silk painting of spices

Middle Eastern Berry-Apple Crisp



And Christmas right around the corner . . . ugh!

Can you tell I am not a happy camper?

Would you be if the brand new bags of recently bought flour you ripped open teemed with creepy-crawlies? (Definitely won’t be going back to that store.)

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had an interest in cooking and entomology, but I draw the line at putting the two together.

Due to the process of throwing out stuff (oh, the wanton waste—it hurts!) and clearing cupboards of the little devils, I’m left pretty much flour-less and grain-deprived.

So long, whole-wheat flour . . . good-bye, cornmeal.

Wait. A silver lining glimmers behind this big, gloomy cloud.

A few of my flours—such as rye—sit safely tucked away in the freezer. Steel-cut oats also came out unharmed, thank goodness, because . . .

I was in the mood for a fruit crisp.

I’m not talking about a normal crisp, mind you: a crisp with a Middle Eastern twist. (Hey, don’t you know me by now?) The topping isn’t your usual flour-butter-sugar combo, either. (Running low in the flour department anyway, remember?)

Of course, I could have waited for the inevitable restock. But improvising is what this blog is about, right?

Middle Eastern Berry-Apple Crisp
Recipe by C. Marie

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re following a recipe, thinking everything is going smoothly . . .

Then, it hits you: something slipped in that wasn’t supposed to.

You steady yourself, take a bite, and realize, “Gee, this is actually really tasty!”

So you create your own recipe in an effort to duplicate your “mistake.”

Coriander seeds in a fruit crisp? Sure! In fact, why not give my crisp the full Middle Eastern spin?

I did. You can, too.

What I gathered together:

baking bowls and cups

The crisp part:
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
dash of ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons steel-cut oats
1 ½ tablespoons flour (any kind will do—my options were limited, so I used rye)
2 tablespoons unprocessed wheat bran
couple of sprinkles of sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil

apples and berriesThe fruit part:
3 tablespoons chopped berries (I thawed frozen strawberries)
¼ cup chopped apple, unpeeled, unless you prefer skinless (mine was a Golden Delicious)

(Side note: I chopped up the fruit first, and then measured it out)

1-2 tablespoons raisins (forgot about these, so I just threw them on top before eating)
dashes of cinnamon, salt, and cumin
drizzles of honey

After the oven:
Plain yogurt
Sprinkling of chopped, fresh mint (if desired)
1-2 tablespoons peanuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a small baking dish or individual-sized ramekin.

How I threw it together:

mortar and pestleWith a mortar and pestle (or a couple of whirrs in a coffee grinder), break up the coriander seeds and peppercorns—not too much, though. You want a course texture.

Dump them in a bowl, along with the cumin, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, steel-cut oats, flour, wheat bran, sugar, and oil. (Whew—that was a mouthful!) Stir until everything is all moist and combined. Don’t worry that it’s not coming together: you’re supposed to have a looser consistency. Set aside.

Defrost berries in microwave till soft enough to cut into chunks. (Of course, if you live where fresh berries are a dime a dozen even in December, by all means use those.) Don’t drain the berry juice. Add the chopped apples, raisins, cinnamon, salt, cumin, and honey. Mix it up.

Pour into the baking dish or ramekin. Cover with topping. Pat down, getting it firm and flat. Place in oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and browned around edges.

Take the crisp out of the oven, and let cool for a few minutes. Top with a plop of yogurt. Sprinkle with mint, if desired. Finish off the Middle Eastern crisp with a hearty sprinkling of peanuts.

One spoonful fills your mouth with a myriad of flavors and textures: the crunch of peanuts amid the smooth yogurt; the savoriness and spice of crushed coriander seeds and peppercorns against the sweetness of fruit and raisins; the zing of mint underlying hints of cinnamon and cumin.

With the breath of winter fast upon us, this crisp is a warm and hearty breakfast or dessert.

What say you? Tell me what you think of this recipe—I’m always eager to know what you think.

(Oh, and if you’ve got any more ways to get rid of pantry pests, please, fill me in.)

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