I spent this weekend in Chicago to celebrate my friend Keri’s 40th birthday, and the theme of the weekend was nostalgia—from her retro bowling party, complete with TV-dinner-style meals of meatloaf, mac-and-cheese, peas and carrots, and mashed potatoes to catching up and reminiscing about old times with Chicago friends.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about some of my favorite restaurants and things I liked to cook when I was a college student in Portland. Chicago, where I spent almost the entirety of my 20s, has its own host of food memories and associations.
It was in Chicago that I stopped being a vegetarian and began teaching myself to cook meat, learned that you pronounce the ‘t’ in Fernet Branca, learned to like oysters, first tasted foie gras, ate at a steakhouse, tasted Peking duck, Korean barbecue, Munster cheese (the oozy, smelly French kind, not to be confused with the mild and orange rinded American Muenster), Laphroig whisky . . . and threw my first “real” dinner party. I don’t remember exactly what was on the menu, but it’s likely that I served an apple crumble for dessert, that having been a standby dessert of mine since I was a teenager. Here’s a variation on that recipe, with pears and plums added along with the apples.
Apple Pear Plum Crumble
- 2 medium pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
- 2 medium baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
- 8 to 10 Italian prune plums, pitted and sliced lengthwise into quarters
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
for the topping
- 1/3 cup rolled oats
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, chopped into bits
- Preheat oven to 375°. In an 8-inch square baking dish, stir together the pears, apples, plums, sugar, lemon juice, two teaspoons flour, cinnamon, and allspice. Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and salt. Stir in butter and using your hands, work it into the dry ingredients coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit mixture and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream.