Austin-Inspired Grill-Seared Flank Steak with Smoked Almond Greens Pesto and Smoked Salt Just in Time for SXSW

RECIPE: Grill-Seared Flank Steak with Smoked Almond Greens Pesto and Smoked Salt

Steak with Smoked Almond Pesto

I just got back from my very first trip to Austin, Texas, where I completely undid the effects of my Vegan + Fish January by eating nothing but red meat the entire time I was there.  C’est la vie!

I fell in love with the city (Launderette! La Condesa! Lamberts!) – its food and its shop.  The river / lake.  The bistro lights strung up everywhere indicating a general good time.  So this recipe is a little tip of my (cowboy?) hat to Texas – Grill-Seared Flank Steak with Smoked Almond Greens Pesto and Smoked Salt (if you have it).

I love a flank steak for weeknight cooking.  It’s cheap.  You serve it sliced so it goes a long way.  And it takes about 10 minutes to cook – on the grill, under the broiler, in a skillet.  Whatever.

Under this one, I whiz up an easy pesto.  My pesto recipe almost always follows the same recipe: 1 clove of garlic, ¼ cup of nuts, 3 cups of greens, and ¼ cup oil.  Cheese is whatever you feel like that night.  This pesto, which echoes all the woodsy, smoky flavors I ate in Austin, starts with smoked almonds (which I love and keep in the freezer at all time for emergency crap-people-are-coming-over-throw-wine-in-the-freezer-and-do-I-have-nuts moments).  I discovered them on a jetBlue flight and never looked back!

Add a clove of garlic, and 3 cups of greens.  You can really be inventive here.  I used arugula and basil, because I like the mix of peppery and herby.  But you can also use watercress, kale, spinach, parsley.  Whatever you like.  Finish with oil, salt, and pepper.  Smear on a platter.  Arrange the sliced meat on top.  Then top with a few handfuls of the greens you used, whole this time, drizzled with an anointing of olive oil and a crumbling of (smoked, if you have it) salt.  Serve with crusty bread (grilled for extra credit), and you’re done!  A kind of inverted steak salad full of smoky summer flavor when it’s still (only kinda sorta in New York) winter.

Grill-Seared Flank Steak with Smoked Almond Greens Pesto and Smoked Salt
serves 3-4


1 flank steak, about 1.5 pounds (leave it out for 15 minutes before you grill it to take the chill off)

1 clove garlic, peeled

Brimming 1/4 cup smoked almonds

1 cup basil

2 cups arugula, plus two big handfuls

1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

Salt and pepper, plus smoked salt for finishing


If you want to serve grilled bread, drizzle some sliced bread (I like baguette or ciabatta or country boule) with olive oil, and sear on a hot grill pan until marked.  Dust with salt.

Season the steak with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  Place on a hot grill pan and don’t move it for 5 minutes.  Turn and cook another 3 minutes for a steak that’s done about medium.  Set aside to rest.

Meanwhile, make the pesto.  Blitz the garlic in the food processor.  Add the almonds, and blitz those.  Add the greens and some salt and pepper.  Blitz until obliterated.  Then add the olive oil, and blitz to combine.  Spread on a platter.

Slide the steak and arrange over the pesto.  Arrange the whole arugula leaves over the top, and drizzle with olive oil.  Crumbled some flaked smoked salt (or regular Maldon) over the top, and serve alongside the grilled bread, if using.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes

Almond-Crusted Tilapia with Arugula, Fennel, and Lemon Salad

RECIPE: Almond-Crusted Tilapia with Arugula, Fennel, and Lemon Salad

Almond Crusted Tilapia with Arugula Fennel Lemon Salad

I have been delinquent in posting this recipe, because it was actually part of my “Vegan + Fish” January — and was unexpectedly so adored that Mr. English regularly pesters me to make it again.  I should listen.

