Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sandy's Cherry Cobbler

I’ve got twelve days before the farmer’s market near my office opens. That’s twelve days I have to continue the routine of buying only-in-your-grocery-store produce that I am sure has been shipped in from at least five states away. In fact, I believe the last apples I purchased came from Chile. They couldn’t find a Granny Smith apple closer to Charlotte?

As I continue to explore cooking and baking, I realize the best inspiration is drawn from what foods are in season and freshest to one’s locale. I’m not to the point where I only ‘buy local’ or ‘eat organic’ because, frankly, those are sometimes more expensive (especially the organic options) but as spring approaches, I am excited to head to the Farmer’s Market during my lunch and see what my menu will consist of that week. And, let’s be honest, how many of us make a special stop at McLeod's Farms on the way to or from the beach to pick up a peck of peaches because we know no peaches in a grocery store will ever taste that good?

This recipe from Food Network is a compromise. I tried it because it seemed simple enough to make for a quick evening dessert but also to see how I felt fresh fruit would hold up in its directions. I feel like, not only would fresh berries, cherries, pears, etc. hold up quite well, but it would make it infinitely better. No offense to Sandra Lee but sometimes semi-homemade is still better with whatever produce is waiting for you just around the corner. And when I do make those substitutions – I’m calling this “MJ’s Fruit Cobbler.”

Sandy’s Cherry Cobbler
Adapted from
Food Network, Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee

One of the things I liked about this recipe is that you use a cast iron skillet. That seemed like it would up my street cred in the baking world so I tried it out. And, I learned all about
seasoning your skillet once you are done using it. Thanks, Joy.

1 1/2 cups baking mix (I used Hungry Jack)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon almond extract (next time I make this I would up it a bit because I really like almond extract)
¾ a stick of butter (the original recipe says an entire stick but I think that was too much)
1 (21 ounces) can cherry pie filling
1 cup frozen cherries, thawed
These last two ingredients are where I would add some fresh fruit next time and try to find the proper amount and type of liquid to make up for the lost juice in the pie filling.
Vanilla Ice Cream for topping

Heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet (this is important – I think mine was bigger and it was a bit too low on the topping to fruit ratio) over medium heat and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, combine baking mix, sugar, evaporated milk, and almond extract. Whisk until smooth. Set aside. Add the butter to the skillet and melt. Stir in the pie filling and thawed cherries. Pour batter over top. Bake until golden and toothpick inserted into batter comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Mine was done right at 35 minutes and may have been a bit overdone but this also could’ve been due to the wider skillet as well. Remove from oven and let cool 1 hour before serving. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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