Saturday, July 10, 2010

Blueberry Cobbler Tarts

Well, my CSA shares with Wayward Seed Farm are coming in, and I've been shackled with the obligation to 1) figure out what the heck they gave me, and 2) figure out what to make with what they gave me.

With strawberry fruit shares, it's pretty easy for me to figure out what to do: eat them, raw, before, during and after all meals. Easy-peasy.

For my most recent CSA fruit share, I received a portion of blueberries. I'm not the biggest fan of blueberries—and I've never really enjoyed eating them raw—so I knew I had to enlist the help of the Internet to solve the problem of what to do with roughly two cups of fresh Ohio blueberries.

Happily, I stumbled upon this recipe for exactly two cups of blueberries on recipezaar, entitled "Individual Blueberry Cobblers," by Julie B's Hive. It was a Very Easy recipe, and I noted that I had most of the ingredients already in my cupboard. Score!

I slightly modified this recipe to the following, and hence it has been renamed:

Blueberry Cobbler Tarts
2 cups fresh Ohio blueberries
sugar (a bit over half a cup, in all)
1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup 1% milk

First, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Next, combine the blueberries, 1/4 cup of sugar, lemon juice and water in a saucepan.

Brink the mixture to a boil, then lower the temperature and let simmer for five minutes.

While the blueberries are simmering, lightly oil four "tart pans." Since this recipe holds quite a bit, I've actually used 10 oz. soufflĂ© dish/ramekins that I purchased from Crate and Barrel. (Love that place!) 

After the blueberry mixture (Shall we now call it a compote?) has simmered for five minutes, pour equal amounts into the four greased mini baking dishes. All attempts to avoid drooling into the tart pans is encouraged at this point.

Now it's time to make the delicious (!) cobbler batter. First cream the butter, 1/3 cup sugar, egg, vanilla extract and almond extract until well blended. Next, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture into the butter mixture, along with the milk. Mix until well blended, but don't over-mix it. (I've found over-mixing to be a general no-no when dealing with anything remotely pastry-like.)

Once mixed, spoon the cobbler batter over the hot blueberries in their mini baking dishes.

Licking the batter remnants off the spoon is pretty much mandatory at this point. It is goo-oo-ood. 

Bake the tarts at 375°F for about 30 minutes, or until browned. Don't overcook, as the cake part of the cobbler can get quite dry. While cooking, commence cleaning the batter bowl with your tongue.

When the tarts are browned, serve them warm, plain, or with a bit of ice cream or whipped cream. The blueberry cobbler tarts can be quite rich, so some creamy vanilla ice cream can go a long way to cut the sweet of the blueberries.


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As my Blueberry Cobbler Tarts were cooking, I began to wonder about the difference between cobblers and tarts and crisps and whatnot. Some interesting reading on the subject can be found here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

An Ode to Trattoria Roma in Grandview

Words cannot begin to describe how much I love Trattoria Roma in Grandview, Ohio.

If I had to use one word: Delicious. But that only describes their food. Their service is also impeccable, both on the restaurant side and at the bar. Their servers are friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. The management is amenable and responsive, and their kitchen is always ready to offer inventive specials to complement their already expansive menu. (The owners are Shawn Mason and Keith Dunn, and their Chef is Matthew Prokopchek.) In short, this restaurant rocks! Please try it.

I know it's such a standard dish, but I can't stop singing the praises of their lasagna. In my humble opinion, it is the best lasagna in Columbus. (And no, I haven't tried the lasagna in every other restaurant; I simply can't imagine a lasagna being prepared any better.)

The menu description gives little hint of the joy this dish will bring to your taste buds:
Meat, three-cheese, spinach lasagne served with a slow cooked marinara sauce.
I guess if there's one thing they need to work on, it's their menu descriptions.

Anyway, their pasta is fresh and made in house (of course.) Their marinara is a tomato-lovers delight, not too sweet or salty, and not too spicy. It's just warm tomato goodness. They include a layer of spinach in their lasagna, which adds a surprising texture of leafy substantialness—and I think it might help the dish hold together, which makes a wonderful presentation. The three cheeses blend together in a melodious, creamy symphony of melted delight, and the meat (a mixture of beef and pork, I believe) is in just the right proportion to neither dominate the dish but also not get lost in the other flavors.

The portion size is more than enough to share with a friend. The picture below actually shows a half portion, and I was stuffed by the time I sopped up the last bit of marinara with their garlic toast (which, for what it's worth, is the one thing I think could be improved upon).

So. Good. 

If you're in the Grandview area, I strongly suggest you try Trattoria Roma on Grandview Avenue. All of their menu items are superb, they offer a wide selection of reasonably prices wines, and their service is friendly and warm. 

And no, I'm receiving no money for my resounding endorsement of this gem of an Italian restaurant. :-o


Monday, December 28, 2009

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

A good friend of mine recently discovered she is gluten intolerant. In an odd coincidence, I "stumbled upon" this recipe for gluten-free peanut butter cookies not long after, and boy did they look tasty!

Since today is my friend's birthday—and she always complained when we were in school that her Dec. 28 birthday was overlooked coming right in the middle of the holiday break—it seems the perfect opportunity for me to try out this recipe and drop by her house with a gift of cookies. Her two boys are also gluten intolerant, so I'm sure they'll enjoy these, as well.*

What made this recipe so intriguing for me was another interesting aspect of these cookies: The recipe only calls for three ingredients! THREE! Can't beat that.

Gluten -Free Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup peanut butter, smooth or crunchy (make sure it's gluten-free—not all are—and not too runny)
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare ingredient in their measurements.

Combine all three ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat together.

(I decided to go manual, since it's such an easy recipe and I didn't want to mess with cleaning the mixer afterwards.)

Drop tablespoons of the batter onto a cookie sheet. Use a fork to press the cookies down in a criss-crossed pattern.

Optional: Sprinkle the cookies with a bit of the granulated sugar or turbinado sugar.
(This could make for a fourth ingredient, but seeing as how this is optional and you could use the granulated sugar to do this, I'm standing by my "three-ingredients" thing. Personally, I like how the turbinado sugar gives the cookies a nice crunchiness. Of course, you could also achieve a similar effect with crunchy peanut butter, but I prefer smooth.)

Bake the cookies for 10-11 minutes.

Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, which allows the cookies to firm up a bit. Then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. (I use old, clean newspaper to allow the cookies to cool; I figure it has the added bonus of absorbing some of the oil.)

With a pretty bow, these make a great gift for anyone, particularly for those who are gluten intolerant.

Servings: 36 cookies

Nutrition info (per cookie):
Calories: 66
Fat: 4 grams (0.8 grams saturated fat)
Carbs: 7 grams
Protein: 2 grams

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Boy, oh boy, are these cookies tasty! I found the original recipe here, and she uses only crunchy peanut butter in her recipe. Next time I'll try it that way, too.

*Update: Apparently the boys aren't big fans of peanut butter. I guess that's more for the birthday girl. :-)