I’ve had this recipe in the hopper for a few weeks, thinking I’d stagger it out and share it with you in a bit as we’re traveling to see family back East. But yesterday on the drive back from the Adirondacks to my mom’s house in Vermont, we saw a handful of crimson leaves and signs for cider donuts and I thought: Now Is The Time. I hope you still have some fresh corn where you are and some late summer berries because this incredibly simple late summer fruit crisp is the best thing I’ve baked this season. Let’s talk about it.
I subscribe to a few food magazines and have an odd, inefficient system when a recipe catches my attention: I fold down the page first and then toss the magazine aside somewhere. Eventually I go back through, tearing out the pages I folded down and recycling the rest of the magazine. Then at long last, the little snipped recipes get filed away in a haphazard binder and I generally forget all about them. I try to keep like with like, so cookies are together with bars, and there’s a little biscuit section. I have a few pages on making the best two-day meat ragu in case a large chunk of time should open up in a day in which I’d find myself inspired to do so (this has yet to occur). But a few recipes remain in my lingering seasonal memory, and this is one of them.
This Berry Corn Crisp from Bon Appetit caught my eye first for its simplicity and second thanks to the interesting addition of fresh corn in the cornmeal topping. I knew I could tweak it, adding some whole grain flour, cutting back on the sugar a bit and throwing in some ripe September peaches.
It was quite warm in Seattle the week leading up to our trip, and turning on the oven to bake a crisp wasn’t something I would’ve advised. But once it cooled, Sam deemed this the best fruit dessert I’d ever made and we had it with ice cream for dinner sitting outside deadheading the roses, watering the lawn, and noticing the changing light.
A simple late summer dessert, this crisp is not too sweet so it doubles as breakfast in our house. To mix things up, use any berries you’d like — or really, any mix of fruit. I think the crisp is best the day it’s made but you can certainly make it up to 1 day in advance. If you don’t have spelt flour, feel free to use whole wheat pastry or whole wheat flour instead.
Adapted from: Bon Appetit
For the filling:
For the Crust:
Toss blueberries, peaches, sugar, lemon juice and zest, cornstarch and salt into a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Using your hands, work butter into dry ingredients until there aren’t any dry spots of flour left and mixture holds together when squeezed (ok if it’s a bit chunky). Add corn and toss to evenly distribute. Press topping between your fingers and break into large pieces over the filling.
Bake crisp until topping is golden brown and juices are bubbling, 50-60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm or room temperature with vanilla ice cream, if you’d like. Crisp can be made 1 day ahead; store covered at room temperature.
Glimpses of Spring
We returned home from San Francisco on New Years Eve just in time for dinner, and craving greens -- or anything other than baked goods and pizza (ohhhh San Francisco, how I love your bakeries. And citrus. And winter sunshine). Instead of driving straight home, we stopped at our co-op where I ran in for some arugula, an avocado, a bottle of Prosecco, and for the checkout guys to not-so-subtly mock the outlook of our New Years Eve: rousing party, eh? They looked to be in their mid-twenties and I figured I probably looked ancient to them, sad even. But really, there wasn't much sad (or rousing, to be fair) about our evening: putting Oliver to bed, opening up holiday cards and hanging them in the kitchen, and toasting the New Year with arugula, half a quesadilla and sparkling wine. It wasn't lavish. But it's what we both needed. (Or at least what we had to work with.) Since then, I've been more inspired to cook lots of "real" food versus all of the treats and appetizers and snacks the holidays always bring on. I made Julia Turshen's curried red lentils for the millionth time, a wintry whole grain salad with tuna and fennel, roasted potatoes, and this simple green minestrone that I've taken for lunch this week. Determined to fit as many seasonal vegetables into a bowl as humanly possible, I spooned a colorful pesto on top, as much for the reminder of warmer days to come as for the accent in the soup (and for the enjoyment later of slathering the leftover pesto on crusty bread).
It turns out shopping for wedding dresses is nothing like they make it appear in the movies. Or at least it hasn't been for me. Angels don't sing. Stars don't explode. Relatives don't cry. There isn't a sudden heart-stopping moment that this is, in fact, "the one." To be honest, I always knew that I wasn't the kind of gal for whom angels would sing or stars would explode but I did think I'd have some kind of moment where I could tell I'd found the best dress. Instead, my mom flew into town and we spent three (yes, three!!) days shopping for dresses, and since then I've been back to the stores we visited -- and I'm more undecided than ever. Tomorrow morning I'll return with my friend Keena to try and tie this business up once and for all. Cross your fingers.
When I was single and living alone in the Bay Area, I made virtually the same thing for dinner each night. I ate meals quickly while in front of the computer. Or even worse: the television. This most often included what I call "Mexican Pizzas" which were basically glorified quesadillas baked in the oven until crispy. Sometimes, if I was really feeling like cooking, I'd whip up a quick stir-fry with frozen vegetables from Trader Joe's or a mushroom frittata using pre-sliced mushrooms. Mostly, though, it was Mexican Pizzas -- a good four or five nights a week. Today, thankfully, dinner looks a lot different. Meals in general look a lot different. How would I explain that difference? I think that ultimately how we feel about our life colors how we choose to feed ourselves and the importance that we place on preparing our own meals.
Today was 75 degrees in Seattle and it seemed the whole city was out and about drinking iced coffee in tank tops and perhaps not working all that hard. When we have a hit of sunshine like this in April (or, really, any time of the year), we're all really good at making excuses to leave the office early -- or, simply, to "work from home." I just got back from LA last night, unpacked in a whirlwind this morning, and took Oliver to meet up with three friends from our parents group at the zoo. The only other time I'd been to the Seattle zoo was once with Sam a few years ago when we arrived thirty minutes before closing and ended up doing a whirlwind tour -- sprinting from the giraffes to the massive brown bear to the meerkat. The visit today was much different: we strolled slowly trying to avoid the spring break crowds and beating sun. I managed to only get one of Oliver's cheeks sunburned, and he even got in a decent nap. A success of an afternoon, I'd say. Coming home I realized we didn't have much in the fridge for lunch -- but thankfully there was a respectable stash of Le Croix (Le Croix season is back!) and a small bowl of this whole grain salad I made right before I left town. It's the kind of salad that's meant for this time of year: it pulls off colorful and fresh despite the fact that much of the true spring and summer produce isn't yet available. And for that reason, I make a few versions of it in early spring, often doubling the recipe so there's always the possibility of having a small bowl at 1 p.m. while the baby naps in the car seat, one cheek sunburned, windows and back door open -- a warm breeze creeping into the kitchen.
On Monday our little family of three is headed to the airport at 6 am to board our first with-baby cross-country trip. We'll be visiting Sam's family in New Jersey for a few days, then renting a car and driving over to meet up with my family at my mom's lake house in the Adirondacks. Sam's younger sister and her kids have yet to meet Oliver; my grandpa has yet to meet him, and Oliver has yet to take a dunk in a lake, see a firefly, or spend quality time with energetic dogs -- of which there will be three. A lot of firsts. This week my family has been madly texting, volunteering to make certain meals or sweets on assigned days while we're at the cabin and it got me thinking about really simple, effortless summer desserts -- in particular, ones that you can make while staying in a house with an unfamiliar kitchen and unfamiliar equipment and still do a pretty bang-up job. I think fruit crisp is just that thing.