End of Summer and into Fall with a Fresh Fruit Crumble

crumbleinbowl2When I was a child, as far as dessert was concerned, I was “all in” for chocolate. Fruit desserts were okay, but somehow a little disappointing. Even with an added bonus of vanilla ice cream piled on top of a slice of apple pie or a warm peach crisp, a fruit dessert still didn’t hold a candle to anything chocolate. And yes, chocolate ice cream on top of a peach crisp or apple pie is just plain wrong.

Fast forward to many years later and I am now “all in” for fruit-based desserts. It’s not that I have given up chocolate, but these days whether it’s spring berries, summer peaches or fall apples, there’s a whole lot of fruit dessert making going on at my house. And my most favorite thing to make is something quick and easy with ingredients I usually have on hand. Enter the fruit crumble.

What’s the difference between a crumble, a crisp and a cobbler, you may ask?

Well, not a whole lot, really. In my opinion, the difference is mostly in the topping, although some cobblers do have a thickening agent added to the filling. For instance, the biscuit, dumpling or crust-like topping of a cobbler is flour-based, whereas a crumble topping is much more streusel-like in nature, has far less flour and often includes spices, oats and nuts. That would place a crisp—which has a higher butter and sugar to flour ratio in its topping than a cobbler, but typically does not include oats or nuts—somewhere in between a cobbler and a crumble.

Of the three, a crumble has become my favorite. The appeal is not only in the combination of flavors that a crumble provides, but in the textural contrast between the juicy, soft and sweet fruit and the toothsome, crispy, crunchy topping. It’s a perfectly balanced dessert. With a scoop of your favorite vanilla bean ice cream melting over a warm serving of crumble, you’re in for a heavenly experience!

Another thing to love about a crumble is how versatile it is. You can make it with berries or stone fruit, or a mix of the two. And when the spring/summer fruits are gone, you can make it with seasonal apples or pears instead…heck, throw in a few fresh cranberries with those apples, if you like. If your citrus du jour is orange instead of lemon, that will work just as well. So really, this is a year-round dish.

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Generally I am not a fan of overly sweet desserts, so my version of fruit crumble relies on less sugar than many recipes, which allows the natural sweetness of the ripe fruit to shine through. The addition of vanilla ice cream becomes an enhancement to the flavor and texture of the dessert, rather than making it overbearingly sweet.

Make this crumble with your favorite fresh fruit, add some vanilla ice cream, raise up your spoon and let’s toast the end of summer and the beginning of the fall season. Bon appétit!

Peach or Fresh Fruit Crumble
Serves 6

For the filling:
7-8 large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced to yield about 7 1/2 cups total of fruit
(or you can mix peaches or nectarines, blackberries or blueberries and fresh cherries, or substitute an equal amount of *peeled or skin-on cored and sliced apples or ripe pears instead of stone fruit or berries)
1/2 cup granulated cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
zest of one lemon (or an orange will do nicely, too)

For the topping:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter cut into small pieces

Extra butter to grease your baking dish
Vanilla bean ice cream to serve (don’t skip, life is too short!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter either a 3-inch deep 7 x 11 or similarly sized glass or oval baking dish, and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the peaches (or whatever fruits you are using), sugar, cinnamon and zest and stir to combine well. Set the fruit mixture aside while you make the crumble topping. In a small bowl combine the brown sugar, oats, pecans, flour, salt and cinnamon. Add in the cut butter and mix with your hands until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is in pea-sized pieces.

Evenly spread the fruit into the bottom of your prepared dish. Cover the fruit evenly with the crumble mixture. Place the dish on a foil lined baking sheet before baking to catch any spills, and place into the oven. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown and the fruit mixture is bubbly. Remove from the oven and allow the crumble to cool about 15 minutes or to room temperature. Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Leftovers, if any, can be covered with plastic, refrigerated and gently warmed to room temperature before serving.

*Note: If making this crisp with apples or pears, add 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to the fruit mixture and then proceed with the rest of the recipe as written.

Fresh out of the oven, a sea of crispy crumble over juicy fruit is just waiting for someone to dive in!

Fresh out of the oven, a sea of crispy crumble over juicy fruit is just waiting for someone to dive in!

