Category: crumble

A lemon cranberry crumble worthy of a Prince.

A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from the folks at Duchy Originals, asking me to use a some of their shortbreads & biscuits in recipes for the holidays. I was really excited about this, for a few reasons: one, I love shortbread. Two, I love a challenge, especially one that involves creating recipes. Three, I’m a bit of an Anglophile (which ties into the next point…) and finally, the company’s history really intrigued me. Turns out, while I had heard of Duchy Originals, and I’d seen blurbs on the internet, I had no idea of the amazing background of the company! It was started in 1992 by HRH Prince Charles in order to promote organic food and farming and to help protect and sustain the local countryside and wildlife. Who knew!?

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Today, in partnership with Waitrose, it is one of the U.K.’s leading organic and sustainable food companies, producing a range of over 250 products from biscuits to preserves and gifts to garden seeds. A donation from the sale of Duchy Originals products is given to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation. More than $1 million is raised annually in this way for distribution to charitable causes all over the world. Duchy Originals from Waitrose shortbreads and cookies are baked by the world famous Walkers Shortbread in the Scottish Highlands. Walkers is also a proud sponsor of the ASPCA, which makes me really happy, as an animal lover.

Here’s a little more about Duchy Originals’ shortbreads & where the money goes:

The shortbread and biscuits are made using wheat and stone-ground oats from U.K. organic farms, including from The Duchy Home Farm, The Prince’s estate in the beautiful Cotswolds region of southwestern England. The Duchy Home Farm became fully organic in 1986, and is now an internationally-recognized model of best practices in organic farming.

Duchy Originals from Waitrose are all-natural, OU Kosher and suitable for vegetarians. The brand does not support the use of GMOs in its products. No bovine growth hormones are given to the cows that yield the milk that is used to produce the butter. The Duchy Originals from Waitrose items have a suggested retail price of $5.99 and each reflects the quality of the ingredients and the bakery expertise of Walker Shortbread. A donation from the sale of Duchy Originals from Waitrose products is given to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation. The foundation funds worthwhile causes throughout the world and in the U.S. it has helped fund education rebuilding initiatives in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, urban regeneration projects in Atlanta, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, the Breakthrough Breast Cancer, and the Harvard AIDS Institute.

The Duchy Originals Good Food Charter assures that every Duchy product “Is Good” by using a smaller environmental footprint as a result of more locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and less packaging; “Does Good” by providing a fair deal for the people who grow and make the food and generating funds for good causes; and “Tastes Good,” being made from the finest natural ingredients. The cookies are produced in partnership with Waitrose, the foremost purveyor of premium food in Great Britain and a division of the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership.

-via Duchy Originals

That’s pretty great, isn’t it? Especially the fact that a portion of the profits goes to Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Being the daughter of a survivor, that’s important to me. As a matter of fact, every cause listed there made me all the more happy to get involved with spreading the word about Duchy Originals cookies. So of course, I took one for the team and took on the burden of creating some recipes using them. *siiiigh* It’s a rough job, you know. But someone has to do it! Alright… so, you get the idea. Enough about all that. Let’s get to the goods.

I received a couple of different boxes of cookies from Duchy Originals: Two boxes of all-butter Highland shortbread, one box of Sicilian lemon all-butter shortbread, one box of Stem Ginger shortbread and a box of Oaten biscuits (the first Duchy product ever made).

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All just for me to play around with and come up with recipes for! How fun. After an initial taste-test of each, the first recipe that came to mind is super easy, and great for holidays. Lemon shortbread cranberry crumble.

Simple, quick, and it contains two flavors that are not only seasonally appropriate but work spectacularly together: Lemon & cranberry. Plus it uses the delicious Duchy Originals all-butter Sicilian lemon shortbread in both the crust & the topping. Oh.. and in case you’re wondering… the Sicilian lemon shortbread are most definitely my absolute favorites.

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DUCHY LEMON SHORTBREAD CRANBERRY CRUMBLE

Ingredients:

  • 3 5.3 ounce boxes Duchy all-butter lemon shortbread cookies
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300° F. Once it’s fully preheated (around 20-30 minutes depending on your oven), melt 7 tablespoons of the unsalted butter in an 8″ x 8″ brownie pan. Carefully remove the pan from the oven when the butter is completely melted.
  2. Finely crumble 1 1/2 boxes of Duchy all-butter lemon shortbread cookies, either in a food processor or with a plastic bag & mallet, and then combine it thoroughly with the flour. Then mix that combo into the melted butter, patting down, using your (clean) fingers or a fork. Make sure that all of the cookie crumbles get buttered. Set pan aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, add the cranberries, lemon juice & sugar. Cook over medium heat until the cranberries have popped and it begins to thicken just slightly & resemble cranberry sauce. Remove from the heat & spoon the mixture over the cookie crust. Once again, set it aside.
  4. Melt the remaining butter (2 tablespoons) in a small saucepan. Once melted, add to a bowl and crumble the remaining half box of Duchy lemon shortbread into it, mixing well. This mixture shouldn’t be as finely crumbled as the crust, a chunky mix is okay. Spoon this on top of the cranberry mixture and bake for 25 minutes, or until heated through & slightly bubbling on the edges.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool enough that it’s just warm. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream & enjoy!

