Monday, March 17, 2008

Pear, Apple and Cranberry Crisp

I was playing with the remote to see if anything interesting is going on when I found Barefoot Contessa. I stopped to watch a little, and then it happened again, and again, and eventually I really started enjoying the show. It helped that it came on at a time that was convenient for me.

It was easy to like Ina Garten. She is sophisticated and smart, and unlike many wannabe food stars, she has years in her stride, and a good deal of experience to boot. And when she talks, she sounds very convincing.

There are lots of things I like about her show. She cooks in her own kitchen, uses her own cookware, and serves the food in her own dishes, to her real friends. Sometimes her husband Jeffrey, who is quite charming and funny, appears on the show too. Wiki him to find out more, you might be surprised. She often has a few minutes dedicated to 'setting' the table and 'doing' the flowers, which is so not my thing, but I find it enjoyable anyway. She clearly also has a good team of photographers on her side, who make everything on her show look fabulous.

Sometimes I find it amusing that she thinks nothing of rolling out pastry crusts and piping meringues but uses canned tomatoes because life is too short to peel tomatoes. And if I ever met her, we could argue endlessly, amicably, over cilantro and parsley. But ultimately, even with her hoity toity Hampton ways, Ina seems accessible, and very American, including in her admiration of all things French.

Apple Pears Cranberry Crisps: Dig inNow on to her recipes. It is probably because of her background in the food business and catering that she always seems to make huge quantities of food, and one reason that held me back from trying anything was the serious scaling down of quantities that I would need to do. So even though I took ideas and inspirations from her shows, I had not followed any particular recipe of hers. That changed after I made the Pear, Apple and Cranberry Crisp that I had been eyeing this apple season. It has a long ingredient list, but when I recently happened to have each and every of the things on hand, I had to make these. On the show, she made individual ones in ramekins, so I did that too. The crisps were deliciously blog-worthy - with a crisp caramelly top giving way to the filling that was bursting with the sweetness of apples and pears and the heady scent of orange zest. Such a lovely, wintry (or fall-y) dessert to savor slowly after dinner.

Even the hint of cinnamon was wonderful. This comes from someone who is not overly fond of cinnamon in desserts. In fact I was highly tempted to use cardamom or vanilla, but I thought I'll stick to the original this time, and was amply rewarded. I was also tempted to reduce the amount of butter, and so I started with only two tablespoons, but the mixture finally came together only when the entire quantity was added. The recipe takes a bit of work, but not skill, and to borrow from Ina, the good news is, that it can be done in advance.

This could be eaten with ice-cream or whipped cream, but it was glorious on its own too. Here is the scaled down and adapted recipe.

Pear, Apple and Cranberry Crisp

Apple Pears Cranberry Crisps: Top View


1 pear
1-1/2 apples (or 2 small apples)
3 Tablespoons dried cranberries
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-1/2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the topping:
3/8 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (or regular salt)
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats (not quick cooking)
1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, diced


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel and core the pears and apples and cut them into large chunks. Place the fruit in a large bowl and toss with the cranberries, zests, juices, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour the mixture into a 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish, or distribute it in 4 ramekins of 3/4 cup capacity.

For the topping:

Combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes. Or use a fork to mix everything, until the mixture is in large crumbles. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit, covering the fruit completely.

Place the baking dish on a sheet pan and bake for 45 minutes (or longer), until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbly. Let it sit for a few minutes. Serve warm.

A few notes

  • Either the number of servings were out of whack or their serving sizes are humongous. The original recipe was meant for 8 servings, but a fourth of it serves 4 generously. So what the original says would serve 8, could actually serve 16.
  • Since the number of servings were twice of what I expected, I found that the crumble can be frozen by covering tightly with plastic wrap, and then baked straight from the freezer. It will thaw in the oven as it heats up to 350 degrees.
  • As is true of produce in general, good fruits will help to make the final result better, so remember to taste a little of the fruits before using.
  • If making a larger quantity, increase baking time.

Sending this to Raaga for AFAM: Pears.


Divya Vikram said...

wow!..That is a great dessert..
And a nice entry too..

Raaga said...

And Raaga graciously accepts :-) Thank you! This is lovely

Saswati said...

That's a lovely delicious looking dessert:)

TheCooker said...

Haven't made a crisp in a long time. Must grab some pears before they are gone.
The crumb topping with the oatmeal looks delicious.
Kosher salt is not something I always have in stock. Do you use it often/ regularly?

Richa said...

crisp looks gorgeous, et, wish could taste it off the screen :) i like those individual bowls.

i recently made pear crisp, someday i hope to follow a recipe to the T, i end up making so many changes, i would definitely hv succumbed to the elaichi temptation ;)

bee said...

google up her orange chocolate chunk cake. and her brownies. and her roasted tomato basil soup.

to die for. seriously.

but as you said, she feeds the whole hamptons.

