Over my thirty-six years in California, my cookbook collection grew at an exponential rate. Not only did I purchase my own books, but I was also the recipient for hundreds of livres about French cooking that publishers sent me hoping I would select them for the Joie de Vivre catalog. When I moved back to France a year ago, I had to cull out the “special” ones from my library. If I had listened to Marie Kondo and only packed the books that sparked joy, I would have kept 90% of my collection. It was agonizing to decide who would get the ax.
I also had a binder of loose recipes clipped from magazines, recopied from newspapers, or collected from friends and family: Michelle’s chocolate mayonnaise cake, Justin’s zesty chili, Debbie’s carrot cake, Randy’s fruit cobbler are some examples. They have yet to emerge from the bowels of the garage, buried among the 356 cartons that we are gradually unpacking. Luckily, Randy prepared his famous cobbler when we visited in March and I took a photo of his recipe.
Actually, it’s Grandma Lang’s recipe. It recalls a time when people cooked from scratch (and from memory), perhaps jotted down a few instructions on index cards, and usually favored margarine over butter because it was cheaper and more available. I never got to meet Grandma Lang so, to me, this cobbler represents my brother-in-law’s signature dessert.
I don’t believe there is a French traduction for that word. Unlike other American foodstuff like hamburgers, tacos, milkshakes, brownies, or chocolate cookies, the cobbler has yet to make it to this side of the Atlantic. Compared to the regimented arrangement of fruits on French tarts and cakes, cobbler looks a bit free-formed and sloppy. Clafoutis could almost pass for a cobbler’s cousin but the batter is decidedly different. At any rate, I love the unique texture of cobbler and its versatility: just like Randy, I use whatever fruits are in season and vary the flavoring agents accordingly.
Here are some of the combinations I like:
Apple, raisins, cinnamon, Calvados (or rum)
Strawberry, rhubarb, orange blossom water (or orange zest)
Apricot, sliced almonds, almond extract
Pear, cranberries, walnuts, Bourbon
Mixed red fruits, lemon zest, vanilla
Peach, blackcurrant, crème de cassis
Pèche et cassis is my favorite. Blackcurrant is in season right now and good peaches are appearing on the market stalls. I never saw blackcurrants while I was in California: perhaps they are available in the East or Midwest? You could substitute blueberries for blackcurrant if necessary. Just remember to always choose fruits that are ripe but firm. And use butter, not margarine: tout est meilleur avec du beurre…
Randy’s fruit cobbler
Le “cobbler” de Randy
For the fruit filling:
4 cups of fruit
½ cup sugar
1 Tbsp flour
Flavoring of your choice
For the batter:
4 Tbsp butter (1/2 stick)
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 375º. Mix together all ingredients for the fruit filling in a saucepan and bring to a simmer so that everything melts together. Place butter in an 8” x 8” Pyrex dish and melt in the microwave. Mix dry ingredients for the batter; gradually add the milk until well blended. Pour batter over melted butter and top with the hot fruit mixture. Bake 25-30 minutes.
Le livre: book
La traduction: translation
La crème de cassis: blackcurrant liqueur; also used to make Kir when mixed with white wine
La pèche: peach
Le cassis: blackcurrant
Tout est meilleur avec du beurre: everything tastes better with butter