Here in Southern California we are in that “sweet spot” of perfect weather between the scorching summer and our typically mild Fall; it’s a beautiful and sunny 78 degrees and should be for most of the week here. Even though people not originally from Southern California lament the “lack of seasons” here, as one raised here, I can tell you we have our seasons and Summer is coming to an end. I can tell the seasons are changing because the traffic gets worse when kids go back to school. Seriously though, my garden is gasping its last breath and I’m already looking forward to Fall soups and stews and more baking.
Last week my husband, an avid golfer, made a pilgrimage of sorts to play a nice course up in Ventura, CA. On the way home, he stopped at one of the many farm stands which dot the highway and bought 3 baskets of strawberries and some large, fragrant nectarines. He said, “You can make something with these, right?” Well yes, but I wasn’t really planning anything on the spur of the moment, thanks. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth however, and because I couldn’t bear to let this beautiful ripe fruit go bad, I decided to celebrate the end of Summer with this delicious crisp. I chose to serve it with a tangy plain frozen yogurt which worked well against the sweetness of the fruit, but a rich vanilla bean ice cream would work well too.
Strawberry and Nectarine Crisp Recipe
1.75-2 lbs nectarines (about 4 cups sliced)
3 pints strawberries (about 6 cups hulled)
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp butter, diced plus 1 Tbsp. to butter pan
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 stick (4 oz) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
To make the filling, cut the nectarines in half, and then cut them into 1/4 inch thick slices. Cut the stems off the berries and cut the large ones in half, leave the small ones whole. Put the fruit in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, combine the sugar and flour. Add the butter and lemon juice to the fruit in the large bowl and then sprinkle the sugar/flour mixture over it. Gently combine. It may look and feel a little “pasty,” but as the fruit cooks it’s going to release a lot of liquid which will thicken with the flour and butter.
Put the mixture into the baking dish. Cover with the crisp topping (instructions below) and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until the top is nicely browned and the filling is bubbling. If the top gets brown too quickly, cover with foil until the last 5 or 10 minutes. Serve with ice cream, or as I did, a tart frozen yogurt.
For the crisp topping, cut the cold butter into small pieces, about 1/2″. In a medium sized bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, rolled oats and cinnamon. Add the butter and mix it together with your hands or a pastry cutter until the texture resembles a coarse meal. There should still be tiny pieces of butter so don’t mash it all into one lump. Spread this over the filling.