If they say that patience is a virtue, then I must not be among the virtuous most of the time. Though I did once spend 2 straight months knitting a blanket so I guess that’s not necessarily true. I suppose I do have patience when it comes to creative things – cooking, crafting, my job, etc. – and for some reason running long distances, but when it comes to patience for everyday life sorts of scenarios, it’s not always there. I don’t like surprises, many times preferring spoilers (but maybe not for Game of Thrones), will give gifts early because I simply can’t wait for the appropriate date, and drive myself mad during any waiting game; waiting for packages, waiting for events, waiting for answers.
And yet, the waiting game is inevitably hardest when the very thing you’re waiting for sits at the forefront of the mind. Funny how the world works like that.
I usually spend this time each year eagerly (and impatiently) waiting for the warmer days. Days where you run by the house of someone having their first backyard BBQ of the year and wish you could just jump in on the action, grab a burger, and see if anyone notices that nobody knows you. Uhhh maybe that’s a weird example? Ok, then let’s say waiting for the days where you can finally throw on a pair of shorts and head over to the Sunday farmers market for some seasonal produce and good old-fashioned people watching.
So when this past gloomy and chilly weekend arrived at the end of a long stream of general busyness, I forgot that we were already taking our first steps into May. That is until I saw that my nearby farmers market was in full swing and after a closer look realized that several vendors were selling strawberries. Wait, strawberries? Already? But there they were, baskets of red jewels gleaming bright on such a grey day. Somehow in the midst of many rainy days and hectic weeks, my impatience for wonderful things like strawberries faded away, and they appeared before I knew it and when I least expected it.
So what to do with a quart of perfect strawberries all to myself? Well I could eat them simply as they are, of course. And for many of them I did! But the rest deserved some degree of pomp and circumstance. Well cream had to be involved, because cream will never have a bad relationship with strawberries. And something crunchy and buttery, but nothing involving cooking the strawberries since that seems to make them soggy, greyish, and sadly unappealing. I looked to Nigel Slater’s Ripe for inspiration and settled on making a crumble, but without cooking the fruit. This of course means cooking an entire sheet tray of crumble topping and I saw nothing wrong with this at all.
The topping came together really simply. It’s a base of flour, butter and brown sugar and is filled with lots of earthy pistachios. Ground cardamom adds that warming floral note that goes so well with bright fruit flavors. It goes into the oven and what emerges essentially is a tray full of crushed pistachio shortbread cookies that I still can’t stop eating on its own. I cut up the strawberries and mixed them with a little sugar so they became syrupy and after waiting 30 minutes or so topped them with a generous dollop of whipped cream and a hefty sprinkle of crumble topping. It’s a light and refreshing dessert, one that lets the fruit do most of the talking and everything else just backs it up. I actually recommend it as an afternoon snack of sorts with a cup of black tea but I wouldn’t judge if you then had it after dinner too. I mean, as long as the fruit that we’ve been patiently or impatiently waiting for all year is here, might as well eat dessert twice.
Strawberries with Cream and Pistachio Cardamom Crumble
Adapted from Nigel Slater’s Ripe
Serves 4 with leftover crumble topping
2 quarts strawberries, cleaned, hulled, and quartered
¼ cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup shelled raw pistachios
2/3 cup cold butter, diced
2 1/3 cups flour
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ tsp. ground cardamom
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, coarsely grind the pistachios until you have a pebbly mix. In a bowl, combine the flour and the butter. Use the tips of your fingers to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the pistachios, brown sugar, and cardamom. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and evenly spread the crumble topping onto it. Bake for 35-45 minutes until toasted and golden brown in color, keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Halfway through the cooking use a spatula to gently break up and redistribute the mixture. Once cooked, set aside to cool.
While the crumble topping cooks, mix the strawberries with the sugar in a bowl and set aside so it becomes syrupy. In a separate bowl beat the heavy cream to soft peaks. To serve, portion out the strawberries and top each dish with desired amount of cream and crumble.