A Mole in Cape Porpoise

The ripple of squeals and high-pitched nervous laughter was our cue: something was happening in the little seaside lunch spot. We turned and looked back over the room from our seats at the bar. Patrons pointed to the floor. A mole! Look a mole! There’s a mole!

“It’s a mole in the dining room,” the waitress said to us, the only ones who hadn’t seen the creature scamper in. Of course by then it wasn’t news, but it was her way of letting us know she now had him cornered by the kitchen door with her feet.

“Get me a glass,” she said to the other waitress who was standing pulling beer at the bar taps.

The plan, as she improvised it, was to capture the critter under glass and, matter-of-factly, she did just that. In a matter of moments, with that glass and a heavy sheet of paper slid under it, she trapped our little lunch-crasher just long enough to take him back outside and release him back onto the wharf and the scrubby seaside bushes from whence he came.  She returned to applause. Well-earned after the display of calm, cool collectedness.

“If that had been me,” I said to my husband out of the side of my mouth, “I would have been up on a chair, screaming like a baby.”

I’m not terribly fond of wildlife. Domestic pets, sure. Rodents, not so much. We used to find shrews, a mole cousin only with longer, pointer snouts and less pronounced mitts for hands (paws?), living in the grass in our backyard in Washington State. They and the garter snakes would run for cover when I went out to mow the grass wearing my heaviest and tallest hiking boots. The only thing that kept me from running and jumping up onto the nearest deck chair at the sight of that mass exodus was the tall grass getting taller and the disapproval of our neighborhood association.

But I love the kind of outdoors that is the sea and seaside fishing towns, especially so around the part of coastal southern Maine where we were last Sunday, and because I hadn’t actually seen the mole, I found it was quite easy to forget him and go on with my lunch. The lobster roll was delicious.

Also this weekend, I baked a Peach Cobbler with some of the late peaches from up the street at Cider Hill Farm. I had planned on making a pear cobbler, but the Bartlett pears I bought from the farm on the same day hadn’t ripened enough. The original cobbler recipe comes from Bon Appetit via Epicurious, and I made our cornmeal biscuit topped dessert with only a few changes to accommodate the change in fruit.

Gingery Peach Cobbler with Cornmeal Biscuits

Biscuits:

  •  1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup stone-ground cornmeal (medium grind)
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided use
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

Peach filling:

  •  9 ripe peaches, pitted but unpeeled, cut into eighths
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. (scant) coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. (1/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced

Whisk flour, cornmeal, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Add chilled butter and pulse just until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cream and pulse until moistened and dough comes together.

Form the dough into 8-inch-long log. Cut log crosswise into eight 1-inch-thick rounds. Spread 3 tablespoons sugar on plate. Dip 1 cut side of each biscuit into melted butter, then dip buttered side in sugar. Place biscuits, sugared side up, on platter; sprinkle any remaining sugar over top. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish and set aside.

Place peach slices in large bowl. Add next six ingredients and toss to combine. Transfer peach filling to prepared dish. Dot with diced butter. Cover dish lightly with foil. Bake the peaches for 15 minutes and then remove dish from oven.

Place chilled biscuits around the top of the filling. Return the cobbler to the oven. Continue to bake uncovered until filling is bubbling thickly, biscuits are pale golden, and tester inserted into biscuits comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes longer (biscuits may look cracked). Cool 30 minutes.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

 

©2013  Jane A. Ward