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John Golden

John Golden writes about food and has a highly opinionated blog, The Golden Dish.

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Posted: August 20, 2014

Great pairings: corn and tomatoes; blueberries and blackberries

‘Tis the season to relish the bounty of summer foods including berries, corn and tomatoes with great grilled chicken.

Written by: John Golden

Summer cooking has its affinities where great matches are made.  Just think corn and tomatoes or mixed berries piled into tarts and cobblers, two bounteous pairings that make seasonal cooking so delicious.

One of my favorite casseroles is a fine mixture of corn and tomatoes with onion, green pepper and bacon, which adds great smoky flavor to the dish.

Corn and tomatoes are the core of summer cooking

Corn and tomatoes are the core of summer cooking

Following suit is a luscious mixed-berry cobbler that pairs blueberries and blackberries together in an ingenious little devise in which a cake-like pastry case holds it all together.  It’s topped with a crumble mixture that’s as sweet as candy.

Plain blueberries and blackberries, which are sugared and mixed together

Plain blueberries and blackberries, which are sugared and mixed together

Prepare the berries and then fill the pastry case

Prepare the berries and then fill the pastry case

These were part of a menu that included grilled butterflied chicken cooked under a brick, a method that has become just about standard practice for such a barbecue-roasted bird. With it were small new potatoes baked on the grill  Use good smoking woods like hickory or maple for great smoke flavor.

Butterflied chicken grilled under a brick

Butterflied chicken grilled under a brick

These are relatively easy recipes, which you can dress up or down depending on the occasion. With the chicken I served a wonderful Sancerre rose, a hard-to-find wine, which at this writing is available at Rosemont’s Brighton Avenue store.  It’s a great summer wine, with the apply tartness typical of the sauvignon blanc grape with a rose blush.

Baked corn and tomatoes with bacon

Use a good smoky bacon for this dish to flavor fully ripened juicy tomatoes and your favorite corn.

Baked corn and tomatoes with onion, green pepper and bacon

Baked corn and tomatoes with onion, green pepper and bacon

Servings: 4

4 ears corn

3 large tomatoes, peeled and sliced

1 small onion, chopped

1 small green pepper, seeded and chopped

4 rashers bacon, cubed

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using a sharp paring knife remove the kernels from 3 of the ears into a large deep bowl.  Start first buy running the knife down the cob and then reverse direction to get the milk.  With the fourth ear, use a box grater to remove the kernels.  This will release more of the corn milk.  Then take your paring knife and scrape the cob to release more milk.  Stir the corns together.

Skin the tomatoes by plunging them into salted boiling water for 1 minute.  Remove to a bowl of ice water, then peel off the skin.  Depending on the tomato you can also skin it with a vegetable peeler, though it’s not always a successful method, depending on the texture of the tomato skin.

In a deep 2-quart casserole put half of the corn into the dish.  Add a layer of sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with some of the chopped onion and pepper. Season with salt and pepper.

Add half of the remaining corn, sprinkle with more onion and pepper, add another layer of tomatoes, season with salt and pepper.  Add the remaining corn, onion and pepper, with the final layer of tomatoes. Season each layer with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the bacon (uncooked) over this and bake for 30 to 45 minutes until the bacon is crisp and the vegetables are juicy and tender.  The vegetables will release a lot of liquid so to serve use a runcible spoon.

Blueberry-blackberry cobbler

Local blueberries and blackberries are at their peak now.  You can use other combinations like blueberries and sour cherries; raspberries and blueberries or even a mix of stone fruits like peaches and plums.  This cobbler has three components: the crust, the berry filling and the final topping of a very sweet crumble.

Blueberry and blackberry cobbler

Blueberry and blackberry cobbler

Servings: 6 to 8

Crust

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, well chilled and cubed

1 large egg, beaten

4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

Berry filling

1 pint (about 2 cups) wild Maine blueberries

1 pint (about 2 cups) blackberries

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

Crumble topping

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

5 tablespoons butter, cubed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter an 8-inch square baking pan

Crust. Put the flour, baking powder and sugar into the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Pulse a few times just to combine.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture has chunks the size of small peas.

In a glass measure mix the beaten egg and 4 tablespoons water together.  Add to the work bowl and pulse until the dough holds together.  It should be fairly moist.  Add more water (about 1 tablespoon) if needed.

Dump the dough into the prepared pan and pat it to fit, pushing the dough up the sides as well.  You might have to flour your hands as you work the dough in the pan if it softens.

Filling. Put the berries into a large mixing bowl and add the flour and sugar. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, gently mix the berries and dry ingredients until thoroughly blended. Put into the pastry case.

Crumble topping.    In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the dry ingredients and the cinnamon.  Add the butter and with thumb and forefinger pinch together the flour mixture and butter until you have large lumps.  This will form the texture of the topping. (Do not use the food processor for this because it will render pieces that are two small.)

Sprinkle this over the berries.  Place the baking pan on a foil-lined or parchment-paper lined sheet pan.  Place on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours or until the topping is lightly browned and the fruit bubbles slightly over.  Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.  The topping will seem not to have crumbled and be somewhat soft.  But as it cools the topping will harden and become incredible crumbly and crisp.  Serve with a fruit ice cream like strawberry or your best vanilla ice cream.

Cobbler with homemade strawberry ice cream

Cobbler with homemade strawberry ice cream

New store alert.  The Farm Stand store has opened at 161 Ocean Ave., South Portland.  This is a partnership between Penny Jordan (Jordan Farm), Ben Slayton, the master butcher of  Farmer’s Gate Market, and Joe Fournier, formerly of Rosemont Market where he was integral to the creative side of  that business.

Inside the Farm Stand

Inside the Farm Stand

Slayton gets his eats from Maine farms for nose-to-tail butchery offering the finest in farm-raised meats.

Penny brings all the great produce to the shop from her farm and other participating farmers.  The refrigerator cases are filled with artisanal quality dairy (for now milk and cream from Harris Farm) and cheeses.  They also sell dry goods and wine.  It’s a one-stop shop that has all that you need to nurture our farm-to-table culture in Maine.  Joe oversees the operation and will be offering prepared foods when the shop gets outfitted with a full kitchen.

Butcher Ben  Slayton; Harris Farm heavy cream; Joe Fournier (cener) and staff; the meat case

Butcher Ben Slayton; Harris Farm heavy cream; Joe Fournier (cener) and staff; the meat case

 

Local sources

Tomatoes, Alma Farm

Corn, School House Farm, Route 1, Warren

Blueberries and blackberries, Beth’s Farm Market

Chicken, Misty Brook Farm

Bacon, The Farm Stand, South Portland

Onions, Morning Dew Farm

Green Pepper, Beth’s Farm Market

Potatoes, Morning Dew Farm

 

 

 

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