I absolutely love Milanese.  To me, it’s schnitzel with salad, and in my absurd calorie math, fattening + vegetable = less fattening.  Sometimes traditional comfort food (think, gratin) leaves me feeling a bit, for lack of a better word, sick.  Of course, I eat it anyway, because I love it — but that’s precisely what I was trying NOT to do last month.

There is a weightlessness to a Milanese that belies the fact that it, of course, fried meat.  I always get up from the table grinning like the cat who ate a particularly deliciously prepared canary, but never having eaten myself ill.

I think part of its allure, for me anyway, is the fact that maman regularly breaded and shallow fried all kinds of things when I was growing up.  So often, it was flounder.  Sometimes chicken.  Even eggplant (which she would famously douse in a caramelized onion and chickpea sauce — it’s in the family annals).  It’s happy food for me.

To recreate it in my Vegan + Fish way, I coated fresh filets of tilapia with none other than Vegenaise (you could use regular mayonnaise, of course, if you’re not Vegan + Fishing).  Just wait, I’ll explain.  But first, I love tilapia because it has a sturdy fleshiness that at once stands up to my reliably voracious hunger, and also to being flipped in a pan.  It doesn’t crumble to fish flakes upon contact with a spatula.  It has backbone.  I then season and dredge the coated fish in almond meal — which sticks to the Vegenaise as well as I had hoped it would.

I first learned to use almond meal when I took a macaron-making class in Paris an eon ago.  Now, I keep it in my freezer.  It makes the perfect light and nutty and aromatic coating on fish.  Then, just a quick bronzing sear in olive oil, and my “Milanese” is perfect.  I top it with arugula and fennel tossed in olive oil and lemon juice and, for punctuation, pieces of lemon and lemon zest.  It perfectly captures that contract of the rich base and the bright as the summer sun salad.  I think I may have eaten the whole thing in four minutes.  Oh well.

Almond-Crusted Tilapia with Arugula, Fennel, and Lemon Salad
serves 4


4 tilapia filets

¼ cup mayonnaise (I use Vegenaise!)

1 cup almond meal

1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons

1 lemon

5 ounces baby arugula

1 fennel, thinly sliced (I use a mandoline), plus the chopped fronds


Season the fish with salt and pepper, and use your hands to coat in the mayonnaise. It sounds gross, but it tastes so great, you won’t regret it. Dredge in the almond meal to fully coat on both sides. Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet. When the oil is hot, add the fish in a single layer, cooking on medium heat until the fish is golden brown on both sides and cooked through.

Meanwhile, make the salad. In a large bowl, zest the lemon. Then cut the lemon into segments: using a small serrated knife or a paring knife, slice off the top and bottom of the lemon, exposing the yellow flesh, then run the knife down the edges to remove the skin and pith. Then, holding the lemon in your hand over the bowl, use the knife to cut out the little wedges of lemon flesh between the membranes. When that is done, squeeze out the lemon carcass into the bowl, getting rid of any seeds. If all this is too much for you, just juice the lemon into the bowl. Season the lemon with salt and pepper. Combine with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the arugula and fennel just before serving, and toss to combine.

To serve, place the fish, hot from the pan on a plate, and top it with the arugula salad. Yum!

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Fish, Main Courses, Recipes

Sweetheart Ingredient 2016: Caraway Seeds!

RECIPE: Caraway-Braised Beef Short Ribs with Celeriac and Celery Slaw

Caraway Short RibsBeing married on Valentine’s Day in a wonderful thing.  Marvelous, even miraculous, and intensely reassuring.  It’s also monotonous.  There is no face I’d rather see one pillow over when I open my eyes than Mr. English’s, but at the same time, after eight years, Valentine’s has kind of fallen by the wayside.  Anniversaries.  Holidays.  Birthdays.  We do them to the extreme.  But Valentine’s?  It kind of feels like it’s for new love.  For falling, tumbling head over heels.  We’ve already tumbled.  I think we’re on the outside of Valentine’s Day.

