Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fruit Cobbler-No, Fruit Crisp- Yes!

Okay, so I tweaked this week's Tuesday's With Dorie recipe so much that I turned it into a different recipe, which essentially is breaking the rules and I hate to do that. The thing is, Dorie's recipe said no strawberries and that's what I had, strawberries- beautiful, sweet, organic strawberries that were calling out to be used. I also had been given a garbage sized bag of rhubarb. So, strawberry and rhubarb- what's a girl to do? We were taking the dessert to a friends house for dinner- this was our first invitation over and I did not want my dessert to flop. After reading the many posts about the cobbler topping being a little lackluster, I had to make the switch- you understand right? It was the pressure of the dinner party and the strawberries and rhubarb calling out to me- I just couldn't say no. Once I made the decision, I felt completely relieved as I like crisp better than cobbler anyway. Lucky me, I also had a huge bag of frozen huckleberries in my freezer. We're entering this year's huckleberry season, so it's time to use the old ones up. They made the crisp a beautiful, vibrant purple and the dessert vanished quickly. Blueberries would also work for this, fresh or frozen. Served warm, with a scoop of ice cream, this was the perfect dessert to share with friends while sitting in a log cabin in the woods during a huge thunderstorm.

This week's actual Tuesdays With Dorie recipe was Mixed Berry Cobbler, chosen by Beth. You can view the recipe for the cobbler on her site Our Sweet Life

Strawberry-Rhubarb-Huckleberry Crisp
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours

This fruit-cobbler-turned-fruit-crisp came out amazingly good!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
zest of 1 lemon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 pound (4-5 medium stalks) rhubarb, trimmed and peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup huckleberries (use more strawberries or rhubarb if you don't have hucks)
1 cup sugar
1 T lemon juice
pinch salt

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Put a nonreactive 9-inch square baking pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicon mat. Alternatively, you can use individual ramekins. These are great to serve at a dinner party.

Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, lemon zest, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl and sift the ingredients through your fingers to blend them, be on the lookout for lumps in the brown sugar. Mix in the nuts and then pour over the melted butter. Using a fork, stir the ingredients until they are thoroughly moistened. Spoon half the mixture into the pan and pat it down lightly to form a thick crust. Set the remainder aside for the topping.

For the filling:

Dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water; set aside.
Put the strawberries,rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and, with a fork, pastry blender, or potato masher, crush the berries. Place the pan over medium heat and, stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to a full boil. Pour the dissolved cornstarch into the pan and, stirring with a whisk, bring everything back to a boil. Now add the huckleberries. Keep cooking and stirring until the fruit filling is thick and no longer cloudy, about 3 minutes. Pull the pan from the heat, and pour the filling in the prepared dish. Scatter the remaining crisp mix over the filling.

Slide the crisp into the oven and bake for 60 minutes for the large crisp, or about 35 for the individual ramekins, or until the topping is golden and the strawberry jam is bubbling up all around the edges. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool until only just warm or at room temperature. Serve with freshly whipped cream or your favorite ice cream.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cupcakes for a Good Cause

I attended our local Relay For Life walk tonight. If you aren't familiar with Relay, it's a cancer walk that happens all over the country and lasts the whole night. Its extremely moving. The weather was perfect and the spirits were high; we couldn't have asked for a better night.

I work for a bank and we host a cake walk every year at the Relay event. It gives the kids something fun to do, and we all know that sugar can sometimes turn a frown upside down. Since the cupcakes were for kids, I opted to go for a bright rainbow look and frosted them red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. They came out looking good and the kids snatched them right up.

I used a simple white cake recipe and an easy American buttercream. The fun part was dyeing the frosting and choosing the sprinkles for the top!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Peppermint Cream Puffs! Hooray!

This weeks Tuesdays With Dorie recipe was a fun one.

I love cream puffs. Always have. Eclairs too, of course. Lucky for me, I visited an old friend over the weekend to explore her beautiful gardens in town and to dig up some of her mint. I came home with close to a square foot of mint, roots and all, which I promptly put in one of my whiskey barrel planters. There will be no flowers in that planter this year, if the mint decides to live! Fresh mint is one of my favorite herbs to have on hand. I live in Montana, and our growing season is short; those adorable window herb gardens that many of you have just don't make it through the winters here. I also came home with a bag of salad greens, a square foot of oregano (filling another whiskey barrel)and some radishes. What a wonderful gift on a Sunday morning.

So, the cream puff ring, although beautiful, wasn't practical for me to make this week. I converted them to puffs and packed them up to share today. One container will go to my coworkers and the other container will go to a board meeting I have to attend. I sit on the board for our region's Head Start school- what an important organization Head Start is! Our board meetings tend to be long and occur during prime lunch time. These should help us all get through the meeting as there's nothing like a sugar high to keep you going.

I followed this recipe really closely. The only changes I made were:
1. I left one yolk out
2. I beat the eggs together beforehand in a measuring cup
3. I allowed the paste to cool for a bit before adding the eggs
4. I slowly streamed the egg mixture in while the mixer was running
5. I used Agave Nectar to sweeten the chocolate glaze

They came out crisp and wonderful. Some prettier than others, of course, but that's the beauty of the puff!

I've been too busy frolicking in the sunshine to post lately. Finally, summer has arrived here in Montana. Just last week, we had a FREAK snow storm. Yes, that's right, snow. While you guys on the east coast were burning up in the heat, and the poor midwesterners were/are dealing with the terrible floods, we were dealing with snow. In June. What a winter it has been.

My husband and I picked up our permit to go Morel mushroom picking this week. I can't wait. Morel's are so delicious and they are going off like crazy right now. These tend to show up in areas that burned the year before and last year we dealt with a big forest fire nearby. So, it's off to the woods we go to forage. Hopefully, I'll take some photos of the pasta I plan on making before we devour it.

Thanks Dorie Greenspan, for another wonderful, homey, inspiring dessert. I have a feeling I'll be buying some extra love today with them! Thanks also to Caroline of A Consuming Passion- you can view the entire recipe on her site.