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It’s a very easy dessert, but a very pretty one. I guarantee that it’ll be a big hit with your family for Christmas. It’s like a shortcut version of a cobbler, made seasonal with cranberries instead of cherries or blueberries (which, in warmer weather, you could totally substitute for the cranberries!). Or, it’s like the fruity, more pie-like version of the infamous Christmas 7-layer magic bars. Another idea: add some flour & sliced almonds to the topping. It would make it more “streusel-y” in texture.

I was really looking forward to creating more fun things with my remaining boxes of Duchy Originals products. But the cookies didn’t last that long! They were gobbled up too quickly. *sad face*

Previously, Duchy Originals were only available in the U.K. But as of this past summer, they’re now available in the U.S.! So you can find them in select gourmet & natural food stores. But if you can’t, and you’re in the U.S. (like me) or you’re otherwise outside of the U.K., you can buy Duchy’s shortbread & biscuit line from the Walkers Shortbread website, and also through Amazon by clicking here. If you’re in the U.K., you probably already know where to buy them, namely Booths & Waitrose, but you can also buy them online at Waitrose.com & the Walkers website. And if you’re really interested, there’s even a cookbook! It looks pretty awesome too. Thank you to Walker’s and Duchy Originals for asking me to do this. Speaking of awesome & the Royal family: congratulations to the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge on the news of their impending arrival! That’s a lovely Christmas present, isn’t it?

And on that note, Christmas is a week away. Insane. I hope this inspires you to make merry in the kitchen! It doesn’t always have to be difficult to be delicious, and your family doesn’t have to know that! Let them think you’re as magic as Santa Claus.

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* Disclaimer: while all the Duchy Originals products featured in this post were sent at no cost to me, all thoughts, recipes & reviews of those products are my own. I was not financially compensated for this post or told what to say.

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It’s the time of the season for rhubarb.

“You will escape into domesticity & stifle yourself by falling headfirst into a bowl of cookie batter.”
-Sylvia Plath wrote in her journal in 1957, after a day spent baking a pie.

Rhubarb always seemed to me like an old-fashioned thing. Until the year before last, I was sort of immune to it’s charms, and blissfully unaware that it was even still something people ate. My grandma used to talk about it, as if it was something that was extinct; along with the T-Rex and the icebox. And then of course, Boardwalk Empire made a reference to rhubarb pie, which was just so perfect because honestly, that’s exactly the era I thought people stopped eating it. As a child the only rhubarb I ever heard of was Strawberry Shortcake’s friend’s pet monkey. I didn’t even know if it was a fruit or a vegetable. Truth be told, I still don’t, however thanks to Wikipedia I learned that “…rhubarb is usually considered to be a vegetable; however, in the United States, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it was to be counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. A side effect was a reduction on imported rhubarb tariffs, as tariffs were higher for vegetables than fruits.”[2] And literally, that was the extent of my rhubarb knowledge. Other than some pictures on the web I didn’t even know what it looked like. But then, lo and behold, back in spring of ’10 my mom’s friend Carina sent her an easy recipe for a rhubarb crumble-type thing, and I made it for her after tracking a few stalks of rhubarb like a deranged bounty hunter. Let me tell you, before this canning boom, it was not easy to find around here. Three markets told me they stopped carrying it due to low demand. I’m not even kidding. And then last year, since the crumble was such a big hit, she requested I make her some rhubarb ginger jam. It was a bit easier to find last year, but not like this year.

This year it was in the supermarket! Right out there in the open, the bright pink rhubarb stalks were sitting there all happy with a big sign declaring them. In your average, everyday, suburban supermarket. I was almost irritated, actually, after my two previous years of having to hunt it down. But it’s convenient, I admit. Also it’s convenient that most people (okay, everyone) was walking right past it, so I had my pick.

