Category Archives: Fruit

Apple Dumplings

Apple Dumplings

Apple Dumplings

As I mentioned in my last post, we are hosting Thanksgiving this year and working hard at menu planning.  One interesting fact about Thanksgiving with Marc’s family is that it is mandatory that there are nearly as many desserts as there are adults joining us for the meal.  Marc’s mother is a great baker and his sister is a trained pastry chef so you can imagine how high the dessert bar is set.  So in addition to the obligatory pumpkin pie, we have a whole bunch of great desserts planned, including this one.

Fresh Apples

Fresh Apples

Of course, many people go the apple pie route.  It’s a great choice and a Thanksgiving classic.  We love apple pie around these parts which is one of the reasons why this recipe is a family favorite.  It has all the flavors of apple pie – the flaky pastry, the apple, and the sweet cinnamon-infused sauce – but in a neat little individual package.  Because the apples are whole you save time chopping and you only have one crust to manage (which makes life just that much easier).

Apples waiting for their wrapping

Apples waiting for their wrapping

This recipe is the one that my mother-in-law has been making for years.  It is delicious as is so we really didn’t make many changes.  If you like, you could increase the spices a little bit, maybe adding a dash of cloves for a little spicy flavor.  But really, this recipe is as good as it gets, just the way it is.  Make sure to have some vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream on hand for serving.  After all, it is Thanksgiving.

Pouring the sauce

Pouring the sauce

Apple Dumplings

Recipe from Charlene Marino

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups sugar, plus additional for sprinkling if desired

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbls butter, plus more for dotting the apples

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2/3 cup lard (or shortening)

1/2 cup milk

6 medium apples, peeled and cored

To Make:

First, make a simple syrup by combining the sugar, water, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium sauce pan.  Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Remove the syrup from heat and add 3 tbls of butter and the vanilla.  Stir until combined and set aside.

To make the pastry, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in the lard until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add milk all at once and stir until flour is just moistened.  Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface and roll dough into a 12×18 inch rectangle.  Cut the pastry into 6, 6-inch squares.

To assemble the dumplings start by placing an apple on each dough square.  Sprinkle apples generously with sugar, cinnamon, and freshly ground nutmeg and dot with butter.  Moisten edges of pastry, bring corners to the center of the apple, and pinch the edges together.

Place the wrapped apples about 1 inch apart in an ungreased baking pan.  Pour syrup over dumplings and sprinkle with more cinnamon and sugar if desired.  Bake in a 375 degree oven until the apples are tender, about 35 minutes.

To Serve:

Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.  Serves six.  Recipe can be doubled.  Also, if you want your dumplings really saucy, feel free to double the syrup.

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Filed under Baked goods, Dessert, Fruit, Recipes

Bacon and Apple Stuffed Squash

Bacon and Apple Stuffed Squash

Bacon and Apple Stuffed Squash

Well hello there, how have you been?  I am not sure what happened but I must have blinked because October is almost over and we haven’t done any blogging.  Yikes.  Luckily, it is fall and we just got our first Winter CSA distribution so there is plenty of inspiration to go around.  The winter CSA is lots of fun because the distributions are over flowing with tons of vegetables, apples, dried beans, and other goodies.  With that big box of yum, we were quickly inspired to make this delicious (almost vegetarian) butternut squash stuffed with flavors of fall.

Apples and Bacon (home cured)

Apples and Bacon (home cured)

The squash is roasted with butter and maple syrup and then filled with a stuffing made from leeks, apples, bacon, brown rice, and more maple syrup.  The stuffing nicely balances the sweet with the savory and makes for a light but filling main dish.  The recipe calls for butternut squash but you could easily substitute acorn or another hard shelled squash if that is what you had on hand.

Chopped Leek

Chopped Leek

This dish requires a few steps to make but it can almost all be done ahead of time.  It makes a great Thanksgiving option because you can prep it all a day or two in advance and then heat it up right before serving.

Ready for Roasting

Ready for Roasting

Bacon and Apple Stuffed Squash

Ingredients:

2 medium butternut squash

1 tbls butter

3 tbls real maple syrup, divided

2.5 ounces thick cut bacon

1 leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 small apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 cup cooked brown rice

To Make:

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Arrange the squash in a roasting pan, cut side up.  Divide the butter and 1 tbls of the syrup between the four cavities.  Fill the pan with about an inch of water, cover with foil, and roast at 375 until mostly tender, about 40 minutes.  Remove the foil, rub the butter and syrup from the cavity all over the squash and cook for another 10-15 minutes until it starts to caramelize around the edges.

