The farmer's markets around here have been slowly coming alive, and the one that I'm probably most excited about is a small strawberry farm around the corner from our house, no more than a minute or two away by bike. We've been closely monitoring the plants and we knew it would only be a matter of time before they'd be selling the bright red fruit. And a few days ago, they finally did. Except it was harder to get them than we thought; the place opens up at 1 pm and if you get there at 20 minutes after you might be S.O.L. We figured, after we missed them for two days straight, that they must be something special. So the following day, Bryan was there at five minutes before 1 and we were finally rewarded. Five bucks buys you a quart of berries - and when I tell you they're probably the best strawberries I've ever eaten I'm not exaggerating. Most of them in our container were probably no bigger than a quarter - many no bigger than a penny - and they exploded with flavor. We stood in the kitchen, popping them like candy and staring at each other, wide-eyed. So THIS is what a strawberry tastes like! Nothing against the good folks at Driscolls, but these berries do not even closely resemble those slightly dry, hollow pieces of fruit that tend to have too many seeds. N, I'm going to convert you, I swear!
As it turns out, this farm also sells rhubarb, and we couldn't resist. Who could? These were gorgeous stalks, green tipped and deepening in color to a vibrant magenta. And everyone knows that strawberry and rhubarb are meant to be together anyways. And so it's with this in mind that I made that most classic of combinations, the strawberry-rhubarb crumble. I've probably watched my mom make crumble of the apple kind about 5,000 times over the course of my life (and I have been commissioned to make it during Thanksgiving several times), so I decided to try my hand at it with our ruby-red fruit. I winged it a bit and added a few rolled oats to my crumble, but the result was well worth the 45 minutes of hand-wringing and stooping in front of the oven to make sure the thing wasn't dripping molten liquid all over my oven floor.
Is there anything better than stewed fruit covered in a luscious topping principally made of butter and sugar? If there is, I don't wanna know about it.
If you want to give it a try:
Oven at 375
1 quart of berries, cut in half if too big, and about 1 lb of rhubarb, chopped
3/4 cup flour
1 stick of very cold butter, cut into smallish cubes
3/4 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup extra for fruit
1/2 cup rolled oats
* Put your flour, salt, oats and 3/4 cup sugar into the bowl of your food processor and pulse a couple of times to get things mixed. Add your butter and pulse until clumps begin to form pea-sized pieces. If you don't want to drag out the machinery, rub the butter into your flour mixture with your fingers until you get your butter-peas.
* Put your cut fruit into a large oval baking dish (I used ceramic, but glass works ok if that's what you've got) and toss with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar.
* Sprinkle crumble mix over the top of this, and press slightly onto fruit to help it adhere. Bake about 45 minutes or until it looks brown, bubbly and done to your liking.
* Weep with joy as you try not to burn the top layer of skin off the roof of your mouth as you taste.