Blueberry-Nectarine Crisp

Blueberry-Nectarine Crisp
For weeks homeowners in my area have let their water trickle in at least one sink to prevent frozen pipes. I don't recall a colder winter, and it's getting on everyone's nerves. Cabin fever set in about a month ago, and we can't wait for spring. 

There's nothing like a summer dessert to help pry an ice-bound Badger out of winter's grip; when I surveyed the contents of my freezer, I found frozen blueberries and peaches. So I just may make myself a version of this dessert, from 2007:

 I could take you back to the comfort of Grandma Annie's kitchen.

It was quite ordinary as kitchens go. A square room with no built-in cabinetry, it had a deep farmhouse sink and white appliances. There were three or four mismatched cabinets around the perimeter and a table in the middle, not a scarred wooden table, but a newer white enamel-and-chrome model with slats that pulled out to make it larger.

On cool, dreary days, the kitchen was redolent of vanilla and almond and buttery aromas and perhaps chopped fruit in an old stoneware bowl. Annie had no newfangled gadgets, only time-tested utensils of wood and stainless steel. She used an old meat grinder, the kind you clamp on a table or cupboard, and an old-fashioned potato masher.

Her conversation was not deep, for she was not on the outside a deep woman. But she possessed an inner core of steel and a firm convictions when it came to her Catholic faith and her unwavering sense of right and wrong. She was generous, always buying this or that for her grandchildren. I did not truly appreciate her until she was long gone.

Her kitchen remains, though four years ago the family home on Dunlap and Bellevue in the heart of old Frenchtown was sold to a couple who gutted much of it and made it stronger, bringing it into its third century. The kitchen was the first room finished and when I visited it while the remodeling was in progress, I could feel Annie's presence. It was a mid-fall evening and as I stood in the kitchen with Denise, its new mistress, I could sense Annie's approval.

"Yes," I could hear Annie say to me in the deepening dusk. "This feels right."

How lucky that Denise and her family have the sense of goodness my Annie had! How lucky for us that Annie's house - the home her father bought about 1883 - is in such good hands.

As I baked this dessert in my own kitchen tonight, I though again of Annie and the passage of time and the timeless chopping and peeling and mixing that is part of what we do in kitchens, what we have done for centuries. It adds another dimension to all that we do there.

Blueberry-Nectarine Crisp

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup brown-sugar
  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 5-6 fresh nectarines. cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup Cognac-white wine blend
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • dash cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Blend flour and sugar. Cut in butter and pecans for a coarse mixture. Set aside.

Dice nectarines and combine with blueberries in large bowl. Blend Cognac-wine mix with cornstarch, vanilla and sugar until sugar dissolves. Pour over fruit and gently toss. Pour fruit into greased 9x9-inch baking pan. Top with crust mixture. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven on middle rack for about 40 minutes. Serve warm with French vanilla ice cream.

Note: My husband and I loved this recipe, which is adapted from one on Epicurious. It was a good balance of sweet and tart. Annie would have loved it.

Make this with frozen peaches and blueberries when fresh are not in season.


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