Here in New Hampshire we have had a remarkable couple of weeks. The naturally bucolic nature of the fall foliage season ended abruptly one night with a fast and furious snowstorm that knocked out power and blanketed the state with a pristine white cover. The trick came at Halloween the next day. Children dressed as gypsies and rabbits and clever gnomes, galloped through the snow with their boots and jack-o-lanterns. They came home to sort their bounty by the fire, warming themselves with cocoa and cobbler fresh from the oven. Life doesn't get better.
I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.
PEAR AND CRANBERRY COBBLER
Yield: 6 Servings
For the cobbler topping:
- 2 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup salted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- ½ cup vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into small pieces (use organic vegetable shortening if you can)
- 6 tablespoons buttermilk, chilled
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the butter and vegetable shortening. Cut them in to the flour by using your hands or a pastry blender. Blend until the mixture resembles a coarse meal the size of peas.
- Add the buttermilk and mix it until the mixture is just moistened, not wet. (This can all be done in a food processor if you prefer.)
- Press the dough together and divide it in half. Shape each half in to a ball, then flatten into a disk.
- Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill it for one hour in the refrigerator. Save one disk for future crumbles. (You can freeze it for up to one month.)
For the filling:
- 5 cups cranberries, rinsed
- 2 large, ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup maple sugar (or light brown sugar)
- ½ cup crystallized ginger, slivered
To assemble the crumble and bake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Mix all the filling ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Pour the cranberry-pear mixture into a one and one half quart baking dish.
- Top the cranberry-pear mixture with the prepared cobbler topping. To do this, remove one disk from the refrigerator and plastic wrap. Gently tear off pieces about the size of quarters. Scatter the pieces of dough on top of the fruit. The topping should look like cobblestones at this point.
- Bake until the topping begins to brown and the filling is bubbling, about 45 minutes.
- Serve warm.