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Posts tagged ‘apple’

so what’s in a salad?

Fresh-air markets, booths and stalls stretching for blocks and blocks, wooden tables piled high with newly-picked fruits and vegetables.  Luscious juice-sweet fruits, all round-body shapes and colors. Rustic root or bright green vegetables some with the earth still clinging to them. Farmers in aprons, their hands, soil-worn and calloused, paring off samples for us to taste. And we held out our hands and we tasted, and we bought what we couldn’t resist. But we’d made some kind of cosmic mistake! We had no kitchen to take our booty to, no salad bowl, no wooden tongs. No aprons of our own. So it happened that everywhere we went, my longing for brilliant color tossed in a bowl grew. We had some nice salads while away, but they weren’t the salads of home. And  the salads of home are the foods I miss most of all when we’re away.

So here, for you (and for me) brilliant color in a bowl. (and between us, so delicious it’s startling!)

Once again, as is usually the case with salads around here, a list of ingredients but no amounts. I’ll give some rough guidelines, but you know how you like your salads from home, so no one will be as good a judge as you …

 

Brilliant Winter Green Salad with Pomegranate, Apple & Almonds

Baby Spinach – or Arugula  (which do you prefer, mild and green, or slightly bitter? Or maybe a mix of the two.)

Apple, cored and sliced

Pomegranate seeds (see a previous post for the most ingenious way to remove these wonderfully tart & crunchy little seeds)

Basil – leaves laid out on top of one another, rolled tight like a cigar and sliced thinly

Slivered Almonds, toasted brown

Shallot, sliced thinly and sauteed to a toasty brown in a bit of oil

Soft, mild goat cheese – Optional

Vinaigrette (see below)

__________

Thinly slice the shallot and drop it into a small medium-hot skillet to which you’ve added a small amount of oil. Stir occasionally until browned. Remove to a paper towel.

Toast the almonds – in a 350° oven for perhaps 15 minutes. Check frequently. (The last bit of browning goes very quickly.) About the last 5 minutes you might (might!) want to place the shallots in the oven along with the almonds to dry and crisp them a bit more. 

Remove the seeds from the pomegranate. (See previous post link above. You’ll also find another delicious salad there.)

Toss all ingredients into a bowl (reserving a little of the seeds, nuts and shallots for sprinkling on top.) Toss with a little vinaigrette. Taste to see if amply dressed. Drizzle more as desired. Sprinkle bits of brilliance on top.

Would you like me to taste it for you and tell you why it’s so good?

Even this time of year, most markets will still have fresh crisp baby spinach leaves. These leaves taste mild and green and like Health itself. (Arugula, a little or a lot, but only for those who like the mildly bitter. I do!) Crisp sweet-tart apple, toasted almonds tasting of the hearth, threads of fresh basil winding throughout (these you nearly taste in your nose), crunchy smoky bittersweet bits of shallot, bursting tart seeds full of juice…and then…if you like this sort of thing…mild and creamy, exquisite white cheese of goat.

I . love .  this .  salad !

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a dark Italian and a pink lady

Hah! So that got your attention? : )   (Not bait & switch, I promise –  I’ll explain in a moment. )

I love foods that dance in the mouth! Several years back I determined that I was going to concoct a   r.e.a.l.l.y.   fine chutney of my own. The result is here….and, though normally possessed of a fair amount of humility which would prohibit me from admitting such a thing – turns out, this truly is a really fine chutney! (As well as a fine & saucy dancer!)

