Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reminders of Spring

I always thought of strawberries and rhubarb as quintessential spring flavors- peaking in June and a faded memory by the time summer ends.  Not so for me this year!  Here it is, approaching mid-September, and my strawberry patch has produced a goodly amount of fruit, and my friend's rhubarb plant needs thinning...
To bring these two ingredients together with a seasonally appropriate flavor profile, I decided to make a crisp (you know, crisp like a fall day etc).  I made the streusel with brown sugar, flour, blanched almonds (ground coursely), and some powdered ginger to give a little zing.

I'm going to refrain from posting a proper recipe because, to be honest, I estimated everything.  But, I will suggest a few ideas that will help keep your next crisp, well, crisp:

- choose your thickener wisely; flour takes longer to thicken and loose it's starchy flavor than refined starches (such as corn or potato) do, and the faster you can secure your liquid, the less soggy your topping will be.
- if you're using a high moisture item (like rhubarb), think about macerating it with some of the sugar for about an hour, then draining off some of the excess liquid.
- consider baking your fruit mixture for about twenty minutes before adding the topping; this will reduce the overall moisture content in the filling.
- make sure to use enough topping to make a rather thick layer; there will always be a soggy bit right next to the fruit, so if you want any crunchy bits, you have to put quite a bit