Tag Archives: streusel

The Crisp Confluence

12 Jun
Hello there, strawberry rhubarb crisp.  I will eat you now.

Hello there, strawberry rhubarb crisp. I will eat you now.

You know how sometimes you have a Thought, and then you wander out into the Hinternet with the Thought in your head and then, lo and behold, that Thought is given Life somewhere?  Well, it happened to me this week.  The Beloved and I went to the farmer’s market on Sunday and purchased the largest piece of rhubarb we had ever seen.  I wish I had taken a picture of it to show you guys, but you know how I don’t Plan and then I can’t find the camera or it is Upstairs when I am Downstairs so it is too far away to slog up the 16 steps to Fetch.

So, anyway, once we found the Mondo Rhubarb, we went in search of warm, fresh North Carolina strawberries.  Because what is better, honestly, than the stands-the-test-of-time pairing of tart rhubarb and sweet strawberry?  We found some lovely strawberries and took them home.  I asked The Beloved what we should do with our Bounty.  He said he would enjoy a Crisp with oatmeal in the streusel, so I said, “sure,” because I am nothing if not Accommodating.  So then, I wandered over to [No Recipes], as I do at least a few times a week, to see what Marc was cooking up.  And guess what?  Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp!  One cannot ignore such confluence as Mere Coincidence, so I read his post Very Carefully to see what Goodness he had cooked up.  I mean specifically.  The thing about Marc, if you don’t already know, is that he always gives everything he makes a Marc Twist, not to be confused with Mark Twain.  His point, I believe, is to experiment and play and make us think about food as more of a blank canvas as opposed to a paint by numbers board.

So, the twist du jour was the addition of some Parmesan cheese to the streusel.  Genius.  It’s a little salty; it’s a little nutty, and it will distribute more or less evenly in a topping, as opposed to nuggets of nuts, which don’t.   So, I took that idea and added it to the Idea Stew that was already simmering in my little brain.  Here was my thinking:

What’s better with strawberries than balsamic vinegar?  Nothing.  Okay, then what will go with strawberries and vinegar?  Well, let’s see.  Basil sounds nice–green and peppery.  I’ll heighten the pepperiness by adding some pepper.  And with cheese in the topping, I’ll have a nice balance of sweet and savory notes.  Yay.

And, friends, let me tell you, this little guy worked out so well that I will surely make it again.  And maybe even again.  It was sweet and tart and a little savory.  It smelled amazing in the oven.  It tasted amazing in my face.  In short, I was Pleased with the Results.   So was The Beloved.  I will say that, since it contained a lot of savory ingredients, it was pretty rich, so I decided to whip up a Creamy Sweet Topping to offset the dense savoriness of it all.

I didn’t measure any of the strawberry-rhubarb portion of the activity, but I did weigh the streusel ingredients.  And here’s how it went.

Oh, things to note:  I do not like big hunks of rhubarb, so I prefer to stew the rhubarb down into Thick Jammy Goodness and then fold in strawberries.  That’s where the juice comes in.  It’s just what I had in the fridge.  Use what you want.  If you don’t mind big pieces of rhubarb, skip the stewing.  Also, any measurements I’ve given are Approximations.  Just go with it and make it to taste.  It’s basically just sweetened fruit with some crunchy stuff on top, so approach with Confidence.

Sweet and Savory Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp, with a big Thank You to Marc for the Parmesan Idea

For the strawberry rhubarb portion

  • 1 1/2-ish cups diced rhubarb
  • sugar or other sweetener, to taste
  • about 1/4 cup cranberry pomegranate juice (100% juice kind)
  • healthy pinch of salt
  • several grinds of black pepper
  • about 2 TBSP chiffonade basil
  • 1 TBSP white balsamic vinegar (just because I didn’t want the color to get brown-ish)

Throw all of the above ingredients into a saucepan.

See?  Just dump it all in the pot.  Here, it has been cooking for maybe a minute or so.

See? Just dump it all in the pot. Here, it has been cooking for maybe a minute or so.

Bring to a boil, and then simmer, stirring and smooshing the rhubarb when it gets soft.  Simmer and smoosh until you end up with Thick Jammy Goodness.

Here's the smooshing part.  It has been cooking about 6 minutes.  When it was finished, there were no chunks of rhubarb left.  Just jam.

Here's the smooshing part. It has been cooking about 6 minutes. When it was finished, there were no chunks of rhubarb left. Just jam.

  • 1 pint lovely strawberries, big guys quartered; smaller guys halved
  • about 2 TBSP flour
  • some sugar, to taste
  • wee pinch of salt
  • about 1 TBSP white balsamic

Place the lovely strawberries in a baking dish.  Sprinkle on some sugar and flour, and toss everything lightly.  Drizzle the balsamic over the strawberries.

