Monday, December 12, 2011

The December Slump and Cranberry-Apple Crisps

It’s happening again. I could feel it starting during the Thanksgiving break; that laziness brought on by a holiday vacation and then driven home by a bad flu. Blogging took a back seat and has remained there, safely strapped in.

Thanksgiving seems to do me in. I remember feeling the same way last year, not wanting to get back into the kitchen for weeks afterwards, doing just the bare minimum to get a decent dinner on the table. I don’t know what it is about December that makes me want to do nothing but cook with Campbell’s condensed soups. In fact, that’s not far off from what has been happening. We’ve now made pork chops in cream of mushroom, chicken breasts in cream of asparagus, and a kind of pork parmesan in condensed tomato. And I have to tell you, although these dishes may not be particularly blog-worthy, I wouldn’t have traded them for all the fancy, gourmet food in the world. Throw in A Charlie Brown Christmas, the old stop-motion Rudolph, some mulled wine and a twinkling tree and I will happily ignore my blog…until that little nagging voice gets louder and louder and louder.

Okay, okay…time for a post.

Before Thanksgiving, I bought a huge bag of cranberries with big plans for experimenting beyond the typical cranberry sauce. Up to now, they sat forgotten in the refrigerator. Thankfully they seem to have quite a long shelf life. This weekend, I finally took the bag out and transferred it to the counter. I thought that seeing them sitting there might prompt me to do something with them. After many hours, a nap and lots of procrastinating, I decided on a crisp. Now I know that I’m not exactly pushing the limits with a cranberry crisp, but I’m still working on other more extraordinary dishes. At this point, I’m happy to have done anything at all.

Cranberry-Apple Crisp with Oat and Walnut Topping

Makes 4-6

2 cups fresh cranberries
1 large apple, peeled and diced (about 1 ½ cups)
2 ounces fresh orange juice
¾ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup roughly chopped walnuts
½ cup oats 
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup flour
¼ cup unsalted butter, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine cranberries, apple, orange juice, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.

In another bowl, combine walnuts, oats, sugar and flour. Add butter. Using a pastry cutter (or your hands), combine until mixture is crumbly and no large chunks of butter remain.

Divide cranberry mixture among ramekins (4 6-ounce or 6 4-ounce). Top liberally with walnut-oat topping, pressing slightly into fruit. (There may be a small amount of topping left over.)

Place ramekins on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes (depending on size of ramekins), until tops are browned and fruit is bubbly.

Let cool before serving and serve slightly warm. (Can be made ahead and heated in the microwave for about 30 seconds to warm through.)

I love desserts that can be described as rustic because it means I don’t have to spend lots of time trying to make it look pretty. But these crisps manage to be both rustic and pretty. And they taste like the holidays. Not too sweet, a little bit tart, spiced with cinnamon; my mom thought they tasted like cherry pie. Gooey cranberry and apple filling is balanced with crunchy brown sugar-baked oats and walnuts. They’re a little messy, but they were a big hit.

Now that I’ve gotten back into the kitchen again, hopefully I can keep the motivation going. Although more pork chops smothered in cream of mushroom and taking the rest of December off sounds pretty good too…


  1. I don't blame you for the break. There's so much else going on that it's hard to stop long enough for a good breath, let alone setting up a photo shoot. :) I'm definitely glad you did though. These crisps are amazing-looking. I love the tartness of cranberries, but am not a fan of cranberry sauce or chutney so it's nice to see them used in other ways. I love streusel toppings. I love crisps. I'm going to love this.

  2. Wow what a beautiful colour!!
    Sounds yummy!

  3. Gorgeous gorgeous clicks and lovely recipe. Bookmarked.

  4. I can definitely relate to the slump...
    Gorgeous comeback! This crisp looks amazing, especially lovely is the walnut addition :)

  5. the leakage down the side of the crisps has me drooling...

  6. This crisp was a delicious birthday dessert!

  7. Gorgeous clicks and a delicious recipe.

  8. Oh I think you're doing more than fine. Your pictures are beyond gorgeous! And even if you post nothing else this month you've definitely embodied the holiday spirit in this one recipe. Delish!

  9. These photos are beautiful! This crisp looks amazing too. I know what you mean about needing a break from cooking for a bit after Thanksgiving. I usually think of it as a food hangover. :-)

  10. It really is tough to keep blogging at this time of year. I feel ya! Great crisp, and I love the walnuts in the topping.

  11. These look lovely! There is a good chance this will end up as our Christmas dinner dessert!

    Thanks for sharing!


  12. looks so good can I get mine with custard

  13. i read your post and as if you were reading my mind. that's exactly where I was or where i am now as I am nursing a cold and flu! arrgh.
    I also had a blog holiday break but must post right? hehe.
    but look at you you still managed to post a lovely pic and lovely writing as always.
    stay well karen!

  14. What a lovely recipe and such beautiful photographs too!

  15. Oh, the addition of the cranberries makes these slumps so festive! Beautiful photos, Karen~

  16. These are so pretty! I've learned to really love cranberries the past few years after growing up on the sauce from a can and thinking I hated them!! And I think all of us get into a blogger rut during the holidays. There's just so much stuff going on that sometimes it's hard to find time to cook/bake and then get in here to write!

  17. What a hit this was tonight! It is tart, yet sweet, a perfect combination of flavors. It is easy to prepare, can be re-heated before serving, and looks very pretty. Can't lose with this one!

  18. Gorgeous pie, so perfect for the holidays! Thanks for sharing!

  19. How would you make 1 large one of this? I want to make it for Christmas but in a big batch.

  20. @Lex's Life...
    This amount fills up approximately 24 ounces, so I'm sure a glass pie plate or other baking dish about that size would work fine, as long as it's not really deep...this is a fairly thin layer of fruit. (Adding a few extra cranberries or apples as needed wouldn't change the recipe too much.) I would think it would bake the same, maybe just a few minutes longer in the oven. You'll be able to tell when it's done by the bubbling and the topping firms up.
    Hope that helps!

  21. Looks and sounds absolutely befitting of the season.


  22. You have a wonderful blog; your photos are picture perfect. This recipe is right up my alley; you have a new follower.

  23. Thanks for the great recipe! I made a version of it on my blog and linked to you.

  24. This crisp was a delicious birthday dessert!