If you haven’t formally met, let me introduce you to Chutney. (For those of you who’ve had the pleasure, just keep talking amongst yourselves. I’ll be back with you in a moment.) Chutney is a condimentmeant to go with things, to enhance their flavors, to excite and intrigue the palate. It can be made with all sorts of ingredients, but almost always with some sort (or combination) of fruits. That’s the sweet of it. (Well, there’s generally sugar too, because we’re about to make a preserve and sugar helps.) Then there’s the spicy of it – you might taste warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, allspice, star anise, cardamom, pepper, hot chilies, etc etc. And there’s the sour of it – maybe a combination of vinegar, lime, lemon. Frequently there will be a bit of onion and garlic too, but you might not know it once it’s all cooked down. A touch of salt to round all the flavors out to fullness. And then it’s cooked for a good while as all the flavors mingle and the ingredients soften to jam.

What use would you then put your chutney to? OH! You’d dollop a spoonful atop virtually any Indian dish or curry… put it with meats, or poultry (chicken and turkey love it!)…put it on a sandwich (heaven!)…put it with soft, creamy cheese (try goat!) or a salty hard cheese, on bread or crackers, on your scrambled eggs, on roasted vegetables, or on cold salmon. Honest to goodness, it’s addictively seductively aromatically pungently delicious! And you’ll find no shortage of uses for it!

{breathe………..}     So! you were wondering about the Italian and a pink lady, right? Quite simple, really, and not nearly as exciting as you might have hoped… this here sexy little chutney is made of Italian plums (sometimes called Italian “prunes” not dried out though, of course!) and Pink Lady apples. And because a very good friend and I will be collaborating on some rather scrumptious (mostly vegetarian) Indian dishes this coming season, I wanted to be sure you had plenty of really fine chutney on hand.

In the finished jars of chutney you’ll see pieces of brilliant apple, golden raisins plumped, thin sticks of golden ginger, little dark dots of currants, bits of lemon rind, all floating in a sea of plum.

Below I’ll give you the instructions for canning this chutney, though it’s just as fine to simply cook, pop in jars and freeze. You don’t need to use the Italian plum (that small one with the grey purple skin and the golden fruit inside) though it’s a fantastically delicious one. (I think it’s the best to cook with.) But use any you like…and they don’t all need to be fully ripe either. Pink Lady apples are really wonderful cooked…they hold their shape and their flavor is outstanding. But again, use any that holds up well to cooking. I used a whole lemon. Yes, peel too. Trust me on this one. Everything but the very center pulp and the seeds.

The next several posts that will be coming out over the remainder of the week will be fairly straight forward…probably a little less photography than usual. I’ll explain the (exciting) reason why very soon. So with no further delay, here it is,

The Sweet/Sour Love Affair of an Italian and his Pink Lady

Or

Spree’s Plum Apple Chutney

  • 4 cups Italian Plums
  • 1 cup Apple
  • 2½ – 3 cups light brown sugar (we like the lesser amount)
  • 1 onion (I used red for this one)
  • 1 whole lemon
  • 1 fat clove garlic
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup currants
  • ½cup raisins (gold are nice)
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 oz fresh ginger, julienned (½ cupful)
  • ½ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne

Preparing the ingredients:

Plums – wash, remove the stone and cut in approximately ½-inch pieces

Apple – Peel, core and cut into approximately ½-inch pieces

Onion – chop medium

Garlic – mince

Lemon – (organic is best since you’ll be using the peel) wash, removing seeds & center-most white part, cut into approximately ¼-inch pieces

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rhubarb apple tart & tulips on the table

we all bring something to the table. what are our gifts? what of ourselves do we decide to grow and then share? what love language do we speak? do we learn to speak another’s? how well do we listen?

my husband learned years ago that i love flowers. in the beginning he would order elaborate flower arrangements (full to overflowing) and have them delivered to the door. then, somewhere along the line, he learned i like simple, and all of one thing. and now, he brings me bundles wrapped in paper, wound with string, carried in his own man arms. and sometimes, after days away, blooms are there, welcoming me home again.

if you’ve been with me awhile, you’ve heard of my fear of pie. (more truly, it was fear of a colossal-y failed crust.) i’ve done truly brave things in my life (i’ll even cop to a “reckless” act or two) but pie crust? why and how this fear (irrational to begin with) grew to be such a beast, you might guess. but for years i steered clear of the rolling pin. then, only fairly recently, i decided to stand toe to toe with that tiger, stare unflinching into his golden eyes.

that tiger walks beside me now, purring like a kitten. and finally (and this is reason enough to take on a tiger) i can make my love his apple pie.

