After a year recovering from a restaurant fire and re-opening Chef and the Farmer, Vivian and Ben go all-in to open a burger/oyster bar called The Boiler Room. Vivian boils over with the stress of staffing adjustments, testing new menu concepts, and the enormous task of putting 500 pounds of blueberries to good use.
Vivian’s Cooking Demo
Vivian’s Featured Recipe
Blueberry Cobbler with a Cornmeal Sugar Cookie Crust
A fruit cobbler might just be the perfect Summer dessert. This blueberry cobbler, a family favorite, can be adapted for a wide variety of berries and other fruits. This recipe appears in the "Blueberries and Boiling Over" episode of A Chef's Life, featuring chef Vivian Howard.
- For the Filling:
- 1 pound of super ripe (doesn’t have to be perfect) fruit
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Zest of 1 lemon, removed with microplane
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Cornmeal Sugar Cookie Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups or 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup A.P. flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Make the Filling: Put all the ingredients in a bowl and press down with the back of a spoon to burst some of the berries. Stir it all together and cover. Let the berries and sugar hang out for about two hours or overnight, stirring when it’s convenient.
- After about two hours, lots of juice would have leeched out of your fruit. Strain the juice and and add it to a small saucepan. Reduce the juice by half, or until it’s nice and syrupy. Add the syrupy stuff back to your fruit and stir to combine. It should coat and cling to the fruit like that scary cherry pie filling from the can.
- Make the Crust: Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Cream together the butter and sugars in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and paddle to incorporate. Slowly add the flour until just combined.
- Remove the dough from the bowl, cover it well with plastic wrap, and let it rest. The cookie dough can be made several days in advance. You could even make a larger batch, freeze it, and whip it out when you have some dying fruit or impending guests on your hands.
- Assemble the Cobblers: Butter your 9x12 oven-safe dish and spoon the fruity velvet into it. Or if you have a lot of cute dishes you’d like to use, make sure they can stand the oven, and go for it. What’s important is the filling to topping ratio. For every 1 1/2 inch of filling, you want 1/2 inch cookie crust. If your dishes go deeper, just increase both by the ratio.
- If your topping is chilled, allow it to come to room temperature. Generally for something like this, you would be instructed to flour your work surface and roll out the dough, but for this recipe, that doesn’t really work. So just take your hands, grab a nice ball of the soft, kind of sticky dough and flatten it out between your palms until it’s approximately 1/2 inch thick. Lay that flattened, irregular disk on top of the fruit and move on to your next handful. The goal is to pretty much cover the fruit filling, without overlap but with very little exposed fruit in between.
- Ideally you want to place the baking dish on top of a larger cookie sheet because, chances are, it’s going to bubble over, and I think that’s a good thing (unless I’m washing the dishes). Bake it at 350 for about an hour. The top should be really nice and brown, not pale, but dark golden and slightly crispy looking.
Tips/TechniquesWe’ve used the obvious like blueberries, blackberries, cherries, strawberries, plums, apricots and peaches for sure. But we’ve also used figs, apples, oranges, and a combination of tangerines and cranberries for a festive looking holiday cobbler. Feel free to combine fruits and add spices to suit the occasion. Clove, allspice and cinnamon work well with fruits like fig and apple.
Yield: 9x12 inch cobbler