Rhubarb cobbler

When I was small, I lived beside an elderly man with a large vegetable garden. It was like having my own Mr. McGregor, and I was the rabbit unable to help myself from raiding his rhubarb.  Mmmm, pilfered produce! I am not sure why I ate so much of it, uncooked rhubarb can be quite sour, and I never did eat an entire stalk…

Tonight I made my first cobbler with the rhubarb I found in the market the other day. But will the fruits of labour be as sweet when the ingredients are purchased instead of purloined?

A cobbler is a layer of stewed fruit, covered by chunks of pastry, which are supposed to resemble a cobbled road after baking. This is a Better Homes & Gardens recipe.

I’m going to give a shout-out to Boyfriend’s mother for providing advice before I started. This whole “break topping / spoon topping” was confusing.

Time required: 1.5 hrs

Yields: 9 portions

Cost per portion: $4.00

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $36.00

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • flour sifter
  • 2 quart baking dish
  • cookie tray lined with tinfoil (to catch drippings)

Good to know before you start:

1. The leaves of the rhubarb plant are poisonous.

2. The stalks of the rhubarb plant are a natural laxative.

Topping ingredients:

  • 1 C flour
  • 2 TBSP granulated white sugar
  • ½ TSP baking powder
  • ½ TSP salt
  • ¼ C unsalted butter
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • ¼ C milk

Filling ingredients:

  • 1 C granulated white sugar
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • ¼ TSP cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP water
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 4 C diced rhubarb stalks (about 6 stalks)

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 204°C / 400°F.

2. Wash rhubarb stalks and slice into one-inch pieces. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl sift together: 1 C flour, 2 TBSP sugar, baking powder, and salt.

4. Cut in butter until coarse crumbs form.

5. Slightly beat an egg and combine with milk.

6. Mix egg into crumbs until moistened. Set aside.

7. In a large pot, stir together: combine sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, water, and butter.

8. Add rhubarb, stirring until all pieces are coated.

9. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Let mixture bubble, stirring occasionally.

10. Pour hot fruit mixture into baking dish. The dish has been placed onto a foil-lined baking tray to catch any overflow.

11. Immediately spoon topping onto rhubarb. (Try to make small mounds of pastry, I ended up with a… decorative spiral.)

12. Bake 20 min.

13. After baking, cool on wire rack at least 20 min. Scoop and serve.

Verdict: Delicious! This is the first time I’ve cooked with rhubarb, but it won’t be the last.

I used a 1.5 quart baking dish instead of a 2 quart one, mostly because I am short and lazy and couldn’t reach the bigger dish. However, I’m glad I used that size, because I found there was not enough fruit. I would use 6-8 cups next time, maybe 10 stalks?

I was really happy with how this turned out.

You can make cobbler with lots of different fruits, what would you choose?

Playlist: Wizardry V soundtrack

Patty’s peach-apple crisp

A golden blend of succulent fruit, crunchy oats, and sugar. But after a month of kitchen failures, can I possibly succeed?

I purchased a bag of apples recently, and left them on the kitchen counter as bait.  I was hoping to lure Boyfriend into the kitchen, and expected that once he saw those lovely apples, he would be overcome with the urge to make me an apple crisp. He hasn’t made one in forever, and I think I am overdue to receive one!

Alas it was not to be.  The apples ended up in the living room somehow, and I only just discovered them yesterday, and it was time to face the cold hard truth; if I wanted an apple crisp, I would have to make it myself.

I’ve never made my own apple crisp before, but I helped Boyfriend make one, two years ago. And by “helped” I mean I peeled the apples. Here goes!

Good to know before you start:

Apples collapse quite a bit during baking, so make sure they pile up nice and high above the edge of the dish or you’ll have a sunken crisp.

Adding water to a crisp will result in a softer topping. I prefer it to be crunchy as possible so I didn’t add water.

Preparing fruit for baking always takes forever.  The sugar and heat will brown the fruit any way so no need to add lemon juice.

Time required: 2 hours

Yields: 12 portions

Cost per serving: $2.58

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $31.00

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • glass baking dish, 8″ x 11.5″
  • cookie tray (to catch the overflow)
  • apple peeler & apple corer
  • pastry blender

Ingredients:

  • 8 apples
  • 4 peaches
  • 1/2 C granulated white sugar
  • 1 TBSP flour
  • 1 TSP ground cinnamon
  • 1 C quick rolled oats
  • 1 C flour
  • 1 C dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 TSP: ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves
  • 8 TBSP butter (one stick)

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 191°C / 375°F.  (I waited until the fruit was sliced to do this.)

2. Peel and core fruit. Cut each apple slice in half, cut peaches to similar size. Place in baking dish for now.

3. In a large bowl combine: white sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Add fruit to bowl, and toss until thoroughly coated, then transfer back to baking dish.

4. In a medium bowl, combine: oats, flour, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. I may have mentioned this before but I REALLY LOVE BROWN SUGAR.

5. Cut in butter until coarse crumbs form.

6. Place baking dish onto cookie tray, and sprinkle crumbly mixture over fruit.

Yes. It's impossible to take a picture of your own thumb without looking like dweeb making obscene gestures.

7. Bake 40 min.

In which I discover the hard way that the oven mitts have a hole in them and almost dropped the dish on the floor. Owch.

8. Cool 1 hour and serve.

Verdict:

“Hmm. Pretty good,” I said around my spoon.

Boyfriend shook his head. “Not pretty good. Damn good!”

