Archive for the ‘Apples and Cider’ Category

Apples on My Mind

Monday, September 11th, 2017

I have apples on the brain these days. They’re omnipresent on my road, brightening the neighborhood like Christmas ornaments on their trees. They’re also abundant this year at orchards again; new flavors seem to ripen every week. I eat at least one a day. I should be doing this because apples are healthy. I’m actually doing it just because I love them. My dog Cocoa smells the juice of recently picked apples whenever I bite into one and patiently (well, almost patiently) waits for a bite or two.

Apples will be my theme when I teach my next class at the Baker’s Pin next week. On the evening of Thursday, September 21, I’ll return to Northampton, Massachusetts, to create a whole meal with apples, from appetizer to dessert.

In fact, I recently devised one of the recipes below for that very class—my Apple Gruyère Pizza. When I made it on Mass Appeal last week, the pizza was completely consumed before the end of the hour-long show.

The swamp cake that follows is an applesauce cake I made years ago for the birthday of one of my favorite people in the world, my former roommate Alice from Dallas. Alice dubbed it “swamp cake” because of its tendency to swamp down in the middle. The swamping didn’t bother either of us; we just applied a little extra cream-cheese frosting in the swampy area.

If you know anyone in western Massachusetts who would like to join me at the Baker’s Pin, please tell him/her/them to register here. Slots are still open.

Enjoy the crunch, taste, and versatility of apples as we approach fall!

Apple Gruyère Pizza

If you want a lighter pizza or are serving vegetarians, brown the onion in extra-virgin olive oil instead of bacon fat. (Add a small amount of salt and pepper when you add the apple and garlic.) For vegetarians, omit the bacon on top; for light lovers, cut down on the bacon on top.

Ingredients:

6 slices of bacon
1 large onion (preferably sweet), thinly sliced
1 medium clove garlic, slivered
1 large apple, cut into thin chunks
1 medium pizza crust (about 1 pound)
extra-virgin olive oil as needed
2 cups (generous) grated Gruyère
chives to taste

Instructions:

A couple of hours before you are ready to make the pizza, take your pizza crust out of the refrigerator (if you are using a commercial crust; if your crust is homemade it won’t need cooling), place it on a greased baking sheet, and let it rest. After an hour and a half or so, preheat the oven to 475 degrees, lightly grease the baking sheet, and stretch the crust out on top. If you are paranoid like me, you may want to line the baking sheet with parchment, foil, or silicone.

In a large skillet fry the bacon. Remove it from the pan and place it on paper towels to drain. Set aside. Leave enough of the bacon fat in the pan to cover the bottom of the pan lightly. (You won’t need the rest of the bacon fat.) Toss in the onion slices, and cook them over low heat until they begin to caramelize (probably 20 minutes to 1/2 hour).

Throw in the garlic and the apple chunks and cook the mixture for another 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Sprinkle most of the cheese on top of the pizza crust. Sprinkle the onion mixture on top (it won’t make a heavy topping), and top with the rest of the cheese. Bake the pizza until it looks done, 10 to 14 minutes.

While the pizza is baking, crumble the bacon and chop the chives.

When the pizza comes out of the oven, sprinkle the chives and bacon pieces on top. Let the pizza rest for a minute or two; then slice it. Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as an appetizer.

Swamp Cake

Ingredients:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter at room temperature
1/2 brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup applesauce (preferably homemade)
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 cup flour
1 cup raisins

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch-square pan.

Cream together the butter and the sugars. Add the applesauce. Beat well; then beat in the egg. Beat in the baking soda, salt, and spices. Stir in the flour, followed by the raisins.

Spoon the batter into the pan, and bake until the cake tests done, about 25 minutes. Cool and eat plain or frost. Serves 8.

And now, the videos:

Tinky Makes Apple Gruyère Pizza on Mass Appeal

 

Tinky Makes Swamp Cake on Mass Appeal

Apple-Cranberry Crumble

Monday, October 31st, 2016

apple-cran-crumble-web

Regular readers may have noticed that I LOVE crumbles. I also love the fall combination of apples and cranberries. The textures of these fruits are complementary, and together in dishes like this one they perk up a dreary season (we have ALREADY had snow in western Massachusetts!) with color and flavor.

I highly recommend this dish for Thanksgiving—easier than pie, and definitely thanks-inducing.

But you can even eat it for Halloween! Happy Trick or Treating to all….

do-not-drinkweb

 

The Crumble

Ingredients:

3 cups apple slices
2 cups cranberries
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter
1/2 cup brown sugar

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the fruit in a 9-inch pie pan. (Make sure you have a cookie sheet under the pan; the fruit can get juicy in the oven!) Add the 4 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Toss if you can.

