Fruit Cobbler with Butter Cookie Dough Topping

Weafters, I have missed you!! I have been entertaining, cooking, gardening, Proseccoing….all the sort of WEAFTInG things we love….I simply have not made time to write and share.

My bad.

Nothing firms up an apology from a writer to her readers quite like sharing an *amazing* fruit cobbler recipe.

We had Special Guests in the Cozy Corner last evening, and this is what I served up for dessert  (and…we’ve been invited to dinner somewhere next weekend, and the gracious hostess gave me the thumbs up to tote this with us).

Full disclosure: this is not one of my original creations. I found this 20 years ago in the July/August 1996 issue of Cook’s Illustrated (The. BEST.), and I must quote them:

This recipe was featured in an article titled “Boarding House Cuisine,” which ran in the May 1990 issue of Cook’s magazine. All of us who tasted the cobbler thought it was one of the best we have ever tasted. Six years and a lot of cobblers later, I still feel this topping makes one of the best cobblers you’ll probably ever eat.”

Fact.

Fruit Mixture

1. Ok. I’m not the boss of you (btw…this is me…not Cook’s Illustrated). You can use whatever floats your boat….blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, sour cherries, Italian plums, apples, pears, apricots, peaches, nectarines. Whatever you choose, you need 24 ounces or so of it (one kind…or go crazy with some mixed berry montage. Surprise me!).

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It was blueberry/raspberry cobbler for us!

2. Mix fruit with up to a tablespoon of cornstarch, up to 2/3 c sugar (1 c, for sour cherries. Me? I use a scant 1/2 c, as the topping is sweet), 1 t vanilla extract  (disclosure: I use Penzey’s double-strength vanilla extract), and a dusting of cinnamon  (1/2 t or so).

3. Pour into 8″ square or 9″ round pan.
Set aside. Preheat the oven to 375 while you’re at it, and adjust oven rack to lower-middle position.

Topping

1/2 c flour
1/4 t baking powder
Pinch salt
8 t unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1/2 large egg or 1 yolk (I use just the yolk)
1/4 t vanilla extract  (disclosure: I use Penzey’s double-strength vanilla extract)

1. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl and set aside (* or, if you’re like me and live a little more dangerously, just measure it out and have it at the ready. Who wants to have to wash *another* thing if they don’t have to?)

2. Beat butter and sugar until well blended. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture; stir just until combined.

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Isn't that yolk just gawgeous?!

3. Drop dough onto prepared fruit by heaping tablespoons.

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4. Put in oven ON A COOKIE SHEET (better yet, a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet…this baby is prone to bubbling over, and I’m saving you from an imminent mess. You’re welcome).

Bake 45-55 minutes until golden brown.

Serve with ice cream or lightly whipped cream, if you desire (and, if you didn’t forget them both, as I did…whoops!).

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Enjoy!

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Braised Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Dijon/Thyme Glaze

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I’m missing the variety of veggies that we enjoy in the summer, so I’m pushing myself to roast and braise our little cruciferous friends, as they’re most plentiful in the produce aisle this time of year.

Of late, I’ve been into Brussels sprouts.

This version has the addition of crunchy bits of bacon (hey. Can’t be but so health conscious) and a tangy Dijon mustard/thyme glaze. It’s a great accompaniment to roast pork or chicken.

I think this is the fourth time I have made this recipe in the past week. #hookedonsprouts

Disclosure: the original version of this recipe came from Cooking Light. I modified it a bit.

Want to try it?

You’ll need

1 T unsalted butter
1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 large shallots, diced
Salt & pepper
6 T chicken stock
1 T Dijon mustard
1 t honey
2 t chopped fresh thyme
2 pieces cooked bacon, chopped (or crumbled, if you’re one of those crunchy bacon types)

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat (Cooking Light calls for a nonstick skillet, but if you have a well-seasoned cast iron pan, that will work like a dream).

Add Brussels sprouts to pan, cut side down (not gonna lie. This part is kind of a bitch. Don’t use teeny little sprouts,  or you will spend half the night just getting those suckers face-down. Oh, and good luck keeping your fingertips from being singed. Tonight I used larger sprouts: #winning).

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Once they’re all in, cook 2 minutes without stirring (they’ll get a nice little char, which is exactly what you want).

