Chef Tom – Crumbles, Crisps, Cobblers, Brown Bettys, Pandowdies, and Buckles …They all Good

What makes a crisp a crisp or a buckle a buckle? Spring has sprung and in many areas of the world, with spring and summer comes an overabundance of fresh fruits. Makes this an ideal time to get our comfort food desserts sorted out.

(adapted from NY Times Cooking)

Bourbon Street Banana Crisp

Bourbon Street Banana Crisp
Serves 4 to 6

Bananas are baked in a caramelized sweet brown sugar sauce and topped with bourbon and a crunchy walnut streusel.


1 stick unsalted butter, melted, divided
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons light brown sugar (or dark), divided
7 medium bananas, ripe but not mushy, sliced 1/4-inch thick
5 to 6 tablespoons bourbon (plus more for when cooking, and after – bandy/cognac would work, too)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oats
1 cup walnuts, chopped (or pecans, or almonds)


Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and preheat to 375°F. Pour 3 tablespoons melted butter into bottom of 8×8 baking dish and swirl to coat. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons brown sugar over the melted butter.

Scatter sliced bananas into dish and pour bourbon over the top. Give one or two quick stirs to distribute bananas into mixture. Take one or two swigs for yourself.

Using your fingertips, gently toss flour, salt, oats, walnuts, remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, and remaining 6 tablespoons melted butter until moist crumbs form. Scatter over the bananas. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve warm, not hot.

COOK NOTES: Vanilla ice cream? Sure. A little zing and a great flavor affiliate for both bananas and bourbon – mince a half teaspoon of fresh ginger and toss it with the bananas, or roughly chop a little candied ginger, if you have it, and add it to the crisp topping. Lemon juice also goes well with both, so squeeze a half lemon over the bananas before baking.

Adapted from Serious Eats: YVONNE RUPERTI

Apple Crisp

crisp is fruit dessert with a topping made of a combination of oats, flour, butter, and sugar. The topping completely covers the fruit mixture and is baked. (Note: sometimes the topping can contain nuts). Sometimes called a crumble.

Crumbles are very similar to crisps, but the name originated in England. Both contain fresh fruit and are covered with a streusel topping that gets baked. Crumble toppings, however, usually do not contain oats, whereas crisp toppings do.

Mixed Fruit Cobbler

Cobblers are a fruit dessert baked with biscuit-style topping. It’s called a cobbler because its top crust is not smooth like a pie crust but rather bumpy. The biscuit-like topping is usually dropped or spooned over the fruit, then baked.

Blueberry Buckle

buckle consists of fruit and cake baked together, with a streusel topping. As it bakes the fruit and streusel topping makes the cake “buckle.” Sounds like a clafouti minus the streusel topping.


A baked French dessert of fruit, traditionally black cherries, arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter.

Brown Betty:
Brown Betty (as in “Apple Brown Betty”) is similar to a crisp, but has no oats in its buttery crumb topping. And rather than having the topping solely on top of the fruit, it’s layered throughout, then baked.

A deep-dish spiced fruit dessert sweetened with sugar, molasses, or maple syrup and covered with a rich crust.

More goodie goodnesses:

On That Note

quarantine (n.)

From the 1660’s, “The period a ship suspected of carrying disease is kept in isolation,” from Italian quaranta giorni, literally “space of forty days,” from quaranta “forty.” So called from the Venetian policy (first enforced in 1377) of keeping ships from plague-stricken countries waiting off its port for 40 days to assure that no latent cases were aboard.

Some of the better quarantine vids of the week

I spit my coffee out.

This grrl is hilarious.

Mini vid from one of my favorite mini queens. Just a taste. He did a bunch.

I just like this one.


Chef Tom is currently transitioning from Personal Chef to Private Chef. He also teaches cooking classes, caters small parties and leads overseas culinary tours. His specialty for the last twelve years has been cooking for people with food allergies and sensitivities. His motto is “Food should give you pleasure, not pressure.”

Check him out at

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