Combine the flour, oats, and salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or your fingers. Add the brown sugar and mix again until crumbly.

Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the fruit, pressing down lightly. Bake until the crumble is golden brown and crisp (about 30 minutes more or less, depending on your oven). Serves 6 to 8. The crumble may be served warm or cold.

Here I make the crumble on Mass Appeal.

Extravagant Pies!

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

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Things are humming here in Hawley, Massachusetts. In just over a week—on Sunday, October 9—the Sons & Daughters of Hawley will host the Hawley Gentlemen’s Pie and Tart Extravaganza!

This event is modeled after our occasional pudding contest. It was inspired by two sentences I turned up in an old book many years ago while doing research for Hawley’s bicentennial.

In about 1920 in “A Sketch of the [Hawley] Ladies Aid,” Mattie Carter White recalled, “At one time there was a contest for the women sawing wood. The men had a pie baking contest. Mr. Clarence Gould got the prize for making the best pie.”

For years several of Hawley’s men—my friend Peter in particular—have lobbied for a revival of the pie-baking contest. No one has lobbied for a revival of the wood-sawing contest so we’re ignoring that. But we are at last holding a men’s pie contest as a fundraiser for the ongoing restoration of the Hawley Meeting House.

It will be open to men and boys who come from other places, of course. And it should offer fun for women as well as men.

The day will include a tour of historic sites, a sumptuous lunch, a pie parade, and an entertainment in which we reenact the circumstances of the original pie contest.

Of course, we have no idea what those circumstances were. We don’t even know what kind of pie Clarence Gould made or precisely when he made it. That won’t stop us from telling a fun story involving music, vegetarianism, and a chicken named Jerusha.

Please join us if you can—and spread the word! It may be another 100 years before we revive the contest once more.

Making Pie with Michael Collins

Making Pie with Michael Collins

Here is a recipe to get male readers started. It comes from my friend Michael Collins, now semi-retired as a chef. Michael’s main responsibility is cooking filling breakfasts for the guests at the Bed and Breakfast establishment he and his partner Tony now run at their home in Colrain.

Michael came on Mass Appeal with me this week to show how quickly one can assemble a pie. I prepared my Rustic Apple Tart, and he threw together this quiche-like concoction. The herbs and the mushrooms gave it rich flavor. And we had fun as always cooking together.

Michael's Pie

Michael’s Pie

Michael’s Breakfast Pie

from Chef Michael Collins at the Barrel Shop Gallery Airbnb

Ingredients:

4 to 5 strips of bacon
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (Shitake or the mushroom of your choice)
uncooked top and bottom pie crusts
4 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, crumbled
1 teaspoon fresh basil, crumbled
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, crumbled
a few gratings of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Fry the bacon in a pan. Take it out, but do not remove the grease from the pan. Drain the bacon on paper towels, and crumble it. Sauté the mushrooms in the remaining bacon grease. Return the crumbled bacon to the pan, and toss.

Place the fried bacon and mushrooms in the bottom pie crust. Whisk together the eggs, milk, herbs, and seasonings. Pour the egg mixture over the bacon and mushrooms.

Place top crust on the pie. Make a few holes in the top for ventilation.

Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees, and bake for about 30 minutes more, until golden brown.

Serves 6 to 8.

And now the video….

Drink, Eat, and Be Very Merry Indeed

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

spritis-web

I am one of the lucky food writers who have been invited to what is called the Abrams Dinner Party. Abrams Publishing (long known for art books and more recently for colorful cookbooks) will be sending us books to review throughout the year.

I’m already behind on posting reviews (I’m behind on EVERYTHING during this nutty season of the year) so I’m giving you three at once.

Colonial Spirits: A Toast to Our Drunken History by Steven Grasse is charming—so much so that although I THOUGHT I was going to set it aside as a prize for my upcoming Hawley Gentlemen’s Pie & Tart Extravaganza, I have decided that it needs to stay in my house so I can use it.

(In addition to enjoying the text I loved the old-fashioned typeface and the whimsical illustrations by the Reverend Michael Alan.)

Grasse is a distiller himself and the creator of such successful historically oriented brands as Narragansett Beer and Hendrick’s Gin. In his book he returns to colonial days, reminding the reader that since the water was unsafe to drink early white Americans turned to ale and other spirits to quench their thirst.

He provides recipes and history for a variety of concoctions, including a variety of beers and wines (cock ale or quince wine, anyone?), ciders, and cocktails. I can now make beverages I had only previously encountered in historical novels, including syllabub, ratafia, and milk punch. (Okay, I may skip the milk punch.)

