You Will (Maybe) Make This Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler

If there was no Lauren there’d be no Maybe.

She felt that the rhubarb was too prominent, that the fruit wasn’t cooked enough. But tell me this doesn’t look delicious:

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Here’s a good tip for all you aspiring gourmets out there: when you’re at the supermarket, pay attention to what’s in the produce section. Recently at Whole Foods I noticed prominent displays of strawberries and rhubarb. So tonight, when I was craving a diversion from my homework and the bread in the refrigerator, I typed in “Strawberry Rhubarb” at Epicurious and came up with this recipe (which, incidentally, has a 100% approval rating):

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB COBBLER WITH CORNMEAL BISCUIT TOPPING.

My formula for a good recipe is as follows:

EASY TO DO + DELICIOUS RESULTS = GOOD RECIPE

This recipe was incredibly easy. My one mistake was with the rhubarb.

First, wash and dry the strawberries:

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Then wash and dry the rhubarb:

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Here’s where I made my mistake. Well, I’m not sure if it was a mistake. The recipe says to cut the rhubarb into 1/2-inch thick slices. I found this confusing. I mean, are we talking width or length? Should I have cut it like celery?

I ended up making little rhubarb sticks of 1/2 an inch width:

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If I had to do it again, I’d go the celery route.

In any case, you put the rhubarb and strawberries in a bowl with flour, sugar and ground cloves. (I think the ground cloves make the recipe terrific; adds a lot of depth to the flavor):

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Pour into the pie dish:

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Now make the topping. There’s flour, sugar, butter, and corn meal:

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Mush it up with your fingers until it resembles course meal. Then add buttermilk and stir with fork:

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[I don’t know why I’m giving you these instructions. Just follow the Epicurious recipe!]

Pour the topping on the strawberry mixture:

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And bake at 400 degrees for what I think is 25 minutes. (Follow the recipe, dummy!)

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Doesn’t that look delicious?

Here’s what it looks like in the bowl:

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I think Lauren’s main complaint was that the fruit wasn’t cooked down enough. Someone on the Epicurious site makes the same point and suggests cooking the fruit first before adding the topping. I had never cooked with rhubarb before, so I didn’t know the difference. In any case, I think this is a perfect Springtime Sopranos-watching dessert. Unless you’re Lauren. In which case, the fruit wasn’t cooked down enough.

Charitable Chicken Soup for My Roommate’s Soul

Poor Lauren. She has a cold. When Lauren gets colds they last for two weeks, minimum. And since I have been basking in my good health all weekend (excluding explicit epilogues), last night I called her cell phone on her way back from the airport and said: “Would you like me to make you chicken soup?”

She said: “Would you? That would be awesome.”

So I whipped out my Epicurious chicken soup recipe which, since it’s on the internet, I can reproduce for you here. It is not the most authentic chicken soup recipe: that would involve making your own chicken stock (a process that takes over four hours). But this recipe is incredibly delicious, incredibly nutrtious and–to quote the recipe itself: “perfect for a cold winter’s night.”

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OLD-FASHIONED CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

16 cups canned low-salt chicken broth (<--I just bought two quarts worth and that was plenty) 1 3.5 lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces 1/2 cup chopped onion 2 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced 2 celery stalks, sliced 8 oz dried wide egg noodles 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley (<--I subbed dill for the parsley because I love dill in chicken soup) 1. Combine chicken broth and chicken in heavy large pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover partially and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Using tongs, transfer chicken to large bowl. Cool chicken and broth slightly. Discard skin and bones from chicken. Cut chicken meat into bite size pieces and reserve. Spoon fat off top of chicken broth. 2. Return broth to simmer. Add onions, carrots and celery. Simmer until vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. 3. Stir in noodles, parsley (or dill) and reserved chicken. Simmer until noodles are tender, about 5 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. It was really the last step that made this particular soup taste better than any I've made before. I don't think I ever use enough salt, so this time I was really generous and, according to Lauren, "this is the best one you've made by far."

Cobbler Sex City

Nothing says sex like apple cobbler. The bubbling sticky apple juices; the savory, buttery cobbler topping. Sometimes, when I’m feeling lonely, I break out a bottle of wine, turn up the Barry Manilow and bake myself an apple cobbler. I pour it over my head like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance and scream in agony. Apple cobbler is hot.

Last night, however, my cobbler and I had company. Friends came over to watch “Sex and the City” and, rather grudgingly, I spooned them up heaping portions of sex cobbler with a side of vanilla ice cream. Does this make me a voyeur? Or does this make my friends exhibitionists?

Either way, the recipe I used comes from Saveur magazine which usually contains recipes so exotic and forbidding that you can’t cook anything without a vast supply of squirrel meat and pigeon brains. Luckily, the most exotic cobbler requirement was nutmeg.

