The month of May is perhaps the prettiest month in Kentucky with everything in bloom, gardens growing strong, and farmers markets in full swing. This month is also jam packed with events from Derby, to Mother’s Day, to Memorial Day weekend (and my birthday!) Of course the normal response would be what to wear, what shoes to buy, and where to go… however, I’m always left with the ultimate dilemma of what food to make. (And to think, I was surprised I chose to be a chef professionally)
This month’s recipe for a strawberry rhubarb crumble could be served at a number of events and I guarantee someone will come back for seconds or to scrape the bottom of the bowl. In the U.S. strawberries typically peak during April in Florida & Texas, in May and early June in the south, and late June farther North and in Canada. This year I am super excited to take my daughter strawberry picking. My husband and I talk about picking berries as children with our grandparents and it seems almost like a rite of passage we both want her to experience and remember. U-pick strawberries are actually much healthier than store-bought. Did you know a typical conventional strawberry can have up to 54 pesticides on it? Nine are known carcinogens and 19 of them are toxic to honey bees. Without bees we don’t have plants and without plants…ya know. (For more information on U pick farms in Kentucky visit http://www.kentuckyfarmsarefun.com)
This crumble features the classic combination of tart rhubarb and sweet strawberries, topped with a crunchy oat-and-macadamia nut streusel. A scoop of ice cream and a sprig of mint is the perfect finishing touch.
• 3/4 cup all purpose flour ( for gluten free substitute with almond flour)
• 2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
• Large pinch of salt
• 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
• 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, toasted , coarsely chopped
• 1/2 TBSP vanilla bean paste (available at Wild Thyme)
• 1 pound strawberries, hulled, halved (about 4 cups)
• 12 ounces rhubarb (preferably bright red), ends trimmed, stalks cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
• Vanilla ice cream
Combine flour, 2/3 cup sugar, and salt in medium bowl; whisk to blend. Add butter. Rub in with fingertips until mixture sticks together in clumps. Mix in oats and nuts. DO AHEAD: Topping can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 11 x 7 x 2- inch glass baking dish. Place 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; whisk to blend well. Add strawberries and rhubarb to sugar in bowl; toss to coat well. Scrape fruit filling into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle oat topping evenly over filling.
Bake crumble until filling bubbles thickly and topping is crisp, about 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Spoon warm crumble into bowls. Serve with ice cream.
Strawberry Picking Tips:
• One cup of strawberries contains only 43 calories.
• Unripe berries will not ripen once picked.
• Pick only the berries that are fully red. Part the leaves with your hands to look for hidden berries ready for harvest.
• To help the farmers, also remove from the plants berries showing rot, sunburn, insect injury or other defects and place them between the rows behind you. If they are left in the plants, the rot will quickly spread to other berries.
• U-pick strawberry farms typically sell berries by the pound. A quart equals 1 and 1/2 pounds of fresh berries.
• It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to pick a quart, if the berries are reasonably plentiful
• DON’T wash the berries until you are ready to use them. Washing makes them more prone to spoiling.
• Pour them out into shallow pans and remove any mushed, soft or rotting berries
• Put a couple of days supply into the fridge, wash and cut the caps (green tops) off the others and freeze them up!