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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler


It has been an annual tradition for our family to head to the surrounding farmland to pick strawberries. Strawberry season is so very short-lived and the size and sweetness of the fruit has been different each year due to the variable weather patterns. Last year, the fruit was definitely smaller and a bit on the tart side. However, this season the berries were big, boldly red, juicy, and very sweet. Just the perfect berry for enjoying on top of yogurt, ice cream, shortcake, or in a cobbler.

Shortly before we headed out to pick some strawberries. She did not stay this happy for long!


Matthew was so very excited to go strawberry picking. In the previous years, he was less than helpful. Obviously, he was quite young and normally cranky since we chose to go early in the morning to beat the heat. Last year, he just stayed sitting in one of the rows eating fresh berries (and a few leaves) while Paul and I tried to gather as many berries as we could before the inevitable toddler meltdown could begin. This year, I think Matthew picked more berries than I did. You see, Emma was not too impressed with the strawberry fields and hated it when I would kneel down to pick some berries. This meant that all I could do was pretty much just stand there and supervise while Paul and Matthew took on the brunt of the labor. At first, Matthew kept picking the obviously under-ripe tiny, green berries (the ones that look so incredibly unappealing that I have no idea why he was willingly choosing to pick those over the other gorgeously ripe ones!). However, once we told him that he could only put berries that were "red like James" into his basket, he instantly began picking only the biggest and best berries. If you are familiar with Thomas the Train and Matthew's utter obsession with it, you will completely understand why this explanation made sense to him!

Introducing Emma to strawberries. She was not impressed.

My hard working husband. Isn't he cute?

After we had filled out baskets, we took an obligatory photo with the kiddos and our spoils before heading home. As you can see, my children love taking pictures with me. And Emma looks oh-so-happy to be heading home!

Come on Matthew! Can you try not to look tortured in every single picture?
Obviously, it's asking too much to take a picture with my first born.
Picking strawberries is simply exhausting for such a tiny baby.
The absolute best part about berry season? All those scrumptious things you can do with berries. My favorite way to enjoy them is straight-up, hands down. However, the next best way would have to be in a cobbler or crisp. Paul and I are both obsessed with rhubarb and think whoever first decided to pair rhubarb with strawberries should be recognized as a culinary hero. Rhubarb is pretty ubiquitous around here but surprisingly most people here do not like cooking with it. I have met a lot of people who think it is poisonous despite my attempts to explain that only the leaves of the rhubarb plant have toxic properties. No matter...we have benefited from this because a friend of ours uprooted his rhubarb plant so we could start growing our own rhubarb in the backyard. Win Win!

Anyway, given our obsession with the whole rhubarb and strawberry combo, it only seemed fitting that the first dessert we would make with our strawberry harvest would be a Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler. Now, Paul is also on a self-imposed diet to try to lose the extra 15 pounds of sympathy weight he gained during my pregnancy. He has been extra motivated by the fact that I have lost all my pregnancy weight, leaving him with no excuse but to get back in shape (personally, I think he is as cute as ever!). I feel a slight twinge of guilt because I'm pretty sure my baking certainly does not help him stay slim and trim so I decided to make a lighter version of strawberry-rhubarb cobbler. And served it for breakfast after Mass on Sunday. Dessert for breakfast is something we shamelessly do quite often!


I'm pretty sure I do not need to expound upon the merits of such a dessert - you all know it's good! Sweet strawberry and rhubarb filling topped with slightly sweet, cornmeal biscuits served hot and bubbling from the oven. Is there a better summer dessert? Even though this version is quite a bit lighter than traditional cobbler, it was still rich, filling, and satisfying. Enjoy!


Lighter Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

For the Filling:
1 quart fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
10 ounces rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cornstarch

For the Biscuit Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour (about 5 ounces - yes, I like to weigh my flour)
3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup buttermilk, well shaken
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Stir together all the filling ingredients and pour into a deep-dish pie plate or 8-inch square pyrex pan. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the fruit releases its liquid and is hot and bubbling around the edges (about 20-30 minutes).

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, and vanilla.

When the filling is ready, stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined. There should be no remaining pockets of flour. Remove the cobbler filling from the oven and stir. Pinch off 8 equal pieces of the biscuit dough and gently arrange on top of the hot filling, spacing about 1/2-inch apart.

Return the cobbler to the oven and continue to bake for 15-20 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown and the filling is hot and bubbling once more. Cool the cobbler on the wire rack for 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy with ice cream!

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