Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler with Black Pepper Biscuits

Serves 6

4 cups stemmed and quartered fresh strawberries
4 cups rhubarb (1-inch pieces)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch

To make the filling, combine the strawberries, rhubarb, vanilla, sugar, orange juice, and cornstarch in a large bowl, mixing well. Spread the fruit out in an 8- to 10-inch baking dish with 2- to 3-inch sides and set aside. (Any shape dish will do).

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon medium-coarse freshly cracked black pepper
¼ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
½ cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
Crystal or granulated sugar for sprinkling on biscuits
Vanilla ice cream or Caramel ice cream for serving (optional)

To make the biscuits, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper in a bowl or in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Scatter the butter over the top. With a pastry cutter, or with the mixer on low speed, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Using a fork, stir in the buttermilk until shaggy dough forms. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead gently for six to eight turns, until smooth. Do not overwork the dough or the biscuits will be tough. Roll out the dough about ½ inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-to 3-inch biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out six biscuits. Reroll the scraps as necessary.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash. Arrange the biscuits on top of the fruit in the baking dish, brush the biscuits with the egg wash, and then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake the cobbler for 30 to 35 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the biscuits are golden brown. (For individual cobblers, cut the time to 20 minutes). Serve warm with ice cream.