…is paved just the same as that other well-intentioned road.
So, yesterday I had a plan. Dinner was to be oven-fried fish n’ chips. I wasn’t entirely sure how I would go about it, but the idea had been planted and my mind was set. The night before, I placed the frozen haddock in the fridge to thaw. In so doing, I noticed the raspberries my roommate had leftover from the weekend–they’d been integral to the dog’s 10th birthday party. Knowing she’d never use them, and with memories of the market’s golden apricots floating in my mind, I knew that their powers–combined into a cobbler–was just what the heat wave ordered.
So, my mission was simple. Get to the market, get some baby potatoes, grab a few apricots & a pint of vanilla, head home and let the wonders unfold.
When I arrived, Ronnybrook Farm (dairy) was packing up; so, I grabbed my vanilla and then perused the stalls for the best apricots. It turned out, however that he best apricots were peaches. The peaches were riper (for a good cobbler you want supreme ripeness) and are the preferred stone-fruit of my roommate anyway. Once I’d scouted out the best, I noticed two other goodies at the same booth: the most beautiful okra the plumpest golden tomatoes ever. Ever. Just because I’d planned on getting only a few things, didn’t mean I couldn’t get a few more…Thus, I scooped some up & headed home.
Once home, I decided to knock the cobbler out of the way. For my two minis, I diced 2 peaches similar in size to the raspberries, a quarter pints worth, threw in a splash of bourbon, juiced half a lemon, sprinkled a wee bit of brown sugar and a pinch of salt & let it sit til it got super juicy. Then, I put 1T of butter in each serving dish & set them in the oven at 350 degrees. For the batter: 1/4 cup self-rising flour, a pinch of salt & 1/4 cup sugar, whisked with 1/4 cup milk & a splash of vanilla. Method: remove warm dishes with completely melted butter from the oven. Divide batter evenly into the dishes. Divide fruit evenly over the batter. Bake for 30 min or so. This is the best way to make cobbler. Any other way you’ve been told to make cobbler is wrong. Other methods will result in a crumble (flour & butter, crumbled on top of fruit), a betty (a crumble with oats) or a fruit pot pie (biscuits). Once it’s puffy and bubbly and a glowing golden brown, you’re ready to throw some ice cream on that pot of delicious and go to town. (Or you could set it aside and work on the rest of dinner, then throw it back in to warm up while you eat.)
Which is what I did.
First, the chips of my fish n’ chips: lovely, rosemary roasted potatoes…which I’d forgotten to buy. Damn the enchanting allure of okra and tomatoes! Fried okra would defeat the purpose of oven-frying the fish. I decided I would simply slice the tomatoes, top with a salad of mixed greens and let that suffice–after all, I had cobbler waiting for dessert. Just because I’d forgotten a key component, didn’t mean I would veer from the main event.
To tackle the fish, I wanted to stay true to its English heritage. Generally that means a beer-battered, tempura-like crust. While that wasn’t going to happen with oven frying, I wondered how to get similar flavor. Solution: for my dry/wet/dry dredging, I would make the wet component a wash of egg & porter. For my birthday, my brother had sent me a fantastic gift for any food minded (or suds minded) individual: A case of 12 select beers, local to my region. In my mind, summer is too hot for a porter, but it served as the perfect way to infuse some beeriness and malty flavor into my dish. As for the dry components, the first was a mix of self rising flour and flax meal, and the second, a mix of panko and crushed breakfast cereal (any amalgamation of chex or flake will work) plus a hit of cayenne, each station properly seasoned with salt and pepper. Set the coated fish on a rack over a sheet pan, into the oven at 425 for about 20 minutes and you’ll have a perfectly cooked piece of fish that you’ll wish had been deep-fried with beer batter. Just because something is delicious, doesn’t mean it will satisfy a craving…Sidenote: even though we’re in the middle of a heat wave, I still drank the rest of that porter. It was delicious. Thanks, bro.
Alas, with no apricots or potatoes and a half-heartedly eaten fish, I still thoroughly enjoyed the meal. And that’s because Cobbler. Is. Delicious. I also made a beet tartar sauce with home pickled beets, my own yogurt and a small squeeze of mayo–for the fish, not the cobbler.
The moral: Just because you planned for one meal doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the one you wound up with instead.