Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb .... Crisp? The Perfect Recipe for Imperfect Fruit.

Okay, I first have to ask... do you call it a crisp? A buckle? Or a cobbler?

I have always loved my baked fruit desserts topped with a mixture of flour, brown sugar, butter and oats. But, my absolute favorite is an apple crisp, or so we called it, created with tart and delicious Gravenstein Apples, a regional delicacy. Of course, it was made with more of a pie crust topping crumbled over the top, but since I have called it a 'crisp' since childhood, I don't think this gal will be changing her tune anytime soon.

The truth is, your topping of choice probably comes from your childhood exposure, too. When I search on the internet most sources say that a cobbler is more of a sweet biscuit style crust, where a crisp or crumble is just that... a mixture with nuts, oats or even cookie crumbs 'crumbled' over the fruit.

So, I have to ask, what would you call my little oat topped creation?

Strawberries are almost done in the field. In fact, the air is heavy with a strawberry-jam-like smell. Sweet and warm but marking the end of another glorious berry season. The strawberries we picked just this morning start to turn quickly on the counter. So what do you do with less than pristine fruit? Well, toss together a crisp, of course!

About the same time the strawberry epiphany hit me, I also noticed that my water-neglected rhubarb plants were almost done for the season. *sigh* There just haven't been enough hours in my day to tend to them as I like. Luckily, a good mulch and cover this Fall and they will be back next year. I did want to use them for something though, so again, throwing them in a fruit crisp sounded like the perfect solution.

I grew up loving rhubarb. My grandfather had some long standing plants and bequeathed starts to his 4 children. We moved around so much when I was younger that eventually my Mom lost her plants. I am sure that at least one aunt or uncle is still eating off of my grandfather's behemoth rhubarb descendants in the Midwest. Rhubarb was one of the first things I planted once I could have a real garden.

Tart and distinct, rhubarb has a lovely flavor. My Mom used to reduce it down with sugar and serve it over ice cream for dessert. The last few years finding a few good stalks has been next to impossible in the grocery store. I assume people just don't buy it around here. So having my own plants (they are so easy to grow) is the best way to ensure I can enjoy rhubarb every year.

Rhubarb and strawberries are a match made in culinary heaven. I also love the mix in a jam, but encourage you to try this easy crisp recipe if you happen to find yourself with a little rhubarb and strawberries on hand.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

You Will Need:

  • 4 c. rhubarb, sliced in 1" pieces
  • 4 c. strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 2- 3 Tbsp. instant clearjel powder
  • 1/2 c. fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. old fashioned oats
  • 12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss the fruit with 1/2 cup sugar. In a small bowl combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar with the clearjel. Then mix with the fruit and orange zest. Place in a baking dish.

Make the topping by combining the flour, sugar, salt and oats in a medium bowl. Working quickly with your hands, or a pastry cutter, cut in the cold cubed butter to form a crumble. Spread evenly over the fruit.

Bake for 1 hour, until the fruit is bubbly and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm or cold. 


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