Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cherry Pepper Cobbler with Spiced Oatmeal Topping

Kay, so remember cherry season? It's a while back now. Well, there's this place, you see, where you can pick your own cherries. And I picked them and made them into a cobbler, you see? Then it got eaten and I was too full to blog about it, see? Yeah.

It's called Cherry Hill Orchards. I've actually been twice now and, yes, I will totally get around to telling you about the other one. Some day. Anywho, it was me, two co-workers, two kids, and a truckload of Amish people. It was a warm, breezy morning, spent petting farm cats and getting things stuck to my sticky fingers. I would just like to let the world know that I am a trooper. I was so far up in there picking cherries that I wore the tree as a hat. Seriously, I was picking cherry stems and bugs out of my hair hours later. Very cool experience and picking them yourself is CHEAP. Plus, compared to all my other "farming" experiences, this was a piece of cake because I wasn't dying in the South Georgia sun for hours. Check it out if you're in the area.

Also, can we take a break and talk about pitting cherries? I could buy a cherry-pitter, but they were soft enough that I just squeezed and they popped out. Took forever. My point here is that it took about an hour. This was an hour in which my mind went freaking WILD and tried to come up with every inappropriate comment possible (thinking about it for the rest of the week was just me). I popped about 200 cherries. By hand. I sang some tunes by Cherry Poppin' Daddies for good measure. I sang "Strange Fruit". I thought about forbidden fruit. Juicy flesh. Cleft. Cleft. Cleft, okay I'm done.

So, I bought this jam once. Hang on, totally related story coming your way. It was a cherry pepper conserve and tasted like sweet heaven. Once I got a boatload of cherries in my grubby mitts, I decided this needed to be replicated on a larger scale. With crumble topping.

I compared quite a few cherry cobbler recipes, looking for common threads that could be applied to an all-purpose recipe that is tweakable. My note taking skills are very low in this department, but I made a concerted effort to measure and do all that fancy, fiddly stuff. The end result was fantastico. It was sweet, but not overly so, with a little bite from the peppers and crunch from the topping. I think next time, I would try to thicken the cherry filling a bit more, since it was a tad runny for me. I'm also discovering that I'm not a huge fan of cardamom. Maybe it's situational, but more and more I don't like the taste it brings to foods. Look, you're reading MY foodblog. That means you can change recipes all you like to suit your tastes. I sure do. So go have fun with it!

Cherry Pepper Cobbler:

5 generous cups pitted cherries
1 T cornstarch
1-2 T flour
scant 1/2 cup sugar (or more if you like a traditional sweet cobbler)
1-2 diced hot peppers of your choice (Optional, but come on. You wouldn't make this recipe unless you wanted to add peppers)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Spiced Oatmeal Topping:
3/4 cup oats
3/4 cup flour
scant 1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
6 T melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 F.

1. Clean and pit all your cherries. Mix with the flour and corn starch. Set aside.

2. Dice and seed all your peppers. Or leave the seeds in if you're one of those crazy hot-heads. Wash your hands! I fear the day I forget this step.

3. In a small sauce pan, cook the sugar until it melts, then lower the heat to simmer. Add the diced peppers, cayenne, and vanilla. Stir until the peppers are slightly cooked and warm. This infuses the sugar with spicy flavor and dulls the peppers a bit. I think.

4. Mix into cherries and plop into baking dish. I would use a 9x9, but anything you've got that's big enough. Let it cool a bit then test the flavor and consistency. Add tasty or thickening stuff as you see if.

5. Note: most crumbly topping call for cold butter. If you can get that to work, then go for it. For me, it's just an exercise in futility adding cold butter to oats. Whatevs. If you're like me, melt your butter in the microwave.

6. In a small bowl, fumble all the topping ingredients together with the butter until you've got a pastey crumble.

7. Smooth crumble on top of cherry pepper mix and pop in the oven for about half an hour. Check after 20-25 minutes and bake until it's bubbly, thickened, and the topping has lightly browned.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Attention: Chocolate Makers

Adding pop rocks to your crappy chocolate does not make it "champagne" flavored. It just makes it noisy. Please address this. K thnx.