Thursday, June 2, 2011

Any Fruit Crisp

individual blackberry crisps

"Apples in the orchard

Mellowing one by one;

Strawberries upturning

Soft cheeks to the sun;

Roses faint with sweetness,

Lilies fair of face,

Drowsy scents and murmurs

Haunting every place;

Lengths of golden sunshine,

Moonlight bright as day,—

Don't you think that summer's

Pleasanter than May?"

- Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Marjorie's Almanac

Many years ago, I worked as a nanny. One of my jobs in this field was working for a couple. This couple had a chef. They also had 3 housekeepers. The Mrs. didn't work. She spent time going to the gym, and to the salon. Having lunch and shopping. Three times a week a masseuse came to the house for her, because she was stressed. We vacationed in 5 star hotels, I, the nanny, always had my own large suite. One might say they were rich. But they always assured me, "I know you think we're rich, but we're not. We have friends who own their own planes, and we only fly first class. We have friends who own their own vacation homes in every city they vacation in, instead we have to stay in hotels."

So they weren't rich.

It's all a matter of perspective. Or a state of mind, I guess.

The point of me telling this story, is because this chef that worked for them, became a friend of mine in that lonely house. I only had one well behaved baby to watch, so I had time on my hands. I would watch this chef, and he would teach me things. His last job was as an executive chef in a large successful restaurant. He didn't want restaurant hours any more. The pay wasn't much different, he told me. I was fortunate enough to eat those meals he prepared, and wow, that food opened my eyes. I didn't know you could make food taste that good out of someones kitchen.

Prepping the apricots

Something he would make often is a fruit crisp. The couple liked them, so there was always one in the fridge. He taught me how to make it, this recipe is his recipe, if you could call it a recipe. He didn't use measurements. He would make them with any type of fruit. Most of the time it was made with berries, sometimes a combination of them. This was in California, so most fruit was readily available. And if money is not an issue, you have the entire produce section at whole foods at your fingertips.

California Apricot Crisp

Since I haven't been feeling well, I've been making things that are easy. A crisp is what I think of when I don't want to work and I have fruit on hand. I grew up calling them cobblers, actually. This site goes into the difference between cobblers, crisps, slumps etc. I learned that what I make is really a crisp. The chef called it a crisp, I always referred to them as cobblers.

individual blackberry crisps, unbaked

In the past few weeks, I've been making many different crisps. First I made a strawberry rhubarb one. That was so delicious, I made another. This time it was California apricot. I was driving past a store in an area where I don't usually go, and I saw a sign, "fresh California apricots" so I had to purchase some. This one was my favorite. Maybe because I really love apricots. This variety is a little tart. So when added to a crisp the sweet/tart combo is just divine.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp, unbaked

And I made even more. There was a bing cherry crisp. I just used the last of my bing cherries in the freezer. Last summer I purchased 30 pounds of cherries from an orchard in Oregon.

Then I made some individual blackberry crisps. Another favorite fruit of mine.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp, baked

This dish is really versatile. The above strawberry rhubarb crisp, I used half oats and half flour in the topping. For the others I used all flour. I used white sugar in these, but sometimes I use brown. Most fruit would work. My favorite is fresh peaches. I cannot wait until the summer is here for fresh peaches. I just drooled thinking about it.

bing cherry crisp

Plums, apricots, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, even apples all good choices for a crisp.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

A deer that lives in our backyard

Any Fruit Crisp

This crisp recipe makes enough topping to generously top a deep dish pie plate, or a 8 inch square pan size of fruit. Or about 4 individual crisps.

This is really just a guide, an idea. You can add spice to the crumb topping for instance, or citrus zest to the fruit. Brown sugar, or white sugar etc. You get the idea.

Ingredients for the fruit

fresh fruit. like apricots, berries, plums, peaches etc cut into bite sized pieces.-The way I do this is I put enough fruit in a deep dish pie plate to fill it to half, or 3/4 of the pan. The apricot one I made didn't make it to half the pan, but I made it anyway, I just had less fruit, more topping. That doesn't bother me. The strawberry/rhubarb one I made I filled a little more than 3/4's and as you can see in the picture, it oozed a bit. That was o.k. with me too.

