the other day for a picnic, in lieu of my mom making it, and saw exactly how popular it is. (we'll get into this in more detail a bit later.) If you've ever been part of the equation: Cheryl Coalmer + Fruit + Summer|Fall + Oven = _____, you'll know that the best answer is her Cobbler. Not only that, but my brother and I knew it too. If she left one on the counter too long, I'm sure she knew to expect that it would be gone by days end.

For a single mom raising two (often challenging) boys, cobbler was always a good option. It's simple to make, tastes AMAZING, is downright heavenly with Ice Cream, transports well, and is always a crowd pleaser. Because there are so many traditions surrounding food in my family, the opportunity to make this one often presents itself. Thus was the case this summer at my Aunt's annual summer picnic. The only problem was, my mom wasn't able to attend. I guess this meant I was going to need to fill that void.

Although I'm not certain where the origins for my mom's affinity for making cobbler lie, I am certain that it's only grown steadily in popularity. From The blueberry cobbler I made here in the summer, to peach cobbler right before fall, it always seems to be a perfect fit no matter what produce is in season. The simplicity inherent to the batter is perfect for letting the best produce shine through. To top this one off, it's got a crunchy sugar crust that makes you want to break through the beautiful browned goodness.

Cheryl Coalmer's Fruit Cobbler:
[note: to simplify, I'm giving the recipe for blueberry cobbler (mine and my Uncle Keith's favorite.) feel free to change up the fruit, but there are certain alterations you'll want to make to the recipe for various fruits.]

To start, prepare a pan for the cobbler.
You'll need:
An 8"x8" pan, medium casserole, or a deep pie pan.
1 to 1 1/2 quart(s) of fresh blueberries washed, dried, and stems removed.
2T fresh lemon juice
2T flour
1T sugar

Place the blueberries in the baking dish and add lemon juice. Coat the blueberries with the juice using your hands. Next sprinkle the flour and sugar evenly over the blueberries and again mix with your hands to coat the blueberries. Set aside.

Next prepare the cobbler batter.
You'll need:
1/2c unsalted butter, melted.
1/2c 2% milk
1 1/2t pure vanilla extract
1/4t kosher salt
1 1/4c all purpose flour
1/2c sugar
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder.

Mix butter, milk, vanilla, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl stir flour, sugar, and baking soda together. While stirring add flour mixture to the butter mixture. Continue to stir batter until the flour begins to agglutinate (my mother's recipe card reads: for a few minutes longer than it takes to mix, until the batter gets stretchy)

Next prepare the cobbler for baking.
You'll need:
1c sugar
1/4c water

Take the batter and spread it over the blueberries until all the batter meets he edges of the pan and covers all the blueberries. Next, in a pourable cup, mix the sugar and the water thoroughly. Pour this mixture evenly over the top of the batter. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50-60 mins or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clear. Allow to cool and serve while warm (over vanilla ice cream, yum! Or, allow to completely cool before covering. (note: it's the sugar crust that makes this cobbler so wonderful, and if you cover the cobbler while it's warm, it won't be so crunchy/delicious.)

I hope mom isn't upset at me for sharing her famous cobbler recipe, but I doubt she is. My mother always seems more than happy to share all of her best. Hopefully this will be the case with her stories about this fantastic dessert. (She might be for the photos, though)

Mom's Official Response:
"Firstly,did you get the blog I sent last tues??  
I would just like to comment that your dad loved cobbler, so I was always on the lookout for a good cobbler recipe... though I never could get it exactly right for him. He would say "that's really good but I just want you to drop the batter on top and I want it to be firm"  So I think he would have loved this recipe, but unfortunately I found it after he passed in a cookbook that grandma alice bought for me from the Methodist Church (church people can sure cook and eat) so they always have the best recipes
Also, at Thanksgiving time I would like you to post my Pumpkin Chiffon Pie recipe that I won the Review cookbook contest with back in 1985 or 1986. I won $25, but spent at least that much making it because eggnog was a seasonal item and was not out in the stores yet. So, I had to make my own Eggnog too!!!!! I have a copy of the paper with my picture holding the pie that you can scan and put on blog also.
Talk soon. Love ya

So... perhaps we'll have a photo of my mom from the paper in the 80's soon.

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