One of the sure signs Spring has arrived in our area are the many strawberry stands now open for business. With their boxes of plump, ripe berries just plucked from their green beds in the early morning, I survey the flats for the juiciest looking ones and after making my purchase, begin to ponder what I’m gonna make with all this spring goodness.
The arrival of rhubarb in the supermarket is also a welcome addition to my springtime foodie arsenal and the bright red stalks are perfect paired with the fresh strawberries. The aroma of strawberries, rhubarb, sugar and lemon zest simmering atop the stove brings back memories of the wonderful recipe my mother made when I was growing up. She would serve her variation of strawberries & rhubarb chilled from the refrigerator and I remember as I ate mine, I would let each spoonful sit in my mouth – for just a bit – to savor the tart, sweet flavors.
I’ve adapted my mother’s recipe to a fruit crisp and rather than simmering the strawberries and rhubarb atop the stove, the raw fruit and additional ingredients are put in individual petite tarte dishes and covered with an oatmeal-based crumb topping that “crisps” as they bake. The recipe is simple, quick and yields an amazingly delicious desert. The crisps can be served warm with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. And I even love them cold from the fridge the next morning for a delicious breakfast treat. Have a lovely Spring!!!
start with about 5 stalks of good size rhubarb or when sliced, equals 3 cups
foodie fact: in former days, a common and affordable sweet for children in parts of the United Kingdom and Sweden was a tender stick of rhubarb, dipped in sugar. It is still eaten this way in western Finland and Norway, Iceland and some other parts of the world, including rural Eastern Ontario. In Chile, Chilean Rhubarb is sold on the street with salt or dried pepper, not sugar. (source)
Perhaps it is because of my Finnish heritage that I am so crazy for the stuff, although I can’t imagine snacking on a raw stalk merely dipped in sugar. Must be one of those things that you appreciate having been raised with it although now I am tempted to try it. Maybe it’s a bit like munching on celery stalks?
Cut the rhubarb in to 1 inch chunks or bite size and slice the strawberries in thirds or if small, halves. The fruit should be chunky rather than finely chopped because it cooks down when baking and if sliced too small, will result in mush rather than bites with texture.
crisps ready for baking
serve warm with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream
recipe for strawberry rhubarb crisps yield: 4-6 crisps depending upon size of baking dishes used
ingredients – topping
1 cup sugar divided into two 1/2 cups
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cook oats
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons cold (unsalted) butter cut in six slices (note: if salted butter is used, omit 1/8 teaspoon salt)
1/8 teaspoon salt
zest of one lemon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position the rack in the center of the oven. Lightly butter the inside of petite tarte dishes or small ramekins may also be used. Place the dishes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of the sugar, flour, oats, brown sugar, lemon zest and salt. Add the butter and using your fingertips, work it into the flour mixture until crumbly. Cover the bowl and refrigerate while the filling is prepared.
3 cups chopped rhubarb – in 1 inch chunks or bite size
2 cups strawberries – sliced in to thirds or if small halved
3 tablespoons corn starch
juice of one lemon
2 teaspoons brandy (optional)
In a large bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar and lemon juice. Add the chopped rhubarb and sliced strawberries. Add the cornstarch and brandy and gently mix well with a wooden spatula until all the fruit is well coated. Divide the fruit mixture between the buttered baking dishes. Remove the topping mixture from the refrigerator and evenly distribute the topping on each baking dish.Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the topping is lightly browned. Remove dishes from baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool.