One of the things that happens around here, as you might have gathered, is that we have a lot of company. Especially in the summer. And when I say company, sometimes I mean personal friends and family who come to visit, but there is also a whole other category and that is business associates. Whether they are people who sell our wine around the country, or people who buy it, everyone wants to come to Oregon in the summer. I can’t blame them!
The result is a lot of gatherings around our dining room table, and just as many out at restaurants in town. (Thank goodness we have an abundance of good ones to choose from here). Usually the people who come visit us are pretty good folks. We always share an interest in wine, and often food too, and so we enjoy their company for a few hours and give them suggestions for what else to do and see in these parts. Occasionally we’re lucky enough to really hit it off and they become more than business associates or customers, they become friends. Those are especially good days.
Last week such a couple came to town. I hadn’t met them before but Rob had. They’re from Atlanta and love to travel. They turned out to be absolutely lovely and in spite of the fact that they’re probably 20 years my senior, we quickly found our groove and could tell we saw eye to eye on everything from politics to wine. When it was time for the evening to end, I hated to think that was the last we’d see of them on this trip.
The next day was the 4th of July and had we not already accepted an invitation to some friends’ for a party I would have definitely invited them to our home for dinner. But we had, so the only thing to do was to bring our new friends along. Good thing our hosts are also in the habit of entertaining large and small groups on a regular basis – in fact they own one of our neighboring wineries – so I had an idea they wouldn’t be too put out when I said I’d invited another couple.
So with a phone call in the morning I broke the news to our hostess. “The more the merrier”, she said. (No wonder we’re friends) When I asked what I should bring she casually said “well if you have any berries lying around, I forgot to get some.” Perfect! As a matter of fact I had been to the farm stand just the morning before. Right on my kitchen counter was a plethora of berries, cherries, peaches and nectarines .
“I’ll make a crisp” I said.
And that’s how this particular dish was born. I had seen a recipe in that week’s Oregonian for a Hazelnut Crisp in a skillet. That was the impetus for adding the hazelnuts to the topping. The rest I just kind of made up as I went along. After the grand firework finale, we served this up with with some Tillamook Old Fashioned Vanilla and Oregon Strawberry Ice Cream. I was proud to serve my new Georgia pals such a pure Oregon dessert. We locals liked it just fine too.
- For the Filling
- 6 pints mixed berries and cherries
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon flour
- For the Crisp
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or white whole wheat flour)
- 2 1/2 cups toasted hazelnuts (divided)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- good pinch of kosher salt
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter, sliced
- 2 tablespoons vanilla
- Put them on a sheet pan into a 400 degree oven. When they're good and toasted (I like them when the skins are starting to get black, then the nut will really taste toasty) take them from the oven and let them cool. Once they're cool, rub them together in a clean dish towel until the skins come off. If they aren't all completely skinned, don't worry.
- Pit the cherries. Combine all the fruit in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Stir in the sugar, ginger and flour. Set aside.
- Combine 1 1/2 cups hazelnuts and the flour in a food processor. Process until the nuts are finely ground. Add the sugars, the salt and the oats and process to combine. Add the butter and pulse until completely incorporated. With the machine running pour the vanilla in through the feed tube.
- Crumble the topping into chunks and spread over the fruit. Chop the remaining hazelnuts, as coarsely or finely as you like, and sprinkle those over the top. Bake the crisp in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 35 - 40 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the top is nicely browned. Best served with warm with vanilla or strawberry ice cream.