While I am not the kind of girl to fall in love with a new man every month, I am the type to fall in love with new things.  This year, I discovered and loved the western wine regions of Germany, perfectly stepped into the hillsides with gorgeous Germanic precision.  Snowshoeing, which I did for the first time after a snowstorm in Vermont.  It felt like trouping through Narnia!  Maman’s cavapoo Beau.  And caraway seeds.

I remember caraway seeds from Jewish deli rye, perfect on a grilled Swiss or with the tuna salad I used to order on 57th Street.  But outside of that little ecosystem, I never saw it.  Then, at my best friends’ joint bachelorette in Miami, we went to The Dutch for dinner, where they served beef short ribs with caraway.  What a revelation!  I was overcome by the aroma of them, cutting through the richness of the meat with a kind of licorice exoticism.  Then, I started seeing them everywhere.  In slaws in Bon Appetit magazine.  In my favorite Ottolenghi recipe for salmon, similar to Meme’s famous Moroccan rendition.  In potato salad served with cod on Shelter Island.  Now I use them everywhere.  It’s the rare jar of spice that I might actually buy and finish in the same year.

This dish is a kind of hybrid between that dinner at the Dutch and a pot-au-feu I had in St. Germain about two years ago in Paris.  It’s a combination of richly stewed beef, simmered to oblivion, and a fresh, crunchy, bright celery-spiked salad.  Like at the Dutch, I crust the meat in caraway.  But then, I take on some French inspiration by stewing it in wine with onion, garlic, thyme, and bay, and then serving it with a kind of upside-down pot-au-feu slaw.  Instead of stewing the vegetables with the meat, I turn them into a fresh salad, using grated celeriac and fresh celery leaves, chopped with cornichons and parsley, and tossed in a dressing of creme fraiche and whole grain mustard.  Served with grilled bread, it is so good.

Bon app!  I hope you fall in love with many things this year.

Caraway Short Ribs


Caraway-Braised Beef Short Ribs with Celeriac and Celery Slaw
serves 2


2 1/2 pounds beef short ribs

2 teaspoons caraways seeds, freshly pounded or blitzed

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

About 6 stems of thyme

1 bay leaf

2/3 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 cups beef broth


1 tablespoon creme fraiche (or substitute sour cream or Greek yogurt)

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon whole grain mustard

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1 small celeriac, peeled and grated for slaw

2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley and celery leaves

1 cornichon, finely minced

Salt and pepper


Pat the beef dry on a paper towel.  Season the beef with the caraway seeds, salt, and pepper.  In a braising pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Sear the beef on both sides, then set aside on a plate.  Add the onion and garlic to the pan, lowering the heat if necessary, and sweat until translucent.  Add the herbs and the wine.  Raise the heat, and reduce the wine by half.  Add the broth and the beef back into the pan.  Bring to a boil, then cover and lower the heat.  Simmer for three hours.

Just before serving, mix all the slaw ingredients together.  Take the beef out of the pot, and discard the bones.  This is optional, but I like to blend the braising liquid in the blender to make a nice gravy.  Then, spoon the gravy into the bottom of two bowls.  Divide the meat between them, and finally, top with the slaw.  Serve with grilled bread and extra cornichons.


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Categories: Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes

Ritzy Black and White Truffle Popcorn

RECIPE: Ritzy Black and White Truffle Popcorn

Truffle PopcornYes, Super Bowl Sunday is arrived! I’ll admit, I will watch any sport before I will watch football. BUT, I still join in the game day enthusiasm for two reasons: (1) it seems to be Mr. English’s favorite thing about America, and (2) I love anything that gives me license to snack unlimitedly.

I very often make my Avocado and Chèvre Dip, and serve it with chips and crudités. But for tomorrow night, it’s just us, and I’m thinking pizza delivery (I Love NY), a green salad, and my freshly invented Ritzy Black and White Truffle Popcorn.

