This Blueberry Cobbler is from a different universe than the soggy, ho-hum cobblers encountered in many restaurants these days. The berries are evocatively enhanced with maple syrup, lemon, and cinnamon. The biscuits are crisp on the top and tender on the interior, with a subtle tang from the addition of sour cream and lemon. And the whole dessert goes together in under 20 minutes.
My Hutterite grandmother, Mary Pullman Stahl, was lauded for her other-worldly cooking, and when it came to biscuits, hers were incomparable. As a farm girl used to the demands of communal meal preparation, she never measured anything and the speed with which she could cover every counter in the kitchen with impossibly tender, light, fragrant biscuits was nothing short of magic–especially to her eight-year-old granddaughter who stood by ready to make cinnamon “dog ears” with the scraps.
I knew these rolls were going to be a hit, but I didn’t anticipate the mania that ensued as I took them from the oven, let them cool for a few minutes, pulled them apart, and piled them on a platter to serve. I mean, should you stop someone from eating six rolls, back-to-back, without coming up for air? Or just pass them more butter?
True confession: Until two weeks ago, I had never heard of an arepa. And I certainly couldn’t pronounce it. Now this is weird, because entire shelves of my cookbook library are dedicated to the cuisines of Mexico, South America, the Caribbean, Cuba, and the American Southwest. (This girl can make a mean tortilla and even meaner tamale–yes, she can.) You would think that somewhere in all that reading and cooking, I would have encountered the crusty little Venezuelan or Columbian cornmeal cake called an arepa. But no, didn’t happen.
Have you ever had a dish haunt you for years and years? Or perhaps one particular component of a dish? Have you tried repeatedly to reproduce that dish and failed miserably every time? Have you feigned innocence with one after another server to see if you could wheedle out the EXACT instructions for making that elusive something? “This is delicious. What type of bread is it?” “Really? But it’s SO crisp. How long does it bake?” “Parmesan too, eh?”
To set the record straight and to put my mind at rest, as near as I can determine after years of looking for the ultimate and absolute distinction between scones and shortcake, there is none.
Shortcake is a lightly sweetened cream biscuit–which is exactly what a scone is. So if you can make a perfect scone (and YOU CAN after reading The Best Scones in the Entire Universe), you can also make perfect shortcake.
I planned to do a short post on how to make a perfect scone and then several days into research and testing realized that like most great things, superlative scones are not so simple after all. This is not to say that they are difficult to make; just that there is a world of contradictory information available on the best way to produce the best scone, plus dozens of basic formulas that run the gamut from doughs with no butter or eggs at all to doughs with large quantities of both. What is the bewildered cook to do?
I’m always on the lookout for interesting variations on the corn bread theme, especially when leaves turn glorious shades of russet and crimson and nights turn cool. I LOVE corn bread–especially Aunt Elfred’s Corn Bread, which is high, light, and tender, with the requisite depth of cornmeal flavor and aroma.
Whenever I see an interesting corn bread recipe, I don’t bother with the basic formula, as I’m confident that no corn bread formula (and I’ve tested a gazillion) is better than Aunt Elfred’s.