Some ingredients really do cry out for the simplest possible treatments. Last week's tart cherries, for example. After I'd made the (very simple) cherry jam, I made two very simple cherry pies. I'm not going to post the recipe because I just used the recipe from the tapioca box. The only adjustments I made is that where the recipe calls for 1.5 cups of sugar, I used one cup. And I did put the tapioca and the sugar (as is usually the case with baked goods, I used whey low in place of ordinary granulated sugar) in the food processor and whirl them together for a bit to make sure the tapioca pieces were as small as possible. But, still, it's basically the tapioca box recipe. And so, so, so very good. I do think using the lesser amount of sugar allows me to appreciate the tartness of the cherries. Others thought the pie a bit too tart, but there is an easy remedy for that: vanilla ice cream. Some people have gone so far as to suggest that I make the pie less sweet so that I'll have an excuse to put vanilla ice cream with the pie. Such accusations, I'm sure you'll agree, are so scurrilous that they merit no response.
I still have some cherries left. Actually, I have more cherries. This past weekend, I put the girls in the car, and we went back to Larriland Farms and picked another four or so pounds of cherries. It only took about twenty minutes, but at that point, the girls felt that they'd had enough picking, so they opted to stay in the car and read while I picked some black raspberries. I picked for about half an hour, which I figured was the limit of their patience. Besides, later in the summer, I'll go off for a couple of hours of wild blackberry picking, and that'll be the real haul.
The cultivated black raspberries, however, are undeniably easier to pick, and they're tasty, if a bit bland when compared to the wild blackberries. I wasn't up to straining them for jam, so I decided to make a simple fruit crisp. And it really is a very simple recipe. You can have the finished product in about an hour from when you start, assuming that your oven preheats fairly rapidly.
Black Raspberry Crisp
For the filling:
6 cups black raspberries
1/3 c. sugar
3 T. quick cooking tapioca
Grated zest of one lemon
Juice of one-half lemon
For the topping:
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon
4 T. butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9" square baking dish.
Combine the filling ingredients in a bowl. Stir well and let sit while you make the topping.
Mix together the oats, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the softened butter and mix together until well combined.
Turn the filling into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling. Bake at 350 degrees for about fifty minutes, or until the filling makes large bubbles and the topping is nicely browned.
It is very important to cook the crisp for long enough. If the topping isn't browned properly, it won't be nearly as nice, and if the filling doesn't cook for long enough, it'll be a bit on the runny side. Mind you, it'll still taste delicious, but not as delicious.
I would imagine that there are many people for whom the recipe as written has too much lemon juice and too little sugar. I much prefer it as written, but feel free to make your own adjustments. Also feel free to change the sugar in the topping from white sugar to brown sugar, something I wish that I'd done, though I am in no way unhappy with the result that I got.
As with the cherry pie, the black raspberry crisp cries out for vanilla ice cream. I add a scoop of Edy's Vanilla Bean Light No Sugar Added. (It's made with Splenda.) If you eat the ice cream plain, you can certainly tell the difference between it and regular vanilla ice cream, but if you're eating it with either a piece of cherry pie or a bowl of fruit crisp that you've reheated, I'm not sure the difference is apparent. In any case, it's very good when it's melting into the rest of the dessert.
I'm looking forward to more trips to the pick your own this summer. The proprietors have promised a few (a very few, nonconsecutive) days of apricot picking this year. I'm supposed to get an email letting me know what those days will be. Since last year when I candied my own tart cherries, I've been praying for a local orchard to offer pick-your-own apricots so that I could at least try to make my own glacéed apricots. Maybe this will be the year.