Ashwini said...

I am just (re)discovering Garten myself! I bought her book from the library and the stew, the biscuits, the cheesecake are to die for. My only problem, she starts with 1/2 pound of butter in her Kitchenaid.. I know it's still resonable compared to Paula but still.. I look, I drool then I make something else :)

Mansi Desai said...

barefoot Contessa's recipes are seriously different, and I like her warm personality:)

these crips look fabulous; I'm sure the apples, pears and cranberries create a great tatse together, and with the strusel on the top its a hit!

btw, you could send this for the WBB-Balanced breakfasts event on my blog this month!:)

Suganya said...

Ina is one of the few chefs that I care. She demystifies many French recipes, although, she uses butter by the pound. At least, she is not a stereotype bob head.

musical said...

Sweet, the kind of fruity dessert that will get you in a beaming mood :) Ages since i made apple crisps.....Cranberries go so well with the pear-apple combination. I sometimes make baked apples with berry filling. Just core the apples and fill them with mixed berries and bake them :).

evolvingtastes said...

Divya, thanks!

Raaga, thanks for hosting.

Saswati, thanks!

tc, in this particularly recipe, regular salt should be just fine. Just added that to the post. I have been using kosher salt a lot more lately, as I am slowly getting the hang of it. A tip from a knowledgeable friend is that kosher salt is better for making pickles. Then there is also something called as 'pickling salt'.

Richa, thanks. Elaichi might be next. But if you try it first let me know.

bee, mindreader!! The orange chocolate chunk cakes and 'outrageous' brownies are being very much coveted for a long time now. But perhaps I should divert myself to the tomato soup. Thanks for those tips.

Ashwini, well 1/2 a pound only if she is on a healthy spree. :-) But she does some lovely sides and roasted things. She uses fish a lot too.

Mansi, thanks for the invitation, but this is a dessert. It might fit in a theme of 'indulgent breakfast', but I doubt it could be considered balanced!

Suganya, her butter and cream amounts are what stop me from trying her recipes too. This one wasn't too bad on that count.

musical, you said it - it is very mood cheering.

Mona said...

I try her recipes quite often, and like Mansi said, i love her warm nature as well. When i tried this recipe of hers, it was a hit! The beautiful fruity aroma that filled my house was so good :-)
Have added you to my blogroll!

Richa said...

ah yes, the one i tried was with elaichi :) it had pear & raisins, i had walnut powder leftover from making ma'hamarra & i used that for the topping :) elaichi has *never* failed me once ;)

evolvingtastes said...

Mona, welcome! Good to hear from someone who has tried the exact same recipe and enjoyed it too. Oh yes, the aroma of the orange zest as it baked was sooo good and tempting.

Richa, mmm mm, what a combo - pear, raisins, elaichi, walnuts - how *could* it go wrong!

Anita said...

I make something similar (and call it crumble - very British of me?). Haven't tried adding cranberries...maybe raisins will have to substitute for now. To tone down on the guilt factor, I serve it with custard (the usual Indian kind made with flavoured cornstarch)'s getting warm here but there just might be a cool-evening moment for this dessert this weekend. You can't look at it and not want to make!

evolvingtastes said...

Crisp, crumble, sometimes even cobbler; many names, but some similarities between them. I am not an expert on that, so better not to jhadofy any gyan. :D But I am honored to have inspired you. Even if you use your usual recipe, do try orange zest in the filling.

zlamushka said...

What a pretty dessert, light and great. These are my favorites.

Cynthia said...

I am so loving your ramekins! I love Ina but I usually scale down on the fat-content of some of her recipes and I also cut back on the salt-quantities she suggests.

evolvingtastes said...

zlamushka, thanks!

Cynthia, this is the first time I really tried any of her recipes, so thanks for the tip about cutting back on salt (though usually I don't follow exact quantities for salt and go by instinct). The fat, I tried, but couldn't reduce in this one.

Vaishali said...

What a gorgeous crisp, Evolvingtastes. Made me so very hungry!

Pelicano said...

Very nice...we have crisps with summer berries/late-summer fruits a lot, and I, too, add a smidge of cinnamon- especially good with blueberries (but that's another story I know). Yeah, it's hard to cut down on the butter; the "topping"/streusel is quite related to a tart-pastry mixture, and akin to trying to make ladoos without ghee eh? Nice presentation in those lovely bowls BTW.

evolvingtastes said...

Thanks Vaishali.

Pelicano, thanks! Yes, I see the analogy to ladoos. :D I am not one to complain about fats, everything in moderation I say!

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Mints! said...

I finally made it yesterday with my farmers market finds of fuji apples and peaches. That turned out really well.
Thanks for such a nice recipe.

evolvingtastes said...

Mints, thanks for letting me know! The real thanks for the recipe should go to Ina, of course.

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