Posts filed under ‘apples’

Of cabbages and …

Color SlawThanks to the recent increase in great local winter produce here, combined with my inability to resist it, I found myself staring at the vegetable bin this weekend and thinking, ” You know, I really need to eat this stuff up before I make another order – or worse, before it goes bad.”

So there I was with a big, beautiful head of purple cabbage, bunches of beets and carrots, and a half-dozen radishes left from the clutch I’d been nibbling at all week. Plus four lovely little boneless Red Wattle pork chops from Heritage Farms Northwest. And a couple of Liberty apples.

Apples, pork and cabbage are naturals together, and a rummage through my recipe collection turned up some traditional German dishes that provided the inspiration for a sweet and sour cabbage with pork that, while delicious, wasn’t terribly photogenic.

That still left me with half a cabbage, and I’ve been craving crunch, so: slaw, with beets and carrots and a fistful of parsley thrown in for vitamins. Talk about color!

My errant sense of smell (and thus taste) is mending, but slowly, so I decided to give all that crunchy color a horseradish kick. The result is absolutely delicious.

Spicy Winter Slaw with Root Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large head red cabbage (or 1 small head), cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 medium beet, shredded
  • 6 large  radishes, shredded (that’s a lot of shredding – thank goodness for my Benriner Japanese mandoline!)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, minced
  • 1/4 cup commercial cole slaw dressing (I like Marie’s)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp prepared hot horseradish (or more, or less, to taste)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

In a large, lidded bowl, combine all the vegetables and parsley. Blend remaining ingredients well, pour over vegetables and toss well (or, as I did, close the bowl and shake it for a while). Taste, correct seasoning. Cover and chill for at least a few hours to let the flavors blend. Makes 6-8 servings, depending on how hungry you are and the size of your vegetables.

Sweet-and-Sour Cabbage with Apples and Pork Chops

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, coarsely sliced
  • 2 tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 boneless pork chops (do not trim off fat)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cut bacon into 1/2 pieces; in a large skillet, fry over medium heat until most of the fat has rendered off. Drain off all but 1 Tbsp of bacon fat; return skillet to heat and add onions. Saute until onions start to go limp, then stir in the sugar, balsamic vinegar and wine. Add cabbage and apples and stir well to coat. Cover skillet and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, then add water and cook uncovered for another 10-15 minutes, until cabbage begins to soften and a good deal of the liquid has evaporated. Taste to correct the seasoning.

Transfer cabbage mixture to a 9×13 ovenproof baking dish. Add oil to the skillet and turn up the heat. Using oven tongs, hold the pork chops on edge to brown the fat, then lay them down and sear for about 2 minutes per side. Remove from heat.

Lay the pork chops on the bed of cabbage. Place pan in oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until chops reach an internal temperature of 160F (or are just barely pink in the center).  Serve immediately.

Serves four, generously (or in my case, one, four times). Goes great with mashed potatoes.

Advertisements

January 25, 2010 at 9:17 pm 1 comment

Christmas menu for one

Salted caramelsI’m spending Christmas the way I generally prefer to: By myself. Least I sound like a latter-day Scrooge or some sad shut-in, let me state for the record that I love the winter holidays, every single one of them, that I spend most of December in the company of friends, and that I always wind up with multiple invitations to other people’s Christmas dinners.

But my own family – down to just us four siblings now – has never made a Big Family Deal out of getting together for the holidays. Since we’re scattered all over the Western US, that spares us foul-weather travel at the busiest time of year. And because I have a play in production that closes the Sunday after Christmas, my sweetheart and I decided to do our celebrating together at New Year’s, when I’ll take the train north to Seattle for a long weekend together.

So really, at the cost of protesting too much, I love having Christmas to myself. It’s a chance to wind down a bit from the madcap seasonal socializing. I can sleep in, turn on some rock-and-roll, and indulge myself in the pleasures of cooking for one, which are quite different from the pleasures of cooking for a crowd (for one thing, there’s a lot less worry about getting everything to the table at once. For another, I can dine in my jammies if I want.)

