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It’s All in the Crisp

Every summer, just about now, I start making peach, nectarine or apricot crisp with a sprinkle of fresh berries. This year, after hunting through folders, files and drawers, I couldn’t find the recipe I wanted most: Willie’s Crisp. It’s a terrific fruit crisp recipe, given to me by one of the very best cooks I know, Sharon Kramis (among other things, she developed the wonderful recipes for the book “Northwest Bounty,” written by Schuyler Ingle).

Sharon thinks a lot of the recipe too; when I called her she said she keeps the recipe in a small black book that contains what she calls her benchmark recipes--recipes that have no peer. Although I have no idea who Willie is, I know that this is the only crisp I’ve ever had that was actually crisp.

White Beans, Vegetables and Cheese is a dish that sounds like winter cooking, but it is quite suitable for summer when served at room temperature. Serving the same dish at different temperatures--hot, cold or at room temperature, according to the season--is a good way of getting the most out of your favorite recipes. This dish is a good example. It is quite complete as a main meal and needs only bread or warm tortillas that can be used as a ladle. When it’s followed with a peach-blackberry Willie’s Crisp you’ll know it is summertime.

Don’t start this recipe unless you’re ready to bake right away. If you add the egg to the dry ingredients and let it sit longer than 20 minutes, the sugar will begin to melt with the dampness of the egg, and the mixture won’t crumble and spread properly.

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WILLIE’S CRISP

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups sugar or to taste

1 teaspoon baking powder

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1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

5 to 6 cups peeled, seeded, sliced fruit, or stemmed berries

1/4 pound butter, melted

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, optional

Stir together 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in large mixing bowl. Make well in center of dry ingredients and add beaten egg. Stir mixture with fork until mixture is crumbly. If mixture seems too dry, add little more egg.

Place fruit in separate bowl. Stir remaining 2 tablespoons flour and remaining 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar together and add to fruit. Toss lightly to coat fruit. Spread fruit evenly in ungreased 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle crisp mixture evenly over fruit. Drizzle over melted butter evenly. Bake at 375 degrees about 40 minutes, until topping is golden. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Makes 9 servings.

Each serving contains about:

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464 calories; 436 mg sodium; 77 mg cholesterol; 17 grams fat; 77 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 0.72 gram fiber.

WHITE BEANS, VEGETABLES AND CHEESE

1 pound Great Northern white beans

1/4 cup olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

1 bunch spinach, washed, chopped into large pieces

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1 pound tomatoes, chopped into bite-size pieces

1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped

1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped

Salt, pepper

1 cup cottage cheese

2 cups shredded Fontina, Gouda or Jack cheese

Soak beans overnight in water to cover. Drain. Place beans in large pot, cover with water and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 45 minutes, until beans are tender, not overcooked or mushy. Drain and set aside. (Beans may be cooked 1 day ahead.)

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue cooking about 10 minutes over low heat, stirring often, until tender. Add spinach and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, until spinach wilts down.

Combine cooked beans, mushroom mixture, tomatoes, oregano and thyme in large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in cottage cheese and shredded cheese. Toss to mix well. Spoon into 3-quart baking dish or casserole. Bake at 350 degrees about 1 hour. Serve hot or at room temperature. Makes 10 cups, or 5 to 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

670 calories; 529 mg sodium; 46 mg cholesterol; 28 grams fat; 70 grams carbohydrates; 40 grams protein; 7.71 grams fiber.


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