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Add shallots to pan; stir to combine. Cook 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Add 1/4 c stock to pan; cover partially and cook for 3 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are crisp tender.

Combine remaining 2 T chicken stock, mustard,  honey, and thyme in a small bowl. Stir into sprouts mixture. Add bacon and stir so everything gets nicely coated with the glaze.

Cook a minute, stirring well.

Serve immediately.

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Enjoy!

Beer-braised Short Ribs

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Yes, it’s unseasonably warm today (any December day sans snow is a good day in my book), but Sundays are Braise Days.

Today’s slow food fave is Beer-Braised Short Ribs.

Wanna try?

You’ll need

4-5 lbs beef short ribs
Salt & pepper
2 T olive oil
1/4 lb thick cut bacon, diced into 1″ pieces
Large white onion, roughly diced
1/4 c tomato paste
2 c beef stock
1 bottle beer (the darker the better)
2 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 350.

Season beef with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in large Dutch oven on medium-high. Sear meat on all sides so it’s nicely browned (note: best to do it in a couple batches so the meat isn’t crowded in the pan and it can develop a good, rich crust)

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Set aside beef once it’s all cooked off. Drain excess oil from pan.

Toss bacon in the pan and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes.

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Add in onion and cook about 5 minutes, or until onions are soft and golden.

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Stir in tomato paste.

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Add in beef stock

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Add in beer of choice  (and, hell….you’re toiling over a hot stove for the benefit of others. Treat yourself to a slug of something, if you’re inclined to do so).

Bring mixture to a boil. Add meat back to pot.

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Toss in a couple bay leaves.

Tightly cover pot and put your magnificent creation in the oven for 2 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender.

Halfway through, you may want to check on the meat and give the pot a good stir.

These are incredible over a nest of mashed potatoes or grits.

Enjoy!

Broccoli Rabe

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Farmer Frank’s latest bounty from the garden is broccoli rabe, the little, slightly bitter cousin of the “normal” broccoli we all know and love.

I tossed some in an omelet with some feta for breakfast. I’m making some as a side to go with tonight’s herb-roasted chicken.

Want to try it?

You’ll need

Bunch of broccoli rabe
Olive oil
Butter
3-4 cloves garlic, sliced thin

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To remove some of the bitterness, boil the rabe florets for a minute and drain.

In a large skillet, melt olive oil and butter over medium low heat

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Toss the sliced garlic into the butter bath

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Let them sizzle for a minute or so.

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Add drained rabe

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Toss into pan and sauté for several minutes.

Enjoy!

Pasta with Fresh Spinach, Pancetta and Creamy Tomato Sauce

We’re having special guest Pete the Swede visit us tonight, and I needed something easy to serve for dinner (please. It’s Monday, for crying out loud. Let me ease into my culinary week).

I found this original recipe almost two decades ago; I believe the original version was on food.com, circa 1993.

It is defibrillator-worthy, which is probably why I haven’t made it in forever. But, it used to be my ol’ reliable  dinner guest fare. Everyone loves it. And, our guest  (who just pulled up in front of the house) drove for 8 hours to get here. He needs carbs.

Wanna try my modified version of the original?

You’ll need

4 T unsalted butter
2 c heavy cream (groan)
1/2 c tomato puree
2 T tomato paste
1/2 c grated Parmesan plus more for “dusting” (I’m a very liberal crop duster when it comes to my Parmesan)
Salt and ground black pepper
8 oz pancetta, diced  (prosciutto works, too)
16 oz baby spinach
16 oz pasta, cooked (original recipe called for shells, but I didn’t have shells. Tonight, we used fusilli).

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The carnage is about to begin…..

1. In medium-size heavy non-reactive pan, melt 2 T butter. Add cream, tomato puree, and tomato paste, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to moderately low and simmer until reduced to 2 1/4 cups, about 20 minutes, stirring periodically. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 c Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

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2. In large skillet, cook pancetta with remaining butter over medium high hear, until slightly crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain excess fat.

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3. Add in spinach (original recipe says add in small batches. I just dumped in the whole container because watching spinach shrink down is terribly amusing to me).

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Before...and upside down...whoops

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After

4. Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta until barely al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain.

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5. Toss pasta with spinach/pancetta mixture and the pasta sauce. This all fits nicely in a 9×13 dish.

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Crop dust with grated Parmesan.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes until hot.

Enjoy!

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