Saturday, June 4, 2011

Cobbled together.

 Grilled peach cobbler. © Ryan Schierling

"Let's end this week of grilling with dessert! It's peach season! I have an idea!"

We should be able to cook nearly anything on the grill, or over a campfire, that we can cook or bake in a modern kitchen, right? Or, so it goes in theory. My idea was to assemble the individual components of a peach cobbler – preparing as many as possible on the grill – and devour the collective deliciousness.

So, we decided to go for it – a kinda sorta deconstructed/reconstructed peach cobbler. This is how the grilling attempt played out for each element:

PEACHES:  Yes! Grill those peaches. They are delicious! But do be sure to first clean the grill grates very very well … can't have them tasting like the steak you just threw down. As they become soft, the fruit begins to slip from the skins. A bit of charring/caramelization is quite a nice touch on a peach, particularly when paired with something sweet.

COBBLER:  This is basically a sweet biscuit dough which is typically baked on top of the fruit. So, hey, how about baking some sweet shortcake instead? I like to bake biscuits on a stone in the oven, however, we just happen to have an unglazed quarry tile that is the perfect size for the grill. We gave it an optimistic go. Results? Let's just say "this might require a little more practice." They puffed-up perfectly, but they didn't seem to want to finish baking. Every time we took the lid off the grill the temperature plummeted, which I suspect contributed to their lack of cooperation in baking evenly. They're terribly picky about their ambient temperature needs…. so, it's absolutely possible, but maybe not ideal – especially when trying to cook multiple items.

CINNAMON SAUCE:  Now, what about that syrupy cinnamon sauce? Could we cook it over the coals too? Um… probably possible, but a little tricky with all that sugar going on. I actually did this on the stove top and then took it to the grill to reheat. The good news is that it heated right up to a hot bubbling little saucepan of goodness, thus explaining my "probably possible." Personally, I'll stick to the burner in my kitchen and make it a day ahead if necessary. It does beautifully in the refrigerator for a few days and is tasty served either hot or cooled.

ICE CREAM:  I am not a magician. The grill won't help at all here.

Warm ripe Texas peaches with a hint of caramel char, rich and tender shortcake, a scoop of cool vanilla ice cream… these are all the big visible things about a cobbler. But I think the element that really makes it "cobbler" is that aromatic cinnamon liquid it swims in. My Grandma Munroe has a sauce recipe that I absolutely adore; one she always serves with her steamed pudding during the holidays. It seemed like the perfect salty-sweet sauce to appropriate for these grilled peaches.

Texas peaches, shortcake, cinnamon-clove sauce. © Ryan Schierling

It's a little strange, perhaps, that the only formal recipes I'm posting here are the ones I prefer to compose in the kitchen, but I guess that's because the grilled peaches are just that – grilled. Simply cut in half from top to bottom perpendicular to the cleavage, remove pits and place cut side down on the hot grill. When they have what might be deemed "proper" grill marks, turn over and cook skin side down until tender.

Cinnamon-Clove Sauce

1-1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 cups water

Mix all ingredients, except butter and water, together in a small saucepan. Add 1/2 cup cold water and mix well. Add butter to pan and pour in 1 cup of boiling water, put on medium heat and boil gently until thick and syrupy – about 5-10 minutes.

Shortcake (adapted from Joy of Cooking)

3-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
6 teaspoons double acting baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons chilled butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450º.

Mix dry ingredients thoroughly. Cut butter into dry ingredients with a pastry blender, achieving a small pea size consistency. Make a well in the center and add cream and milk. Stir until the dough is fairly free from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board. Knead gently and quickly, making about 8 to 10 folds. Roll with a lightly floured rolling pin, until the dough has the desired thickness (approximately 1/2 inch). Cut with a 1-1/2" to 2" biscuit cutter dipped in a very little flour. Brush tops with milk or melted butter. Place directly on hot baking stone, or on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned – 10 to 15 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. grilled peaches and vanilla ice cream are enough to make any ex-pat cry and start singing "Oh say can you see..." while embroidering a shirt with letters spelling "If you are a good girl, eat your vegetables and go to church Sundays, one day when you die, you will go to TEXAS".


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