It’s not too late, is it? I think we’ve got time for one more rhubarb recipe.
This came about from a recipe that haunts me. I first saw a link to the world’s easiest blueberry crisp last spring on Dinner: A Love Story (it’s the first link that sadly seems to be lost), and I hesitated before I put it on my weekend list. I wanted something sweet but quick and easy, disguised as healthy (read: containing fruit), and I already had all the ingredients. But something so simple couldn’t honestly be that good, could it? Frozen blueberries in a pie dish, a handful of panty staples haphazardly thrown together in a pot- butter, sugar, flour, oats- and popped into the oven. But then. 45 minutes later your house smells like heaven and before you know it, you and your husband eat the whole dessert, along with a half-pint of softly-whipped cream melting into the divets of the crumble, running into the blueberry sauce, hovering over the stovetop with forks. Seriously. The whole thing, straight from the pan, minus a small dish that was set aside for breakfast the next morning. Okay, not exactly set aside for breakfast… it was only for breakfast because I ate it before my husband got out of bed, because I wasn’t gong to share. I wish I wasn’t serious. (Oh, who am I kidding, I’m not even that ashamed, because IT IS THAT GOOD.) (Plus, it was a year ago. I’ve matured since then. I wouldn’t do that now, right?)
So, the problem? Nothing, except a little gluten. *sigh* But it’s okay, because I’m a tinkerer. And I’m lazy. My laziness manifests in the form of Trader Joe’s gluten-free all-purpose mix, which I love for recipes like this. I understand that this mix is not perfect. A mix of starches and heavier flours (and yes, possibly gums) would be ideal, I’m sure. However, that would require multiple bags and a food scale, and lots more tinkering. In this case, laziness beat tinkering. But in all fairness, for a crisp or a crumble, I don’t need to mimic wheat’s elasticity or tenderness – I just need bulk. TJ’s gluten-free mix is perfect for this: not grainy, no weird aftertaste, and no gums added!
Of course I added rhubarb, because duh- it’s spring, rhubarb is everywhere, and blueberry + rhubarb is my favorite fruit combination.
And while I was tinkering (lazy tinkering? “linkering“?), I also threw in some buckwheat. It’s not really wheat, or even a grain- it’s a seed, and it’s in the rhubarb family- it’s got a bit of a rustic, dusty flavor. It’s gritty and it adds some heft and chew. And, of course, there are gluten-free oats, because a crisp is merely a crumble (and therefore inferior) without the addition of oats, in my completely unscientific and unsupported opinion. If you’re not sure of the gluten-free-ness of oats, I’ve heard that quinoa flakes are a great substitute. Or, if you’ve got another opinion on the necessities of crisps- chopped nuts, perhaps?- go ahead and tinker with it.
When the berries and rhubarb cook down, they release lots of water. Keeping an edge bare without topping around the pan will help some of that liquid evaporate, ensuring that you get a nice thick fruit filling.
Blubarb & Buckwheat Crisp
Inspired by Ruth Reichl’s Blueberry Crisp
Serves 2-8, depending on how greedy you are
In the spirit of the original, I tried to keep things fairly simple, but I did add in a little fancy by browning the butter. If you’re in a hurry to get this in the oven, feel free to skip it. But if you’ve got the extra 7 to 10 minutes, do it. Browned butter and brown sugar… what could possibly go wrong?
Wild blueberries are really the key here. They’re small and sweet and juicy. The big ones have got nothing on wild blueberries. If you don’t like rhubarb,
shame on you just use 4 cups of frozen berries, and skip the 1/3 cup of sugar and the tapioca starch.
2 cups frozen wild blueberries
2 cups diced rhubarb
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons tapioca starch (or corn starch)
1 stick (8 tablespoons, 4 oz.) butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
sprinkle of cinnamon
pinch of cardamom and salt
2/3 cup gluten-free all purpose flour blend
1/3 cup buckwheat
1/3 cup gluten-free oats (or quinoa flakes)
Over medium heat in a medium-sized pan, melt the butter. Once it starts sputtering, lower the heat to medium-low or even low, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently and keeping a close eye.
Meanwhile, butter a pie dish or cake pan. Preheat your oven to 375 F. Put the fruit in the pie dish, sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar and the tapioca starch, and stir to coat evenly.
Once the butter has separated and the solids on the bottom have turned golden brown, turn off the burner and remove the pan from heat. Stir in the brown sugar vigorously. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, salt, AP flour, and buckwheat, and stir well. Finally, stir in the oats. Scoop the topping over the top of the fruit in the dish, and use the back of the spoon or your hands to even and flatten it out, trying to keep the topping at least 1/2 inch away from the edge of the pan.
Bake at 375 for 45 to 60 minutes, watching closely to ensure you get a thick filling and crispy crisp without over-browning the top. Mine took close to 60 minutes. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. Best warm with homemade icecream or softly whipped cream, although I’m particularly fond of leftover crisp straight out of the fridge for breakfast.