Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Berry Cobbler with Boysenberries

Although a berry cobbler can be made with many kinds of berries, my all-time favorite is with boysenberries.  I am absolutely wild about boysenberries.
A California treasure almost lost, boysenberries are a cross between a blackberry, raspberry and loganberry. This is the beautiful berry that made Knott’s Berry Farm famous. Deep red-purple in color, these juicy gems are rarely found beyond a farmers market and their season is just a few weeks long.
When I discovered boysenberries at Bristol Farms a few days ago I jumped for joy, greedily grabbing six boxes. Thankfully the produce guy knew me. He just laughed as I stood there with an open container, stuffing them in my mouth exclaiming “I can’t believe you have boysenberries”! Curious shoppers figured they must be special and started picking up boxes. The limited supply quickly dwindled.
My life-long love affair with boysenberries started as a kid. My dad is a Pastor and his first church was the little white Church of Reflection at Knott’s Berry Farm. Walter Knott agreed to him using the church for his growing congregation if he would hold services for employees on Sunday. I practically grew up on Knott’s Berry Farm. The memories are very special.
Knott’s, famed for boysenberry pie, jam, juice, popsicles, pancake syrup and tarts: I could never get enough. Back then it wasn’t roller coasters and wild rides, but the famous chicken dinners and all things boysenberry that drew the happy, hungry crowds.

With my stash safely home, boysenberry cobbler came to mind. While not exactly health food, at least cobblers bypass the calories of a pie’s pastry crust and rely on a crispy, crunchy baked topping to crown the berries. I experimented with cornmeal and whole wheat flour for the topping, but went back to my old standard recipe with all purpose flour.
This recipe is easy and fast to put together. The topping is sprinkled on, so no fussing with dough to make a biscuit topping. The sprinkled topping also allows you to control the amount; use a little or a little extra. I bake the cobblers in 8 ounce porcelain ramekins, which make for a personal treat.It’s fun to dig into your own little dessert. If you don’t have ramekins you will find them a very useful addition to your kitchen collection. You can also use 8 ounce oven safe deep dishes.
If you can’t locate boysenberries, use fresh blackberries or a combination of blackberries and raspberries for a wonderful cobbler. For even more of a treat, top with a small scoop of low fat vanilla ice cream or low fat frozen yogurt.
A note on the recipe source: I’ve adapted it from what I think is old Williams-Sonoma recipe. I’ve checked their website but can’t find the same recipe.
If you need to make this gluten-free, use a GF blend such as Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur Flour’s gluten-free multi-purpose flour in place of the all purpose flour. Both are good quality.

Berry Cobbler with Boysenberries

If you can’t find boysenberries, use blackberries or a combination with raspberries.  I like to make personal cobblers in 8-ounce porcelain ramekins (sometimes called souffle cups) because everyone likes their own dessert. You can double the fruit and make it in a larger baking dish to serve more. While this is not exactly “health food”, at least you are not getting all of the fat and calories of a pastry piecrust. No crust makes this easy and fast to assemble and bake.
Serves: 2
¼ cup (22 grams) all purpose flour (or gluten-free blend such as Bob’s Red Mill)
¼ cup (22 grams) granulated sugar (I use organic evaporated cane sugar)
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, beaten (you’ll only need ½ for 2 servings)
Berry Filling
1 tablespoon (10 grams) all purpose flour (or gluten-free blend such as Bob’s Red Mill)
3 tablespoons (35 grams) granulated sugar
12-14 ounces (340-400 grams) fresh berries, about 2 ½ cups
2-3 tablespoons (30-45 grams) unsalted butter, melted, plus a little extra to butter the ramekins
1)   Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees (190C).  While the oven is heating, make the topping and assemble the cobblers.
2)   For the topping, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and ½ of the egg in a small bowl and mix with your fingers, a fork or a pastry blender until well blended and crumbly. It will have a loose, sandy texture. Don’t use all of the egg (for 2 servings) or the topping will be too wet.
3)   For the filling, combine the flour and sugar in a bowl; add berries and toss gently to coat them.
4)   With a little of the extra butter and a paper towel or pastry brush, wipe the inside of the ramekins. Pour in the berries, dividing between the two ramekins. Press them in gently but don’t crush the berries. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the topping over the berries and drizzle with melted butter.
5)   Bake until the tops are golden and crusty and the berries are bubbly and hot, about 30-35 minutes. As ovens vary, check the cobblers early. When baking it helps to place the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet for easier handling and to catch any drips.
6)   Cool briefly and enjoy alone or with a small scoop of low fat vanilla ice cream or low fat vanilla frozen yogurt.


Ghostly Mirror Tutorial and Instant Relatives

About one year ago, I created a post about "wallpaper mirrors"  decorative mirrors similar to examples I've seen before in Anthropologie stores (other bloggers have posted their nicely done interpretations too).  The project basically involved disassembling a mirror, removing the silvering in selected spots, and either decoupaging patterned paper directly on the glass or, for a less permanent maneuver, affixing the paper to the cardboard backing that protects the glass, then reassembling the mirror.
Here are four of my finished mirrors, with vintage wallpaper peeking through the carefully removed silver:

Here's a close-up of one example:


Recently I decided to resurrect this fun project in time for Halloween, this time with a macabre twist:  A ghostly mirror with a face looking back at you through the silver:


The mirror I selected already had some silver missing, making it somewhat undesireable and hard to sell.  Might as well try to "upcycle" it into something a little different, right?
To make an altered mirror, flip it over and remove the backing, which is usually affixed with little nails.


After pulling out the little nails that hold the cardboard backing, gather your supplies which include oven cleaner and a glove. 


Next spray the oven cleaner onto the center area of the mirror back where you wanted the face to show through. I waited about five minutes then put on my yellow glove and grabbed some wet paper towels to remove the oven cleaner:


Mirrors basically have two layers, one that is a matte pigment and the other a silvering that provides the reflective surface.  On my example, the brown layer came off quite easily, right along with the foamy oven cleaner.  The silvering on this mirror needed a little more persuasion.  I've used various methods to get the silver off.  A razor blade might work, or another coat of oven cleaner, or rubbing with something gritty, like Comet. 


Make sure you remove all traces of the oven cleaner.
Now you can take your image and cut it to fit behind your mirror:


Next you slap the picture behind the glass, back it up with the cardboard, and secure with those pesky little nails that you pulled out or use a "brad nailer", which is one of my favorite gadgets of all time.  It shoots the little brads into the mirror frame just like a staple gun.

My mirror may not be frightful enough because my "ghost" has such a serene expression, but since I didn't permanently affix the portrait to the glass, I can switch it out with something else, like a skull.  Sorry about this awful picture, but I took it at night with a flash.


It would have been cool to take this vintage Ouija board (what family didn't have one of these stashed somewhere?) color copy parts of the board or even the spooky cover art, and put this behind the mirror. 


If you're thinking "Hey, you ruined a perfectly good mirror for some crazy craft project!", I have something you might like a little better.  It's so easy to make, it's like falling off a log.  Just find a good old mirror, like my example below.  This mirror is a real treasure.  Notice the old wavy glass:


Next, add snapshots of your kin folk or some "instant relatives" from a thrift store photo album around the edges.  I just secured mine with a bit of tape:


That's it.  That's the project.  No harm done to the mirror, and it can be changed at any time.  I think I saw a mirror like this in a magazine or in a Pottery Barn catalog.  The addition of the snapshots just adds a fun twist, don't you think?


I think these look good because the mirror frame is painted white, and I chose only black and white photos.  Sort of a monochromatic look.



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