Recipe and text from Feed Your People: Big-Batch, Big-Hearted Cooking and Recipes to Gather Around by Leslie Jonath with 18 Reasons with photography by Molly De Coudreaux. It’s part of our feature on Jonath’s tips for an easy Friendsgiving. This recipe is by Becky Courchesne.
“Farmer Al” Courchesne was doing his usual rounds, dropping off flats of his famed Frog Hollow Farm peaches, when he met (and fell in love with) Becky, a pastry chef at a busy Oakland, California, restaurant. Soon they were married, and Becky joined Al at the farm in nearby Brentwood, among the peach and plum trees.
Bay Area cooks and restaurant chefs prized Frog Hollow Farm’s luscious organic fruits, but there was always the problem of what to do with the farm’s surfeit of less than- perfect produce. Becky convinced Al to build a large commercial kitchen on the property, and when it was finished, she began developing recipes for preserves, chutneys, and fruit pastries of all kinds. Soon, Frog Hollow Farm was turning nearly all of its extra fruit into delicious jams, jellies, tarts, cookies, scones, and galettes and selling them at their cafe in the San Francisco Ferry Building.
With its nutty-crunchy cinnamon topping over a warm fruit filling, this crisp has long been Becky’s favorite easy family dessert. As she says, “It doesn’t require a lot of fuss and is always a crowd-pleaser. It can be made with almost any fruit you have on hand, in any season. It’s perfect for using up those wrinkled apples or overripe peaches. You can also combine fruits; for this apple version, you might add pears and even throw in some cranberries if you’ve got them and a little orange zest.”
This recipe makes 12 cups of topping, and you won’t need all of it for this recipe, so store the rest in the freezer. It will keep for months, which means you can whip up a crisp whenever you’ve got extra fruit on hand. Becky uses a 5-quart ceramic casserole dish for her crisp, although she fills the dish only three-quarters full. Overfilling means the topping may brown before the fruit is thoroughly cooked. For the nuts, Becky suggests using almonds in the spring and summer, since they pair so beautifully with stone fruits, followed by pecans or walnuts in the fall. Hazelnuts will work too, as long as they are toasted and skinned.