An Anniversary and an Easy Fresh Fruit Tiramisu

PeachMelba7BHi Everyone! I hope that your last couple of months (yes, two months almost!) have been lovely. All is well here. My time has been spent helping family get through some surgery and recovery, traveling, work, hiking, birthdays…you know, life in general. But all is good, I’m back online and ready to share more trails leading to good food.

I’ll start off by mentioning that not only is this my 200th post, but today is the 4 year anniversary of this blog! That first post, Ode to Red Speckled Grits, was all about testing the waters of websites and blogging…and once I started, I was hooked. Thanks to all of you who found me, encouraged me and joined me in this adventure. And thanks for sharing your own blogs while giving me informative and fun dialog along the way. Please join me for the beginning of the next 4 years!

Celebrations require some dessert, and with all of the lovely fruits available in this almost summer season, I want to share a quick and easy celebratory recipe where fresh fruit is the star. I’ve always loved tiramisu…the little “pick me up” from Italy. The traditional recipe involves a rich and delicious combo of ladyfingers, cream, mascarpone, coffee, marsala wine, chocolate and sometimes egg yolks. Nothing wrong with that.

This version, however, is a little lighter take on the original and can be quite versatile in terms of changing out seasonal fruits and whatever booze strikes your fancy. Filled with juicy berries and peaches, creamy mascarpone cheese lightened with yogurt and a bit of fresh citrus zest for some zing—along with the traditional ladyfingers and liquor—this satisfying dessert keeps much of the texture and feel of the original tiramisu with about half the calories. It’s a “pick me up” that comes together quickly, resulting in a cool, light and elegant dessert, just perfect for the hot weather season or whenever you need a delicious finish to a meal. Try my two variations below and then have some fun experimenting on your own.

BlueberryPeach1

Easy Fresh Fruit Tiramisu for 2
(can be doubled or quadrupled as needed)

For Blueberry-Peach-Almond Tiramisu:
3/4 cup fresh blueberries, washed and dried
1 cup fresh peaches, peeled and sliced, with their juice
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
3 generous tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 generous tablespoon plain greek yogurt (I use 2%)
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
3 teaspoons of amaretto, divided
4 hard italian ladyfingers (can use the soft kind if you prefer, but hard holds up better)
1 generous tablespoon of toasted, slivered almonds

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, mascarpone, yogurt, powdered sugar and one teaspoon of Amaretto, until smooth. Break two ladyfingers into four pieces each and place four pieces (one ladyfinger for each glass) into the bottom of two pretty glasses…low ball, brandy snifter or wine glasses work perfectly. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon of Amaretto per glass over the ladyfingers. Spoon 1/4 of the peaches and some juice over the ladyfingers in each glass, then top with 1/4 of the blueberries per glass. Layer 1 generous Tablespoon of the mascarpone mixture on top of the fruit in each glass. Sprinkle 1/4 of the toasted almonds into each glass. Repeat the layers with the remaining ladyfingers broken into 4 pieces each, the Amaretto, peaches, blueberries and mascarpone mixture evenly divided, and finish with the remaining toasted almonds. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to blend. Serve and enjoy.

Peachmelba1For Peach “Melba” Tiramisu:
Substitute 3/4 cup fresh raspberries for the blueberries, orange zest for the lemon and Grand Marnier for the Amaretto. Omit almonds and proceed the same as for Blueberry-Peach-Almond, garnishing the top with a raspberry and some fresh mint, if desired.

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A few scenes from our latest adventures in North Carolina.

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Peach and Blueberry Streusel Coffeecake

Ready to cut

Allow the cake to cool completely before you cut it…if you can wait that long!

Coffeecake. It’s not just for breakfast.

Sure, it’s a tasty way to start your work or school day, but this Peach and Blueberry Streusel Coffeecake is so much more a than breakfast food alone.

Peaches and blueberries were made for each other in my opinion, and this cake is chock-full of summer fruity goodness, without incurring too much damage to your waistline. The layered fruit within the cake and the oat, brown sugar and almond streusel topping combine to make this just sweet enough, with a crunchy and satisfying texture on top. It’s a perfect combo. Continue reading

Peachy Pops!

PeachGingerMintpop

Frozen fresh Peach, Ginger and Mint Pops are refreshing and light!

Peach "Melba" Pops are so colorful....they take me to my happy place.

Peach “Melba” Pops are so colorful and cool….they take me to my happy place.

Peaches!

I don’t know if I even need to write much more than that word to evoke salivation, do I?

