A West Coast Strawberry Crumble of Perfection

It was a late arrival into SFO last Tuesday, but waking up on the west coast with a large cup of coffee and one of my best friends cooking me breakfast–it seemed that all was right in the world.

So after a hike to find a hike (yeah, long story), we ended up at an awesome grocer in Walnut Creek called Sprouts. Great produce and lots of grains and treats to buy by weight. Trained by my Momma, I seem to have hawk-like eyesight when it comes to red signs in stores that include a four letter word that starts with an “S” and ends with an “-ALE.” (No lie, I practically learned percentages and fractions at 6 years old, during a Macy’s Super-Saturday sale calculating prices of an INC blazer for my mom.) Anyways back to my “bird of prey” vision. As we walked through Sprouts, the bright red that caught my eye this time was not from the sale sign, but in fact stacks and stacks of the most beautiful, freshly picked strawberries! And ON SALE for $0.99 too (the sign was yellow)?! To restate–all was right in the world.

After arguing at the checkout of who got to treat for groceries, it was time to hull

To hull a strawberry means to remove its green calyx (the leafy stem), which is great in color but no fun to eat. Now most people hull strawberries with a paring knife, but I prefer to use my “STRAWS-n-Strawbs” trick. This was the second occurrence in two weeks that I got to share this fun little trick with friends.

“STRAWS-n-Strawbs” Kitchen Tip

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Using a classic straw (no bendy straws or the crazy straws that do roller coasters with your juice), start from the bottom of the strawberry and puncture the bottom point of the berry.

Gently, but firmly, push the straw upwards and along the core of the strawberry, aiming to have the top of the straw breakout and hit the green leafy calyx at the top. This should push the calyx up for you to pull the entire top and core from the straw. Remove the straw from below (instead of sliding all the way through) and discard the leafy top and core.

It takes a bit of practice, but when you get in the rhythm, it moves quickly and should leave you with more the the strawberry then cutting tops off with a pairing knife, and a pretty easy cleanup.

Now onto the crumble.

STRAWBERRY CRUMBLE

Makes about 4-6 servings, in ramekins or a single casserole dish.
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INGREDIENTS

Strawberries
  • 5 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and diced
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Salt
Crumble
  • ½ cup whole grain flour (or whole wheat or all purpose)
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into small dice
  • 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, gently toss your fresh strawberries with the maple syrup, cornstarch, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt.
  3. Place four oven-proof ramekins or your single casserole dish on a cookie sheet and divide/fill the strawberries (evenly) among them.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the teaspoon of cinnamon, flour, oats, butter, and brown sugar. Using a fork, pastry blender, or your hands (my preference!), create a crumbly mixture ensuring that the butter is well worked in, but there are still pea-sized crumbles included.
  5. Evenly cover strawberries with crumble mixture.
  6. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until crust is golden brown and the berries are bubbly. Serve warm and thank the strawberry season gods for this amazingly easy and satisfying dish.

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My host was even sweeter and more beautiful than this perfect dish. Much needed QT with my dear friend Jenny seemed to be the warmest welcome home after a few crazy weeks of volunteer work and stuff in the office.  

And this was just the first food adventure from that week-long trip. Little did I know that I would soon be elbows-deep in 60 lbs. of slow-cooked carnitas. But more on that later. ;)