last hurrah

After three blissful months, summer has come to an end.

It’s been a good run. One that’s taken me from the shores of Lake Michigan to the warm waters of Miami, from the sea-level streets of home to the peaks of the Andes, and from the smorgasbord that is the Iowa State Fair to the gastronomic glory of Peru’s famed food festival, Mistura.

I’ve tried to make the most of this summer, aware that it’s one of the last of its luxuriously long kind I may get for a while. And now in mid-September, I can honestly say that I am ready for a new school year to begin, ready to swap humid air for a crisper variety, and ready to begin stockpiling canned pumpkin and warm spices.

But I would be remiss to let the summer pass by without baking up a nectarine and blueberry crisp. I made up this recipe one summer night years ago when I had some blueberries on hand and a hankering for something warm and gooey. What started as an experiment in a small ramekin became one of my most beloved summer recipes. On my last night at home before heading back to Chicago, my family had a wonderful dinner off the grill and this crisp for dessert. A sweet ending to a beautiful and bountiful season.

Nectarine & Blueberry Crisp

Makes 15 servings
For the fruit: 
10 nectarines, ripe but not too soft
2 pints blueberries
¼ cup sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1 lemon juiced and zested
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt

Cut the nectarines into ½ inch thick slices (you can leave the skins on or off¬—I personally like the color they add). Toss the nectarines with the blueberries and the remaining ingredients. Allow fruit to sit for about 15 minutes while you prepare the topping.

For the crisp topping: 
1 ½ cups old fashioned oats
1 cup flour
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

Combine oats, flour, sugars, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter and using a fork or your fingers (I prefer the latter method) thoroughly combine the dry ingredients with the butter. The topping can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Be sure to remove it from the fridge at least 20 minutes before you assemble to crisp so that it is easy to work with.

To assemble crisp:
Pour fruit mixture into a glass or porcelain dish that is at least 2 inches deep and no more than 10 inches wide. Break apart the crisp dough into small pieces and scatter them over the fruit to create an even layer. Bake the crisp at 375 for about 30 minutes, or until the top begins to brown. Let crisp stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow juices to settle. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

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