This year’s menu is still coming together in my head, but it’s bound to be full of locally sourced goodness, thanks to the new Corvallis Local Foods online market and my own freezer, which is full of good things I put up all summer and fall.

Here’s what I’m planning, although it could change on a whim.

  • Roasted duck, probably spatchcocked and roasted at high heat with a glaze of apple cider* syrup (a simple reduction of apple cider in a wide pan until it’s thick and syrupy). I’m pondering the notion of adding either ground chipotles* or smoked paprika* to the glaze for some smokey heat.
  • Roasted fingerling potatoes* (or perhaps roasted pumpkin* – or both!) and leeks*
  • Something green. Probably just a simple salad of Romaine dressed lightly with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a lot of pepper.
  • Pie. Because (a) there must be pie and (b) I have in the freezer five pounds of beautiful white lard* from ethically grown pigs, bought for the entire purpose of making the best pie crusts ever. I’m pondering a hazelnut pie, built on my canonical pecan pie recipe, since I also have a pound of lovely roasted filberts*. Maybe with the addition of chocolate and bourbon?
  • And, no doubt, I’ll sustain myself through the day  on more than a few of the buttery-sweet-and-salty sea-salt caramels I made this week for gift-giving.  Because what’s Christmas without a sugar buzz?

* Local ingredients (which, among other things, means I don’t have to throw out my filberts for fear of  salmonella, yay!)

And then on Saturday I’ll render off all that good duck fat for future cooking use** and use the leftover duck and the last of the chanterelles* to make a decidedly nonvegetarian version of my friend Whit’s amazingly good wild mushroom pie, with some chopped dried apples* and pears* in addition to the cranberries and sour cherries*.  That hearty, savory main-dish pie has become my post-Christmas staple, and it’ll feed me for a week. (If you’re meat-averse or feeding those who are tomorrow, consider the original version of this recipe. It’s a terrific vegetarian main course – even vegan if you use an oil-based crust.)

** New readers of this blog may be blinking at all this talk of animal fat. Isn’t that supposed to be bad for us? But I’m anything but a fat-o-phobe, and my primary motivation for eating close to the ground is neither health nor politics – it’s because I find locally grown, seasonal foods taste a whole lot better than most of what I can buy in the supermarket. And, as it turns out, the whole animal-fat-is-evil message is yet another of those overblown nutrition myths.  As in all things, moderation is a grand idea, but a slice of pie on a heavenly lard-based crust isn’t going to send you to the emergency room.

December 24, 2009 at 11:41 am Leave a comment

End-of-the-season stews

Autumn harvest still-lifeOur farmers’ market is … diminished. With just three weekends left this season, the number of vendors was down sharply this weekend, filling just half the municipal parking lot where the thing is held. It always makes me a little sad, and fills me with “hurry up and buy stuff before it’s all gone” fervor.

On the bright side, lots of the produce available now keeps well, with a little care. Apples, garlic, hard-skinned winter squash can last for a month or more, unrefrigerated, if you keep them in a cool, well-ventilated place. I’m reminded of the tornado shelter at my grandfather’s north Texas home – I’m not sure he ever used it to shelter from the weather, but his wife called it the root cellar, and stored vegetables and home-canned goods there year-round, because it was dark and cool and dry.

Root cellars have gone out of fashion, but I’ve kept apples for months by wrapping them individually in newsprint and setting them in a big, shallow cardboard box, not too closely crowded and unlidded, down in the garage that occupies half the daylight basement under my 1908 home. And I don’t think I’ve ever had a winter squash go bad on me, even sitting for 5-6 weeks in the basket on my kitchen counter. They’re pretty much built for storage.

