As much as I love strawberries, I’ll admit that bringing home four pints at one time might have been overkill. Strawberries have such a short shelf life that you have to do something with them pretty quickly or you’ll find your very own science experiment growing in the refrigerator within days. Which is to say we were swimming in desserts last week. In addition to the galette I posted yesterday, I made a crisp (this time with rhubarb!) to use up a good portion of my bounty. We really tore through these desserts, not from fear of spoilage, but just because we couldn’t help ourselves.
And really, who doesn’t love a crisp? I’ve been trying to perfect a gluten-free version for the past few months, but the all-purpose flour blends weren’t working for me at all. Even after cutting back on the butter, they still oozed into a big sugary mass over the fruit instead of, well, crisping nicely on top. Since I’ve had such good luck with almond flour recently, I thought it might be worth a try here. To compensate for the extra fat from the almonds, I halved the butter from my regular crisp topping. And without patting myself too enthusiastically on the back (it’s just a crisp, after all), I want to tell you that this was really, really good. Gil rarely compliments my cooking, but he was over the moon with this one from the first bite, so I’d say it was a win-win — a gluten-free dessert that’s marginally healthier than the original (if you don’t count the sugar) and delicious.
I may have to reconsider my status as a non-baker if this lucky dessert streak keeps going!
Hah, who am I kidding? You know I’ll always prefer imprecise, improvisational “cooking” over baking.
I used finely-ground almond flour in this recipe, but I think it would be okay to substitute flour with a coarser grind here, like Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour. Of course, I haven’t tested it so it’s just speculation, but if you try it, please let me know what you think. Also, if your berries are very sweet, you’ll need to cut back on the sugar in the fruit base. The strawberries I used here were moderately sweet, but I know they’ll be even more sugary in the weeks to come.
3 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces (Discard any leaves and trim stringy layers from thick stalks.)
3 cups strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, optional
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup finely-ground almond flour, packed
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch kosher salt
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, mix rhubarb and strawberries with sugar. Macerate 10 minutes, then mix well with almond extract, optional balsamic vinegar, cornstarch and salt, and let sit for an additional 20 minutes.
Combine almond flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in sliced almonds and toss until evenly distributed.
Pour fruit into a 2-quart casserole dish or into individual oven-safe serving dishes. If using individual dishes, fill almost to the top with fruit base. Spoon the topping over the fruit. Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes or until topping is golden brown.
When the unrelenting greigeness of the winter landscape weighs heavily on my soul, especially so in March when my internal calendar — still set to Southern seasonal rotations, even after all these years — says the world should be warm and bursting with life, I dream of color. By May, our yard is awash in yellow forsythia and tiny purple blooms in the grass — probably weeds, but I don’t care — and I begin to recover. Still, the really vibrant colors don’t come until later, and not until the Farmers’ Market starts up again around Memorial Day do I bother to buy fruit. There’s just no comparison between the beautiful but insipid berries you see at the market and the beautiful and flavorful ones you get locally. (The strawberries taste like strawberries, and the snozzberries taste like snozzberries!) So last week I decided to think pink.
Though rhubarb seems to be long gone by now, I still have a bottle of lovely rhubarb syrup in the fridge that mixes will with all sorts of things, and is still a classic with strawberries. I blended up a little shake to get me through the morning — strawberries, rhubarb syrup, lemon basil, goat’s milk yogurt and ice. Nothing fancy, but so delicious and fresh, I feel healthier just remembering it.
Honestly, couldn’t you just have a glass of that right now? Aaaahhhh…
But one can only drink so many strawberries and they don’t last forever, not even close, so I had to come up with something else for them. Lucky for me (and all of us, really), Deb at Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for strawberries & cream biscuits a few weeks ago.
I converted the original recipe to gluten-free, using Jules Gluten-Free AP Flour. Because the last batch of biscuits I made with this flour blend turned out fairly dry, I played with the proportions of ingredients, adding more butter (two extra tablespoons) and cream (an extra 1/4 cup). Like that’s ever a bad thing. With all of the extra liquid, they had to bake a while longer to turn golden brown, but they eventually did, after about 25 minutes. The tweaks certainly took care of the dryness, but I think there’s something about the GF flours that kept the juices from spilling out of the biscuits. The cornstarch, maybe? Not that I’m complaining; they were awfully tasty anyway.
But boy, do they ever not reheat well. Just a warning for you.
I think we still have a few weeks of strawberries before they’re gone for another year. I fully intend to enjoy these ephemeral beauties until then and store the memories for the long winter ahead.
recipe after the jump
OK, I give! Consider my arm twisted.
With all of the great blog posts on strawberry-rhubarb cobbler lately, there was no way I was going to be able to hold off making my own much longer; I gave in over the weekend and assembled one with some purchases from our very first local farmers’ market of the season. (For Gil’s pictures of Rufus’s day at the market, click here.)
Cobblers haven’t been featured here at all, due to a tragic tale of love and loss. When I was a teenager and thought in my teenagerly way that things last forever, I made a peach-strawberry cobbler of such great beauty that my grandmother raved about it. So what did I do? Continue to make cobblers with the rest of the summer’s bounty, thereby committing the recipe to memory? Share the recipe with someone who would’ve written it down for safe-keeping? No, I planned to make it again someday, but promptly lost the recipe (in my teenagerly way). While mourning that loss over the years, I fell hard for apple crisp and gave my heart to any number of bread puddings, which (mostly) pushed all thoughts of other fruit desserts out of my mind. Oh sure, the faint whiff of a peach could send me back, wishing I’d been more careful, pining ever so slightly for that magical soft-yet-crunchy biscuity topping. But mostly, I was happy to have the other options.
But as luck would have it, cobbler recipes are all pretty simple and similar, so I decided to take the plunge this weekend. The base is a mixture of fruit, sugar, and some kind of thickener, depending on the juiciness of the fruit.
Instead of using citrus zest in the fruit, I added balsamic vinegar to bring out the flavor of the strawberries and add a little complexity to the dessert.
The real difference between cobbler recipes seems to be in the topping. Both of the ones I referenced this weekend praised their cobbler toppings as crispy and just sweet enough, so I knew I was on the right path to finding my lost love.
At least this time, I’ve saved the recipe. And you’re welcome to it.
recipe after the jump