Dessert · Fruit

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

One of the things I love most about summer is the sudden appearance of fruit desserts. I’ve seen them pop up just about everywhere, from the fanciest of restaurants to my friend’s laid back weeknight BBQ. The varieties are endless, beginning with berries in June and transferring over to peaches and other stone fruits as the season progresses. Even the toppings differ, ranging from streusels to sweet puffy biscuits.

My personal favorite fruit dessert is the crumble, a simple dish of baked fruit with oats in the topping. The oats compliment the already delicious combination of flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon, adding a touch of crunch to each bite. If you’re curious about the distinctions between summer fruit desserts, like what makes a crumble different from a crisp,  check out this article via the Huffington Post.

Rhubarb Crumble Food Blog (1 of 1)

There are a few options for the filling. Purists will stick with one fruit, but I always prefer two (and a touch of zest, if you have it!). This particular crumble features strawberries and rhubarb, balancing tart and sweet flavors. Both fruits are on the watery side, however, so add corn starch to the mix if you prefer a thicker filling.

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From start to finish, crumbles should take no longer than an hour to prepare. And don’t forget – while you’re waiting for the fruit to bake, run out and buy a pint of vanilla ice cream. You’ll thank me later.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Recipe (adapted from William-Sonoma Essentials of Baking)

Filling:

  • 6 stalks of rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 2.5 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered (if large)
  • scant 1/2 cup sugar (I used a bit less)
  • juice and zest of half a lemon

Topping:

  • 1 cup of flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a square Pyrex dish (about 8 x 8)
  2. In a large bowl, mix together fruits, white sugar, and lemon juice. Stir to combine and pour into the prepared dish.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, and oats. Slowly add the melted butter and stir until small clumps begin to form.
  4. Spoon crumbs onto the fruit mixture and spread evenly. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the top crumbs are golden brown. Let cool and serve.
Breakfast

Olive Oil Granola

granola with yogurt

I’ve been a granola binge lately.  It all started with this recipe, which tastes so good (and sweet) that it should probably be topped with vanilla ice cream instead of Greek yogurt. My tastes evolved when I met this granola recipe developed by the guys over at Baked NYC, which quickly became my go-to recipe and earned a spot on Sweetly Seasoned back in September. I made it about a half dozen times, stopping only when I ran through an entire bottle of canola oil.

mixing granola

I scribbled “canola oil” onto my grocery list of essentials, but then I started thinking.  Is canola oil (relatively) good for you? Is there an alternative?

That’s when I found this recipe. It’s unique claim to fame is the use of olive oil, which adds a certain hearty flavor that’s missing from its canola oil cousins. It also substitutes maple syrup for the honey, which I think adds a rich, sweet, caramel-like taste to the finished product.

olive oil granola

Still, the original recipe didn’t have all the add-ins that I’ve come to love. That’s when I decided to make a few tweaks to the recipe.  I added some cinnamon to the dry oats mixture and tossed some cranberries and dried cherries in at the end. I was also concerned about burning the coconut, so I left this out at the beginning and stirred it in during the last ten minutes of baking. The result is something sweet, satisfying, and maybe even good for you!

Olive Oil Granola (adapted from this recipe by Nekisia Davis on Food52*)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup coconut chips
  • 2/3 cup dried fruit (I used cranberries and tart cherries)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the maple syrup, olive oil, and light brown sugar.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until the oats are evenly coated and shiny.
  5. Pour oat mixture onto the prepared pan and spread evenly into a thin layer.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring granola every 10 minutes. Add coconut chips during the last 10 minutes of baking.
  7. Once granola is evenly browned, remove from the oven and add dried fruit.  Let cool and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

*Note: this recipe is cut down in size from the original.

Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Dried Fruit and Nuts

oatmeal cookies2

This is by far my most requested cookie recipe. It pushes the boundaries of a traditional oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, including nuts for added crunch and dried fruit for a hint of tartness.

It’s also shamelessly good looking. The dough spreads evenly every time, creating a cookie that is perfectly shaped and golden-brown.  If you’re looking to really “wow” a crowd, these cookies look like they came straight off a bakery shelf.

