Yes, it’s a term. If it wasn’t a term before, it is now. Produce Shopaholics know who they are. It’s a sunny/rainy weekday/weekend and you just happen to be passing by the farmer’s market or a Citarella when all of a sudden, you pull a produce rubberneck. Through the sweating window on a humid day, you see cool, crisp produce calling to you. Or if you’re outside and rushing by the farmer’s market, perhaps the scent of a tristar strawberry or a Jersey white peach gently tickles your nose. Whatever it is, a scent, a sight, a 6th-produce-sense, you have to stop. You need to go where the produce is – its siren call won’t let you venture any further or continue on your way. You’re a Produce Shopaholic.
The problem with produce addiction (a subset of just a food addiction) is that you tend to shop with your eyes and food imagination. You start to see every piece of produce as a potential dish: “maybe tonight I’ll finally make collard greens” or “these peaches would make amazing peach preserves!” You start to buy berries by pint and plums by the pound without really stopping to think how much fruit and how many veggies you’ll actually have time to consume raw let alone cooked. Weeks later, if you’re like me, you’ll open your fridge searching for something other than anchovies and olives to eat (or ice-cold liqueur to drink) and discover one or more items of week-old produce start a mini-compost pile in your fridge. Gross. Thank God for Lysol wipes (or Clorox wipes — I’m not really brand-specific on these as long as they do their job and kill off bacteria! Germaphobes unite!).
It’s not like you didn’t know your little mold colony wasn’t coming either. You saw that peach getting ripe. Heck, you SMELLED that peach getting ripe, its heavy sweetness permeated every kitchen breath you’ve taken over the past 2 weeks. Yet still, you convinced yourself that it could hold on one more day while you thought about turning it into jam or making that peach ice cream with the ice cream maker that you’re still planning to by… Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into rot. There goes your peach and now your arm-deep in Clorox wipes taking care of its remnants. What’s worse is that you LOVE peaches, it’s just that after that 8th peach, you couldn’t eat anymore for fear that you might develop a fruit allergy like that horrible mango incident of 2009…
Here’s one way to save that almost-gone fruit: Cobbler. When that peach or plum is just a little too squishy, its skin a little too wrinkled, to eat, but still not starting to grow its own antibiotics, Cobbler is the solution. Forget that it’s delicious and easy and just let it evoke TV-induced memories of growing up in the south. Which you probably didn’t, but sometimes dream you had while downing ham & pickle biscuits. Thinking of cobbler makes me remember Dwayne Wayne from A Different World and his favorite dessert of Prune Cobbler. Relax, relate, & release! A warm, just-cooked in the center and crisp on the outside cakey dough surrounds sweet baked fruit that you’d never know was a day away from the trash bin. Serve it warm with a little fresh-whipped cream mixed with a tablespoon of tangy crème fraîche or an ice-cold quenelle of vanilla ice cream and you’ll feel like you’ve prepared a special treat and not a quick-fix for almost-gone fruit. Even better, you’ll save yourself some of that Produce Shopaholic guilt that always comes with tossing old fruit that you once adored.
Cobbler Solver (An easy cobbler recipe for those of us not lucky enough to be born with a drawl)
1 stick Butter, melted
1 c milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ c granulated sugar
1 package Dried Yeast (¼ oz)
1 c AP (or Whole Wheat) Flour
2 t baking powder
Tiny pinch salt
Demerara sugar (garnish)
4 c Stone Fruit (peeled & sliced peaches, plums, rehydrated prunes or apricots in rum are also AWESOME, etc.)
1 t Ginger (peeled & grated)
¼ -½ c Granulated sugar (to taste – if fruit is sweet, less sugar is best)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Mix yeast into milk and let sit while preparing the rest of the recipe.
- Peel, core and slice peaches, plums, and other stone fruit and place in a bowl – try and cut the fruit over that bowl so that you don’t lose any delicious juices. I used peaches and also added some blueberries that I had lying around. Plums and cherries would be insane, also.
- If using dried fruit like Dwayne Wayne’s prunes, cut dried fruit in half and let sit in dark rum for an hour or more (or combine, bring to a boil, and let sit if in a rush). Drain when ready and consider using leftover liqueur for a badass cocktail or reducing it into delicious syrup. It’s your call.
- Toss fruit with grated ginger and ¼ cup of sugar. Taste a small cut of fruit – if it’s not sweet or tangy enough, add additional sugar and lemon juice until fruit tastes like Mother Nature intended before we hopped her up on more hormones than a baseball player: delicious. Add just a pinch (pointer finger and thumb) of salt to bring out all of the flavors.
- Melt butter.
- Mix yeasty milk with vanilla. Mix in Sugar and stir until as dissolved as possible.
- Mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to milk all at once and mix just until combined. Don’t overwork the flour – if there are small lumps, just leave them be.
- Pour melted butter into a square baking dish/casserole/pie dish, then pour batter over the butter in a haphazard or zigzag patter – you want little pockets of melted butter to peak through the batter.
- Scatter the fruit on top of the batter and butter and then drizzle the macerated juices (rum) from the batter on top. Again, make it as organic as possible. Cobbler is rustic and earthy, not prim and proper. It’s the Tom Boy of desserts.
- Sprinkle some Demerara sugar on top as a garnish (OK, so it’s a little girly) and then throw in the oven to bake for 20-45 minutes (yup, it’s that much of a spread depending on how nifty or cruddy your oven is – mine is on the cruddy side) until the top is golden brown (that’s the magic color for tans and baked goods) and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean… or rather, it comes out not covered in batter goop. It’s OK if it comes out covered in juicy fruit.
- Let cool slightly, but serve a slice/piece warm in a dish with a little fresh-whipped cream with crème fraîche folded in or an ice cold scoop/quenelle of vanilla ice cream. The cobbler will be sweet, so it’s nice if the whipped cream or vanilla ice cream is a little more subtle to balance it all out. Enjoy!