Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Braised Greens with Apples

One last apple recipe to close out October, this time savory.

I have been testing out some recipes for the much smaller Thanksgiving we are hosting this year. I will be making all our traditional foods in some new ways. Like these greens.

We both loved these! I cooked these greens, which were a combination of Swiss chard, ruby chard, and kale with apples and apple cider vinegar. I served them with cornbread casserole (recipe following) for a simple and satisfying supper.

Braised Greens with Apples
(From The Fresh Honey Cookbook by Laurey Masterton)
2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. honey
2 tart apples, unpeeled, cut into chunks
3 pounds mixed braising greens, cut into large pieces, thick stems removed
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until they start to brown, about 5 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup water, the vinegar, honey, and apples, stirring to combine.  Add the greens and stir, folding in the uncooked greens on the top as the ones in the bottom of the pan wilt, until all the greens have been incorporated.

Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the type of greens. Denser and more mature greens like collards will need to cook longer.

Taste, and add salt and pepper, if desired. Too much will mask the sweetness of the greens. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fantastic Apple Bread

 This tasty apple bread was so easy to make. I love simple and delicious recipes for made from scratch foods which are simple to put together, don't involve machinery, and don't make a lot of mess to clean up. This is one of those. 

This moist, sweet and spicy bread is perfect for brunch or for dessert. I served it with quiche and it made a very satisfying light meal. 

The crunchy crust that forms while baking is the best part!

Fantastic Apple Bread
3 - 4 medium fresh apples, peeled cored and sliced
1/2 cup light vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 - 1 cup sugar, to taste
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a standard loaf pan.
Combine apple slices, oil, milk, and beaten eggs in a large mixing bowl and stir well. Add flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, if using. Stir again, by hand, until well mixed.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 - 15 minutes in pan.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sour Cream Apple Pie with Streusel Topping

This recipe may look complicated, but it is really as easy as. . .um, pie. Easy as pie, that's it.  I tried to find out who should be credited for it, but no luck. Many claim this pie as their own, including Gourmet Magazine and Martha Stewart. I have seen credit given to the Amish which seems more likely to me.

The sour cream and eggs are unusual for an apple pie, but really they only serve to uplift and glorify the apple slices. The pie doesn't taste overly rich or custardy. It is a very light apple pie--not too heavy or cloyingly sweet. 

If your knife skills need honing, apples are a great way to practice. They are easy to peel with an ordinary vegetable peeler, they slice easily even if you don't have a great or a really sharp knife, they are fun to nibble on while you work, and they don't make you cry. 

Use any apple or a mix of apples for this pie. The fresher your apples, the better your pie will taste. I used my preferred apple--Gala, which is quite sweet so I didn't use much sugar. Taste and add sugar as desired.

Sour Cream Apple Pie

Fit your favorite pie crust into a 9-inch deep pie dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Streusel Topping
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. flour

Mix together until well combined. Cover and chill until ready to use.

Apple Filling
1 1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup (or more to taste) sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
3 Tbsp. flour
4 -5 large apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

Whisk together the sour cream, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and flour until smooth. Add the apples and stir together.

Spoon the filling into the prepared pie crust and crumble the streusel topping evenly over it. Bake for 1 hour to 1 1/4 hours. Cool completely before slicing.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Applesauce - The Easy Way (A re-post from 10-9-2009)

Since I originally posted this, I have been using Gala apples for making applesauce and apple butter. I find that they are perfectly sweet, without adding sweetener of any kind.

If you want to take advantage of the season's bounty and make your own applesauce, do yourself a favor and get a Foley food mill. It is an old timey, inexpensive, uncomplicated, piece of equipment that couldn't be easier to use. Plus you'll feel like Miz Boone using it and it doesn't make noise.

You don't even have to peel or core the apples, nor worry about the seeds. Simply wash the apples well, with a vegetable brush, then cut them into quarters, and drop them into a pot. Add about a quarter inch of water and simmer, about 10 to 15 minutes, until the apples are soft.

Place the softened apples into the food mill and turn the handle. Viola, applesauce! Taste, and depending on the apples used, you may want to sweeten it. Because I used half Granny Smith apples, I added some sugar. Also I reheated my applesauce because I was canning it.

Making applesauce this way, utilizing the entire fruit, retains all the pectin and nutrients of the apples. Plus, there is suprisingly little waste.

The applesauce is very smooth and has an almost creamy mouth feel.

Paula Deen's Baked Spaghetti (A re-post from September 10, 2010)

Here's another make ahead dish for my canning days. Because our kitchen is so small, I really do take up the entire kitchen and every inch of space in it, and then some, for my canning projects. Except I leave a small, clear path to the microwave. So when Pritchard Parker comes home from work hungry, it is easy to get him a meal quickly.

I do the same thing in December when I turn my kitchen into a bakery. I would take a picture of it but I would be too embarrassed for you to see it. It would remind you of one of those hoarders you see on TV. (Maybe I exaggerate a little).

I made only slight changes to the recipe you can find on Paula Deen's website, the main one being the fact that I did not use her branded seasoning concoctions, of which she calls for three. Also I altered the sauce cooking instructions slightly.

Paula Deen's Baked Spaghetti
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
2 - 3 cloves minced garlic
2 cups canned diced tomatoes
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup water (I sloshed the tomato cans with water to make this amount)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 small bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 oz. thin spaghetti
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese

In a large pot, brown hamburger meat, stirring and breaking up, until no longer pink. Drain away excess fat. Add onions and bell pepper to the meat, cooking and stirring until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic and stir for a few seconds longer.

Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and the water to the meat mixture and stir well. Add in all the herbs and spices. Let the sauce simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, grate the cheeses and cook the pasta according to package directions. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To assemble, cover the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish with sauce. Add a layer of pasta and a little less than half each of the cheeses. Repeat the layers, ending with the sauce. Bake for 30 minutes. Top the spaghetti with the remaining cheese and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fancy Cheese Platter for Dinner

I used to make cheese platters, or whatever you want to call it, for dinner on a fairly regular basis--a couple times a month or so. When my children were young, I would call it "snacks". I would serve it as a meal on Friday night when I was too tired to cook. We would eat in front of the TV and they got to stay up late, since there was no school the next day.

Of course, for the children, I didn't use the fancy cheeses and smoked fish. Their style was celery sticks with peanut butter, popcorn, chips and dip, orange wedges, and peanuts. We would have cheese and crackers, but they were Cracker Barrel and saltines. Fun night and fond memories, gathered around the coffee table to eat.

On a recent evening, I made a fancy platter for just the the two of us, husband and me.  We enjoyed it sitting on the sofa together and eating from the coffee table. We weren't watching TV because we cancelled our cable. We were having conversation!

Fancy Cheese Platter
Extra Sharp Cheddar
Baby Swiss
Saga Blue
Parmigiano Reggiano
Smoked Salmon
Fresh Pears
Pimiento Stuffed Olives
Grape Tomatoes
Homemade Mango Chutney
Smoked Almonds
French Baguette and Assorted Crackers

Arrange as you please and serve.