This weekend, though, I’m focused on the short term, not the winter ahead. I’m in rehearsals through December, which means I leave the house for work at 7:30 in the morning and don’t get home till after 10 at night. If I don’t spend my Sundays cooking, I’ll spend a whole lot more money than I want to eating during the week. So I’m getting back in the habit of preparing good, hearty dishes that reheat well and lend themselves to portioning into containers I can carry to work for lunch and dinner. I try to come up with strong-flavored dishes, packed with nutrition and taste, so I don’t get bored before the week is over.

Stews serve the purpose – and also lend themselves to slow simmering while I go about my other weekend domestic maintenance.

Here’s what’s on the stove today: A rich autumn stew of pork, winter squash and apples, and a spicy vegetarian chili that’s quick to make and wonderful served over brown basmati rice or homemade cornbread. The first is almost entirely made with food I bought at the market yesterday; the second uses local turtle beans I put on to soak before bed last night, but could just as easily be made with canned black beans. These are both nutritionally dense, low-fat dishes, and easy to adjust to suit your own tastes.

The number of servings depends on how hungry people are and whether you’re serving the stew as a one-pot meal or a dinner course.  It looks like I’ll get 6-7 meal-sized servings from of each pot of autumn goodness. With cornbread and rice, I’m set for the week.

End-of-the-Season Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 acorn squash (or other winter squash of your choice
  • 1 lb lean pork, cut in cubes. Most stew recipes call for pork shoulder; I tend to buy tenderloins (because they’re small enough for one person). But you could just as easily use the meat off a few thick-sliced pork chops. Just trim off most of the fat so you don’t wind up with greasy soup.
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2-10 cloves of garlic, minced (I’m using a whole head’s worth, but I love garlic and got a lot of it at the market).
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cups good chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary (or 1/2tsp. dried)
  • 1 tsp minced fresh sage (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled (if you want) and cubed
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into discs
  • 2 tart apples, cored and cubed

Method

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut the squash in half; use a spoon to scoop out the seeds surrounding fiber. Oil the cut halves and place the squash cut-side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until the skin can be pierced by a fork. Remove from oven, let cool enough to handle; peel off the rind (it will come off easily with your fingers) and cut squash into cubes. This can be done the day before.

In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Dredge the cubed pork in flour and cook in small batches until browned on all sides. Add the garlic and onion, lower the heat if needed to keep it from scorching, and continue cooking until the onion has softened. Add stock and stir to free any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add salt, rosemary and sage, potatoes and carrots. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add apples and squash. Return to a simmer, then cook, uncovered, until potatoes and apples are tender, about 20 minutes more. Taste, correct seasoning, and serve.

Black Bean Chili

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup applesauce (mine’s homemade)
  • Spices: This is where you get to shine. I like a lot of cumin in my chili, and I like heat; I still have fresh herbs in the garden. You know what you like. If your spice cabinet is modest, a couple of tablespoons of commercial chili powder would work. Here’s (approximately) what I used:
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
    • 1/2 tsp dried ground chipotle pepper
    • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
    • 1 tsp fresh oregano (1 /2 teaspoon dried)
    • 1 tsp fresh rosemary (1/2 teaspoon dried)
    • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme (1/4 teaspoon dried)
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups black beans, soaked overnight (or two cans of black beans, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste (I’m using my oven-roasted tomato goo)
  • 2 -6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms (optional, but they add a nice heartiness to the dish. I’m using chanterelles)
  • Vegetable stock or water to cover.

Method:

In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, combine the applesauce with all the herbs and spices. Stir until well-blended. Stir in remaining ingredients, adding just enough stock or water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it’s not thick enough for your taste, stir in a handful of cornmeal late in the cooking. Serve with cornbread and your favorite chili toppings (chopped onions, grated cheese, sour cream, etc.)

As with most chilis, this is better the second day – and I’ve found the heat doesn’t fully develop until then, so don’t get carried away if it doesn’t seem spicy enough to suit your tastes.

 

November 1, 2009 at 12:39 pm 3 comments

Winter food: Apples and sweet potatoes

Apples and baby sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes, apples, etc.