Apple Rhubarb Tart

I’ve shared my recipe for a tart shell in an earlier post. (see French Lemon Tart if you want to be tempted!) I’ll include the crust recipe here too, at the end of the post. I’d like to be humble about this, but after years of being humble, to finally be proud seems like something worthy of sharing. So here’s the un-softened, un-humble truth. This crust is   a.w.e.s.o.m.e.

A word about the filling: I grew up eating and loving rhubarb. To me, it’s a thing of spring. So as a base for this pie is a thick rhubarb “compote” of sorts – the liquid cooked out of it and nothing but the essence of the fruit remaining, lightly sweetened, imbued with the scented seeds from a vanilla pod and touched with a hint of cardamon. Apples, rolled in melted butter and brown sugar twirl across the top. Serve as is, warm from the oven, with or without ice-cream or crème fraîche. Or serve it chilled. It’s not too sweet for brunch or tea.

the Fillings

the rhubarb

  • 1 pound rhubarb stalks
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar or muscavado
  • 1/3 vanilla bean
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

the apple

  • 2 apples – Granny Smith or Pink Lady are good (or any other apple that will hold its shape while cooking)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar or muscavado

Wash the rhubarb stalks. Split in half lengthwise, then cut into pieces about 1/2-inch or smaller. Put in a medium-size heavy pot. Split the piece of vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, adding both the pod and seeds to the pot. Drop in the brown sugar and cardamom.

Place the lid on the pot and cook over low heat for 15 minutes or until saucy. (No water in this compote – the low heat will encourage the rhubarb to release its own moisture.)

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april’s green

I’m a sometimes-fan of raucous saturated vibrant in-your-face wild and wonderful jungle colors. But there’s something so gently sweet, so calm and mild about April’s green that fills me with a quiet contented peace. I love it when a color can do that.

Things have been busy around here, and are about to get noisy and busier still. I’m a creature of habit. I reach for things in certain places and expect to find them there.  I’m trying to ready myself for many of the common little things in my life trading places with each other ~ and for flying by the seat of my pants ~ and for setting aside comfortable knowns for “I wonder where?”s.  I’ll explain in a post coming soon. For now, I’m quite content to feast on nearly-April’s quiet. Of course, no sooner do I say that than I realize this isn’t just about me…but generally this blog does tend to be about what we eat around here. I hope you’re alright with that…I haven’t discovered a better way.

Last night I pulled some of those pale greens and creamy whites from the fridge and they became our salad. It was good enough to fix again for my lunch today, and even so good as to make me want to share it with you. So, here you are…

A salad of shaved fennel bulb – crisp and with its tinge of licorice-ness ~ thinly sliced apple, crisp and tartly sweet ~  Romaine lettuce, crisp and clean ~ (you’re getting the idea) ~ very thinly sliced red onion, just a touch to add a gentle bite (more like a friendly nip) ~ and shavings of fairly smoky, salty pecorino Romano cheese. Tossed in a bright vinaigrette ~ flavored with a just touch of roasted and crushed fennel seeds. Scatter a shower of a few more toasted fennel seeds on top if you like.

Fennel & Apple Green Salad with shaved Pecorino Romano Cheese

for 2

  • ½ of a large head of romaine lettuce
  • ½ apple – fresh, crisp and tart
  • ½ medium to large fennel bulb – stalks removed
  • about ¼ red onion, very thinly sliced (you could replace with green onion if you like)
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese – shaved – in whatever quantity pleases you

Fennel Vinaigrette

for 2

  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoon sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar of your choice – not balsamic)
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds (dry roasted in a small skillet over medium low heat) – OPTIONAL – if you’d like a scattering of toasty fennel seeds on top your dressed salad, roast up to 1 teaspoon of seeds, grinding half for the dressing and scattering the rest whole

Prepare the vinaigrette in a small jar by adding all dressing ingredients, shake, and set aside for flavors to blend.

