Cobblers

Summer Crumble with Rhubarb, Raspberries, Dried Figs, and Pecans

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We just had our first official day of summer and it was ridiculously hot here in Michigan — 97 degrees F around these parts.  Now I’m not 100% sure if figs are a summer fruit, but rhubarb and raspberries always make me think of the season.  And when it’s summer, you don’t want to be in a hot kitchen all day, so this is ideal!  What’s special about this recipe are the dried figs.  They can help absorb some of the liquid that is released by the rhubarb and they add some sweetness, texture, and color.  Sure, I was just trying to clean out my pantry but this combination really goes well together.

Just throw all the topping ingredients in a bowl and mix it up, and get another bowl to toss the filling with some sugar and flour and you are all set.  You can even make the topping the night before and put it in the fridge for when you’re ready!  Easy-peasy!  Here’s what you need:

Rhubarb and Figs actually look nice together. I toss in the raspberries later.

For the topping:

  • 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-in. cubes

1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt.  Add the butter and mix on low speed until the topping resembles loose crumbs.

2.  Stir in the oats and pecans.  Set aside.

I really struggled with taking a picture that did this crumble some justice. Again, I’m still trying to figure out photography and composition.

For the filling:

  • 1/2 c. vanilla sugar
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1 lb. rhubarb, chopped into 1/2-in pieces
  • 12 – 15 dried figs, cut into quarters
  • 8 oz. raspberries
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, and nutmeg.  Set aside.

2.  Place the lemon juice, rhubarb, figs, and raspberries in your baking dish.  Gently toss.  Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the top and let sit for about 5 minutes.

3.  Sprinkle the topping over the top of the fruit in an even layer.  Bake for about 45 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling and the topping is golden.  Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving so the filling can set up just a tiny bit.

Notes — My pecans got a little bit toasty, but tasted fine.  If burning them is a concern, you could add the pecans to the filling instead of in the topping. . . Store this in the refrigerator. . . You can reheat this in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 15 – 20 minutes.

Gooseberry Grunt

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Nothing says “Happy Birthday America” like a Gooseberry Grunt.  Gooseberries are native to North America, but there are also species with origins in Europe, Asia, and Africa.  They are closely related to currants and can have cross varieties between the two.  I found a University of Minnesota article with some info about both.  It has useful info on how to grow and harvest them.

As for grunts, they are one of the many types of cobblers.  I could do a whole series of stuff on different types of cobblers, but you’d probably not get 100% consensus about how to define all the different varieties.  Sometimes referred to as slumps, grunts get their name by the sound they make as they cook.  Traditionally cooked on the stovetop , the dough or crust is basically a steamed dumpling.  You use a biscuity type dough for this type of cobbler.  This recipe was baked in the oven so it probably should be called a slump, but alliteration-wise “Gooseberry Grunt” sounded better.  Which is probably why “American as Apple Pie” was more popular than “American as Gooseberry Grunt”.

This dessert has its roots in colonial New England.  I remember reading somewhere that grunts were from Massachusetts and the everywhere else in New England called them slumps.  These were attempts to recreate the steamed pudding that could find in their home country of England.  Of course, they could only use the fruits that they could find locally.  Yay! — another cultural / historical nugget!

Anyhoo, back to the recipe.  There were some raspberries mixed in so this isn’t just gooseberries.  The flavor of the gooseberry is on the tart side, but there is some sweetness there.  It’s kinda hard to really describe the flavor since it is so unique.  The texture is close to that of a grape.  There is a pic on Wikipedia showing a sliced gooseberry.  There’s also info available at the site, but you can never trust Wikipedia 100% since anyone can change the info.  But I digress. . .

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 c. gooseberries
  • 1 c. raspberries
  • 1/4 c. butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar, divided in half
  • 1 c. self-rising flour
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1/4 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1 c. boiling water

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the berries into your baking dish.  This one used an 8×8 glass dish.

2.  In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and 1/2 the sugar until fluffy.  Alternating with the half the milk, add the flour in thirds so that you start and end with the flour (hope that isn’t confusing because I can never figure out how to state that clearly).  Spoon the batter over the berries.

3.  Mix together the remaining sugar with the cornstarch and nutmeg.  Sprinkle over the top.  Pour the boiling water over everything.

4.  Bake for 1 hour.  Cool for about 15 minutes before serving so that it can set.  You can serve with ice cream or whipped cream or Cool Whip.