Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hand held fruit crisp...

I always thought it would be fun for Jeff to bring something like a crisp or cobbler-like dessert into work for the weekly Wednesday Treat Day goodie. Thinking that it might not hold up, I've been trying to figure out a way to do something with similar flavors and then I came across these Apple-Cherry Crumble Bars.

Imagine a couple buttery, crumbly oatmeal cookies being packed with a moist fruit filling and sandwiched together - except formed into bars. Instead of using fresh fruit, which might end up being too wet, these bars start out by plumping up dried apples and cherries in sweet apple cider. After a few minutes of simmering, the fruit is separated from the extra liquid, save a couple tablespoons worth of the leftover cider that will be added back later. Since the apples and cherries were quite large at this point, they were coarsely chopped to make cutting the finished bars much easier.

Since I had to wait for the fruit to cool down before I chopped it, I started mixing the crumbly cookie base - this is a combination of oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and of course, a generous amount of butter. While it may look a little dry, if you were to squeeze the mixture in your hand you will notice that it should hold together and form clumps. Just over half of this is scattered into the pan and then pressed to form the bottom layer. The chopped fruit, tossed with a couple tablespoons of brown sugar, cinnamon and a little of the reserved cooked cider, is then spread over the top. The rest of the buttery crumbles that were not pressed as the base are scattered on top ala a fruit crisp.

Once they had baked until the top was nice and golden, the bars were set aside to cool completely so we would be able to get cleanly cut pieces out of the pan. Firm enough to pick up and take a bite, this was such a delicious combination of crisp textures against the soft and sweet, yet a little tart, chunks of fruit on the inside.

Often times when we have some leftover spaghetti in the fridge, one of us will just reheat it for lunch. However, after tonight's dinner, we'll hold off and turn it into this Spaghetti Frittata we made instead.

To make this a little lighter, this recipe uses a combination of egg whites and whole eggs - you can use completely whole eggs if you like, just substitute 1 whole egg for every 2 egg whites. You could probably reduce one or two more whole eggs and use the whites instead, but I find if you don't have enough yolks, the texture can get a little spongy. After an onion has softened in a large oven-safe skillet, a few cups of fresh spinach and a couple garlic cloves are stirred in.

While the whole-wheat spaghetti added next to the skillet had already been tossed with marinara sauce, that tomato-y flavor is backed up by sun-dried tomatoes that we reconstituted in boiling water. When the pasta had warmed through, the eggs and egg whites are poured in and the frittata continues to cook on the stove until the edges are set, but the center is still jiggly. Sharp Parmesan cheese is scattered on top and the skillet is slipped under the broiler for just a few minutes to firm up the center and brown the cheese. We both liked how the eggs kept the texture light, but the added pasta brought some heft to make this dish, making it a bit more filling. If you don't have a fairly large skillet, you may want to switch to cooking this in the oven, rather than partially on the stove, so the bottom doesn't cook too fast before the center has a chance to catch up.


8 comments:

  1. What a clever idea those crumble bars are. They look and sound delicious.

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  2. Yum! Those crumble bars sound perfect!

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  3. How lucky is it to be Jeff's office mates? One bite is all I need.

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  4. Those bars look great and who doesn't love a crumble.

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  5. Oh my. If I weren't leaving for Vegas next week I would be making those bars this weekend. On the other hand (I have 5 fingers) I now have something to look forward to making when I get back!

    As always, thanks for such wonderful reviews.

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  6. Katie - Thank you!

    Erika - These were fun to make too!

    Anonymous - hee hee!

    Katie - So true!

    Kristin - You'll have to let us know if you get a chance to try them!

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  7. Jennifer from NYC4/01/2008 12:39:00 PM

    Joe,

    These look really good and I would love to try them.

    Can you tell me how much you liked them?

    I would love to know if it is worth the trip to the store to get the dried apples :)

    Thanks!
    Jennifer

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  8. Jen - We thought they were very good and they were very quickly at Jeff's office!

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