Merry (almost) Christmas! I haven’t been much in evidence here on the blog lately. The latter part of December has been filled with concerts and church things, and when I haven’t been doing those things, I’ve simply been enjoying not having to do things! And of course, once I finished with concerts, I got a nasty cold. However, the quickest way to feeling better is some lovely homemade goodies.
I have to confess a weird hobby of mine: I love reading cookbooks. Like, I pore over them. When I am eating by myself, my favorite reading material is a cookbook. (My philosophy is that all the pictures and descriptions won’t make you so hungry if you’re already eating something!) I have at least 15 on my shelf right now, including the 1950’s Better Homes and Garden “New Cook Book”, multiple Taste of Home books, Paula Deen, Montana Farm Bureau cook book, the Pioneer Woman (one of my favorites), my own binder of collected recipes, and this jewel, which I received as a wedding present:
I love fruity desserts, and everything in this book sounds amazing. I’ve been reading it a lot lately, drooling over things like “Cherry Upside-down Cake” and “Caramel Peach Grunt” (not exactly sure what a grunt is but the caramel-peach part sounds amazing). So, when I found raspberries last weekend for $1.50/half pint in our little small-town grocery store, I was inspired. (Take a moment to take note of the price; those packages are often $4-5. Who ever heard of cheap raspberries in December in Montana? It’s not like they’re in season or anything. I don’t even usually buy them when they are in season; strawberries are cheaper and I love them more than almost any other food.)
I wanted to make a crisp, but I didn’t have quite enough raspberries by themselves. With a severe lack of forethought, I had only purchased a half-pint of berries. I took stock of my resources and decided to augment the berries with apples (I didn’t have much else in the way of fruit!). Here’s what I came up with:
Wash berries, drain, and put in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with a spoonful or two of sugar and let sit for a few minutes. Meanwhile, chop one apple. I used my favorite, a Pink Lady, and I didn’t peel it, because I kind of like apple peel. Smash your berries a bit with a potato masher, then add the chopped apples and a little more sugar. Spread in a 8-inch-square baking pan and top with 1/2 recipe of Vanilla Crumb. Bake at 400 degrees for…umm…I don’t remember how long…20-30 minutes? Serve with vanilla ice cream.
Vanilla Crumb (from “Rustic Fruit Desserts”)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (I just used regular butter, ’cause I didn’t have any unsalted)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Combine flour, sugars, salt, and butter in the bowl of a food processor or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. If using a food processor, pulse until the mixture is the texture of coarse crumbs. With a stand mixer, combine on low speed, also until the texture of coarse crumbs. Drizzle the vanilla over the mixture and either pulse or mix briefly to distribute the vanilla.
Note: For my crisp, I used only half the Vanilla Crumb recipe and I substituted rolled oats for half the flour, because I have a severe oatmeal addiction when it comes to baked goods.
I invited a couple of friends over for dessert that night. Raspberry-Apple crisp received rave reviews!