Apricot-Cherry Crisp from Local Flavors

My favourite feature in many of Deborah Madison's wonderful cookbooks is her sensible and seasonal chapter organization. As the local summer produce available at the markets has been especially stellar lately, I felt drawn to chapters in Madison's Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets with titles such as "Vining Fruits and Vegetables" and "Stone Fruits: The Warm Heart of Summer." The former yielded up Penne with Green and Gold Zucchini and Ricotta, while the latter contained the recipe featured below, for Apricot-Cherry Crisp. All of the pasta and the better part of the crisp were devoured and much admired by my small dinner party of four.

Local Flavors was perhaps slightly ahead of its time when first published in hardcover in 2002, but the new paperback edition would be a great resource and inspiration to anyone who shops the farmers' markets or tends their own kitchen garden. Also, Madison thankfully does not neglect to provide a vast number of recipes to rely on throughout the fall and winter, when months of kale, cabbages, and root vegetables seem to stretch out into eternity.

Apricot-Cherry Crisp from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison

Serves 6 to 8

2 1/2 pounds ripe apricots
1 pound sweet cherries or pie cherries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons minute tapioca
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly butter a 2 1/2-quart gratin dish. Pit the apricots and the cherries [I also sliced the apricots into wedges], then toss them with the sugar, tapioca, and almond extract. Lay the fruit in the prepared dish.
2. Make the topping [see below]. Pat the topping over the fruit. Set the dish on a baking pan to catch the juices and bake until the top is browned and the juices have thickened around the edge, about 45 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla or honey ice cream.

The Crisp Topping:
6 tablespoons [cold] unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats or finely chopped almonds [I used a combination of the two]
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional [I went for it]

Using your fingers or the paddle attachment of a mixer [or a pastry blender], work the butter with the rest of the ingredients until the texture is coarse and crumbly.