I used some organic demerrara sugar--that's what all that light brown stuff is.

I used some organic demerrara sugar--that's what all that light brown stuff is.

Spread the rhubarb jammy part on top of the strawberries.

Just kind of spread the jam over the strawberries.  It will all mix up in the oven.  Promise.

Just kind of spread the jam over the strawberries. It will all mix up in the oven. Promise.

For the Streusel portion

  • 3 oz. butter
  • 3 oz. all purpose flour
  • 1.5 oz. oatmeal
  • 4 oz. brown sugar
  • healthy pinch of salt
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese (okay, I used the green can kind, because that’s what I had)
  • a couple of grinds of black pepper

Smush up all the ingredients into a big ball of streusel.  You see, I believe that if you don’t smush it all up into a ball, you end up with Parts of the streusel that are still floury, and floury doesn’t get Crispy in the oven.  It just gets Hot.  So, mix and mix until you have a big Pla-Doh ball of streusel, and then pull off bits of it to sprinkle all over the rhubarb jam part.

Dry streusel ingredients.  Not so appetizing, but they will be.

Dry streusel ingredients. Not so appetizing, but they will be.

Scatter the butter on top and then blend it in.  Very, very thoroughly.

Scatter the butter on top and then blend it in. Very, very thoroughly.

Look--a ball o' streusel.  You could even roll this out and make cookies, if you wanted.

Look--a ball o' streusel. You could even roll this out and make cookies, if you wanted.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until it’s all Bubbly and Delightful and the streusel is Deep Golden Brown.

Well, welcome out of the oven, little crisp of mine.

Well, welcome out of the oven, little crisp of mine.

My, what lovely, crispy topping you have there.

My, what lovely, crispy topping you have there.

Remove from the oven and let cool until warm-ish.  Serve with your choice of Creamy Topping.  Here’s the one I made:

The Creamy Topping I Made

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • pinch of salt
  • brown sugar, to taste

Stir and stir.  Let sit in the fridge until the sugar has dissolved.  Stir and stir before Dolloping Attractively on the warm crisp.

So, guess what?  I’m entering this in the Royal Foodie Joust sponsored by the wonderful Jenn at The Left-Over Queen.  Feel like participating yourself?  Go check out the Royal Foodie Joust Thread on her forum!

Streusel

29 Oct

 

a Dutch Apple Pie with the requisite crunchy streusel topping.

Behold: a Dutch Apple Pie with the requisite crunchy streusel topping.

 

Streusel is magic!  It’s the reason that I often choose Dutch Apple Pie over regular old apple pie, even though I love crust.  Sometimes I just want homey, crunchy, buttery, golden-brown-and-delicious streusel!

It’s so simple to make, but it is so very versatile.  How to make it?  Well–easy.  It’s equal parts, by weight, of flour, sugar and butter, plus a pinch of salt. That’s it.  Please do weigh your ingredients or your proportions will be off.  If you don’t have a kitchen scale, please obtain one at your earliest convenience.  More about that later.

At any rate, here’s what you can do with streusel:

  1. top pies
  2. top crisps
  3. top muffins
  4. top cinnamon rolls
  5. roll it out and bake it like cookies (think:  shortbread)
  6. Spread it on Silpat, bake it off, cool it and crumble it.  Use it as a crunchy topping for ice cream

Stuff you can add to it:

  1. oatmeal (not cooked, please)
  2. chopped nuts
  3. chopped candied ginger
  4. dry spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger

A couple of streusel rules:

  1. You can use white sugar, brown sugar or a mixture of both
  2. If you’re going to use oatmeal, substitute out 1/4 of the weight of the flour for the same amount of oatmeal.
  3. Always add that pinch of salt.  It makes a difference.
  4. For each 2 oz. of flour, add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of dried spices, depending on your taste
  5. As long as you don’t go crazy with it, you can add a reasonable amount of chopped nuts without changing the proportions of the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Mix it by hand or in a stand mixer.
  7. You can make it in bulk and freeze it in freezer bags, portioned out for pie topping or whatever you can think of.

Here’s a thought.  Look down there at that apple pie filling.  How about making a brown sugar streusel with the addition of cinnamon and chopped walnuts of pecans.  If you have a crust, just top the pie with your streusel.  If you don’t have a crust, just dump the fruit in a buttered baking dish and pile on the streusel.  Bake at 375 degrees, F until all bubbly and golden brown and wonderful.  You’ve make a dessert without a recipe.  Awesome!

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