(*If you want to make strawberry rhubarb see my note below.)

(*for an apple crisp, see note below also.)

2 Tablespoons flour

1/2 cup (100 g) sugar- adjust this to your fruit, if you have more tart fruit, use 1 cup


1 1/2 cups (225 g.) flour, or use half oats and half flour
3/4 cup  (125 g.) sugar or use brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks, 3/4 cup  (174 g.) butter - softened - see notes in recipe
1/4 tsp. salt


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, 200 degrees Celsius, or Gas Mark 6.

Remove the fruit from the pie plate and place it in a large bowl. Add the flour and sugar and combine. Put it back in the pie plate or square pan, or use individual ramekins.

Make the topping. Add the flour, sugar and salt to a bowl. Cut the butter into chunks and cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter, or I've also done this using a fork, (if you use a fork, bring the butter to room temperature first, it will be easier, or you can use your hands and rub the butter into the flour mixture) until pea size crumbs appear. You can also make the topping in the food processor, if using the food processor make sure the butter is cold. Just add dry ingredients, then add butter in pieces and pulse until butter is in pea size crumbs.

Add the topping to the fruit and bake it for about 40 minutes, until it's golden brown and delicious.

Serve warm with ice cream. Yum.

*Strawberry Rhubarb- To make a strawberry rhubarb crisp, use half strawberries and half rhubarb. Set the strawberries aside. Place the rhubarb in a saucepan and add sugar. I used about 2 cups of rhubarb and used 1 cup sugar. I also added the zest of an orange. I loved this, but it's optional. Cook the rhubarb with the sugar (and zest-optional) for a few minutes till it's soft. Taste it, make sure it tastes good, and if it's sweet enough, if not add more sugar to taste.
Toss the strawberries in 1/2 cup sugar, then add the rhubarb mixture, stir then add to your pie plate, square dish, or individual ramekins. Then continue with the recipe as instructed above.

*Apple- Slice apples, peeled or unpeeled, about 1/4 inch thick. Add flour and sugar and toss, add a little cinnamon too if you wish. Add fruit mixture to pie plate, or square dish. Then add topping as instructed above. The main difference with apple is the fruit needs to cook more than say, berries. So cook it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 180 degrees Celsius, Gas Mark 4. For about an hour. Until the tops browns nicely.


Helen said...

Yum, I love fruit crisps. Great pictures, and I love seeing the deer. Thanks.

Normgrhm said...

Excellent writing and photos. I love crisps too.

mely said...

Thanks for sharing in this Friday hop. I had been thinking on making something with a large bowl of plums. Now, they will be a crisp, thanks to you.

Happy day!


Allison @ Alli 'n Son said...

Oh yum. Is it wrong that I want this for breakfast?

Thanks for linking up with Sweet Tooth Friday!

Sheila said...

Thanks for this versatile recipe!

I'm going to wonder all day about the point at which your former employers would have seen themselves as "rich."

Money's a rotten yardstick for richness.

The Alchemist said...

Helen- you're welcome, I'm glad you enjoyed them.

Norm- Thanks Dad!

Mexico in my kitchen- Cool, enjoy!

Allison- I hope not, I'm eating one right now for breakfast!

Sheila- Agreed. A good point, money being a yardstick for richness. Thank you for you input.

Ann Kroeker said...

I'm totally making this tonight with a peach, blueberries and some frozen blackberries. You're an inspiration--and a great storyteller.

Thanks for linking to Food on Fridays. :)

Donna said...

That is QUITE a story...but you learned some good tricks from that chef;) Every one looks JUST BEAUTIFUL!

Anonymous said...

These looked delicious and it was really interesting reading the back story behind what you have learned. One thing I often do with crumbles (as we call them) is add slivered or shaved almonds to the topping (or just sprinkle them on top). It adds a lovely point of contrast of flavour and texture.