Meanwhile chop the bacon and cook in a heavy skillet over medium heat until browned and crisp.  Remove the bacon and set aside to drain on paper towels.  Drain off all but about 1 tbls of the bacon fat from the pan.  Add the leeks and garlic and sauté until the leeks are softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the apples to the pan and sauté until they are soft, another 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked rice and 2 tbls of maple syrup to bind it all together.  At this point, you can refrigerate both the squash and the stuffing, tightly wrapped in separate containers, until you are ready to serve.
Mound the stuffing into the cavity of the squash halves and bake in a 375 degree oven until warmed through, 10-20 minutes, depending on how cold everything was.
To Serve:
Serve hot as a main dish or as a hefty side.  Make it vegetarian by omitting the bacon and using olive oil or butter instead of bacon fat for sauteing the filling.  Serves 4.

 

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Filed under Dinner, Fruit, Recipes, Rice, Vegetables

Strawberry Rosé Sorbet

Strawberry Rosé Sorbet

For your eating pleasure, may I present one last strawberry gasp.  The all-to-short season is over, but summer is just heating up.  And nothing is better than refreshing and cool ice cream when it is hot outside.  This recipe is the most refreshing of them all.  This is a sweet, fruity, adults-only sorbet that is the perfect resting place for those last ripe summer strawberries.  For those who are dairy-intolerant, I promise that one taste of this and you won’t miss ice cream any more.

Strawberries and Wine

The key to this dessert is the quality of ingredients.  There are only strawberries, wine, and sugar in this sorbet so there is nothing to hide behind.  It is worth using the ripest, freshest strawberries and good quality wine.  All the individual flavors come through in the final sorbet.

Blending

Speaking of wine, the recipe calls for Rosé, a light pink wine (usually from France) that is fruity and dry.  You don’t need to spend a lot on the wine but please, whatever you do, do not buy white zinfandel.  It is not the same and will not raise your dessert to heretofore unknown levels of deliciousness like a good Rosé will.

Churning

Strawberry Rosé Sorbet

From The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Ingredients:

1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

2 cups Rosé wine

2/3 cup sugar

To Make:

In a medium saucepan, bring the wine and sugar to a gentle boil and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Add the sliced strawberries to the wine mixture and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

Using a blender or a food processor, puree the mixture until smooth.  Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds.  Put the sorbet base in the fridge until thoroughly chilled.  Churn as per the instructions for your ice cream maker.  Because of the alcohol content, the mixture will be soft after churning.  A couple of hours in the freezer will firm it up perfectly.

To Serve:

This doesn’t need anything more than some sliced fresh berries on top.  Makes 1 quart.

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Filed under Dairy-free, Dessert, Fruit, Gluten-Free, Ice cream, Recipes

Strawberry Granita

Strawberry Granita

 

Strawberry season is all too fleeting.  As soon as we get the email that the strawberries are ripe and ready for picking, we go into hoarding mode.  Similar to squirrels gathering nuts for the winter, we pick and pick until our freezers are full of strawberries in gallon-sized bags.  We pick and process until we have enough berries that we can enjoy them deep into the winter (and until our hands are permanently stained pink). 

A glut of strawberries

 

With the end of the season rapidly approaching and our freezer full of 40 lbs of strawberries, it is time to take a breath and think about making some delicious summer treats with the few remaining pounds that are hanging around the house.  First on deck, a strawberry granita.  If you aren’t familiar with the granita, come and sit by the pool with me so we can discuss. 

Berries macerating

 

Granitas are quite possibly the perfect summer dessert.  Icy, clean, and fresh, they are a grown-up version of what you used to make with your Snoopy Sno-Cone machine.  They are also very easy to make and don’t require any special equipment (i.e., no ice cream maker needed).  Heaped high in a bowl or mixed with some sparkling wine in a champagne glass, granitas are a lovely way to celebrate the summer. 

Straining the mixture

 

Strawberry Granita 

Recipe from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz 

Ingredients: 

2 lbs fresh strawberries, hulled 

6 tbls sugar 

1 cup water 

a few drops of lemon juice 

To Make: 

Slice the strawberries and place them in a large bowl.  Add the sugar and stir to combine.  Let the strawberries macerate for about an hour. 

