At various points in the year, my dad drags out two decrepit folding tables from our garage, affixes a rainbow beach umbrella to them, and starts up the grill. I will make fun of him for buying too much meat, and then stare in horror as my brother and his friends eat 2 or 3 steaks a piece.
This labor day was one such occasion. The umbrella was attached to the leg of one table with packing tape, and I was forced to sit at a camping table from my dad’s youth, which has benches attached to it and tends to fly into the air if you stand up too quickly. This is possibly the most awkward table ever created, and sharing it with someone is an instant bonding experience.
I was in charge of the non-grillables, which were garlic fries, spinach salad, watermelon, and a pear and blackberry crisp for dessert. I have made several crisps from this recipe this summer, and I am in love with it. My favorite element is the toasted pecans in the topping. The crisp is especially delicious served with vanilla ice cream, and I’m sure fresh whipped cream would be amazing as well.
The recipe is as follows. You can substitute many different fruits for this combination, such as apples, huckleberries, peaches, raspberries, and plums. According to Alice, juicier fruits such as apricots, cherries and mixed berries call for a cobbler rather than a crisp.
Pear and Blackberry Crisp (Adapted from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food)
- 3 lbs pears
- 2 cups blackberries
- 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups + 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
- 2/3 cups nuts (pecans, walnuts, or almonds… I prefer pecans)
- 6 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 12 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
Cut the pears into bite-size pieces, and combine with blackberries in a large bowl. Make sure there is no excess liquid. Toss with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour. The flour absorbs extra liquid to keep the crisp from getting too soupy. Pile the fruit into a 2-quart baking dish.
To make the topping, toast the nuts in a 375 degree oven for 6 minutes. Let them cool, and then chop them coarsely. Put the nuts into a bowl and add remaining flour, brown sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Mix these well, and then add the butter. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers, until the mixture comes together and has a crumbly, but not sandy, texture.
Top the fruit with the crisp mixture, and bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 to 55 minutes, rotating once or twice while cooking. The crisp is done when the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling in the dish. If the topping starts to brown before the fruit is done, place a sheet of foil on top and continue cooking.