My big bag of apples is slowly getting smaller, thanks in part to this recipe.  This recipe’s ingredients are really similar to an applesauce recipe but simmers for a good long time until the apples are dark and caramelized and a thick sauce is left. 

I peeled the apples but the original recipe doesn’t call for it and I won’t next time; apparently there is a lot of flavor and actual pectin in the peeling that would add to the mixture.  Some apple butter recipes would have you put the apples in peeling, seeds and all, do a first cooking, and then put the mixture in a food mill so it comes out really smooth.  This is fine but in the interest of time and because I don’t have a food mill, I used this method and it turned out really great. 

I plan on making an even bigger batch and pressure canning it so I can have some through the winter.  

 

INGREDIENTS

10 apples, cored and sliced

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup apple juice

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cloves (I used whole and removed them toward the end)

 

DIRECTIONS

Simmer everything in a pot until the apples are soft, most of the liquid has evaporated, and the sauce is thick and dark brown. 

Puree the mixture. 

Update:  I pressure canned several small jars of this with a 5 lb weight for 12 minutes (the same batch as the applesauce). 

Original recipe here

After a trip to the local apple orchard, I’m left with a large bag of apples with a large amount of potential.  Apple sauce is a given, as well as apple crisp and probably an apple pie.  But I wanted to try something a little different. 

Enter the Apple Turnover. 

I originally thought I would just throw some apple filling into store-bought puff pastry.  It would be good, no doubt, but then I came across this recipe with its own dough.  The dough is more work, of course, but none of the steps take a lot of time and the result is well worth it. 

I think I might have worked the dough a little too much when rolling it out the first time but they did puff out some and you can still see the layers of pastry… yum! 

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INGREDIENTS

Dough

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup sugar

4 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

3 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Filling

1 Tbsp flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

4 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small pieces (I actually used 8 apples becuase they were on the small side)

 

Egg wash:  1 large egg, beaten with 1 tsp water

Sugar, for dusting

 

DIRECTIONS

Dough

Combine sour cream and sugar.  Set aside.

Whisk together the flour and salt.  Add butter and cut in with a fork, pastry blender, or food processor (my tool of choice) until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  With a fork, using a lifting and tossing motion, gently stir in the sour cream.  The dough will be soft.  (For me, it was still pretty crumbly and not holding together but I still continued with the next step – when I divided in half and laid out on plastic wrap, it came together). 

Divide dough in half.  Put each half in a piece of plastic wrap and use the plastic to shape each piece into a rectangle (don’t worry about size or shape or precision).  Wrap the dough and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or for up to 2 days. 

Remove one piece of dough from the fridge and roll into a rectangle about 9 x 18 inches.  I found it easiest to roll between two pieces of wax paper but the conventional method on a floured surface would work fine.  Fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter.  Wrap it and refrigerate again for 2 hours or up to 1 day.  Repeat with the second piece of dough. 

Filling

Whisk the flour, sugar, and cinnamon together.  Add the apples and toss to coat. 

Getting ready to bake

Position oven racks to thirds.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Roll out one piece of dough to 1/8 inch thickness and cut out 4 1/2-inch rounds with a cutter or edge of a tartlet pan.  You should get 7 or 8 rounds out of the dough.  You can take the leftovers, refrigerate, and roll out again.  They won’t be as flakey as the first ones because the dough has been worked more but they will still taste great. 

Place 1 to 2 Tbsp of the apple mixture on each round.  Be careful to not use too much filling or the dough will tear when trying to come together.  Wet the edges of the dough with water and fold together, pressing the edges with a fork to seal.  Poke steam holes in each turnover, using the fork.  Transfer to baking sheet.  (At this point the turnovers can be wrapped and frozen.  Just put in the oven frozen and add a little time to the cooking time). 

Brush each turnover with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the baking pans from the top to bottom of the oven.  Bake until the turnovers are golden and puffed.  Transfer them to racks to cool.

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Lingering in the bottom of my produce drawer were five zucchinis. 