It’s turning out to be a busy January for me. Between work and play rehearsals, I have little time to cook most evenings, so I try to find time on the weekends to make two or three good-sized dishes I can reheat through the week to keep me from resorting to drive-through meals.

This weekend it’s a pair of roasted pork tenderloins and a hearty, aromatic side dish of apples and baby sweet potatoes that isn’t much different in preparation from good old apple crisp, except that it’s considerably less sweet. I use about one part sweet potatoes to three parts apple, but you can adjust the proportions to suit your own tastes.

Have you tried baby sweet potatoes? I first encountered them last winter, and was glad to see them at the supermarket again this year. Like most “baby” vegetables, they aren’t immature, they’re just a pint-sized variety of their bigger cousins. I love them; well-scrubbed, rubbed with a little oil and tossed in a hot oven, they roast up in under 30 minutes. Or try this recipe for salt-crusted baby sweet potatoes – delicious!

The bags I buy include both the sweet, creamy red varieties and their less-sweet yellow cousins (yes, these are both sweet potatoes, Ipomoea batatas, not yams. True yams are members of the Dioscorea family, and aren’t much found outside of South America). They are not, alas, local – they come from California – but the apples were!

Apple and Sweet Potato Crunch

Ingredients

  • 3 Granny Smith apples, or other tart variety, peeled, cored, cut in half-inch thick chunks
  • 5-6 baby sweet potatoes, or 1 (peeled) regular-sized sweet potato, cut like the apples.
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked steel-cut oats (or regular old rolled oats, as long as they aren’t the instant kind)
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp each of cinnamon and allspice
  • a dash of cloves
  • a dash of nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp of high-quality candied ginger (try Trader Joe’s Ginger Chips if you can find them!), chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut in small pieces

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F. Place apples and sweet potatoes in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mix remaining ingredients except for butter, and toss half of that mixture with the apple-sweet potato mixture. Place in a baking dish – shallow or deep, it’s your choice, and sprinkle the rest of the spicy oat mixture evenly over the top. Dot with butter.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the apples and potatoes are fork-tender and juice is bubbling up. Serve hot, as a side dish – or as a not-too-sweet dessert with cream or ice cream on top.

January 11, 2009 at 8:38 pm Leave a comment

The last of the tomatoes

The last of the harvest

Green tomatoes

Last weekend, belatedly, I found time to get out to the garden and strip the last tomatoes from the vines. For all my complaining about the late ripening – and for all my desultory gardening habits – it was a good year for tomatoes; once they finally got around to ripening, my six heirloom plants kept me in ripe tomatoes for nearly two months before they succumbed to the advancing autumn. Lots of BLTs, salads, and just plain sun-ripened, sliced tomatoes, and a few interesting experiments in stuffing the Pepper Tom variety (a tomato that ripens like a bell pepper, with sturdy outer walls and an almost-hollow center.

Two weeks ago, a surplus of very ripe tomatoes heading toward over-ripe prompted me to make a couple of pans of my infamous Tomato Goo: tomatoes, onion and garlic, flavored with the last of the basil from my herb garden, slow-roasted until nearly all the liquid is gone and shoveled into serving-sized freezer bags for the winter.

This week it was time to deal with the remaining, unripe tomatoes. In other years, I’ve wrapped them lovingly in newspaper, put them in a box and set them down in the cool of my unheated basement/garage; stored that way, unblemished tomatoes will continue to ripen right into winter, a few at a time. I’ve had ripe tomatoes for Christmas, some years. Not quite as luscious as sun-ripened, but miles better than anything you can buy in a supermarket.

This year’s green tomato harvest was modest, though, with lots of smallish fruit, so I decided to deal with them immediately, and make food for what promises to be a busy weekend: A green tomato salsa, and a delicious tart-and-savory curried tomato soup.