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curried parsnip & apple soup with parsnip crisps

I’ve missed you. I’ve travelled north and south several hundred miles, through every kind of weather – rain, snow, sleet and hail. Had a flat tire along the way, but counted myself lucky that the sun peeked through winter skies for that part of my adventure. Traveling weather aside, it was a sweet trip, with little ones, lots of laughing, art and raucous play.

Now back home, I’m again purring away happily in my kitchen. And here’s what’s on the stove - it seemed only fitting – a delicious, homey soup for the last chill days of winter. The warmth of curry spices, the sweeter-than-carrot sweetness of parsnips, puréed  to a velvety smoothness, earthy sweetness then brightened by grated tart apple. Topped with fried crispy bites of parsnip coins and served with a bread of parsnip, parmesan & sage, still warm from the oven. (A recipe for this quick-bread will follow later today.) With meals like these, we can handle a few more weeks of winter.

Curried Parsnip and Apple Soup with Parsnip Crisps

  • 1½ lbs. (700 g) young parsnips (about 5 or 6)
  • 1 medium Granny Smith or Bramley apple (or another, tart & crisp)
  • 1¼ teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1¼ teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 6 whole cardamom pods, seeds only
  • 1½ 0z. (40 g) butter (1½ Tablespoons)
  • 1 Tablespoon neutral-tasting oil (canola, grapeseed, etc.)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1¼ teaspoons turmeric
  • 1¼ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 quart quality vegetable or chicken stock
  • salt & freshly-ground pepper, to taste

for the parsnip crisps

  • 1 medium to large parsnip
  • 6 Tablespoons neutral-tasting oil
  • salt

Using a small frying pan over medium heat, dry-roast the coriander, cumin and cardamom seeds. (2-3 minutes.) (Crush them using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

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morning glorious muffins

Getting out of a deliciously warm bed and stepping onto a cold bare floor with the windows revealing nothing of the day but drear and dark -

not to whine – but it’s hard on us humans. Do you like to think we deserve something special for our heroic efforts? On a rainy morning when the only reason we rise is because we must, these, and a mug of steaming hot something, make it one fraction easier to leave our warm comfy beds.

This recipe reads a bit like a carrot cake. Like the cake, and unlike many muffins, it’s chock full of good things our mothers would approve of.  It’s deliciously moist, surprisingly light and un-dense.  It keeps very well, and  it re-heats nicely (if you’re looking around for something to melt your butter on.) But let’s do better for breakfast than carrot cake. We won’t frost them; instead we’ll top with a liberal scattering of healthy walnuts. We’ll only use whole-wheat flour, and we’ll do one better by adding extra wheat-germ. We’ll grate 2 whole cups of  carrots, newly-pulled from the good earth, and add a grated tart apple, a handful of shredded coconut, some warming spices and some strewn bits of candied ginger. And after a few warm bites, we can raise what’s left and call it a glorious morning, because what we call it matters maybe even more than how we start it.

morning glorious muffins

(makes 12 muffins)

  • ½ cup raisins —  (or substitute chopped dried apricots, or dried cranberries, if you’re not a raisin fan)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour — (either the traditional or white whole wheat – same nutritional content)
  • 1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups peeled and grated carrots
  • 1 large tart apple, peeled, cored and grated
  • ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts – divided — (or substitute pecans, or sunflower seeds)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened wheat germ
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Lightly grease your muffin tin or line with papers and coat with a non-stick spray.