Peach season is in full force here right now. This year I wanted to try making some new peachy delights and I just happened to have some popsicle molds I bought on sale at the end of last summer that were crying out to be used.

Enter these two homemade frozen peachy pops! So easy to make, and endless variations can, and will, be explored.

PeachGingerMintpop2

Frozen delights on a stick!

First up is a refreshingly light Peach, Ginger and Mint combo…the perfect antidote to a hot and steamy summer day! With August just around the corner and July heating up exponentially each passing moment, this particular frozen pop is on my short list for the next couple of months. It reminds me of an ice cold peach tea, but is more toothsome from using the whole fruit.

My second and latest frozen concoction is a Peach “Melba” Pop. Peaches and raspberries are truly a match made in heaven, and this pop exemplifies that. The only variation on this one that I might try is to stir the raspberry mixture through the pop with a stick before freezing, just to swirl those flavors throughout. But honestly, this pop is lip-smacking and tongue-tinglingly good just as I’ve written it. The tiny bit of Grand Marnier in the raspberry puree really amps up the peach and the raspberry flavor, adding a richness to the pop that might otherwise be missing. And it’s, well, a winner…there’s no other way to say it!

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There’s an added bonus to this peach melba recipe, too. If you use the four-pop molds that I use, you’ll have a little extra peachy goodness left over to pop into an ice cube tray and add to your next tea or cocktail. Of course you could just make more puree to start with to ensure having some leftover for this very purpose. Peachylicious!

Peach, Ginger and Mint Pops
Makes 4 – 6 oz. pops

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar (I use cane sugar)
3 slices of fresh, peeled ginger, about 1/16  inch thick
1 1/2 cups fresh peeled and sliced peaches (about 3-4 depending on size)
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
4 – 6 oz. pop molds or 4 small paper cups and wooden popsicle sticks

Prepare the sugar syrup by placing the water, sugar and ginger in a small saucepan over low heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the peaches, mint and sugar syrup and puree until smooth. Pour the puree into 4 – 6 oz. pop molds or 4 small paper cups, dividing evenly. Place the pop mold stick tops into the molds and secure, or place your popsicle sticks into each cup. Freeze until hard and well frozen, about 6-8 hours. Unmold by carefully submerging each pop in a bowl of hot water for just a few seconds, to loosen the pop from the sides of the mold, taking care not to allow the water to get into the mold or touch the frozen pop. Remove the pop from the mold or cup and enjoy.

Peach “Melba” Pops
Makes 4 – 6 oz. pops

1/4 cup granulated sugar (I use cane sugar)
1/2 cup water
1 cup fresh raspberries
2 more tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1 1/2 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches
4 – 6 oz. pop molds or 4 small paper cups and wooden popsicle sticks

Prepare the sugar syrup by placing the water and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Prepare the raspberry puree by placing the raspberries, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier into a small saucepan over low heat and cook until the sugar dissolves and the mixture becomes a puree, about 5 minutes, pressing the berries with the back of the spoon to help them break down. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for about 5 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the peaches, and sugar syrup and puree until smooth. Pour 1/3 of the peach puree into each of the 4 – 6 oz. pop molds or 4 small paper cups, dividing evenly. Divide the raspberry puree between the 4 pop molds, gently spooning it on top of the peach puree. Pour the remaining peach puree on top of the raspberry, filling to just below the top of the mold. (At this point you can take a small skewer and run it through the whole mixture if you want to swirl the raspberry throughout, or just leave it layered as shown.)

Place the pop mold stick tops into the molds and secure, or place your popsicle sticks into each cup. Freeze until hard and well frozen, about 6-8 hours. Unmold by carefully submerging each pop in a bowl of hot water for just a few seconds, to loosen the pop from the sides of the mold, taking care not to allow the water to get into the mold or touch the frozen pop. Remove the pop from the mold or cup and enjoy.

Want more? Here are some other delectably peachy recipes of mine to try once you have your pops in the freezer: Just Peachy Ice Cream (possibly the best peach ice cream ever!), Star Spangled Cherry Berry Peach Crumble, Mom’s Easy Peach and Blueberry Crisp, A Very Short Little Peach Cake, Susan’s Nectarine (or Peach) Lemon Buttermilk Sorbet with Bourbon.

Betsy’s Famous Black Bean Mango Salad

With such a fiesta of color, this dish just has to be good!

