Friday, September 11, 2009
English Gooseberry Cobbler
Summer is over, or so I hear. With the passage of Labor Day everyone starts to mourn the end of Summer and/or welcome the arrival of Fall. Well not so fast, is what I say! According to my calendar Fall doesn't arrive until 5:18 pm on September 22, 2009, so Summer still has a bit of breathing room (not to mention the hot weather that will last in these parts well into football season).
So, Summer it is, and nothing says "Summer" louder than a cobbler for dessert. And gooseberries, apparently, although I'd never tasted a gooseberry until last month when I scooped up two small containers at a wonderful farmer's market/Whole Foods hybrid store [edit to explain: Whole Foods took over a local international/farmer's market chain called Harry's, which resulted in this combination store, with regular Whole Foods products plus lots more international food and unusual produce than a typical Whole Foods] about 20 miles from my house. (I'd been obsessed with gooseberries for the better part of the summer - ever since Pinkstripes baked with them here so I was very excited to finally spot some around here!) I had 10 days by myself in August which was the perfect time to experiment with my bounty. I knew that I wanted to bake a Delia Smith's recipe and finally settled on her English Gooseberry Cobbler.
Delia also has a recipe for Gooseberry Ice Cream, which sounds delicious; in fact she suggests pairing the ice cream with the cobbler. That's when I realized just how tiny my containers of gooseberries really were. I was going to need both containers just to make a partial recipe of cobbler. There would be none left to churn into ice cream. I nearly drove back to the market, but that hour-long errand just for more gooseberries -for ice cream to go with cobbler that I would be the only one eating - sounded a little crazy even to me. But I have to say that I really kicked myself when I couldn't find a single gooseberry at the market the next time I shopped there.
The gooseberries were not the only common-in-the-UK-but-unusual-in-my-neighborhood ingredient in the cobbler. Delia's recipe also called for "elderflower cordial." I had no earthly idea what it is, but thanks to wikipedia, I learned that it's a kind of soft drink made from (what else?) elderflowers, and more importantly, that Ikea produces and sells an elderflower cordial. This was terrific news because Ikea is just minutes from my house. I made a beeline for the store and sure enough there was a lovely (tall) bottle of elderflower cordial in the Ikea food market.
- I made 1/3 recipe of the cobbler.
- Gooseberries are about the size of blueberries, but require a bit more maintenance. They have a pointed end and a stem end, and both must be removed from each berry. I've got to say that it's might tedious to "top and tail" the gooseberries. I started with a knife but found it faster and easier (but still not enjoyable) to just pull the ends off with my fingers. I was very grateful that I was not making a full recipe!
- 1/3 of the topping recipe was perfect for my little mini food processor. The cobbler topping was very similar to a cream biscuit. There was no sweetener in it, just a sprinkling of sugar on top.
The cobbler was delicious and tasted like Summer itself - very fresh, intense, almost grassy flavor. It was not very sweet at all, which I quite liked, but if you prefer a sweeter taste I'd recommend that you add sweetener to the biscuit topping. The tartness of the fruit played nicely off the crumbly plainness of the biscuit, but it also needed cream of some sort to mellow it out - ice cream, whipped cream, pouring cream. In fact, the cold sweetness of ice cream was perfect counterpoint to the tart berries and warm biscuits.
Happy last few days of Summer, y'all!