Pour the strawberries, their juices, the water, and the lemon juice into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to strain out the seeds. 

Place the mixture in a 9x13x2 inch metal, plastic, or glass dish (you can use larger or smaller dishes, make sure to adjust your total freezing).  Put it in the freezer and let it sit for an hour.  At the end of the hour, use a whisk or a fork to break up any ice crystals that have formed, raking from the sides towards the center of the dish.  This article offers a good overview of how to make granita (and some yummy-sounding recipes too).  Keep doing this every 30 minutes or so until you have a pile of ice crystals (stir more frequently as you get closer to frozen).  If at any point, the mixture gets too hard, let is thaw a bit on the counter and then resume stirring.  It should take bout 3-4 hours, depending on your freezer, pan, sugar content, etc. (if you were to spoon some into a bowl at the slushy phase, I wouldn’t tell). 

To Serve: 

Serve in pretty glasses, bowls, or any other serving vessel.  Garnish with fresh mint, or top with some sparking wine, champagne, or prosecco.  Serves 4-6 as a dessert, many more as a palate cleanser.

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Sweet Cherry Lemon Jam

Sweet Cherry Lemon Jam

 

The bounty of summer just keeps on coming.  Last week, it was the 7 pounds of cherries Marc and the small Things picked at our favorite U-pick place.  The girls and I really love cherries.  The day that I go into the supermarket and see bags of cherries for $3.99 a pound I get very excited.  I usually manage to eat a two pound bag all by myself over the course of a couple of days. 

Cherries!

 

You can imagine how thrilling it was to see a huge mound of bright red cherries (with a few Rainier cherries thrown in).  After three days of eating cherries for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacking on them throughout the day, I decided that I needed to actually make something.  I thought about making this again, but ultimately decided that I wanted to go the jam route.  I feel that store-bought cherry jam is never that good.  I wanted something with deep cherry flavor but also a jam that was bright and full of spark. 

Simmering cherries and lemon

 

I knew that I didn’t want to go the full canning route.  I wanted a small quantity that we could eat in a few weeks (and I didn’t feel like spending two days pitting cherries).  So I went looking for some inspiration and found this and this.  I cut the proportions but upped the lemon zest.  After cooking the fresh cherries down, I ended up with a thick, rich jam that is full of cherry-lemony flavor.  If you can get your hands on some fresh cherries, definitely try this delicious jam. 

The right jam consistency

 

Sweet Cherry Lemon Jam 

Adapted from The Hungry Mouse and David Lebovitz 

Ingredients: 

1 lb sweet cherries, pitted and stemmed 

1/2-3/4 cup of sugar (use as much as you need, depending on the sweetness of your cherries) 

1 lemon 

To Make: 

Start by zesting the lemon into a heavy-bottomed, medium saucepan.  Cut the lemon in half and juice each half into the saucepan.  Next, pit the cherries.  I don’t have a cherry pitter so I cut each cherry in half and pull the pits out.  Put half the cherries (either whole or cut in half) into the pan and toss with the lemon juice to prevent browning.  Roughly chop the remaining cherries and add them to the pan. 

Place the pan over medium-high heat and let it sit until the juices start to simmer.  Turn the heat down to low and loosely cover the pot.  Let the cherries simmer until they are soft and starting to fall apart, about 15-25 minutes (stir occasionally and be careful not to let it boil over).  Add the sugar and stir until combined.  Raise the heat and let the mixture simmer until the jam thickens (anywhere from 5-20 minutes, depending on how watery your cherries are).  To test if the jam is done , place a small dollop on a ceramic plate.  Put the plate in the freezer for a few minutes until the jam is cold.  Take it out and give it a little nudge with your finger.  If the jam wrinkles and forms a skin, it is ready.  It should coat the back of a metal spoon. 

Once the jam is done, take it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature (it will continue to thicken).  Once it is cool, place in a small, covered bowl and refrigerate. 

To Serve: 

Makes about 1 cup.  Jam will keep for a few weeks in the fridge.  Use it to spread on toast, top ice cream, make a glaze for grilled chicken / pork.  Or just eat it with a spoon.  It is that good.

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Apple Cider Butter

Apple Cider Butter

So, what do you do when you get an email from one of your favorite U-pick fruit farms saying that they are closing for the season and offering buy-one-get-one 1/2 bushels of apples? If you are anything like us, you hightail it over to the farm before the apples are gone.

