Fruit crumble makes a pleasingly versatile dessert

Entertaining

Sunday Gourmet

May 30, 2004|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Tribune Media Services

This year, I teamed up with a local chef to give cooking classes in a nearby town. It's been an eye-opening experience. As the executive head of a restaurant, my pal has a staff to help him. As a home chef, I, on the other hand, am in charge of shopping, cooking and cleaning in my own kitchen. Because my colleague has access to so many extra hands, his dishes are sometimes more complex or time-consuming than mine, and his recipes often yield enough portions to feed a small army. As his teaching partner, I've taken on the responsibility of downsizing and streamlining his recipes.

Take, for example, a rhubarb-strawberry crumble we served recently. The original crumble served 30, but my revision feeds four to six. It was one of the most popular dishes we taught. Served warm with ice cream, it makes a versatile dessert to serve when entertaining.

Matt And Betty's Rhubarb- Strawberry Crumble

Serves 4 to 6

FRUIT FILLING:

butter for greasing baking dish

1 1/2 pounds rhubarb cut into 1/2 -inch pieces

1/2 pound (1 1/2 cups) hulled, halved strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

TOPPING:

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup light-brown sugar

1/2 cup oats (preferably not quick-cooking oats)

1/2 cup sliced almonds

4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and diced

mint sprigs for garnish, optional

1 quart vanilla ice cream

Butter a shallow medium baking dish.

To make the fruit filling, in a large bowl toss together the rhubarb and the strawberries. In a medium bowl mix together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg and add to bowl with fruit. Toss well to coat. Spoon the fruit mixture and any seasonings remaining in bowl into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly.

To make the topping, mix together flour, brown sugar, oats and almonds in a medium bowl. Add butter and rub into dry ingredients, using your fingertips, until mixture resembles pea-sized clumps. Pat mixture evenly over fruit.

Bake crumble on center rack of preheated 350-degree oven until fruit mixture is bubbling and topping is golden-brown, about 35 minutes. Remove and cool 10 minutes. (Crumble can be prepared 6 hours ahead; leave at cool room temperature. Reheat in preheated 350-degree oven to warm, about 15 minutes.)

To serve, garnish center of crumble with a small bouquet of mint sprigs, if desired.

Serve each portion warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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