The first crisp of the 2013 season is just out of the oven! I feel like Sal in the Robert McCloskey classic One Morning in Maine, when, at the end of a long morning of misadventures (while her father stridently digs for clams) she yells out "clam chowder for lunch!". Instead, it is "Strawberry rhubarb crisp for dessert!" I have been toiling in my garden for a month now- turning over the earth, amending the soil and tilling again- and this is my first meaningful reward.
Strawberry rhubarb crisp happens to be my husband's and youngest son's favorite dessert. I have been working for many years on finding/creating the best recipe I can . Getting the fruit to be wonderfully thick rather than thin and runny, has required many attempts. I landed on my final recipe a number of years ago, and I admit, with a bit of vanity, that I am always asked for the recipe when I bring it to a friend's. This crisp is a combination of several pie and crisp recipes. The real trick is using quick cooking tapioca as the thickener, never flour and certainly not cornstarch!
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
3 cups sugar (yes, it is worth it)
6 tbsp. quick cooking tapioca
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
6 cups, or 2 lbs., rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 - 3 cups sliced strawberries (Always use organic strawberries. Check out the following for this years list of "the dirty dozen" non organic fruits and vegetables you should not eat http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php )
Crisp Topping (I double this and store extra in the freezer. It will last for over a year. This is a lot of topping, so you will have extra even if you do not double it.)
2 cups flour
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
11/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 sticks of butter, cold
Combine first 6 ingredients and let sit and mellow for 1 to 4 hours. This softens the tapioca. (One hour is sufficient, but you can go out and do errands at this point if you want to.)
Preheat over to 375.
Pour the fruit mixture into a buttered 11"x 7" pan, or an 8"x 8" pan if you want to mound it up like I did in the picture above, but it will run over so put a cookie sheet under it.
Make the topping by combining all the dry ingredients. Using two forks or a pastry blender, cut in the butter. (A pastry blender is an antique hand tool often used to cut butter into pastry before food processors were invented. You must do this part by hand...that is why I make a lot at one time because it is a pain in the butt.)Sprinkle a sufficient amount of this on the fruit. I usually go for about half of the single topping recipe. Bake for 45 minutes.
This is also great for breakfast.
We are not a put-nuts-in-your-baked-goods sort of family. You can add them if you want, but I think it is much better without them.
More rhubarb recipes to come.