Fresh apples

That is just what we did last Friday. We put Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the car and drove up to Northborough to pick 40 pounds of apples. It was a little strange because the day was gray and cool and the orchard was almost empty… it didn’t feel like a typical apple picking outing. The apples, however, were fantastic; large, sweet, crisp, and delicious. I think Thing 1 ate five of them while we were picking.

Apples chopped and boiling down

Now that we have all these apples we have to figure out what to do with them. We usually cut and freeze slices for winter apple pies, make applesauce, and eat lots of them.  This season however, we are starting with apple butter. I have never made apple butter before but I really wanted something that went beyond our classic apple applications. This recipe uses fresh apples and apple cider to make a delicious apple butter that isn’t too heavily spiced. If you decide to make this fall treat, make sure to review the appropriate canning techniques, which can be found here.

Jars ready for processing

I followed the recipe pretty much as listed with some minor adjustments to the spices. The most important change I made was to keep the cores and peels on the apples for the first boil. I then used a food mill to remove the skins, seeds, and cores. The cores have a lot of pectin which helps the butter thicken nicely. However, when I did it this way I had no where near the required 12 cups of apple puree, despite using the 6lbs of apples called for in the recipe. Therefore, I have adjusted the recipe posted below to reflect my yields.

Apple Cider Butter

Adapted from Freshpreserving.com

6 lbs of apples, mixed varieties, quartered

2 cups apple cider

2 cups granulated sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground allspice

6-7* (8 ounce) glass preserving jars with bands and lids

To Make:

Combine apples and apple cider in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until apples are soft, about 30 minutes. Using the fine disc of a food mill, puree the apples, discarding skins, seeds, and cores. Measure 8 cups of apple puree.

In a clean stainless steel saucepan, combine the apple puree, sugar, and spices and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture reduces, thickens, and holds it shape on a spoon.

Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready to use (do not boil, especially the lids). Ladle hot apple butter into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove bubbles and wipe rim. Center lid on jar and apply band until it is fingertip tight.

Process jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes (adjusting for altitude). Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. For any jars that do not seal after 24 hours, either reprocess or place in the refrigerator and use.

* The total number of jars will depend on how thick you like your butter

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Apple Cheddar Risotto

A Hearty Fall Meal

A Hearty Fall Meal

Thanks to my new toy, I am on a bit of a risotto kick.  I am also thoroughly enjoying the fall weather that has come to New England.  This time of year always makes me start jonesing for winter squash, slow roasted meat dishes (especially pork), and all things apple. 

With a simple dinner of pan seared pork chops and roasted delicata squash planned, all that was missing was the apple.  We decided to be a little whimsical and turn the classic flavors of apple and cheddar pie into a rich, creamy risotto.  The combination of apples, aged English cheddar, a dash of cinnamon, and a splash of cognac was fantastic.  It was both sweet and savory with a nice richness.  I made this in my pressure cooker so it was also quick and easy.  You can make this the conventional way as well, and I think it would definitely be worth the effort.

The makings of a delicious risotto

The makings of a delicious risotto

Apple and Cheddar Risotto

Ingredients:

1 tbls butter

1 small to medium apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped

1/2 cup aborio rice

1 cup apple juice

2 tbls cognac (you could also use brandy or bourbon, if you want to omit the alcohol, make sure you replace the liquid with additional juice or water)

3 ounces cheddar cheese

2 tbls heavy cream

Dash of cinnamon

To Make:

In a sauce pan (or your pressure cooker) melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the apples and saute, stirring, until just starting to soften and caramalize.  Add the rice and continue to stir until the rice is light golden, about 3 minutes.  Add the apple juice and cognac, put the lid on the cooker, and bring to pressure.  If you are making the risotto the conventional way, make sure the liquid is heated and add slowly, one ladleful at a time.  Stir each infusion of liquid until it is completely absorbed before adding more. 

Once up to pressure, cook for 8 minutes.  Once the rice is tender, remove from heat and stir in the cheese, heavy cream, and the dash of cinnamon until creamy.

To Serve:

This amount serves 2-3 people (pretty hefty portions).  Serve alongside pork chops and roasted squash. This recipe can easily be doubled.

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Filed under Fruit, Recipes, Rice, Side Dish, Vegetarian