My mom and I used to have this old (think ’80s off-white with brown bands) electric popcorn air-popper, and I loved it. Whenever we would sit around and watch Nick at Nite marathons, we would pop two Amy’s mac and cheeses in the oven, and air pop a pile of popcorn kernels that we would toss in too much butter and a few pinches of salt. Does anyone remember those deep-dyed rainbow kernels from the ’80s? Those were interdit unless it was a very special occasion, but I thought they were super cool.

Truffle PopcornI like the endless munching that popcorn provides, and while rainbow kernels are kind of interdit for all of us now, copious amounts of truffle butter and truffle-infused Pecorino cheese most certainly are not. The first thing I registered for when we got married was an air-popper. I take it down, and wait until the avalanche of fluffy white kernels erupts from the center of the machine in the largest pot I can find. Then I toss with melted truffle butter, grated truffled cheese, salt, and because I can’t stop and I had some lying around, truffle oil. Holy moly! It’s to die for.

I can’t say I know who’s playing, but I know what I’ll be eating when I find out!

Truffle Pecorino

Ritzy Black and White Truffle Popcorn
makes 16 - 20 cups


1 cup popcorn kernels, popped (yields 16 – 20 cups)

6 tablespoons black or white truffle butter, melted

1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt

1 overflowing cup finely grated truffle Pecorino

1 teaspoon black or white truffle oil (optional)


Pop the popcorn the way you usually do (I use an air popper, but some prefer the stovetop method). Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the truffle butter until it is just melted. Take off the heat, and stir in the salt. Pour the butter and salt mixture, the grated cheese, and the truffle oil over the popcorn and toss until the mixture is evenly distributed. Devour!

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, Recipes, Vegetarian

Crispiest Salmon with Green Tahini and Crunchy Chickpeas

RECIPE: Crispiest Salmon with Green Tahini and Crunchy Chickpeas

Crispiest Salmon with Green Tahini and Crunchy ChickpeasOK – it is week two of what I am calling the “Maman promise” – no meat, no milk, no cheese – cheese, how I miss you!  BUTTER!  I will admit that at around 4 o’clock this afternoon at the office, I was ready to eat any buttery piece of something I could get my hands on, but lucky the place was barren, and so far, I remain unbroken.

I am fascinated by New Year’s resolutions – and I do not consider the Maman promise to be a resolution.  For one thing, it’s only for a month.  Also, I am sticking with it – something that never happens when I resolve to sit up straight or dress up for work or generally just do everything perfectly for a year.  That last one is my most frequent resolution – it lasts exactly as long as it takes to think about it, and I only think about it because my list of resolutions is usually so long, that I just do a blanket contract.  My friend from London called me and said that she saw my last post where I promised to drop meat and dairy and said I sounded a little preachy – a little mini-Gwyneth.  I can’t help it!  I just love self-improvement and fresh starts and I’m always trying to be better.  I love January.  Will you still be my friend?

I admit that I am proud I am showing a modicum of perseverance.  And really it’s not so bad, and I am feeling good.  Here’s what I had for dinner last night, with leftovers for lunch.  Deeply nutty, pungent tahini whipped together with that vibrant punch of parsley, cilantro, and lemon.  Salmon, simply seared until the top was golden and crunchy.  And chickpeas, roasted to crunchy nuggets.  I threw some mache on the side, dressed up with lemon vinaigrette.  I am starting to wonder if maybe deprivation isn’t so hard if we just recast it as indulgence – easier said at 9 AM than at 4 PM.

Bon app, and bonne chance!