Why famous? Well, it started many years ago when I was making pottery and taking classes on a regular basis at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center.

I specialized in handbuilding and loved to Raku-fire pots outdoors. At the end of each quarter, we would have a party, appropriately named “pot luck raku.” Each person brought a dish to share. We’d set the food out on long tables outdoors next to the raku kilns and eat, drink wine, fire pots, pull them out of the kilns at red hot temperature and throw them in the sawdust to absorb the smoke! There were some amazing dishes—both from a food and a pottery perspective—that showed up at these events, and I have such fond memories of these times. It was at one of these parties that I first tasted the dish Fesenjan, the Persian chicken and pomegranate stew, as well as some other worldly delights. Continue reading

A Star Spangled Cherry Berry Peach Crumble

The 4th of July all wrapped up in a dessert. Happy Independence Day!

As Independence Day in the U.S. rolls rapidly towards us in the form of our annual July 4th celebration, it only seems appropriate to share a festive recipe to go along with all the fireworks! This traditional and delightful dessert is a rift on one that I make all the time and in many forms, because it’s a favorite of mine and it has universal adult and kid appeal.

I am, of course, speaking of the fruit concoction known by many names…cobbler, crisp or crumble. By definition, this version can be called either a crisp or a crumble, and it’s quite versatile in terms of the fruits you can use. For the patriotic colors and for the mix of sweet-tart flavors, I chose a combination of peaches, cherries and blueberries, but any mixture of fruits you enjoy together will work. You can feel free to substitute blackberries or raspberries for cherries (as you’ll see in my baking dish version), omit blueberries or use all of one fruit. In the winter months, for those of you in winter right now, I make a variation of this with apples using orange zest and adding a bit of lemon juice, and sometimes I throw in some walnuts or pecans into the crumbled topping. Continue reading

Three dishes to Celebrate!

“Three more recipes…what’s going on here? Why not break this up into three posts if posting more than once a week is a problem? Is she crazy?”

Yes, I can hear the thoughts and no, I can’t blame you for thinking them. But you see, there’s cause to celebrate. Have you figured it out from the photo yet?

That’s right, it’s my 100th post!

Thank you all for being with me on this wonderful blogging journey so far, and for reading and commenting. Your dialog with me via comments was, and is, one of the things I love the best about blogging and I hope you’ll be with me for the next 100 posts, to infinity and beyond, and continue to chat with me, share your experiences, thoughts and feedback. Continue reading

Two Taco Tango: How One Thing Leads to Another

A two taco tango. These lively and loaded vegetarian tacos tick off all the flavor boxes! The cool plate is by the talented local clay artist, Gwen Fryer.

During last weekend’s holiday cookout involving the peach ice cream for dessert, our friends brought over some fantastic homemade pico de gallo that featured heirloom tomatoes, mango and mint. It was so delicious and such a nice blend of flavors that a desire for more haunted me into this week. And of course, I had peaches on hand and needed to use them. Continue reading

Just Peachy: A Holiday Weekend and Possibly the Best Peach Ice Cream Ever!

Luscious homemade peach ice cream. I mean really, can there be anything better than this? (A daylight picture perhaps?)

For those of us in the United States, we are celebrating Memorial Day today and, whether you are here or abroad, I hope you all have had a lovely and safe weekend. Memorial Day is a day set aside in our country to honor those in the United States Armed Forces who have given their lives and their service in defense of our country and our allies, and I bow my head to those brave men and women. Today many memorials are taking place around the country in the form of parades, the laying of wreathes and tributes. Continue reading

A Very Short Little Peach Cake

Peaches! We have them…the first of the season from south Georgia, and boy are they a welcome sight. It seems like forever since peaches were in season, and now at last they’ve arrived, even a bit early, like everything this year.

After the first week of eating them in a few juicy bites, or with some Greek yogurt and granola, I began to calm down once I realized that these were early peaches and we should have peaches for a while to come. And that’s when I started thinking about baking. Now, I don’t bake a lot…mainly because there are just two of us and, well, if I make it, we will eat it…rapidly and until no crumbs remain. But peaches do inspire me to start trying some new ideas.

My first thought was something cake-y. More so than a crisp or a cobbler, but maybe more versatile than a muffin. I love shortcakes…why not combine the idea of fruit and shortcake into one…besides the fact that I’ve never seen it done? And hence the result: a very short little peach cake! Continue reading