Due to time constraints, I am unable to reproduce every minute detail of my cobbler making. Suffice it to say, there were apples:

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I was forced to use Granny Smith instead of the suggested Cortland. All Oedipal implications of Granny apples in a sex cobbler shall be stifled.

After coring, peeling and chastizing the apples I sliced them and tossed them in a combination of: granulated sugar, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, freshly grated nutmeg, ground cloves, honey, apple cider and the juice of one lemon. I then baked them for 30 minutes, producing this lovely image:

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While they cooled, I sifted together 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp baking powder:

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I then cut in 10 tbsps of cold butter, stirred in 1/2 cup of rolled oats and 6 tbsps of heavy cream. I poured the combo on top and it looked like this:

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And then I baked it for 45 minutes in an oven at 375 degrees. People started arriving.

“What smells so good?” they asked, removing articles of clothing.

“People!” I yelled, “This is not Eyes Wide Shut. Put your clothes back on.”

Finally, halfway through “Sex and the City,” the cobbler was done:

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At this point, the living room couches were humming with sexual tension.

“BRING US COBBLER!” the guests demanded, breaking out in a communal cobbler sweat.

I served them up sexy bowls:

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They snapped them quickly out of my hands and began feeding each other cobbler with such velocity and unbridled energy that several neighbors came over to ask what the fuss was about.

“Sorry,” I said, “It won’t happen again.”

“Is that cobbler?” they asked, and began streaking their way through the apartment.

“All naked neighbors please leave!” I shouted, to no avail.

The following image is just one of many examples of cobbler lust at its worst. In this ribald sex pic, AG reader “Carrie” spoon feeds cobbler to AG model “Andrew.” This is not safe for work!

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9 months from now the Children of the Cobbler will be born. Their ravenous cobbler appetites will wreak havoc across all 50 cobbler-serving US states. Cobbler corruption will breed a new race of cobbler eaters; stalking their way across the country thirsting for bubbling apple juices and savory, buttery toppings.

Which is why, in the future, I’ll save my cobbler-making for those magic nights home alone. Just me, Barry Manilow, and 12 simmering apples slathered on my head. What a feeling!

A Mediocre Tropical Smoothie from The Barefoot Contessa

I have a love/hate relationship with The Barefoot Contessa.

On the one hand, her recipes are wonderful. Of all my cookbooks, hers produce the best and most consistent results: a terrific roast chicken, a great recipe called Pasta, Pesto, Peas that is as heavy on the flavor as it is the alliteration. Her desserts are buttery marvels: buttery in that they all contain 80 sticks of butter, but well worth it: luscious lemon squares, decadent brownies. You get the idea.

On the other hand, my political leanings make her TV show difficult to watch. Driving around the Hamptons in her BMW, chortling with her high-society friends, and flaunting her own unique brand of entitlement (“I always buy my chickens straight from the farm”) the Barefoot Contessa is a noxious hybrid of classism and greed. Case in point, after a shopping spree, her friend says: “Ina, how could you buy so much?” Ina’s response: “That’s what rich husbands are for!”

Which is all to say that earlier this afternoon I followed her recipe for a Tropical Smoothie. I purchased the following items from Whole Foods:

– 1 mango

– 1 papaya

– 1 cup yogurt

– fresh orange juice

– Milk

In addition to the items I already had at home:

– Honey

– Banana

– Cat (just kidding)

I then proceeded to follow her directions (which you can get at foodtv.com, but after reading this you may not want to) and liquified everything in the blender.

Lauren was my taster and she said: “Mm, it’s good.” But not in such a way that suggested conviction.

I tried it myself and shrugged my shoulders.

“Eh.”

In Ina’s defense, she says the fruit must be incredibly ripe for this to taste good. My mango was ripe but my papaya was not. I guess that’s what rich husbands are for.

Martha Stewart’s Pecan Chocolate Chunk White Chocolate Chip Cookies

So despite my self-proclaimed ineptitude in the kitchen, I do have a knack for all things sweet and desserty. I’m a baker, not a fighter.

One of my favorite cookie recipes comes from America’s most beloved white collar criminals / domestic goddesses, Marthalicious Stewart. Available on her website for no charge (or the occassional insider trading tip) you will find the recipe for some wonderfully delicious cookies. I served these cookies to friends this weekend and their reactions were as follows:

“Mmmm!”

“Ohhhh!”

“Wheeee!”

Clearly, these are some really good cookies. Since posting the actual recipe may cause legal trouble for The Amateur Gourmet (who, despite three years in law school, has no idea how the law actually works), here’s the link:

http://www.marthastewart.com/page.jhtml?type=content&id=recipe3472&search=true&resultNo=3

And, for your viewing pleasure, some pictures:

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