As we are driving up I-87 on our way to the mountains, somewhere around Albany I realize that treetops are turning yellow. Summer is slipping. It is fading away before it has even started.
At the market the summer produce refused to talk to me. Instead I craved the warmth and earthiness of leafy greens. Something I usually do in the fall.
I did not cook eggplants. I cheated on zucchini too. Made popsicles only once. Did not go to the beach. Did not play tennis. Did not feel the heat. Did not read Modesty Blaise.
This was the summer of did nots.
Last weekend I took out my leaf cookie cutters and played with them. Something I would usually do in early October.
Labor Day is upon us. The summer of 2014 is almost gone and I have not worn six of my best dresses. This was not a summer worth of my best dresses.
But that’s OK. Perhaps next year.
Spiced Swiss Chard Cobbler with Cornmeal Biscuits
for the biscuits
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/3 cup coarse yellow cornmeal (I used Bob's Red Mill)
* 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp sugar
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice
* 1/3 cup heavy cream
* 1/4 cup buttermilk
for the filling
* 2 1/2 lb Swiss chard, washed and hard stems removed
* 4 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 medium yellow onion (about 5oz), finelly chopped
* 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
* 3/4 tsp ground cumin
* 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
* 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
* a pinch of cayenne pepper (or up to taste)
* 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
* salt and freshly ground pepper
* 2 tbsp olive oil
* 1 tbsp butter
* 2 tbsp cornstarch
* 11-inch round pie dish
* parchment paper
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Prepare the biscuits: Place the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix well. Add the butter and work it with your hands until it resembles pea-sized crumbs. Add the heavy cream and buttermilk, and stir just to combine.
Place the dough onto a large piece of parchment paper. Wet your hands and flatten the dough into a disk, then sprinkle with flour generously and roll out with a rolling pin into 11-inch circle, about 1/4-inch thick. Slide the paper on the baking sheet, transfer to refrigerator and refrigerate until very firm.
Prepare the cornstarch slurry: Mix the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of cold water.
Prepare the chard: In a large pot bring water to a boil. Add the chard and cook over high heat until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Drain the chard, let it cool and then squeeze out excess water. Chop the chard, not too coarse and not too fine.
In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about a minute or two. Add the spices and cook, stirring, until the spices begin to release flavor. Add the heavy cream and simmer over moderately high heat for about a minute. Stir in the chard and mix well. Add the cornstarch slurry and cook, stirring, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and season generously with salt and pepper.
Butter an 11-inch round pie dish. Transfer the chard mixture to the dish, distribute it evenly and flatten it with spatula. Remove the biscuit dough from the refrigerator and using cookie cutters, cut out the biscuits into small rounds (any other shape is also fine, as well as the free-form knife artistry). Place the biscuits on top of the filling, leaving a little bit of room between two biscuits. Place the dish in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes, or until the chard is bubbling and the biscuits are golden. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.