Does anyone invent recipes from thin air? I rarely do. Rather, I read cookbooks (and other people’s foodblogs) avidly, consider what ingredients I have on hand and what flavors I like together, and improvise, taking notes as I go. What results may or may not be recognizable as the original recipe.

That’s almost certainly true of this soup, which started out as a found-on-the-Internet recipe for a chilled summer soup. The basic elements are still there – green tomatoes, potatoes, loads of onion and garlic, curry powder – but I wanted a something warm and hearty for fall. The original called for lots of cilantro and mint; I don’t much like cilantro, but I still had lots of aromatic basil on hand, and my Italian parsley is coming back strong after the summer bolt. The original directed me to peel the tomatoes and potatoes – not a bad idea if you buy them from the supermarket, to eliminate pesticide residues, but mine were grown organically, and there’s a lot of nutrition in those peels, so I left them on. It also called for sugar – rather a lot of it – to balance the tartness of the tomatoes. Why cook with sugar when you’ve got a couple of nice, sweet-tart heirloom apples on hand? And so it went, an adjustment here, another there, until my soup barely resembles the original at all. You can do the same, and make the recipe your own.

Curried green tomato soup

Curried Green Tomato Soup

Curried Green Tomato Soup
(Makes 4-6 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium union, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp good curry powder
  • 1 large (or 2 medium) potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups chopped green tomatoes (4-6 large tomatoes or a bunch of small ones
  • 1 large (or 2 small) apples, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parlsey
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Additional parsley and curry powder for garnish

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic, onion and curry powder. Cook, stirring often, until onion begins to soften, about five minutes. Add potatoes, stir to blend, and brown slightly. Add stock. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Stir in the tomatoes, apple, basil and parsley; cover, and continue simmering for 10-15 minutes more.

Remove from heat and use a wand blender or food processor to blend until fairly smooth. If you want a silky soup free of bits of peel, pass it through a coarse strainer and return to burner if necessary to reheat. I didn’t bother; the peel is tender and adds some texture. Stir in cream. Taste; add salt and pepper if you like.

To serve, ladle into bowls, and garnish with a drizzle of cream, a sprinkle of curry powder and a sprig of parsley. Serve hot.


Even easier:

 

Green tomato salsa

Green Tomato Salsa

Green Tomato salsa
Makes 3-4 cups

Ingredients (measurements are approximate and not critical. Use what you have):

  • 1 pound green tomatoes
  • 1-2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 seranno (or other) pepper, minced (seeds and all); use two if you like your salsa fiery
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (or more, as above)
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1-2 tsp salt, to taste

Cut the fruits/vegetables into chunks; mince the chiles. Dump everything but the salt into a food processor and pulse until it’s chopped fine, but not pureed. Taste, correct seasoning. Transfer to a lidded bowl and allow to ripen at room temperature for an hour or so, then refrigerate. Keeps several days in the fridge.

Besides making a great dipping salsa (I like it with flour tortilla chips, but use what you prefer), this stuff would be fabulous with fresh seafood…


Oven Roasted Tomatoes (aka Tomato Goo)

 

A method. Make as much or as little as you like. I often make two pans at once, rotating them between the upper and lower shelves of my oven a couple of times during the cooking.

Ingredients:

Per batch:

  • 8-10 Garden-ripe tomatoes, quartered (cut off any green stem bits and or bad spots)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled cut in wedges
  • One head of garlic, separated into cloves, peeled and slightly crushed with the flat of a knife
  • A generous handful of fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 250F. In a large roasting pan, spread the tomatoes, onion and garlic in a single layer. Scatter with basil and drizzle with olive oil.

Roast in oven for 2-4 hours or longer*, stirring every half hour or so, until almost all of the liquid is gone, the onion and garlic have caramelized and the tomatoes have taken on a deep red hue. Cool; spoon into serving-sized freezer bags, squeeze out the excess air and freeze.

