By Rachel Sanders, Sustainability Resource Center
You might have heard that Eat Local Week is on the way. (There’s still time to sign up, if you haven’t already!) If you’re worried about how well you might eat within a 250-mile radius of Salt Lake City, fear not: Utah’s growing season is in full swing, and it is the best time to explore what our farmers have to offer.
This week’s stone fruit cobbler will help you get the most out of the peaches, nectarines, and plums you’ll find at Thursday’s University of Utah Farmers Market and other markets in our area. My husband and I actually took this recipe with us into the Uintas this weekend, which really helped us test the ease with which this dish could be made. All you really need is a bowl, a knife, a wooden spoon, and an oven-proof (or campfire proof!) baking dish, and a little patience while the cobbler cooks.
You’ll find the recipe below (both for the home-cooked and camp-cooked versions), as well a brief overview of the Eat Local Pledge. I’ll be blogging about my experiences with the challenge (I picked the “hardcore” level, yeesh) next week, so check back to see how I’m doing and to offer your condolences as I move through chocolate withdrawal.
Stone Fruit Cobbler, adapted from Nigel Slater’s “Ripe”
A cobbler is a dish of fruit baked beneath a scone or biscuit-type dough. Use the cobbler dough with any summer fruit you have on hand. Need some inspiration for flavor combinations? Try adding a pint of blackberries or raspberries with peaches, or including blueberries with nectarines. If you’re not a stone fruit person, skip them altogether and make a berries-only cobbler.
2.5 – 3 pounds peaches or other stone fruit (2.75 pounds ended up being eight baseball-sized peaches for me)
1 pint berries, such as blackberries or raspberries (optional, but so tasty!)
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tablespoons cornstarch or tapioca starch
1/4-1/3 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of the peaches and what berries you use)
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, or gluten-free all-purpose flour*
2 teaspoons baking soda*
1/2 teaspoon salt*
1 tablespoon sugar*
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled (freeze your butter beforehand if taking it camping)
2/3 cup buttermilk or yogurt
Extra sugar for sprinkling the top (optional)
*Campfire Tip: mix the dry ingredients together in a jar or lidded container before you leave for your trip.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, or make a campfire (you’ll need the fire to go for a little while so you can have some embers by the time you want to cook the cobbler).
- Wash the peaches well, then halve and remove the pits. Cut each half into 4-6 slices, and place in a large bowl. Repeat with the rest of the peaches. Taste a slice of peach to see how flavorful and/or sweet it is (this will help you decide how much sugar to use in the recipe).
- In a separate small bowl, make a slurry by mixing the lemon juice into the cornstarch, then mix in the sugar (use more if your peaches aren’t very sweet or if you are using raspberries, as the berries will be very tart (more so than blackberries) when cooked). Add the slurry to the bowl with the peaches, tossing to coat everything (campfire variation: add the lemon juice to the bowl with the peaches, toss to coat, then spoon the cornstarch and sugar evenly over the peaches, and toss well to combine).
- If using berries, add them to the bowl with the peaches and toss very gently so as not to break them up too much.
- Pour the fruit into your baking dish (or Dutch oven**) and set aside; rinse the peach juices out of the bowl.
- In the now clean(ish, if you’re camping) bowl, combine the dry ingredients. If cooking at home, cut the butter into cubes and add them to the bowl, then, using two dinner knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter bits are the size of small peas. If cooking at camp, use a small swiss army knife or paring knife and cut small chunks or flakes off of the stick of butter into the flour mixture.
- Drizzle the buttermilk or yogurt over the flour mixture, and stir with the wooden spoon until just combined (don’t mix too much, or your cobbler dough will be tough and chewy).
- Using your hands or the spoon, place cobbler dough evenly over the peaches. Sprinkle the dough with a little of the extra sugar.
- Place in the preheated oven, and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the fruit is cooked and the cobbler dough is golden brown. If cooking in a campfire, make a single layer of embers in your fire ring, and place the dutch oven on top; place a few more embers on the lid of the dutch oven (we didn’t really know what we were doing, but you can tell how many we used from the picture). Leave the dutch oven in the fire for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove the cobbler from the oven or fire, and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Serve warm, or at room temperature (the leftovers are excellent for breakfast).
**Make sure whatever baking dish you use in camping is made to go in a campfire (not all lidded kitchenware is designed to withstand the high heat of embers, which can burn at more than 1,000˚F). Cast iron or aluminum dutch ovens are great for this purpose.
Eat Local Week promotes the local and regional foods of Utah, celebrates our agricultural heritage, and brings people together as a community. Participants learn about resources for eating locally, and increase their awareness of regional and national food production, transportation, and consumption. Take the Eat Local Pledge to challenge yourself and enjoy local produce and artisanal products, and participate in the many food-related events happening around town next week. Visit eatlocalweek.org to learn more.
Rachel Sanders is the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund coordinator for the Sustainability Resource Center.