Crispiest Salmon with Green Tahini and Crunchy Chickpeas
serves 4


1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and dried on paper towels
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ big bunch parsley
½ big bunch cilantro
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
½ cup tahini
4 5- to 6-ounce salmon fillets


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment, and on it, toss the chickpeas, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt and pepper. Bake until crisp – about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the tahini by blitzing the parsley, cilantro, lemon, tahini, and ¼ cup water in the blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

To make the salmon, season with salt and pepper. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to a nonstick skillet, and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes on the first side and 5 on the second for perfectly opaque flesh. If you like rarer fish, which most do, just flip it over for a minute or two.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Fish, Main Courses, Recipes

Good-For-You Soba Noodle Soup with Miso, Broccolini, and Charred Shitakes

RECIPE: Good-For-You Soba Noodle Soup with Miso, Broccolini, and Charred Shitakes

So Good For You NoodlesI always want to eat everything. Fondue? I’d swim in the pot! Steak. Butter! Cake. Nests of pasta that I could curl up in. But the truth is, as I get older, some the foods I love just don’t love me. It’s a head-heart battle. My head says, Kerry, stop. You’ll be sick. My heart says, this is what you love. Love trumps all.

I think some part of every one of my New Year’s resolutions is to grow up. Is growing up using your head more than your heart? It sounds sad, but actually, maybe it’s just wise (and maybe that’s why wisdom is always tied up with long beards and gray hair). This January, my mom and I resolved to grow up by doing one month “vegan + fish”. There are a number of reasons for this.

  1. Some people go dry in January to prove to themselves that they control alcohol, and that alcohol doesn’t control them. I need to do the same – but with my appetite.
  2. I was vegetarian from the age of six to 18, and ever since then I’ve been experimenting with various combinations. I feel best when I cut out dairy (or cut down), and when I add in a little bit of lean protein. Hence, vegan + fish. The same is true for Maman.
  3. And because I often find a lot of creative freedom in restriction. Necessity is the mother of invention.

I’m notoriously easy to tempt, but I’m going to do it for one month. If vegan + fish makes you feel good too, I hope you’ll do it with us. Deprivation is always easier together.

I was in Whole Foods and I saw in the boxed broth section a miso broth – I’d never seen it before, and I immediately thought, I’m going to like that. I love Japanese noodle soups, so I simmered the broth and added a few simple things: buckwheat soba, grassy broccolini, crispy baked shitakes, and crumbly steaks of tofu. A few scallions and cilantro leaves on top. I subsequently sat down to three bowls. What I especially love about this recipe is I can make all the components on a Sunday night, then just simmer my broth any night during the week when I want to eat it, and go from there. Would make a brilliant dinner for when Mr. English is away.

Good For You NoodlesBon app!

Good-For-You Soba Noodle Soup with Miso, Broccolini, and Charred Shitakes
serves 3ish


1 box of fresh shitake mushrooms, stems discarded (about 10 – 15 mushrooms)
1 14-ounce block extra firm tofu, drained on a paper towel and sliced into 8 slices
Olive oil
1 bunch broccolini, ends trimmed
1 8.8-ounce package soba noodles
1 32-fluid ounce box miso broth (4 cups – I buy this in a carton from Whole Foods)
2 scallions, finely sliced
1 small handful cilantro leaves
Soy sauce for serving (optional)


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Bring a pot of water to a boil.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchments and place the mushrooms and tofu slices on the sheet. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Use your hands to distribute the oil and salt on both sides of the mushrooms and tofu. Bake for about 10 minutes – this doesn’t need to be exact – you just want the mushrooms and tofu to be just cooked through and beginning to go golden at the edges.

Meanwhile, salt the boiling water. Blanch the broccolini for one minutes, then remove to a strainer and run under cold tap water to keep it bright and crunchy. Boil the soba according to package instructions – mine takes 6 minutes. Drain and run under cold tap water so the noodles don’t go mushy.

In the same pot add the miso broth and bring to a boil. Add in the noodles and broccolini to warm through, and arrange the tofu and mushrooms on top. Mound the fresh scallions and cilantro on top of it all, in the center of the pot. Serve piping hot!

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Recipes, Soup, Soup & Salad, Vegetarian, Vegetarian

(Frozen) Peach and Almond Crisp

RECIPE: (Frozen) Peach and Almond Crisp
Peach Crisp

Sorry for the iPhone shot!

On Sunday night, I had my family over for a holiday dinner.  My New York family – uncles, aunts – is rarely together for the actual holiday days, so I wanted to be sure to do something warm and festive – to match the alarmingly warm but festive atmosphere these last few weeks in New York.

