Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Pie scares me. I have no trouble eating pie. In fact, I rather enjoy it―especially with vanilla ice cream. It’s making pies that scares me. More specifically: The thought of making piecrust causes the room to spin, and I have to lie down for a few hours or watch a Sandra Bullock movie.

Dan does not abide pie. He sees no reason to eat hot fruit. He will eat pumpkin pie and chocolate cream pie, both of which I’ve made with success…with the Pillsbury already-made crust. By now you should know I’m pretty much a from-scratch girl, but I figure, why mess with what works? Those Pillsbury piecrusts are delicious and they never fail. Except when they tear in the middle after you unfold them, and even then they can be “glued” back together with a little water and deft finger work.

When Max was little one of his favorite things to eat was chicken pot pie. When I actually read the ingredients in the frozen brand I was feeding him I almost had a coronary. I might as well have been putting embalming fluid into his apple juice. That’s when I first became acquainted with the Pillsbury piecrusts and making my own chicken pot pie. From there I moved on to dessert pies without fruit. Whenever I used the Pillsbury crusts at (gasp!) Thanksgiving, the guests would assume the crust was homemade, and I would do nothing to disabuse them of that assumption.

Last Thanksgiving I was all set to make a pumpkin pie with real crust. Then I got the bright idea to make a pumpkin cheesecake, which Dan and Max preferred hands down. Though the pumpkin cheesecake was way more work, I felt let off the hook because I didn’t have to make the piecrust. This is completely irrational, I know.

Max loves fruit pie and made quick work of the pear-apple crisp. I find myself waking up these days thinking of what other crisps I can make: peach, plum, pluot, just pear, just apple and blueberry have made the list so far. Max said he’d like to try a meat crisp. I encouraged him to make this. I also told him when I’d next be out of town.

I know the day will come when I’ll have to confront head-on making my own crust. But, until that day comes, I’m going to exhaust and happily consume all my crisp ideas. Except for meat.

Pear-Apple Crisp
Serves 8
Adapted from Ina Garten

I dig Ina. She’s a curvy Jewish chick who’s a talented, not-formally-trained cook. I also love her glossy, perfectly-close-to-her-head hair. I saw the Barefoot Contessa episode where Ina made this crisp sometime last year, and I vowed to make it. When the opportunity came up, I had to punt a bit with some of the ingredients, hence my slight adaptation. I used more pears than apples; Ina’s calls for equal amounts. The original recipe calls for some fresh-squeezed orange juice and zest, which I didn’t have, so I doubled the lemon juice and used just lemon zest. Ina also says to use Bosc pears. I think mine were Bartlett, and they were delicious. I made a pint of vanilla ice cream to go along with this as well. Guess what I ate for breakfast the next day, sans the ice cream?

The filling
6 ripe pears (about 3 pounds), peeled, cored and cut into big pieces
2 large apples (about 1 pound), peeled, cored and cut into big pieces
Zest from 1 lemon
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

The topping
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) cold, unsalted butter, diced

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In large mixing bowl, stir together pears, apples, zest, lemon juice, sugar, flour and spices. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish.
3. To make the topping: In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal and butter. With clean hands, work through until mixture resembles large crumbs. Ina says to use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. I do not possess this piece of kitchen equipment. If you do, feel free to preserve your manicure and mix on low speed for 1 minute.
4. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the fruit and cover it completely. It may seem like a lot of topping. It isn’t.
5. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the topping is browned and the fruit is bubbling. Serve warm, with ice cream if you roll that way.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, this crisp sounds wonderful. Love a crisp. I even love the word. Crisp. Mmmm.