August 19, 2009

Plum crisp


I admit, when my husband is out of town, I rarely cook. I used to try, just to keep meal times normal for my daughter - but it was usually a study in frustration. I mean, who wants to spend an hour in the kitchen making a full, healthy dinner, only to have the only other diner refuse to eat? Although that didn't always happen, it happened enough that I learned my lesson. Now it's all about quick food, and I don't even try to make the same thing for her as I do for myself. I make myself a nice big fresh salad with all the trimmings, and I make her something that I'm fairly sure she will like. I mean, I could put some salad in front of her, but I already know what will happen (she won't even eat with it on her plate), so what would be the point? I always offer her a bite of mine, and she always refuses. Tonight was such a night - and I'm sure glad I didn't spend a bunch of time trying out a new recipe or making a casserole, because she didn't even touch her grilled cheese sandwich. Or mango. Or tomato soup. In fact, I'm pretty sure she didn't eat anything. I'm not completely sure, because I was too busy enjoying my beautiful salad - a nice organic salad mix, avocado, apricots, feta cheese, teriyaki tofu - and a yummy home made simple salad dressing made with Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar (which is, I think, the key ingredient...) MMMMmmmmm. And after, I enjoyed some plum crisp, made with plums from my friends backyard. Picky didn't even go for this - something in the air? I hope she's not getting sick...


My favorite crisp recipe at the moment is from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. I don't really follow a recipe for the fruit - you need about 3 lbs or 6 cups of fruit, and the amount of sugar varies with the sweetness of the fruit. For apples, I add a squeeze of lemon, 2 tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp cinnamon. For other fruits, I just add sugar, between 2 tbsp and 1/2 cup, to taste. I've tried adding either flour or corn starch as a thickener for fruit other than apples (which don't seem to need it) - I tried 2 tbsp corn starch tonight, but it was a little weirdly creamy - I think I prefer it runny, honestly. Perhaps I'll try instant tapioca, I think they use that in pie recipes sometimes. Anyway, the recipe is really the topping:

Crisp Topping

  • 6 Tbsp canola oil (you can use butter - I find oil easier to work with)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats or chopped nuts (I almost always use oats, although almonds would also be good)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon, optional

You can also use a nut oil, such as walnut or hazelnut, for some or all of the oil - I haven't tried this, but it sounds good, especially if you're using nuts instead of oats. Anyway, all you have to do is combine the ingredients (if you're using butter, use your fingers to work the butter with the rest of the ingredients so that each piece is coated and you have a coarse, crumbly mixture). Spread the topping over a shallow gratin dish with your fruit mixture. Put the gratin dish on a cookie sheet (unless you just love to clean your oven), and put it in a preheated 375 degree oven. The recipe says 1 hour, 10 minutes, but I've always found 1 hour to be plenty. Plus, I usually have to loosly cover the dish with tinfoil about half way through or else the oats start to burn.


Although Picky didn't eat any of my plum crisp tonight, I know she'll enjoy some in the morning. I always eat a generous scoop with (plain) yogurt. Picky prefers the crisp alone, and likes the topping more than the filling (naturally). I think we enjoy it for breakfast more than dessert.

Tip: try combining fruits, or adding dried fruit. I put a handful of dried cranberries in tonights crisp - last week I made a delicious crisp with a little of everything from my CSA box: apricots, peaches, plums, and a can of blackberries that I had gathering dust in my pantry. oh yummy! My apple trees are promising many versions of apple crisp this fall! :)


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