I read several recipes and saw that they all have pretty standard ingredients, so I just added another fruit and picked a sugar and spice ratio that seemed appealing to me. You could probably cut down the sugar, especially if you’re not going to use tart apples. I was really happy with this.

I chose peaches because I just re-watched Labyrinth for the millionth time and have them on the brain. Jareth, you can give me a peach any day.

You can use lots of different fruit in a crisp. What would you use?

Playlist: Labyrinth soundtrack

Hot fudge sauce

An “impact event” occurs when two celestial bodies collide. Chocolate being the food of the gods, a Baking impact event is when two flavours hit you like a bolt of lightning and your taste buds sing; everything changes and you dream up more ways to bring them together. That’s how I feel about hot fudge sauce and frozen yogurt. So simple, so delicious!

I made hot fudge sauce for Boyfriend tonight as a surprise. I learned to make this when I was 8 years old, it’s from Master Your Microwave which is available on Amazon.ca. The book stands out in my mind for 2 reasons; it was the first recipe I ever made of my own volition, an innocent time when I didn’t understand arcing and would put metal pans in the microwave to watch the pretty blue sparks. (Sorry Mom.)

Time required: 10 minutes

Yields: double batch

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $18.00

Cost per serving: minuscule

Kitchen implements I used: microwave & microwave-safe glass bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1 C granulated white sugar
  • 6 TBSP cocoa
  • 3 TBSP powdered cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 C water
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 2 TSP vanilla

Instructions:

Step 1 – in large glass bowl, combine dry ingredients

Step 2 – whisk in water

Step 3 – microwave on High for 8 minutes, stirring every 60 seconds.

It remains fairly watery until the 6 minute mark, and at that point it starts turning into a thick gelatinous goo (which was considered and discarded as a potential name for this blog):

After the 8 minute mark, it’s thoroughly thickened up:

Step 4 – stir in butter and vanilla, whisking until thoroughly combined

Step 5 – add to frozen yogurt…

… or stuff it into a cream puff. (Great idea Boyfriend!)

Verdict: delicious as expected! I used to make this all the time but haven’t made it in years, and found myself yearning for some tonight. Alas I had no bananas to add to my sundae. You could also make some fresh caramel, mmmmm.

Boyfriend said, “Oooh. That’s good. That’s really good. It’s like everything that’s good melting in your mouth at the perfect temperature.”

Spiced apple & pears

Imagine a warm bowl of apple sauce, with chunks of apple and pear, spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla bean. While it’s cooking, the most tantalizing smell will have you finding excuses to linger in the kitchen. A sweet topping so warm that it melts the frozen yogurt underneath.

I found this recipe in a book that my mother gave me, Slow Cooker Magic in Minutes, which is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

It’s a hard cover book with a ring binding and colour photos, with lots of different slow cooker recipes, including some delicious desserts. Prior to reading this I was not aware you could make a dessert in a crock pot. I thought the idea was a little odd, actually, before I tried one. Turns out that slow cooked desserts are amazing!

Good to know before you start:

Sometimes vanilla bean can be substituted with vanilla extract. This is not one of those times. Get the bean! Your taste buds will thank you.

After this has finished cooking and you’ve had a bowl, the rest should be covered and refrigerated. Later you’ll notice that fat rises to the surface (just like stew). Skim that off, and heat the portion that you want to serve.

Don’t use over ripened fruit unless you enjoy the feeling of something disintegrating in your hands. On that same note, if your pears are not quite ripe that is okay, wooden pears are fine for this.

Use either 6 medium-sized fruits or 5 large ones.

getting started

Time required: 6 hours (70 min prep time, the rest is slow cooking time)

Yields: a lot, you will run out of ice cream before you run out of topping

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $30.00

Kitchen implements I used:

  • apple peeler & apple corer
  • slow cooker

Ingredients:

  • 5 tart apples
  • 5 pears
  • 8 TBSP butter, unsalted (one stick)
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 lemon (use half)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½TSP cloves, ground
  • ½ C water
  • 1 C brown sugar, packed

Step 1 – Peel and core apples and pears. Cut each apple slice in thirds, cut each pear slice in half. Place in slow cooker. Don’t worry about the fruit browning.

Cut each apple slice into thirds, and check the middle piece for any core remnants:

Slice the pears horizontally (errr… diagonally):

Place the flat part of the pear on the cutting board and core it, and then each pear slice should be cut in half:

Step 2 – Melt butter in sauce pan on Low.

Step 3 – Add all other ingredients to butter:

  • split and scrape vanilla bean, add seeds and pod
  • cut cinnamon stick in half, add both halves
  • use half of lemon, peel it and remove seeds, add pulp and juice
  • then add brown sugar, cloves, and water

Step 4 – Bring pot to a boil, and boil for 1 min, stirring often.

Step 5 – Pour liquid over apple and pears. Stir until mixture coats all fruit. Bury the bean pod and cinnamon sticks under the fruit.

Step 6 – Cover and cook, stirring every 45 min.  Cook times vary. The book recommends either up to 4 hours on Low, or up to 2 hours on High.

I cook it at leat 5 hours on High and I’ll show you why.

After 45 minutes:

After 90 minutes:

After 135 minutes:

After 180 minutes:

I think it’s best when the fruit has broken down to this stage and everything is soft. It’s a very versatile dessert. I have enjoyed it several ways; served warm on its own, or on top of a bowl or vanilla frozen yogurt, and on pound cake.

warm spiced apple and pear fruit toppingThe book also recommends with whipped cream, crème anglaise, or sponge cake, but I haven’t tried these last three.

One dish of spiced apple pears a day keeps the winter chill away!