Friday, August 19, 2011

Apple Rhubarb Cobbler


Every summer I escape the turmoil of modern life and seclude myself in a rustic cabin up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The drive from Los Angeles is over nine hours and when you arrive your cell phone reads “No Service.” Without the luxuries of the present day like Internet, cell phone service, or heck, even electricity, you get back to a simpler time and are reminded that up until a hundred years or so, this is how society functioned. The days are spent reading in hammocks, going for long hikes, and, of course, cooking meals from scratch.

This year I went up with my grandmother, and after having a rough and exhausting spring I wanted to do everything I could to ensure she got the rest and relaxation she deserved. She’s used to being a caretaker and doesn’t like to make a fuss, but she will make little comments like, “I sure enjoyed that fresh peach pie you made last summer”, which is code for “make me a fresh peach pie.” This summer she kept reminiscing about how she loved rhubarb pie, and I realized that was what I was going to have to make this summer.

I recall having rhubarb pie once or twice at her house as a kid and finding the delicious looking burgundy pie to be disappointingly bitter. Now that I am older, and and have more of an adult palate, I thought it would be fun to give it a try again. Unfortunately, being in a rather remote area with the closet town being forty miles away I knew securing rhubarb would be tough. Also without the Internet I couldn’t look up when rhubarb is in season, where it grows, or what rhubarb actually even is.

Apples and Rhubarb Cut Up
Also without the Internet I could not look up a recipe. I asked the neighbors (each a ten-minute drive away) for cookbooks, but couldn’t find an exact recipe. Luckily our friend Carol had an old recipe of her mother’s for a cobbler that seemed easy enough to make. I was relieved that it wasn’t for a pie, because I don’t know a thing about making a decent piecrust, and I think the trans-fatty frozen ones taste simply awful. A  crumbly topping with a melted sugar glaze was much more manageable.

I headed down to town and went to the sole grocery store hoping they would have rhubarb, and while I lucked out, they only had two stalks. Recalling that rhubarb was rather tart, I decided to substitute the rest of the recipe with granny smith apples. However, after spotting some fujis I opted to go with those, as they are slightly sweeter, but still tart enough to substitute for the rhubarb.

When I got back to the cabin my cousin Michaela helped peel the apples and chop up the rhubarb. I followed the recipe and found it to be quick and easy to prepare. It took maybe twenty minutes of work including the prep time. The one mistake I made was not reducing the amount of sugar in the topping, since I was using apples instead of rhubarb. Then final result was an absolute insulin spike. Therefore I have adjusted the recipe and reduced the amount of sugar in half.

The end result was a warm, gooey cobbler full of large chunks of fruit, that still retained structure and were not mushy, with a warm cakey topping, and melted sugar seeping all over it. The combination of apples, rhubarb, and strawberries worked well together and kept the dish tart but not bitter. Most importantly my Grandmother loved it, and with all the red from the strawberries and bits of rhubarb she didn’t even realize I had used apples.

If I ever stumble upon some rhubarb at the farmers market, I may still try to make the pie, but until then I think this cobbler is the perfect way to make rhubarb palatable.

Up North
Prep Time: 30 minutes
8 Servings

Rhubarb Stalks
2-4 Stalks of chopped rhubarb
4 cups of sliced and peeled fuji apples (granny smith if you want it extra tart)

¾ Cup Sugar
2 T Butter
½ Cup Milk
1 Cup Flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
½ Tsp Salt

Sugar topping
½ Cup Sugar
1 T Corn Starch
¼ Tsp Salt

Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees.

Slice and peel your apples and chop up your rhubarb as you would a stalk of celery and mix them in a 9x12 pan.

In a large mixing bowl combine the ingredients for the batter and whisk until everything is smoothly blended. Pour the batter evenly over the fruit. Then chill the dish in the fridge until about an hour before you plan on serving the dessert (if you want that fresh out of the oven taste).

In a smaller mixing bowl mix the sugar topping and set it aside until you plan to bake the dish.

When you are ready to bake sprinkle over the sugar topping over the chilled batter. You can use as little or as much of the sugar as you wish to use, depending of desired sweetness of the dish.

A slice of the final result
I had some strawberries lying around so I chopped up a cup and threw them on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes (ovens vary, so adjust as needed). Check on the dish. The batter should get a little brown on top and most of the sugar should melt over it.

Allow the dish to cool for at least ten minutes so that the sugar and fruit juices have time to cool down and set. Slice up the pan to create eight servings. Due to the lack of a bottom you will want to find a unstill that allows you to scoop up most of the dish. Some of the fruit and sugar make stick to the bottom of the pan.

Serve warm possibly with a scoop of vanilla ice cream of fresh whipped cream and enjoy!

Nutrition Info
Calories: 278, Fat: 3.6g, Sat. Fat: 2.1g, Cholest.: 9.2mg, Sodium:, Carb.: 61.5g, Fiber: 3.4g, Sugars: 44.1g, Protein: 2.7g

One Response so far.

  1. Rhubarb is in season around the same time as strawberries which is spring and into summer. Good rhubarb should be dark in color and not dull and should just need a little bit of sugar to take away the tartness of the rhubarb! You can usually find it at any grocery store or Whole Foods and it will prob be near the celery! I think is a great cobbler and I love the additions of the other fruit so you get all sorts of flavors!It looks wonderful!

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