Sunday, April 10, 2011

South Court Inn Berry Cobbler Compote for French Toast

I answered the doorbell early one Saturday evening last summer and found myself greeting a smiling, free-spirit kind of fellow holding a gallon bucket of black raspberries.  Turns out, he and his best girlfriend were enjoying a nature walk and discovered a field full of wild raspberry plants just hanging full of juicy ripe fruit.  They picked until the sun headed down and ended up at our door with 5 gallons of raspberries.  Someone in town had told them to come see us as we were probably the only place that would be willing to buy fresh fruit in any quantity.  So, he wanted to know if I were interested in buying them.  I sure was!  We settled on a price and they left to fill the VW van with gas, while I headed to the kitchen to figure out what to do with the berries.
One taste and I realized that they were at peak ripeness and were already beginning to weep juice under their own weight.  These were too ripe to leave set in the fridge overnight and wait until Sunday when I'd have more time to work with them.  So it was quick, draw enough water in the sink to float a gallon of berries, set sheet pans next to the sink, pick out the stems, leaves, etc., and transfer the freshly cleaned fruit to the pans.  Next it was off to the freezer with each pan to quick freeze and then transfer the hard, frozen berries into gallon zip-lock bags.
Well, since then, we've enjoyed black raspberry pies and cobblers at breakfast, but the biggest hit has been using just the thickened berry cobbler base as a topping for our Croissant French Toast. Just ladle a little over each piece of French Toast before you take it to the table and pass the rest in a gravy boat for folks to help themselves.  The best part is that since our French Toast has no sugar, you get to enjoy the full eggy flavor of the toast and offset it with the sweet-tart flavor of the cobbler compote.  So, now that you have the recipe for the French Toast, here is the recipe for a mouth-watering cobbler topping for your toast when you make it:

1 quart fresh or frozen berries of choice
1.5 cups sugar
2 cup water (reserve 1/2 cup for later use)
2 cup fruity white wine or champagne
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
juice of 1/2 lemon

Put water, wine, sugar and salt in a 3 or 4 quart sauce-pan and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.  Separately, in a cup, mix 1/2 cup water with the flour, beat until there are no lumps and set aside.  Add the berries to the boiling liquid and bring to a boil again.  As soon as the berry mixture begins to roll at the edge, turn the heat to lowest possible setting and simmer 10 minutes without stirring.  Next, add the lemon juice and stir the berry mixture without pressing or mushing the berries.  Then, take the pot off the fire, mix the flour/water mix to get the flour fully dissolved from the bottom of the cup and dump the flour mixture into the berry mixture.  Carefully stir the flour mixture into the berry mixture and return to heat.  Turn the heat up and continue carefully stirring until the mixture comes to a full boil.  As it boils, it will thicken to a runny, juicy consistency.  Take the pot off the heat, cover and allow to set for 10 minutes.  At this point you can use the topping for breakfast or you can transfer it to your containers of choice and refrigerate it until ready to use.  Reheat on high for a minute or so in a microwave to reheat when ready.

You may find that you need to adjust the amount of sugar and flour depending on the fruits you use.  I've tried using strawberries, but have not liked it as well as with blackberries and raspberries.  For a different take, try mixing 1/2 cup of whipping cream into some of the compote just before going to table and you'll have a topping close to cobbler ice cream in flavor, but hot too.

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