These are the last of a crop whose yield always seems to take me by surprise.  If you’re a novice gardener, start there; I swear zucchini plants would grow on the sidewalk.  And every plant produces a ga-jillion zucchinis so you can bask in your gardening success for weeks on end. 

Anyway, I have been throwing zucchinis in everything under the sun for weeks now… breads, cakes, stir fries, quiches, omelets… and on and on, but these few remained.  I opened my trusty Ina Garten cookbook for inspiration and there it was… zucchini pancakes. 

Savory pancakes?  “But… what do you put on them?”, my husband asked, at a loss since maple syrup didn’t seem right.  I wasn’t sure so out came the salsa, guacamole, two types of salsa, hummus, and … maple syrup. 

The flavor of these is really great.  I also see a lot of tweak potential to these, perhaps adding a little cheese or something spicy like cayenne or hot sauce?  Regardless, these are definitely worth another look, whether with a tweak or just as they are. 

INGREDIENTS

2 medium zucchini (about 3/4 pound), unpeeled

2 Tbsp. red onion, grated

2 eggs, lightly beaten

6 to 8 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 300 degrees (I just used the ‘Warm’ button).

Grate the zucchini using the large side of a box grater.  Immediately stir in the onion and eggs.  Stir in 6 Tbsp. of the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.  If the batter is too thin from the zucchini liquid, add the other 2 Tbsp. of flour. 

Heat a skillet or large pan over medium heat.  Add oil to the pan.  When hot, lower the heat to medium-low and drop a heaping spoon of batter into the pan. 

Cook the pancakes about 2 minutes on each side, until browned.  Place the pancakes in the oven to keep warm.  Add more oil to the pan and continue to fry th epancakes until all the batter is used.  The pancakes can stay warm in the oven up to 30 minutes. 

Serve hot.  Makes 10 3-inch pancakes.

Oh, and just for the record… salsa, guacamole, and yes, even maple syrup, were excellent on these. 

Recipe source: barefoot contessa at home by Ina Garten

Hubby came across a recipe for peach pie that uses a natural sweetener (maple syrup) instead of the usual refined sugar.  I have to admit that I was skeptical but there was nothing at all missing from this recipe… it was plenty sweet.  In fact, the final product was sweeter than a more traditional recipe I had made a few days earlier.  

The source for the filling is here, although I’ve paired it with a sour cream pastry instead of the nut crust (which would make it even more down to earth!). 

INGREDIENTS

Filling:

6 or 7 ripe peaches – pitted and sliced (you can peel if you like but I decided not to)

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Pinch sea salt

 

Pastry:

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup cold butter – cubed

1/2 cup cold lard

1/4 cup ice water (approx)

3 Tbsp. sour cream

 

DIRECTIONS

I use a food processor to make the crust because it’s faster and easier.  In the processor, whisk flour with salt.  Add cubed butter and lard and process until it is in fine crumbs and a few larger pieces. 

Whisk water with sour cream; while pulsing, drizzle over dry ingredients to form a ragged dough.  Add more water, one tablespoon at a time, if too dry. 

Divide pastry in half; press into discs.  Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes (up to 3 days). 

In the meantime, heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add the peaches, lemon juice, butter, maple syrup, and spices.  Cook, stirring frequently, unti lthe butter is melted and peaches are fragrant and softened.  (I found this took 20-25 minutes.  If using frozen peaches, you might add a little flour to thicken up the liquid that cooks out of the peaches). 

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the pastry discs to fit a 9-inch pie plate; trim to rim.  Spoon filling into the crust. 

Roll out second pastry disc.  Brush rim with water.  Place pastry over filling.  Trim to 3/4-inch overhang and then fold overhang under pastry rim; flute to seal.  Cut steam vents on top. 

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until bubbling.

I think my favorite meal is not one dish in particular but a pot luck of cold salads.  That might be cheating if you asked me for my “one favorite dish”, but I just love the variety that ends up on your plate when you’re faced with several tables of other people’s cooking. 

Around here, potato salad seems to all be the same: mashed potatoes with the same mayonnaise-based sauce, garnished with sliced eggs and paprika.  It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s nice to have something different for a change, right? 