* If your tomatoes are especially juicy, or you pack too many into the pan, it can take an entire afternoon to reduce the liquid down. This is a fine project for a lazy fall afternoon, and will fill your whole house with the aromas of tomato, onion and garlic.

The result is a frozen slab of a rich, chunky paste/sauce, slightly sweet from the caramelized onion and garlic and with the same intense flavor as sun-dried tomatoes. Thaw to use, or simply cut off frozen chunks. Use as a basis for a home-made tomato sauce, toss it with pasta, spread it on toasted Italian bread rounds, add it by the spoonful to home-made soups and stews – anywhere you want a jolt of garden tomato in the deep of winter. Best. Stuff. Ever.

October 17, 2008 at 12:37 pm 1 comment

Fall harvest: Put some away for later

Market haul

Autumn market haul

Thanks to a packed schedule of work and theater, I haven’t been keeping this blog up the way I’d hoped to, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been neglecting the height of the harvest season. Far from it: at this time of year, practically every meal I eat (well, except the occasional hit-and-run “meal” of cheese and crackers or storebought hummus) is packed with local goodness: Tomatoes (yes, mine finally ripened). sweet corn, tomatoes (so did my next-door neighbor’s), eggplant, tomatoes, late-season berries, tomatoes …

Now the fall fruits are coming in. There were so many apple vendors at the market today that I went a little nuts, coming home with probably 20 pounds of gorgeous, crisp apples: Big, juicy Gravensteins, crisp little Daveys, Cox’s orange pippins, the quintessential English apple, and several heirloom varieties I can’t even remember.

I also picked up some perfectly ripe red Bartlett pears, a half-dozen late-season peaches, three beautiful little globe eggplants, an assortment of hot peppers, a nice big pork shoulder roast (I see slow-cooked pulled pork in my future), a dozen ears of yellow corn, two winter squash (a sugar pumpkin and a French heirloom variety, Galeux d’Eysines), and a pound of green beans.

A lot of food for one person, to be sure – but  I’m putting some away now for the months ahead, when fresh local produce will be hard to find and dear when you can find it.

I don’t can. I know how, but I have neither the equipment, the storage space nor the patience to stand over a hot canning kettle on a fine fall afternoon. I do, however, have a large freezer in the basement, and an ample collection of freezer containers. So I came home from the market, hauled out my trusty Applemaster and my big enameled cast-iron kettle, and set to work.

Four hours later, I’ve got several quarts of easy home-made applesauce, one of rosy-pink apple-pear sauce with dried cranberries, and some fabulously aromatic  peach chutney just off the stove and ready to spoon  into containers. Tomorrow, I’ll blanch the corn and cut it off the cob to freeze in meal-sized bags, and cook up a batch of eggplant curry to eat with some of that chutney. The squash will keep till next weekend, when I’ll roast and peel it and freeze the chunks for curries, soups and pies.

It’s getting late for local peaches, so you may want to squirrel this recipe away for next summer. It works best with slightly underripe fruit that’s still firm enough to stand up to the long cooking without completely disintegrating:

Autumn peach chutney

Peach Chutney

Autumn Peach Chutney

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 large peaches, peeled, pitted and cut in chunks
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 Serrano (or other hot pepper) seeded and minced
  • 1/4 of a red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3-4 Tbsp crystallized ginger, chopped fine
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 5-6 whole peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp hot red pepper flakes (more if you like a very spicy chutney)
  • 1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring. Turn heat very low and simmer 45 minutes-1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and brown (if the peaches are very juicy, it may take longer for the liquid to evaporate).

Cool and spoon into half-pint freezer containers, leaving some head-room for expansion as it freezes. Keeps well in the freezer for up to 6 months; thawed and refrigerated, it will keep for a few weeks. Goes great with curries, or as a sweet-sour-and-spicy condiment for pork, lamb or fowl.

September 27, 2008 at 5:47 pm 2 comments

When life gives you apples …

Apples for tasting at the Albany farmers' marketIt was rainy and cold at the market yesterday, and the dwindling number of vendors huddled behind the windbreaks of their booths, bundled in caps and sweaters and blowing on their hands to warm them before they counted change.