Unknown said...

WOW! These fruit crisps look great! Thanks for linking up with Friday Potluck!

Amy said...

Love your story of the couple! According to their standard, I'm on poverty! LOL...but I'm rich at heart.

This is such a lovely recipe. I'll definitely want to try to make some Crisps soon. Thanks for sharing.

By the way, I'm hosting two giveaways on my blog. One for $50 Thrive products and the other for baking molds and more. Please stop by to enter if you're interested. Have a wonderful weekend.


Slice of Southern said...

Great story, and such a versatile recipe! thanks for sharing...

Kim McCallie said...

I'm a big fan of apple and peach crisp and I'm looking forward to trying your recipe. It looks delicious and so homey. Thanks for sharing on A Well-Seasoned Life's Sweet Indulgences Sunday.

keatseatsblog said...

wow, these pictures are amazing! It all looks so good!! Hope you can swing by and link this up to my sweet treats party today!

Ladybird Ln said...

These look AMAZING... and easy too, I think I need to make one like NOW! What an interesting story... I am not rich because I only read blogs who have previously worked for people who stay in five star hotels and hire a chef!! Haha... it sounds like you learned a lot, thanks for sharing this versatile recipe! I am your newest follower!


The Alchemist said...

Thanks everybody!

Ann Kroeker- Thank you so much, that means alot coming from you, a writer. I appreciate it.

Carlee- Welcome!

Gooseberry Patch said...

Just stopping by to say thank you so much for linking up to our Family Favorite Recipe Round-Up today! We'd love to include your recipe (and any other you'd like to share) in an upcoming Gooseberry Patch cookbook. When you have a moment, would you mind stopping by our website and sharing it with us there? Here's a link: Add the code RRU-FF to the Special Code field and we'll keep an eye out for it. :) If it's selected for publication, we'll let you know, and you'll receive a free copy of the cookbook too! Thanks again for sharing on our blog today...we appreciate it!

Vanessa @ {nifty thrifty things} said...

Wow! These all look so yummy!!
Thank you so much for linking this up to {nifty thrifty things} last week!
I hope to see you again tomorrow! ;)

Jenn Erickson said...

This post has it all -- a beautiful poem, an opportunity to get to know you better through a glimpse in to your past, and an excellent recipe to tie it all together!

Thank you so much for being a part of making "A Little Birdie Told Me..." this week, the very best week yet!


Anonymous said...

I know you posted this over a year ago but I just made it tonight. Oh. My. Goodness. It was so delicious. I made the basic recipe you have here and didn't change a thing. I used peaches and an all flour topping. I don't think I'll change a thing when I make it next week for my book club meeting. Thank you thank you thank you for posting it.

Stephanie said...

Dearest Melissa,
Thank you SO MUCH for this simple yet delicious recipe! I had never made a fruit crisp before--only pies. Your crisp was so much easier than a pie, and my husband actually preferred the crisp topping over a pie crust. I have made this four times now with great success! My favorite version was an apricot crisp using your half flour and half oats version, but adding 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts (using a nut grinder).It was not crumbly like the all flour version--more like a cookie dough, so instead of sprinkling on I had to form into small discs with my fingers and lay on top of the fruit. I used 5 cups of apricots, 3/4 cup sugar and thickened with one tablespoon plus one teaspoon of crushed tapioca, which I prefer over flour for thickening fruit. Last week I doubled the recipe as my contribution to a BBQ, and served with vanilla ice cream
and everyone went crazy over it! One guest commented that I was "so talented", which I owe all to you, Melissa! It tasted perfect made the day before, and kept in a cool oven overnight to keep it safe from ants! This recipe is definitely going into my collection of "tried and true" classics to make again and again! I also truly loved reading of your nanny experience, the beautiful poem, and all of your wonderful pictures. Thanks for making my life so much sweeter, Melissa!
Sincerely, Stephanie