This salad is still mayonnaise-based but the mustard makes it spicy and the dill pickles and juice make it… “pickly”.  Yum. 

 

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cooked and diced

2 large eggs, hard boiled

1/2 bunch scallions, white & green parts

2 Tbsp. capers, drained

1 cup mayo

1/4 cup dijon mustard

1/4 cup dill pickles, finely chopped

1/4 cup dill pickle juice

1/2 small red onion, minced

2 Tbsp. flat-leaf parsley

Juice of 1/2 lemon

 

DIRECTIONS

1.  Cook potatoes and eggs

2.  Combine mayo, mustard, capers, onion, pickle, pickle juice, scallions, parsley, and lemon juice.  Stir well.  Season with salt and pepper.

3.  Peel egg and grate into mixture.  Roughly break up potatoes into mixture, stirring occasionally. 

4.  Garnish with scallions and capers.  Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil to serve. 

 

From here:  http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2008/06/tyler-florences-ultimate-potato-salad-recipe.html (originally from Tyler Florence’s cookbook, Tyler’s Ultimate)

I’ve made this couscous salad twice now and it is delicious.  This recipe, like most couscous salads, could easily have the ingredient amounts adjusted to suit your tastes. 

This salad is good warm or cold. 

 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 package (10-oz) of couscous

1 tsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1/2 lemon, juiced

4 oz. portobello mushrooms, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

 

DIRECTIONS

1.  Place sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl with 1 cup of water and let sit for 30 minutes or until rehydrated.  Drain, reserving water, and chop. 

(* If you use the oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, first use paper towel to soak up some of the oil.  For step 2, use a full 1 1/2 cup of water or broth.)

2.  In a saucepan, combine the reserved sun-dried tomato water with enough water to make 1 1/2 cups.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in the couscous and cover.  Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.  Gently fluff with a fork. 

(* If you are using loose/bulk couscous like I do, try a 1:1 ratio of water to couscous… so in this case, 1 1/2 cups couscous.  You might like it a little more watery but this is a good place to start).

3.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet.  Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, and green onions.  Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are tender.  Mix in basil, cilantro, and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mix in the mushrooms and continue cooking 3 to 5 minutes

(* I personally had to let it go longer to get the mushrooms cooked the way I like). 

Toss with the couscous to serve. 

 

From here:  http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Couscous-with-Mushrooms-and-Sun-Dried-Tomatoes/Detail.aspx

I am a sucker for a pasta salad, especially during the summer.

When this Spinach and Orzo Salad was posted at Simply Recipes, I was all over it. The ingredients are simple but create a Greek-style pasta salad that is unlike any salad I have made.

The first time I made this salad I stuck to the original recipe. Olives and feta are always a good combination and I love the fresh taste of the spinach. I have not used pine nuts much but I love the mild nutty flavor and slight crunch they add to this salad.

The second time I made this recipe, I didn’t think my guests would be as appreciative of black olives as I am so I roasted two red peppers instead.  The salad, pictured here, was still great. 

I think this recipe has flexibility and a lot of room for experimentation.

INGREDIENTS
8 oz. orzo pasta
Salt
1/4 c. pine nuts
6 oz. feta cheese, roughly crumbled
2 oz. Kalamata olives, pitted, and roughly chopped
4 oz. baby spinach
1/2 c. red onion, chopped
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Pinch dried basil
Pinch dried tarragon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
 
 
DIRECTIONS
1. Prepare the orzo pasta according to instructions on the box for al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool quickly.
2. Toast the pine nuts. Heat a small skillet on medium heat. Add the pine nuts and stir occasionally until nuts are lightly browned. Be careful: they will burn if you are not watching them closely.
3. Process half of the spinach in a food processor or blender. Add one tablespoon of the olive oil. In a large serving bowl mix the spinach puree with the cooked orzo until the pasta is well coated. Roughly chop the rest of the spinach and gently mix with orzo along with red onion, feta cheese, pine nuts, and olives.
4. Combine the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, mustard, basil, and tarragon in a small jar (with a whisk) or bowl (by shaking). Pour over orzo spinach mixture and gently mix until well incorporated.
5. Chill for one hour before serving.