with Cornmeal Sugar Cookie Crust
This recipe is an oldie but a goodie from the “A Chef’s Life” days but seemed appropriate because blueberries are glorious right now. This is Vivian’s version of her mother’s blueberry cobbler. She notes that you can use other fruits, including blackberries, cherries, strawberries, plums, apricots and peaches, figs, apples, oranges, and a combination of tangerines and cranberries for a festive looking holiday cobbler. Clove, allspice and cinnamon work well with fruits like fig and apple.
Make the Filling: Put all the ingredients in a bowl and press down with the back of a spoon to burst some of the berries. Stir it all together and cover. Let the berries and sugar hang out for about two hours or overnight, stirring when it’s convenient. After about two hours, lots of juice would have leached out of your fruit. Strain the juice and and add it to a small saucepan. Reduce the juice by half, or until it’s nice and syrupy. Add the syrupy stuff back to your fruit and stir to combine. It should coat and cling to the fruit like that scary cherry pie filling from the can.
Make the Crust: Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Cream together the butter and sugars in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and paddle to incorporate. Slowly add the flour mixture until just combined. Remove the dough from the bowl, cover it well with plastic wrap, and let it rest. The cookie dough can be made several days in advance. You could even make a larger batch, freeze it, and whip it out when you have some dying fruit or impending guests on your hands.
Assemble the Cobblers: Butter your 9-inch-by-12-inch oven-safe dish and spoon the fruity velvet into it. Or if you have a lot of cute dishes you’d like to use, make sure they can stand the oven, and go for it. What’s important is the filling to topping ratio. For every 1 ½-inch of filling, you want ½-inch cookie crust. If your dishes go deeper, just increase both by the ratio. If your topping is chilled, allow it to come to room temperature. Generally for something like this, you would be instructed to flour your work surface and roll out the dough, but for this recipe, that doesn’t really work. So just take your hands, grab a nice ball of the soft, kind of sticky dough and flatten it out between your palms until it’s approximately 1/2 inch thick. Lay that flattened, irregular disk on top of the fruit and move on to your next handful. The goal is to pretty much cover the fruit filling, without overlap but with very little exposed fruit in between. Ideally you want to place the baking dish on top of a larger cookie sheet because, chances are, it’s going to bubble over, and I think that’s a good thing (unless I’m washing the dishes). Bake 350 degrees for about an hour. The top should be really nice and brown, not pale, but dark golden and slightly crispy looking.
Yield: 10-12 servings