Lastly, these cookies make a great gift.  Because of their size, they’re pretty sturdy and can stand up to some shifting in the mail.  Their texture is also favorable to shipping, and they’ll still be crispy a few days after baking.

prepping cookie batteroatmeal cookies 1

For this batch, I decided to experiment a bit with the add-ins.  I split the oat-filled dough in half, adding walnuts and cranberries to one half and cherries and pecans to the other. Both varieties were popular, although I’m impartial to the sweet and sour combination of chocolate and dried cherries.

cookies 2

To extend your enjoyment of these cookies, just roll up a few balls of dough and stick them in the freezer. When you’re in the mood for warm, crunchy, delicious cookies, place the frozen dough on a cookie sheet and stick it in the oven.  You’ll have fresh cookies in no time!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Dried Fruit and Nuts (adapted from Cooks Illustrated):

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup nuts (I used 1/2 cup pecans, 1/2 cup walnuts)
  • 1 cup dried fruit (I used 1/2 cup dried cherries, 1/2 cup dried cranberries)
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine softened butter and light brown sugar.  Beat on medium speed for about one minute, until the batter is smooth.  Add in the egg and vanilla and beat for about 30 seconds more.  Slowly fold in the flour mixture and mix on low until combined.
  4. With a rubber spatula, stir in the oats, chocolate chips, dried fruit, and nuts.
  5.  Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop batter out of the bowl and roll it into equal sized balls.  Place balls 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake cookies for about 18-22 minutes, rotating the pan in the middle of baking.
  6. Store in an airtight container for 4-5 days.
Dessert · Fruit

Peach Blueberry Crisp for Two (or more)

Peach Blueberry Crisp

To me, crisps are a vacation from baking.  While there are plenty of recipes out there to guide you through the process, crisps practically encourage experimentation.  They are also forgiving, and I doubt you’ll find many people out there that can claim to have tried a bad crisp. 

They are also simple.  Similar fruit filled desserts (thinking of pies, here) can be very time consuming when you take into account the hours spent prepping and rolling out the dough.  Crisps only take about an hour from start to finish, and most of that time is spent waiting (and salivating) while it’s bubbling in the oven.  

Peach Blueberry Crisp

For this crisp, I combined peaches (the star here) with frozen blueberries for get some additional tartness.  This is only a suggestion, and I imagine that plums, rhubarb, blackberries, and raspberries would all be great additions.  Just make sure that you’re adding enough flour to your fruit filling, since fruits with a higher percentage of water need more flour to soak up the juices during cooking.

For the topping, I decided to do a little experimenting.  I wanted it to have a hint of nutty flavor, so I substituted 2 tbsp of the all-purpose flour for almond meal.  Other flours can definitely be used, but I suggest substituting no more than 1/4 of the all-purpose flour in the recipe to maintain consistency.  I also added walnuts, since I think they add a nice crunch to the topping.

finished crisp

Since there are only two of us, I made enough crisp to fill a small Pyrex dish (it ended up being about 6 servings).  If you’d like to feed more people, simply double the recipe and use a bigger dish.

Peach Blueberry Crisp

Ingredients:

Topping

  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp almond meal
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened and cut into 1 tablespoon cubes

Fruit filling

  • 3 peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • zest and juice from half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and butter an 8″ x 6″ Pyrex dish (or double the recipe and use a larger dish)
  2. Combine all of the ingredients for the topping (except for the butter) in a small bowl.  Using your hands, add the butter and mix until the topping is crumbly and the butter is well incorporated.
  3. In another small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the fruit filling.
  4. Add the fruit filling to the Pyrex dish, distributing evenly.
  5. Using your hands again, spread the topping over the fruit.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbly and the topping is golden brown.
Breakfast

Homemade Granola

photo (3)

This is the best snack food ever. We ate the first batch entirely by the handful, and it wasn’t until the second batch that I had the chance to try it over yogurt. I absolutely love the sweetness of the honey and brown sugar over the tartness of the Greek yogurt, and I have a feeling this recipe may be about to revolutionize my morning routine.

What’s more, it is extremely easy to make.  For years I avoided it, thinking that the long list of ingredients translated into long hours spent in the kitchen.  This could not be further from the truth.  Granola can be thrown together in under 45 minutes, and most of that time is spent waiting (and salivating!).  It’s also cost effective, and many of the ingredients can be found in your pantry or easily substituted for something similar.  As long as you have oats, oil, some type of sweetener, and a few great add-ins, you’re good to go.

