23 October 2009

Apple iCrisp

As I was getting the ingredients together for this apple crisp, I was talking on the phone to my mother, who had just happened to be pulling one out of the oven. I wondered at the coincidence, but reminded myself that she was the one who introduced me to baking- and to tea, in fact- so it shouldn't have been much of a surprise.

But when I told her I was trying new recipe, from Alice Medrich's luscious cookbook Pure Dessert, and it had apricots along with the expected apples and oat topping, I could hear her recoil. A barely audible "ew" made its way over the line, and I tried to reassure her that it would be even better than a traditional apple crisp.

I was right. But I don't blame her for her reaction; she spent decades attempting to feed me and the rest of my incredibly picky family, and the battle scars that make her shy from foods like apricots, almonds, roasted garlic, cabbage and cream cheese are deep. Still, she managed to nourish us all and make it seem effortless- and pass on to me an inveterate respect the food I eat and drink. I can't express in words my gratitude to her; a ramekin of this apple-apricot crisp, and a cup of smooth, soothing Darjeeling, is all I can offer.

I know she'd love it. You have to be inhuman not to.

Apple-Apricot Crisp

1/2 cup all-purpose or white whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
Scant 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon salt
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
About 1/4 sugar, depending on the tartness of the apples
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 crisp, flavorful apples (I used Macintosh and Cortland)

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 350°F. Liberally butter a 2-quart baking dish.

2. In medium bowl, stir together all topping ingredients until well blended. Set aside. For filling, in a medium saucepan, combine orange zest, orange juice and chopped apricots. Bring to a simmer and cook a few minutes, until apricots are soft. Set aside.

3. In large bowl, stir together sugar and cinnamon. Halve and core the apples, then cut into equal-sized chunks. Add apples to bowl and toss with sugar and cinnamon. Stir in apricots and juice from the saucepan. Scrape mixture into buttered baking dish and spread evenly. Crumble topping evenly over apples.

4. Bake until crisp is browned on top and the juices are bubbling and thickened, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Serve warm or cold.

Apple crisp is a messy dessert, but an appealing one- and when you leave the skins on the apples, not only can it get in the oven faster, the fruit also takes on a beautiful rosy blush. This recipe also showed me that the natural sweetness of apples requires little additional sugar, especially in combination with fresh orange juice and bright bursts of chopped apricot.

One of the other important culinary lessons my mother imparted is that the ideal breakfast is very open to interpretation. Having just finished off the dish of this crisp with a few cups of tea, I can assure you I've learned it well.


mom said...

You honor me---I love you too but, seriously, walnuts?!clom

cookingwithgas said...

this is a favorite in our house.
I never add sugar to the apples or fruits. I like th tart fruit against the sweet topping..
I love to make one with fresh( or frozen) blueberries or peaches. Or blueberries with peaches...
Now you have me thinking a crisp for the fall weather...

Veri-Tea said...


anna said...

I've been contemplating making a crisp to eat for breakfasts during the week...now I see it is obviously perfectly acceptable so I think I know what I'm doing next weekend ;)

Melanie said...

you never fail to make me hungry! lol
bravo ^_^

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