Not many shoppers, either, but several vendors told me sales were good. At this time of year, I suppose, the casual browsers stay home, leaving the market to the hardcore among us, eager to stock up on good things before the end of the season.

Right now “good things” include, significantly, apples, and even though the growers say this year’s harvest isn’t great, I’ve been glorying in the huge array of heirloom apples being brought to market by local orchards such as Antique Apples and First Fruits Farm. Like most people who grew up on supermarket produce, I used to think of apples as the fruit you bought when there wasn’t anything better around, or if you wanted to bake a pie. Learning the vibrant flavors, aromas and textures of old-fashioned apples has changed all that, and I look forward to the apples of autumn as much as the peaches of summer.

We’ve brought home big bags of apples every market Saturday for the past few weeks, enjoying them in crisps, or just eaten out of hand. But I also made a batch of applesauce, and it disappeared so fast that this weekend I did my apple shopping with sauce specifically in mind, and lots of it – enough to freeze a few quarts for later in the season.

On conferring with the Antique Apples vendor, I came home with Esopus Spitzenbergs (Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple), Golden Russets, Gravensteins, a few Jonagolds for tartness, and some tasty little Davy and Smokehouse apples. And sauce-making ensued.

There’s no mystery or trick to making applesauce: Cut up some apples, simmer them in a little water until they’re soft, moosh them up and you’ve got basic applesauce. Everything else – to sweeten or not, to spice or not, smooth or chunky – is a matter of personal preference.

Me, I like a chunky, spicy applesauce, not too sweet. I can’t be bothered with canning, so whatever isn’t destined for immediate eating gets frozen in 2 cup-to-one-quart containers. Here’s what passes for my recipe:

Ingredients

  • Several pounds of apples, some sweet and some tart, peeled, cored and sliced (for this quantity, I get out the Applemaster, which is as much fun as it is efficient. Wheeeee, long spiral ribbons of apple peel!!!)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cups of port (you can skip this, but I like the rosy color and subtle fragrance it adds to the sauce)
  • 1/4 cup or so of candied ginger, chopped coarsely
  • Cinnamon. I like a lot of cinnamon – as much as a tablespoon for a big batch. If you don’t, use less. Or none at all.
  • 1/4 cup sugar or more, depending on the apples and how sweet you like your sauce. I prefer mine on the tart-and-tangy side.
  • Secret ingredient: If you have access to them, quinces are a wonderful addition to applesauce. Their more-apple-than-apples-themselves perfume and tart flavor add a subtle brightness to the sauce. They require longer cooking than the apples; I usually cook them separately and add the cooked quince to the applesauce when it’s nearly done.

Method:

In a big, heavy-bottomed pot (I use my enameled cast iron Dutch oven), combine everything but the sugar, and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pot, if necessary. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to just simmering. Cover.

Cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour (depending on quantity and variety of apples), stirring occasionally to make sure the fruit doesn’t scorch. This will begin breaking up the apples, too. Enjoy the fragrance of apples that fills your kitchen and wafts out into the house.
When apples are tender but not yet falling apart, taste and stir in sugar to the desired level of sweetness. If the mixture is soupy, leave the lid off to reduce the juice a bit while you finish cooking.

Remove from heat, and stir/smoosh until the sauce is as chunky or smooth as you like. I use my mom’s old iron potato masher, which she inherited from her own grandmother, to break up any big pieces of apple. If you prefer a smooth applesauce, you can let it cool and press it through a sieve or food mill, the old-fashioned way, or just run it through the food processor. Pour into freezer containers, leaving a little head space for expansion.

Mooshing applesauce with mom's potato masher

Mmmm, applesauce.

October 21, 2007 at 3:39 pm 1 comment


November 2017
S M T W T F S
« Aug    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Recent Posts

Feeds