I have a screen saver that scrolls through my photos and presents them — family, friends, events and, of course, meals eaten and recipes made — fading in and out.
Last night, idly watching, I saw a whole fish swim (sorry! couldn’t resist) into view, gracefully garnished, drizzled with some sauce. I stared. Figuratively scratched my head. It’s not like I am presented with a whole fish every day. WHERE did I see and, one presumes, eat that fish? The garnish was no help; it wasn’t stereotypical of any ethnicity, could have been Venice or Anchorage, Orange County or Lahaina. I don’t know. And my photos are not so well organized I wonder if I could even find it.
(Short pause while I search for photo.)
WOW! My unconscious was on it. It threw in “Lahaina” as I was writing earlier and Lahaina it was: at Mark Ellman’s wonderful Mala, an Ocean Tavern. If I lived on the Valley Isle and had a job, I’d be there every week: It’s just the way I like to eat — healthful but delicious, bright-colored and scrupulously fresh, lots of smaller portion options and crusty-chewy artisan breads. I choose items there (such as the whole fish) I’d almost never order in most restaurants. This is because they know how to punch up and layer flavors without muddling them.
Now where was I? Oh, yes, memories. A few blogs back, I reminisced about a dessert created by baker Jerrilyn Brusseau for a national culinary professionals’ conference in Seattle.
I’ve never forgotten that dish. Except I did.
I know this through the help of my old friends Larry and Sally Brown (he worked in the food department of the Seattle Times, she was a food broker; they’re retired now and briefly lived on Maui before returning to the Northwest). Sally wrote to say that (typical of these well-organized, capable folk) they still had the file from that IACP conference and Jerrilyn’s recipe. She enclosed a PDF.
When I read the recipe all I could do was laugh. I remembered it as shortcake; it was a cobbler. I remembered it as made solely of berries; it was primarily rhubarb with a scattering of berries. I was positive the exceptional “shortcake” (it was actually topping) was made with cream; it was made with milk. But at least that last detail made some sense: When I made the recipe for my best friend’s wedding, I made the topping a bit richer by using cream. My previous blog contained a shortcake recipe I’d cobbled together from other Northwest sources: Delicious, but, really, nothing like Jerrilyn’s.
Last night, having come across a beautiful carton of fresh raspberries a couple of days ago, and a can of cherry pie filling in the cupboard, I decided to try the REAL recipe. I am so glad I did. Old-style cobblers are topped with a pie-type crust but Jerrilyn chose instead to craft a sweet, cake-like batter. That light-textured, golden brown pastry was just as I remembered. At least there was one bit of my taste memory that was accurate!
I think I’m going to find this recipe useful in other ways: it could be made into a small cake (I’ve got some lovely little 7-inch pans), sliced, and served with ice cream, fruit curd (lemon or passionfruit or something of the sort), perhaps positioned on a pool of chocolate sauce or some such.
I tweaked the recipe a bit to correct some mistakes I made (sprinkling on too much sugar, getting a little heavy handed with the salt), underbaking the cake (starting to bake the fruit first took care of that).
This works best with well-seasoned tart fruit, or a mixture of tart and sweet. My all-time favorite would be Italian prune plums but I’ve never seen them here.
Jerrilyn’s Not Yet Forgotten Cobbler
2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons sugar plus nutmeg or cinnamon for garnish
9 cups sweetened fruit, thickly sliced or cut into chunks
Cornstarch slurry (2 tablespoons cornstarch whisked into 2 tablespoons warm water)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk dry ingredients to combine. In a 9-by-13-inch pan, arrange fruit mixture with cornstarch slurry stirred in. Bake 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make a well in the center and pour in milk and melted butter all at once. Stir to combine. Remove hot fruit and place serving spoons of batter over the surface of the fruit (the spoonsful will spread and join up). Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar and a little nutmeg or cinnamon, if desired. Bake 25-30 minutes until biscuit dough is cooked through (a toothpick emerges clean) and the top is golden brown.
Serve with good vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (sweetened or unsweetened).
PS: My copy of fine cooking magazine for August/September arrived in the nick of time with an interesting technique for making cobbler that I’m going to try with this recipe: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a stainless steel or enamel-lined skillet (NOT black cast iron); add prepared fruit mixture and bring to a boil, stirring. Turn down heat and simmer gently while you throw the cream and butter into the topping mix and make the batter. Using an ice cream scoop or two serving spoons, mound batter on top of fruit, spacing evenly. Sprinkle with sugar. Place in preheated 375-degree oven and bake 25 minutes until bubbling and golden.
Two advantages: fruit is hot so helps cook the underside of the batter, super simple and possibly even faster.
Photos (Thursday 21) from last night’s second experiment. Worked BEAUTIFULLY.
See the trouble with cobblers in Thursday’s updated post.