I could go on and on about my affection for the Rhubarb Coffee Cake that was a signature dessert of A Clean Well-Lighted Cafe, just off the same-named bookstore in what used to be Larkspur Landing. Anyone remember that spot?!? I waited tables there my last year of high school and that dessert played a large role in the teenage years of my emotional development. While I tried to recreate it once, nothing will compare to my seventeen-year-old-former-self's memory. Nothing.
I could also go on and on for equal time about how little I care for fruit in my dessert. It's a rare colorful dessert that could steal my attention from...say, an all brown dessert. And orange in my chocolate? No thank you. A cherry on my sundae? Now that's just gross. The only exception I can make in the fruity dessert department is for the crisp/cobbler/crumble (and btw - that Rhubarb Coffee Cake totally qualified). Any warm fruit dish topped with a brown sugar oatmeal mixture AND a scoop of vanilla ice cream is as colorful as I can get in the later hours of the day.
It goes without saying that Ina Garten knows how to make a fruit crumble and when I came across her strawberry RHUBARB crisp recipe, I was happily transported back to 1990. It should also go without saying that it is now 2013 which is why I made this dessert cutting the sugar in half. I still enjoyed the heck out of every last spoonful. Here is my modified version:
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp (reduced sugar)
4 cups fresh rhubarb, 1-inch diced (4 to 5 stalks)
4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved, if large
3/4 cups granulated sugar (original calls for 1-1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed (original calls for 1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced (original calls for 12 tablespoons)
Vanilla ice cream, for serving (Haagen Daz is our favorite)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the fruit, toss the rhubarb, strawberries, 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar and the orange zest together in a large bowl. In a measuring cup, dissolve the cornstarch in the orange juice and then mix it into the fruit. Pour the mixture into an 8-by-11-inch baking dish and place it on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
For the topping, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, salt and oatmeal. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter and mix until the dry ingredients are moist and the mixture is in crumbles. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, covering it completely, and bake for 1 hour, until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream.