Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Today's creation! Odds & Ends Fruit Crisp

When I was six my family moved into a house with a lovely fenced yard and a massive aged rhubarb plant. Never having had a rhubarb plant of her own, my mother was nervous one of us children would eat some of the highly poisonous leaves and set out on a mission to remove the thing. I'm not sure of my brother, but I know my sister and I grew up very wary of rhubarb as a baking ingredient.

Yesterday at the market, Maddie was entranced by the beautiful spears of rosy rhubarb at her eye level and picked one up, asking me to buy it. Well. Strawberries were on sale, my pantry was full of jars of crisp topping that Maddie and I had made a few weeks ago and one spear only cost $.87 ... why not?

I woke up this morning ready to bake my first rhubarb recipe ever - strawberry rhubarb crisp. Aaaaaaaaaand I found a bowl full of strawberry hulls next to Daddy's seat on the couch. He ate half the strawberries. The HORROR!

So I looked at what I had in the cabinet, did a little googling and found the following recipes for inspiration: Blackberry Rhubarb Crisp and Rhubarb and Nectarine Crumble

So without further ado...

Odds and Ends Fruit Crisp

about 1.5 lb of strawberries, hulled and chunked
1 spear of rhubarb, sliced into "coins"
1 nectarine, chunked
1.5 cups of blackberries (big ones halved)
1/3 cup homemade cranberry applesauce from the pantry (subbing for the OJ)
1/2 cup brown sugar (not convinced it needs this, but never baked with rhubarb before)

One jar of my Crisp Topping
5tbl of butter, cut into little pieces

Pour crisp mix and butter into a medium sized bowl.
Crumble butter into crisp mix, pinching with fingers until the whole mixture is well blended and resembles moist sand (per America's Test Kitchen recomendations for crisp topping). I should have taken a pic of this. Gah. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375F.

While everything is chillin and heatin, get filling ready in an oven-safe casserole (8in square glass pan or 9in deep dish pie pan will work). Mix brown sugar with juice or apple sauce. Pour fuit into casserole and toss with sugar mix.

When topping chilled, pat on top of fruit. Bake on middle rack with something underneath (foil, cookie sheet etc) to catch drips. Bake about 40 minutes or until topping is really browned. I like to bake it at least 45m.

Allow to cool at least 15m before eating.  Or not. Whatever rocks your socks!

Fruit Crisp Topping

Hey all. My new favorite pantry item is pint sized canning jars filled with this crisp topping, readdy to pour on whatever I'm suddenly tempted to bake. This can be assembled in advance, like I do, or at the time of baking. Each jar contains the ingredients below, layered. My brown sugar did harden a wee bit but it was still soft enough to crumble. I've used the basic fruit crisp topping recipe from America's Test Kitchen. They call for 3/4c chopped pecans but blech ... who likes those, nasty allergenic things? I've used a combination of cereals and oats instead :D I think the lightly sweetened oat flakes really make the topping, but play with it.

6 tbl flour
1/4c Grape Nuts cereal
1/4c Kashi Heart to Heart Oat Flakes & Blueberry clusters
1/4c rolled oats (NOT instant or steel cut oats - ask me how I know)
1/4c granulated sugar
1/4 dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

ETA: I did find the brown sugar hardened quite a bit by the time I used the last jar. Making it for the second time, I'm laying a small piece of bread crust on top of the brown sugar. Not attractive if you are giving as gifts but excellent for personal storage.

As a side note I find that brown sugar keeps very soft if immediately transferred into canning jars after purchase, adding a small piece of bread to each jar. I like the plastic freezer lids for storing dry goods such as this.

This fits in a pint canning jar if you press the ingredients in, smooshing the flakes etc. I make 3+ jars at a time - always worth it.

When you are ready to bake, crumble one jar of filling with 5 tbl unsalted butter in a medium bowl. Pinch and crumble until the mixture resembles damp sand. Chill 15min while oven preheats to 375 F.

Choose an 8in sqare glass pan, a 9inch deep dish pie pan or something similar. Dump in your filling (you're on your own here) and pat chilled filling on top. Bake on middle rack (put something under it to catch drips) for 40 minutes or until topping is nicely browned. Allow to cool about 15m before eating. Enjoy!