Tuesday, May 29, 2007
I’ve baked more fruit crisps in the last few years than I could count on both my hands and all of your toes. And no matter which sweet thing has managed to find its way into my gaping maw between crisps, it’s damn near guaranteed that I’d have preferred that it had been some variety of baked fruit, in its countless incarnations. There’s been an apple-fresh cranberry, apple-raisin, apple-pear, peach, peach-blueberry, peach-raspberry, mixed berry and one day, hopefully very soon, there will be a mango and also a sour cherry.
But before we get into my new favorite topping, let me give you a rough outline of the makings of any baked fruit crisp. Fruit of your choice is washed, prepped and coarsely chopped and tossed in its baking dish (usually, a deep dish pie pan, but it can be scaled up easily to a 9×13) with somewhere between two tablespoons (for a not very leaky fruit) to half a cup of flour (berries, I’m looking at you), some sugar (more for rhubarb, way less for peaches), a pinch of salt and some flavoring, be it lemon juice, cinnamon or a scrape of vanilla. Go wild. The topping always begins with melted butter, because it’s the easiest and it has never failed me, a few tablespoons of brown, white or crunchy sugar, and a mixture of flour/oats/finely chopped nuts or just flour. This mix is spread over the fruit mixture and popped in the oven for 40 to 60 minutes, while a resolution-weakening aroma wafts through your apartment. There is simply nothing not to love.
Continued after the jump »
Saturday, March 10, 2007
I should apologize for the lewdness of this title—or perhaps you should, for that gutter mind—but I’ve always been endlessly amused by the “put some South in your mouth” logo painted on the wall of the Carolina BBQ joint and frat-boys-living-out-their-glory-days haven, Brother Jimmy’s. Really, it’s just about the only thing I enjoyed about the place the innumerable times a certain ex-boyfriend of mine with a ACC basketball bent dragged me there under duress or pleading. The bar’s menu consists things like fried pickles, green tomatoes and corn fritters and something frightening called a “flaming pig pick,” and while I am not one to argue that these are indeed Southeastern flavors, my associations have always been in sweeter, homier places: berry pies, cobblers and pretty much anything that has known, been adjacent to or looked at a pecan in it’s life.
Last week, so eager for the Spring weather, a getaway, and yes, some South in our mouths, I made a strawberry rhubarb pecan cake, in hopes to get our palates into gear. It was delicious, and demolished by my coworkers in no time, but always the nit-picker, I wasn’t overwhelmed with it. It didn’t rise enough, I wanted more fruit, more grit, and more adherence: slices would crumble into smaller pieces when you picked them up and the sprinkled-on topping fell of as soon as I flipped it out of the pan, much to the disappointment of my husband, who had just swept the kitchen floor. I know I should have let it go—hell, it was plenty tasty—but I couldn’t in good conscience tell you to make something that I knew had structural issues. See how earnest I can be? It’s nauseating, really.
Continued after the jump »