Look for me to concoct such drinks as cranberry shrub and peach cobbler (yes, it’s a cocktail as well as a dessert) on TV in the months to come.

wine-web

In The 24-Hour Wine Expert Jancis Robinson offers a primer for people like me, who either don’t drink wine or don’t know much about it. She helps with selecting wines (telling the reader how to move from one wine s/he likes to another s/he will PROBABLY like), serving them, and storing them.

I have apparently stored much of the wine in my house a little too long.

She also runs through the products of major wine-producing areas and tells the reader how to find a bargain. All in all, this is a handy little book.

Butter & Scotch shares recipes from a combination bar and bakery in Brooklyn of the same name. The bar’s founders, Allison Kave and Keavy Landreth, share their “baking and boozing philosophy,” which is all about having fun while eating and drinking very well. Some of their recipes even combine butter and scotch with delicious-sounding results. All of their recipes are imaginative.

I wanted to test at least one recipe from this book. I was tempted to try the very rich peanut-butter pie but decided to give my guests the slightly less caloric Mama T’s Tuna Quiche.

Basically a rearranged tuna melt in a pie shell (I didn’t say it was calorie free!), the quiche was very popular with a group from my small hometown at a recent pot luck. I think another time I would grate the cheese instead of cubing it, to make it flow through the pie, but I’ll definitely try it again!

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Mama T’s Tuna Quiche

from Butter & Scotch, used with permission

Ingredients:

1 single pie crust
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons flour
6 ounces Swiss cheese, cubed
1 (5-ounce) can tuna packed in water, drained
1/3 cup sliced Kalamata olives
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 pinch cayenne pepper

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Fit the crust into a pie pan. (The original recipe uses an 8-inch springform pan, which would be great, but I don’t have one so I used a 9-inch pie pan.) Refrigerate until ready to fill.

In a large bowl beat together the mayonnaise, milk, eggs, and flour. Add the cheese, tuna, olives, scallions, mustard, and cayenne, and stir well. Pour all of the ingredients into the crust, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the center has set. (The original recipe says 20 to 25 minutes, and if one has the springform that may work, but in my pie pan it took longer.)

Allow the quiche to cool for at least 20 minutes, then serve it warm or at room temperature. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week and warmed in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes. Serves 6 (more at a pot-luck event!).

 tuna-quicheweb

Frittering My Life Away

Thursday, September 15th, 2016
Fritters make me happy.

Fritters make me happy.

I know, I know. This is my second post in a row about fritters.

I actually only make fritters every couple of years as a rule. Lately, however, I seem to be on a fritter kick.

Please believe me when I say this trend will end soon, for the sake of my waistline if for no other reason.

I will be making apple fritters in public very soon again, however. Apex Orchards in Shelburne, Massachusetts, is having a grand re-opening this weekend (September 17-18). I’ll be part of the celebration, making a couple of recipes from my Pudding Hollow Cookbook.

I have shopped at Apex for years, both for fruit and for the wonderful cider vinegar I buy there by the gallon. Tim Smith’s family has farmed this land for seven generations.

Tim and company have just opened a gorgeous new farm store with a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. The gala weekend will feature hot-air balloon launchings, lots of yummy food (including my beloved Bart’s Ice Cream), and of course yours truly. I will be on hand on Sunday from 12 to 2 p.m. dishing up fritters as well as a green salad with apples.

The New Store (Courtesy of Apex Orchards)

The New Store (Courtesy of Apex Orchards)

If you can’t come, do try making the fritters. I prepared them on Mass Appeal yesterday, along with my favorite corn and tomato soup. I hope you watch! Meanwhile, I’m working on making something besides fritters for my next post!

apple-fritters-web

Apple Fritters

Ingredients:

1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon (you can’t really have too much)
1/2 cup flour
canola oil for frying
1 cup apple chunks (bite-sized pieces)

Instructions:

First, prepare the batter. Beat the egg until it is light. Add the sugar, milk, oil, and lemon juice, and mix well. Mix in the baking powder, salt, and cinnnamon; then gently stir in the flour. The batter should be fairly smooth. (A few lumps will disappear in cooking.) Let the batter sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

When you are ready to fry your fritters, pour 2 inches of oil into a fryer or heavy skillet and heat it to between 350 and 370 degrees. Stab each piece of apple with a fork, and dip it into the batter. Allow it to drip a bit, but don’t shake off the batter. Carefully lower the coated fruit into the fat, and cook until the first side is brown; then turn and cook the other side. (Turning can be a little tricky, but luckily sometimes you don’t need to!) You may cook 5 or 6 pieces at once.

Remove the fritters with a slotted spoon, and keep them warm in a 250-degree oven until all are ready. Serve alone, or covered with powdered sugar or warm maple syrup. Serves 4.

 

Courtesy of Apex Orchards

Courtesy of Apex Orchards

And now the videos….