(Excuse me while I digress. I have this muffin “tin” that’s not a tin, but made of silicone instead and I love it. Here’s why: Muffins release easily from it without the addition of oil.  They cook beautifully in it – as brown as you like. Washing is easy – you can simply turn the cups inside out and give a little scrub. When not in use, roll it up and stuff it into cramped places. I’ll include a picture of it at the bottom of the post. All that being said, obviously, any muffin pan will do! )

Put the raisins (or the dried fruit of your choice) into a small bowl and cover with hot water to plump. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, and salt together, until thoroughly combined. Stir in the shredded carrots and apple, the coconut, 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, finely chopped candied ginger and wheat germ.

In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, orange juice and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and stir until evenly blended. Drain the raisins well, and add them now.

Divide the batter between 12 muffin cups – they’ll be nearly full, but they won’t overflow. They’ll just dome up beautifully. Scatter with approximately ¼ cup chopped walnuts (or your choice of nut or sunflower seeds.) Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a tooth pick or cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan, on a rack, for 5 minutes only. Then remove the muffins to the rack to continue cooling.

~ ~ ~

(Or of course, you may eat them steamy warm, and I highly recommend you do.)

~ ~ ~

My silicone pan is actually one made for brioche but I use it for muffins because I love the shape. Here ’tis: Read more

madeline’s cinnamon apple cake

I don’t often find myself in an extended baking mood, but everything the past few days has conspired to cast such a spell. Outside, the rain was falling in torrents, soggy leaves were blowing around our front door, sticking to the windows, filling our bird bath and our gutters.  An elderly neighbor of ours, a lonely sweetheart of a woman, lost her husband last year; I hadn’t seen her in a while and missed her.  I wanted something warm in my hands when I knocked on her door. And then, there were the apples, shiny and green, just fresh off their trees.

It wasn’t exactly a straight line, the weather – to my neighbor – to the cake. I tried several things along the way. One bombed completely; the other was decent, but only that; and then there was …

Madeline’s Cinnamon Apple Cake -

and it was lovely and mellow and warm… Read more

Ani’s Apple Crisp -

Ingredients Topping  

  • 3 T. unsalted butter, broken into several pieces  
  • 3 T. walnut oil  
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour  
  • 1/2 c. rolled oats (not quick-cooking)  
  • 1 handful of walnuts, chopped  
  • 1/2 t. salt  
  • 1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg  
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Ingredients –  Filling

  • Approximately 2 pounds of apples (see note)
  • 1/2 cup or so of fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 3 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I prefer brown, but granulated is fine)
  • ground cinnamon (1 t. or to taste)

NOTE:  A combination of Fuji, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and maybe one other of your choice makes for the most interesting and tasty apple dessert.  About 4 medium apples should do.  Though there’s lots of leeway here, it’s essential to have one tart apple (such as the Granny Smith) for flavor.


Preparing the Topping:  Using your fingers, work the butter with the sugar, flour, oats and spices so that each piece is coated and you have a coarse, crumbly mixture.  Stir in the walnut oil and add chopped walnuts, incorporating well.  (Variation made with all butter: if you haven’t any walnut oil and the urge strikes you to make this dessert with what’s on hand, you can substitute 6 T. butter.  But walnut oil isdelicious in certain salad dressings too and really nice to have around.  Keep refrigerated.)

The Filling:  Peel and core the apples and cut into bite-size pieces.  Mix with cranberries, flour, sugar and spices.  Pour into a 2-inch high baking dish, and cover with the crisp topping.

Baking: Bake at 375° F until the fruit is bubbly and thickened around the edges and the crisp topping is browned.  (Depending on your baking dish and the variability of ovens, this may take up to an hour, but check sooner.  If it begins to brown too much before its edges get bubbly, cover with aluminum foil for the duration.)

Served warm is best.  But even cold for breakfast, with plain or vanilla yogurt, is good!  (In a future installment, I’ll share my recipe for Vanilla Cardamom Ice-Cream, a rather divine accompaniment to a simple, homey dessert.)

for a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here.

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