I definitely subscribe to the old adages about entertaining – serve at least one thing that you buy and another thing that you make ahead.  And, I know I say it over and over, but I love American holiday meals because we are so adroit at mixing tradition with personal history.  Which is just what I did – a bite of Brooklyn with a pinch of Provence.

The appetizer was pure New York – I bought potato pancakes at the historic German grocer up the street – perfect silver dollars that I just threw in the oven to crisp up.  The whole apartment smelled like memories of my great-grandmother.  And to go with them, sliced sable from the bagel shop around the corner.  With that, I stirred together a cup of Greek yogurt (my go-to substitute for sour cream, which I never have) with three spoonfuls of prepared horseradish with salt and lots of pepper, and this cucumber salad from Bon Appetit.

The main course, my “thing that you make ahead” was a gorgeous brisket recipe – also very great-grandmother.  But it is in fact from one of my favorite food writers, the incredibly modern and fresh Donna Hay, that I discovered while living in London (she’s Australian).  It comes from her book The New Easy, and I can’t recommend it enough.  So simple, braised together with rosemary, pancetta, red wine, and tomatoes.  Making it ahead means you can skim away the fat, which I personally prefer, and the flavors penetrate and tenderize the meat.  It was the best brisket I ever made – so juicy, soft, collapsing under the fork.  Bright and tangy from the vinegar despite the inherent richness.  And with the wintry, woodsy pine perfume from the rosemary that matched the bouquets of pine bough scattered throughout the apartment in giant glass vases.

With that, I took a page out of my French travels, and served buttered whole wheat elbow macaroni.  That’s right!  I always see beautiful French stews and daubes served with little elbows, baby shells, or ditalini, and I am captivated by how unpretentious it is!  The whole wheat part may be a little pretentious – but I just prefer it, and I love the heavier flavor and texture with meat.  With that, a green salad with my favorite new dressing – a very light take on Caesar that I will post soon.  (For those near New York and Chicago, have you tried Gotham Greens?  I really love them – particularly the “Queens Crisp”.)

For dessert, I stayed in France, by way of England.  In the south, I always see peaches or apricots mixed with lavender, or verbena, or almond – I always order it.  But Mr. English loves his crumbles and crisps – and it is winter.  So I started with frozen organic peaches, and tossed them with a bit of cornstarch and almond extract – just a dash to give it that drunk-on-marzipan flavor.  Amaretto would have worked too, had I thought of it.  The crisp mixture was a combination of whole wheat flour, almond meal, sugar, butter, olive oil, and sliced almonds.  I threw the whole thing in the oven, and the fruit collapsed from frozen-solid rocks into a soft, thick, bubbling, sweet, psychedelic orange mess that was topped by this hearty flavored and delicately textured crumb.

My father brought vanilla ice cream, which proves that he is a man of good sense.

(Frozen) Peach and Almond Crisp
serves 4 to 6


For the peaches:
30 ounces of frozen peaches
3 tablespoons corn starch
¼ cup granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
½ – ¾ teaspoon of almond extract (depending on how much you love marzipan) (optional)

For the crisp topping:
¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup almond meal
½ cup granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, straight from the fridge, cubed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup sliced almonds


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a buttered baking dish, toss the peaches with the cornstarch, ¼ cup sugar, pinch of salt, and almond extract, if using. Set the baking dish on a baking tray lined with foil (it makes cleanup easier), and set aside.

In a food processor, whiz together the flour, almond meal, sugar, and salt until combined. Then add the butter and olive oil and run until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the sliced almonds and pulse a few times until just distributed, but not broken up. Pour the mixture evenly over the peaches, and bake until the fruit is bubbling and the crisp is golden – an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Vanilla ice cream, heavy cream, or crème fraiche is encouraged.

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Categories: Desserts, Easy, Eat, Fruit, Recipes, Vegetarian