It’s August and with last week’s dose of serious heat in the Pacific Northwest it really feels like summer. Sure, those 90 degree temperatures made sleeping a little rough for a couple nights, but now we can reap the benefit of that summer blast. I love to see the local beaches packed with people for a change and have our favorite swimming holes go from shocking to refreshing. It seemed like they’d never come, but finally our “hot crops” like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and cucumbers are flourishing. And then there are those magnificent blackberries.
Most of the year they are just annoying, but for a few weeks a year we throw up our arms in temporary defeat and surrender to the mighty Himalayan blackberry. These berries are so seductive it’s easy to get lulled into the fantasy that you can control a small patch for your personal enjoyment. I know, because we once let the pleasure of fresh blackberries cascading over one tiny corner of our deck convince us that we could tame this beast. What started out as one seemingly innocent vine and just enough berries for our morning cereal ended with hours of back-breaking work and a thick barrier of several dozen flattened Full Circle boxes.
Now, with empty vessels in hand we heartily pick our fill elsewhere, succumbing to the pleasures of succulent berries dangling from the very vines we spend the majority of the year trying to remove. For all its delectable fruit, this invasive species is actually classified as a noxious weed and is the scourge of many a property owner. Even though blackberries are widely available at summer markets, they just don’t seem to compare to the perfumed orbs that grow along bike trails and beaches, gravel parking lots and back yards. I swear you can smell the sunshine in a fresh picked bowl of these berries – even in the dead of winter after months in the freezer, the scent of a summer’s day still comes through.
So grab some heavy gloves and a pail, embrace your inner forager and take a piece of your own sweet summer revenge.
The delicious fresh thyme crust in this recipe is extremely forgiving and a snap to make. Try it paired here with nectarines and blackberries – or other combinations of fruit for an equally delicious summer treat.
- 3 medium nectarines, thinly sliced
- 1 pint blackberries (or raspberries or blueberries) (approx. 2 cups)
- 1 t fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 C plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsps baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 T fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
- 4 T cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- 1/4 cup milk
- Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 450°. Combine the nectarines, blackberries, and lemon juice in a bowl. Mix the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the flour and toss with the fruit.
- In a medium bowl, mix the remaining 1 cup of flour with the baking powder and salt. Mix in fresh thyme leaves. Cut in the butter until the pieces are the size of small peas. Stir in the milk. Gather the dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough evenly into an 8-inch square – about 1/4 inch thick.
- Pour the fruit and its juices into an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Lay the dough on top of the fruit. Place a sheet of foil in the bottom of the oven to catch any drips. Bake cobbler for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300° and bake for about 5 minutes longer – or until the crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling around the sides.
- Serve warm with ice cream or frozen yogurt.
- *My tried-and-true recipe: Add 2 tablespoons Thai basil to the filling - and omit thyme from the crust.
Tell us what you’re making with your berries this summer in the comment below.