Summer is officially in full swing, though this sadly also means we are well into bikini season. The good news is that summer months bring in cherries, peaches, plums, and more wonderful fruit, and while I should be working out a lot so I can hit the beach, I’ve really just doing a lot more baking and eating.
In preparation for the coming of stone fruit season, I took a baking class on cobblers, crisps, crumbles, and buckles back in April. We had a potluck dinner for the Kawasaki twins’ birthdays at the end of the month, but the aforementioned fruits from my local grocery stores weren’t quite ripe yet. I decided to make a crumble featuring strawberries instead. I prepped everything in advance and assembled and baked it at Kelli‘s.
I forgot to take photo of finished Strawberry Crumble with the ice cream on top, so the above is the closest thing I have. Here’s the recipe!
3/4 C flour
3/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C almond or hazelnut flour
1/4 C sugar
1 C old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 sticks butter, cold and cubed
1. Place the flours, sugars, and butter in a food processor and pulse until pea sized clumps form.
2. Fold in the oats.
3. Place on a baking sheet and freeze until butter is cold.
1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
4 C strawberries
1 T flour
3/4 C granulated sugar
1/2 C freshly squeezed orange juice
1. Toss the strawberries, sugar, and the orange zest together in a large bowl.
2. In a measuring cup, dissolve the flour in the orange juice and then mix it into the fruit.
3. Pour into ramekins about 2/3 full, or in an 8×11 pan if making a bigger one.
4. Add crumble topping on top.
5. Bake at 350ºF for 12-15 minutes until bubbly (50 minutes if using an 8×11 pan).
The great thing about crumbles is that they are quick to make and pretty much foolproof. For those that turn the simplest of recipes into culinary disasters, the crumble is perfect for you. You’re essentially just tossing some fresh fruit in some sugar, tossing the crumble on top, and popping it in the oven! You don’t need to be precise with measurements or too pretentious with presentation. You also can make as little or as much filling as you want and save the crumble topping for later. I froze the leftover topping from the twins’ birthday and ended up using some for a couple mugs of cherry crumble for Kevin and I a few weekends ago using the first batch of gorgeous cherries I saw at the market. Easy! Here’s the cherry filling recipe:
1/2 C sugar
6 C fresh cherries, pitted
2 T flour
1. Whisk flour and sugar together and then toss in fruit.
2. Add crumble topping.
3. Bake at 325ºF for 10 minutes.
4. Top with lots of ice cream!
Fingers crossed all of the basketball Sho-Yu has been playing lately will negate all of the sweets!
This is a tale of love and loss, fulfillment and heartbreak, happiness and anguish. This is a tale about my first love…at work.
You meet a lot of people in the workplace. If you’re lucky, you’ll figure out who the batshit crazy people are right away and keep your distance. If you’re luckier, you’ll make a friend or two. And if you’re REALLY lucky, you will find a work spouse. Coworkers come and go in our lives but you will never forget your first work spouse.
Oh the fond memories. One of my all-time favorite Kelley stories was when a Chinese filmmaker flew in to the US for a meeting with some of our other coworkers. He sat in our common area and saw Kelley working while he waited for his colleagues. During dinner, he leaned over to one of our coworkers and said, “So I must ask you – WHO is that gorgeous strawberry blonde that works in your office? She looks like a model or an actress!”
It all started over morning coffee. Kelley and I casually complained to each other about how terrible the office coffee was at the time. Neither of us were coffee snobs, but the communal office coffee literally tasted like aluminum sludge. No amount of sugar or creamer could save it. A couple of years ago, Kelley and I started buying and brewing our own coffee. Most of my mornings as of late would start with the instant message “can you go now?”, meaning it was time to rendezvous in the office pantry. Morning coffee quickly became coffee and breakfast, which then occasionally turned into drinks after work and weekend outings. I was in a committed relationship that was martial work bliss.
Naturally, as a little goodbye sendoff, I had to make a batch of “Gorgeous Strawberry Blonde” bars. Kelley had actually sent me a similar recipe from Smitten Kitchen a couple of years ago for Pink Lemonade Bars, but they used raspberries instead of strawberries. I had to go down to San Diego for a work trip the day before her last day, so I picked up a few cartons of fresh strawberries from the Carlsbad Strawberry Company farm on the drive back up. They had BEAUTIFUL and extremely sweet strawberries to choose from.
I tweaked Smitten Kitchen’s recipe a bit to make up for the additional liquid that strawberries tend to produce (versus the not-as-juicy raspberries), and didn’t use the lemon zest in the crust that Smitten Kitchen’s recipe called for. Here’s my take:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup fresh lemon juice (pulp is fine)*
zest of 1 medium lemon
1/2 cup pureed strawberries (about 3/4 cup hulled berries)**
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
*If you want it to be less tart, use slightly less lemon juice and more strawberry puree, but make sure you end up with the same total amount of liquid or the bars won’t set after you bake them.
**Hulling the berries is really important – you only want the sweet, red part of the strawberry and none of that white bitter center.
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with nonstick foil or parchment paper.
2. Make the crust. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until smooth and fluffy. Working at a low speed with a stand mixer (I used a pastry blender in this case), gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly. Pour into prepared pan and press firmly into an even layer. Bake for about 18 minutes, until set at the edges.
3. While the crust bakes, make the filling. In a blender or the bowl of a food processor, combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, strawberry puree, sugar and eggs and process until smooth. Add in flour, baking powder and salt, then pulse until smooth.
4. Gently pour the filling over the hot crust when it has finished baking. Return pan to oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until the filling is set. A light colored “crust” will form on top from the sugar in the custard – nothing a little sprinkling of powdered sugar can’t hide!
5. Sprinkle the bars with some powdered sugar. Cool completely before slicing and use a sharp damp knife to ensure clean slices. Store bars in the refrigerator. Makes about 28 2-inch square bars.
Kelley turned about as red as her bars when she opened the box on her last day and read the sign that had her infamous Kelley-isms (as seen below).
I think all approved the out come of the bars. Miss you, Kelley!