Friday, June 17, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

It's like a lime and a coconut. But in the midwest.

I've gotten a few requests to making something with strawberries and rhubarb. Now that rhubarb is in season, I've started to hard it. I buy a bunch at a time, and then clean it up (if the stalks are particularly fibrous, I lightly run a vegetable peeler over them--it makes a little bit of a mess but it's a lot better than chewing your rhubarb for 10 minutes!). Then I chop them into bite-sized pieces and stick 'em in a Ziploc bag. Then I stick that Ziploc bag inside another Ziploc bag. Presto, rhubarb all-year round.

I do the same with blueberries when they're on sale, and cranberries in the fall (with the blueberries, I freeze them on a cookie sheet first, and then bag them once they're frozen, because they're so juicy and I don't want them to stick together.) If you're really awesome at planning, you could measure the rhubarb out in the necessary amount before bagging.

Anyhoo. Now, I love pie as much as the next person (see Pumpin-Maple Pie, Mini Bourbon Pecan Pies, Key Lime PieCherry Cheesecake Pie, and Summery Strawberry Pie), but now that summer is here, I've been working later during the weekday and pie doesn't always fit into my schedule. I bought a gorgeous pint of organic strawberries and I really couldn't wait until the weekend to cut into them. Crisps are slightly faster and don't require any special treatments or crusts. Plus, I love the crumbly crisp topping.

Crisps are really easy to make, and won't send you to the store for anything extra.

Grab yourself a big bowl and measure out some rhubarb. 

This recipe uses a cup and a half of rhubarb. A sandwich-sized Ziploc bag holds about 2 cups. You could use a whole baggie if you didn't want any leftovers.

Rinse, dry, and hull your strawberries. Aren't these pretty?

Slice the strawberries and throw them in the bowl with the rhubarb.

Bring a little winter to the bowl with some sugar.

Make it a Minnesota winter with a heavy dusting of corn starch.

The corn starch will help the juices from the fruit thicken so you'll have a nice sauce. If you don't have corn starch, tapioca pearls, flour, or even Jell-o could be used in its place. You may get a slightly different result depending on which thickener you use, however.

Turn the blustery Minnesota winter into a muddy Minnesota spring with some cinnamon.

To brighten the fruit flavors, add the juice of a lemon.

You'll need the zest, too, so don't throw the lemon away!

Stir your bowl ingredients together and then pour them into a baking dish.

Now that your big bowl is empty, you can use it to mix your topping.

What? It's all going to the same place. Might as well not create more dishes.

Measure out some flour and instant oats. I like the texture the oats give, but if you don't, just use all flour.

Some sugar should sweeten the pot. White and brown, please.

Remember the lemon? Run a zester over the whole thing.

Add the zest to the bowl.

Now toss in a stick of cold-ish butter. I say "cold-ish" because it was kind of hot in my kitchen, so it wasn't exactly fresh-from-the-fridge frosty at this point. No matter.

Grab your handy-dandy pastry cutter (or just some good ol' forks or knives) and get to cutting the butter into little bits.

Whoops. I forgot to add salt. Just a little pinch.

Back to cutting in the butter. Cut the cold butter into pea-sized bits and make sure it's well-combined with the flour and oat mixture.

Pour the topping mixture over the top of the strawberries and rhubarb.

It's all ready for the oven!

Your house is going to smell awesome.

Try to resist digging in until the crisp has fully cooled. Cooling will thicken the sauce. But if you can't wait and don't mind a runnier filling, scoop yourself some crisp as soon as it's cool enough to eat without burning your tongue. If you've got some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, your dessert will be complete! Have you ever heard the term "summer on a plate"? Yeah. This is it!

Recipe: Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

1 1/2 c. rhubarb, diced
2 c. strawberries (1 quart), sliced
1/2 c. white sugar
3 1/2 tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. cinnamon
juice from 1 lemon

3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. quick oats
1/4 c. white sugar
3 tbsp. brown sugar
zest from 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick cold butter

Preheat your oven to 375F.

In a large bowl, combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Stir well to combine. Pour filling into a baking/casserole dish.

Using the now-empty bowl, combine flour, oats, white sugar, brown sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter until butter is in small, pea-sized pieces and is well coated with the flour mixture. Cover strawberry-rhubarb mixture with topping.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until filling is bubbly and the topping is crisp and golden brown. Let cool at least slightly before serving.

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