Monthly Archives: October 2014

Rustic Apple Crumble

apple crisp 1

This time of year I could bake apple desserts everyday, this is not even an understatement. The funny thing is that I am not a huge apple eater generally. Occasionally I’ll grab one for a snack, or slice up with peanut butter on the side, but really we’re looking a few times a year tops. When it comes to apple desserts however, and the turn of summer to fall I can go all out.

I’ve been reading Molly Wizenberg’s Orangette food blog since about the very begging of food blogs. If you haven’t visited her site please do, she is a wonderful writer, and her blog is full of both beautiful photos, and amazing recipes. She wrote a few years ago about this apple crisp recipe, from Nigel Slater, that I have been wanting to make ever since originally seeing it. Other apple cakes and pies always seemed to get in the way, and I’m glad that I finally gave this one a chance. My co-workers also loved it.

apple crisp 2Recipe adapted from Nigel Slater

My favorite part of this recipe, which is the first time I have tried this technique, is that you cook the apples, butter, and sugar together for a few minutes to caramelize before baking. I think by doing this it really deepens the overall flavor. Also a note on apples. I like using Granny Smith apples, they don’t break down as much as others when you bake them, and I think the tart flavor complements the sweet, but feel free to use whatever you like best.

For the filling

  • 4 granny smith apples
  • 1/3 cup sugar. I had turbinado sugar on hand.
  • 2 tbs. unsalted butter

For the topping

  • 7 tbs. cold unsalted butter cut into pea sized cubes
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbs Turbinado sugar
  • 1-2 tbs. ice cold water

Peel and core the apples and cut them into 1/2 inch thick slices. Heat up a medium sized sauce pan on medium heat and add the butter until it melts and starts to foam. Add the apples and sugar and stir well to coat the apples. Let the apples cook for about 5 minutes or until the juices thicken into a golden syrup. Place cooked apples and juices into a pie dish.

To make the topping dice the butter into pea sized cubes and put into a medium sized bowl. Use your fingers to incorporate together until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Drizzle with the ice water and incorporate together until lumps form. Evenly distribute crumb topping over apples and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until golden brown on top and the dessert bubbles on the sides of the dish.

 

Homemade Ricotta

Listen up people, you’ll want to make this. I have been wanting to make this recipe for a few years, and was really shocked at how easy it is to make homemade ricotta. I’m a firm believer that ricotta goes with just about anything. You can put it on your home made pizza, pasta with red sauce, toast and toppings of all sorts.

There are multiple steps to the process but trust me, it’s very simple.

Recipe

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbs. lemon juice or white wine vinegar. I happened to have limes on hand and it worked great.
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 layers of cheese cloth covering a colander. For me this was an entire package that I purchased at the grocery store that I cut into thirds.

Ricotta 1Line a colander or metal sieve with 3 layers of cheese cloth and set it inside a larger bowl.

Ricotta 2Heat the milk, cream, and salt in a heavy pot on medium heat, until a candy thermometer reaches 190 degrees. Just before the milk rapidly foams up, remove from heat and add 3 tbs. of lemon juice. Or in my case lime juice. Stir once or twice to incorporate the acid with the milk mixture, and let it sit for 5 minutes or until you can see the milk curds form.

Ricotta 3This one is my favorite photo. Looks really appetizing right now doesn’t it?

Ricotta 4Pour the mixture into the cheese cloth lined colander and let it strain for at least a half an hour. I like my ricotta on the wet side, so I let it strain for and hour and a half, but you can strain it up to 3 hours.

Store in an air tight container in the fridge and enjoy.

Ricotta 5

Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies

Chai Spice cookies stacked

There are two things I love going on here with this recipe. First, one cannot drink enough chai, that is a fact of life.  Secondly, I love playing around with different versions of sugar cookies. Sometimes I add zest, lemon juice, or brown the butter.  This time I added wonderful chai spices. I was inspired to bake this recipe from some Pinterest snooping I did this weekend. People on there are going wild with  enthusiasm for fall desserts, especially pumpkin spiced anything.

My youngest sister (Sarah) lives in Seattle, and was visiting for the weekend. I spent Saturday afternoon baking these, while she and my other sister (Hannah) enthusiastically kept asking if the dough was ready to eat. We took the photos together, Hannah worked with me in styling the shots, and Sarah blocked the direct light. We proceeded to eat a million of these delicious cookies while watching movies, with Hannah’s two dogs (hellians), and the cutest cat that there has ever been, passed out on top of us on the couch.

I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as we did.Cookies on polka dot 2

Recipe

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

First cream the room temperature butter until it is light and fluffy, you can’t overdo this process. Slowly add the sugar until it is fully incorporated and continue to beat on high for about 2 minutes while you get all of the spices together. One at a time add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, salt, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract, and egg. Make sure you when mixing, that you scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure that all of the ingredients are incorporated. Lastly you add the flour, and I do this in portions, 1/2 cup at a time, as you don’t want it to fly around the kitchen as you mix it in. In order to have all of the cookies uniform in size, if that’s your thing, roll the dough into a one inch ball and space them apart on the baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, and cool on cooling rack before you dive in.

 

Avocado and egg on toast

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I clearly remember the first time I tried to poach an egg. I was on a 7 day kayaking trip to Ross Lake, which is on the Washington Canadian boarder. In order to get there you either have to backpack in, then rent a canoe, or what I did was kayak up Diablo Lake roughly 10 miles then when you get to the dam that borders the two lakes, there is a shuttle that takes you across. Once you are there your only mode of transportation is by boat, in my case it was a double person kayak. We piled everything on that we would need, and strapped it down wishing for the best, I kind of have a thing about deep water.

This place is stunning, it’s 23 miles narrow lake that crosses over the Canadian border. I spent the days swimming, kayaking, and just really enjoying the Northwest summer. I have no recollection of what prompted me to bring eggs for the first day. I mean really. I grew up backpacking, I really know better than that. At the time it seemed like a lot of the food blogs were posting about putting poached eggs on just about anything, toast in the morning, leftovers for dinner, and this gave me the idea of poaching an egg to go with dinner for the first night out on the water. Now I had no idea what I was doing. I filtered the evening water, as the only source of drinking water was from the lake, put the pot on the camping stove and boiled it to a rolling boil. I cracked the egg all excited like, and dropped it into the water. Let me tell you, this is not the way to poach an egg, this is the way to make egg drop soup.

After the trip I read about how to actually poach an egg because, there really is an art to it, this is what works best for me.

Toast 1

Recipe

  • 1 egg
  • half a lime
  • sourdough bread
  • half and avocado
  • salt for seasoning

Bring a small pot of water to a gentle simmer, you should be looking for very small bubbles coming up from the bottom of the pot. If there is too much of a boil it breaks apart the egg, if there isn’t enough then when you drop the egg in it spreads across the bottom of the pot and doesn’t form a great shape.

Once you heat up the water you need to put in either some white wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar, or what I did making this recipe was squeeze in half of a lime that I had lying around. This tightens up the whites. Crack and egg and put it in a shallow bowl and gently drop the egg into the pot of water. Poach the egg for about 5 minutes, and remove with a slotted spoon. For this recipe I smashed up avocado, spread it over toast, and gently placed on the poached egg.