This particular recipe comes from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, a cookbook developed by two bakers in Brooklyn and one of my all-time favorites.  It’s close to a few other recipes that I’ve tried, but I chose it because of its high proportion of nuts and dried fruit.  I also like the addition of hazelnuts, which can be easily peeled and prepared if you follow the method suggested here.

photo 4

Homemade Granola Recipe (adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp + 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts, peeled
  • 2/3 cup dried fruit (golden raisins, dried cherries, and dried cranberries)

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees and line a 9″x 13″ baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the canola oil, honey, light brown sugar, and vanilla.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients.  Using a rubber spatula (or your hands!), stir the mixture until the wet ingredients are evenly distributed and there are no large clumps.
  5. Pour the mixture onto the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Take the pan out of the oven and flip the granola with a spatula.  Add the almonds and hazelnuts and bake for another 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and check for doneness.  If the granola is golden brown and toasted, it’s ready.  If not, put it back in the oven and bake for another 5 minutes.
  8. Add dried fruit and let the granola cool.  If you like your granola to be clumpy, let it sit for longer before stirring.
  9. Once cool, break the granola up into small pieces and store it in an airtight container for up to a week.
Bread

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

photo (4) copy

For the past three years, I’ve experimented a lot with bread making.  I started off with my friend Laura’s sourdough starter (otherwise known as my “pet”), which had an awesome, complex flavor. However, the starter often disappointed me, and I could never get my dough to rise above the lip of the pan.  The starter also required daily attention, and I quickly killed it in the fridge (perhaps the reason I don’t have a real pet).

I then moved onto yeast-y breads, although no one recipe could keep my attention for very long. Pretty soon, I found myself back at the grocery store buying Arnold and Pepperidge Farm.  Who doesn’t have a special love for bread that is perfectly sliced and lasts for a week or more?

But then, I found the KitchenAid.  I wouldn’t necessarily call myself lazy, but the stand mixer makes bread making so easy that I don’t think I’ll ever want to buy bread again. My loaf (pictured here) rose so high that it was towering over the pan, and I was pretty sure the whole thing would flop over in my oven.  The texture and taste were also wonderful, and I couldn’t wait to share it with friends and co-workers.

To be fair, I’ve only made one loaf so far.  However, based on the way this one turned out, there will be many, many more.

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread Recipe (adapted from “Good to the Grain” by Kim Boyce)

Ingredients:

  • oil for pan
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (105-110 degrees)
  • 3 tbsp unsulphured molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tbsp sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Oil a 9″x5″x3″ inch loaf pan.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together warm water, yeast, and molasses.  Let sit for 5 minutes, or until light foam appears on the surface of the water.  At this step, be very careful that the water is not too hot or you will kill the yeast!
  3. Slowly add whole wheat flour, bread flour, and oats to the bowl.  Stir with a spatula until combined. Cover the bowl with a tea towel for 30 minutes (I considered skipping this step, but it was well worth it).
  4. Attach the dough hook to your stand mixer. Add salt and mix dough on medium speed for 6 minutes.  When finished, the dough should be smooth and elastic.
  5. Oil a large bowl.  With your hands, roll dough into the form of a ball in place it in the bowl.  Cover with a tea towel and let rest for one hour, or until doubled in size.
  6. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface.  With your hands, stretch the dough into a square, approximately 12 by 12.  Working with the top two corners, fold them into the middle of the square.  Repeat on the bottom, folding the bottom two corners into the middle.  Pinch the seam where they meet, and lightly roll the dough back and forth.
  7. Curl the ends of the dough inwards and slide the loaf into the prepared pan.  Cover dough with a tea towel and let rise for one more hour. Dough should double in size and stand 1-3 inches above the lip of the pan.
  8. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake loaf for 40 minutes, or until golden brown on top.  When finished, the bread should sound hollow when tapped lightly on the top. If you like, rub the top of the loaf with a light coating of butter to make it glossy.
  9. For best results, let the loaf cool for a few hours to preserve moisture.