I decided to make a rhubarb pie slash crumble because I wanted to make something with rhubarb, but also because I wanted to brush up on my pie crust skills… and use a pretty pie plate. I’ve got this new pie plate obsession, you know. It’s sick, and it’s extending into a sort of all-encompassing baking dish obsession. I also decided to make this during the first heatwave of the season, when it was about 86° at 8 p.m. That’s ’cause I’m a genius. So anyway, I made a pie crust for the bottom, filled it with the rhubarb filling, then added a “crumble” on top. Just a plain ol’ down home humble little crumble pie. Easy, impressive, and fun. And summery of course. What’s more summery than rhubarb pie!? For the bottom pie crust, go to this post where I have a recipe, or use your own favorite pie crust recipe. You only need a bottom, though, so be sure to halve it if it’s a double-crust recipe. Or you can refrigerate or even freeze the other half, either in plastic wrap or in a pie plate until you need it.

And as usual, I will not judge you if you use a pre-made or frozen pie crust. Do what you gotta do. But hey look, enough about you. Look at how much better my pie crust is! I might have finally gotten the hang of pie crust rolling. Maybe.

RHUBARB LEMON HUMBLE CRUMBLE PIE

Ingredients:

Pie filling:
  • 1 9″-inch pie crust, ready to go
  • about 1 ½ pounds rhubarb stalks (roughly 7-9 stalks that are around 10″-15″ long)
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 drops pink or red food coloring (100% optional, I didn’t use any myself in this pie but I’m certainly not against it)
Crumble topping:
  • ¼ cup butter, room temperature (not too soft, not too cold)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup old-fashioned rolled oats

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare pie crust in a pie plate or pan, set aside. Combine lemon zest and 1 cup sugar in a bowl and let sit for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Trim and rinse the rhubarb stalks. Slice particularly thick or large stalks in half lengthwise, then slice crosswise in ½” to 1″-inch lengths. Combine sliced rhubarb and water in a medium saucepan. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons flour with the lemon zest/sugar mixture, stirring until well blended; add to the rhubarb mixture. Stir well and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover but leave the cover ajar to let steam escape and continue simmering for about 5 minutes, or just until tender. If desired, add a little red food coloring to make the filling more colorful. Spoon filling into the prepared pie crust.
  3. With a pastry blender or fingers, combine the topping ingredients until blended and crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of the pie. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until topping is browned and the filling is bubbly. Serve slightly warm or room temperature with plenty of whipped cream.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how weird life is. I mean, if you’d told me years ago I’d be making rhubarb crumbles and pickles this time of year and not having boozy barbecues or drinking Heineken’s out of the back of my friend’s boyfriends Jeep until early morning, I might have had you committed. And on top of that, if you told me I’d love being in the kitchen and I’d obsess over kitchenware, I’d just think you were a nutjob. I didn’t really want to be anywhere near a kitchen unless it involved defrosting something or it was Christmas time & there were cookies involved. Can you believe it? It’s kind of bizarre. I used to have watercolors & gouache on my mind & ink stained clothes, now I have recipes on my mind & crusty, floury baking stains on whatever exposed areas of clothing my aprons don’t fully protect. But life takes you down different paths, and where I once thought domesticity was stifling, I know see it as an open door. Life doesn’t always travel the exact trail we think it will, we have to be open to new things, new ideas, new concepts. New ingredients aren’t exempt from that either. Who the fuck would’ve thought that I would be baking… least of all baking with rhubarb?! ‘Cause when was the last time you knew someone who knew that the hell rhubarb was? And I mean someone who wasn’t a baker or food preserver, and most especially someone who doesn’t have a food blog.

Exactly. But now you know about rhubarb, and all it’s tart wonderfulness… and thanks to these lovely ladies, you have lots of other choices on how to use it.

I still love art. I still love to draw, although lately it’s been more digital art/graphic design (and a bit of photography for the blog) than anything else. But it’s okay, because I know these things ebb & flow. Right now, my freelance graphic design, my blog and my baking/cooking is what’s happening, someday watercolor painting or drawing will be in the mix again too, along with who knows what else. Gotta get my mojo back is all. But hopefully no matter what, I’ll still always have time to be in the kitchen. One of the best things I ever did back in early 2006 was walk into a kitchen and start cooking & baking. It’s opened me up to a whole new world I never even thought about. It saved me. I don’t know where I would be right now without that outlet. I’ve cooked and baked and canned my way through every sad, happy, funny or boring day for the past almost 7 years. It’s been part learning experience, part coping mechanism, part creative outlet. It’s been both my Prozac and at times my biggest aggravation. But at the end of the day I always felt better, thanks to it. Maybe… if you need saving too, you should try it. Make some rhubarb crumble pie. Just give it a shot. Especially if it’s new. It might open up a new door for you.

And by the way, Sylvia, domesticity ain’t so bad. It might have even saved you, if you’d have let it.