Since March is entering like a bit of a lamb in my region, I decided to transmute the lemons of a cold, rainy day into a healing tonic of a concoction. In today’s case it was a piping hot tray of gluten-free cherry cobbler. Yes Virginia, sometimes I just want a little steamy, creamy comfort food and regular readers know my policy: when I really want it and I’m not using the food as an escape hatch to elude reality, I indulge, enjoy, and move on. And the best part is when I keep it gluten and dairy-free, I indulge without taking a wrecking ball to my health and balance.
Since the day was damp and cold, what called to me was something cheery and bright…and somehow I knew cornmeal would be involved (I keep an inexhaustible supply in the cupboards). This recipe was inspired by a cobbler I saw in Bon Appetit that called for a mix of cherries and cranberries and was topped with a cornbread crust. Unable to lay my hands on the issue, I winged it, which is the eternal beauty of cooking comfort foods at home. Unless you’re dealing with fried chicken (where proper oil temperature is crucial for palatable results), comfort food prep is pretty screw-up-proof.
This recipe also proves out the benefits of having a well-stocked cupboard because I was able to indulge the sudden urge to add dried coconut to the equation. Also on hand was a 22 ounce jar of Clearbrook Farms Cherry Fruit Tart, basically a ready-to-go cherry filling for tarts and pies. You could use canned pie filling or frozen berries at room temperature with a bit of sugar added. The 22 ounces of cherries didn’t go as far as I thought it would and since corn bread can easily turn Sahara-dry in the oven, I thought fast and mixed the cherries with half a cup of grapefruit juice and a tablespoon of lemon juice. The extra liquid was just what the cornmeal needed to make a plush, juicy-on-the-bottom of the crust topping. When I gave the bubbling results to a somewhat picky eater of a teen, the consensus was two thumbs up.
This cobbler’s great on its own, but today, I served it with a dollop of So Delicious Vanilla Ice Cream, making it officially dairy-free. A clean comfort food recipe if there ever was one – Bon Appetit!
1 22-ounce jar or can of cherry pie filling or the frozen berry equivalent
1/2 cup grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 1/2 cups water
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup coconut powder or unsweetened shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 330
Spray an 8 x 10 baking pan with cooking spray and set aside
Bring water to a boil and add cornmeal, salt, sugar, vanilla, and oil and whisk vigorously. Reduce heat to low and continue whisking until mixture is thick. Turn heat off and whisk in coconut. The cornmeal should be porridge consistency but not runny. If too thick, add a bit of hot water.
Pour fruit into baking pan. Drizzle the two juices over the fruit and mix slightly so it’s evenly distributed. With a rubber spatula, drop cornmeal bit by bit on top of the fruit and spread slightly so it’s an even crust. Bake for 35 minutes. Serve hot.