Tag Archives: Apples

Apple Tart Alsatian Style

You’ve promised your body that you will adopt a healthier lifestyle — something just shy of a “diet” because you know yourself too well.  If what you’ve taken on is reduced to that, it’s probably not going to last because you don’t believe in diets — and for good reason.  You’ve seen too many people begin with all the motivation they can muster, then when they realize the pounds aren’t falling off as quickly as they’d like, or that after what is considered a good effort, they’ve plateaued, motivation dwindles and the “diet” is quietly ignored.  I can’t risk that because my knees will never forgive me for having to carry around 50 pounds they hadn’t counted on at their age.

Poor knees.

Last September when I began to think about more obsessively about my weight and lack of routine exercise (no coincidence since I’d just turned 55) I began to find reasons to avoid the kitchen.  Meals became food I could easily pick up and eat with little or no thought.  I stopped looking at new recipes and rarely used one to try something new for dinner.  And baking?  I stopped that almost completely because it seemed pointless to bake something, taste it, then try to find a home for it outside of mine.  I’ve never been a big sweets eater, but I thoroughly enjoy spending a morning in the kitchen baking something — especially if it involves a little thought or teaches me something new.  I miss that and know baking needs to be a part of my life — as does dessert.

Dessert is a food group, isn’t it?

I’m kidding, of course, but the point is I want to bake and enjoy dessert occasionally so have to find a balance with desserts that showcase a simple fruit without a lot of added sugar or an excessive amount of fat, for example.

Something classic, satisfying.  Elegant, but not fussy.

With apples.

Glorious apples.

Just a small slice?

Yes, please.

Continue reading

Apple Butter

I’ve been wanting to make apple butter since last fall and knew when I saw the Rome Beauties at the market the other day, now was the time.  I don’t often see Romes here, but when I do, I think of all the lovely things I might cook, because they’re the perfect apple to cook with.  Their somewhat mild flavor intensifies richly with cooking.

Why apple butter?  Why not apple pie, or apple cobbler, baked apples, a pandowdy, buckle, or slump?

Outside of apple butter being another thing I can check off my “Made it Myself” list which threatens my sanity from time to time, it’s a flavorful fat-free substitute for butter on my morning toast.  Once in the habit, you don’t miss the butter.  I like to stir it into oatmeal or hot Grape Nuts instead of milk and sugar, and it swirls nicely into a cup of non-fat plain Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of granola.

When I started looking for a recipe, I was surprised to find most were loaded with sugar — sometimes as much as four cups.  I found one that contains far less and you can make it in the slow cooker like I did, or on the stove in far less time.

Make it on a chilly day when you want the whole house to smell sweet and spicy.  You’ll have the people you love wanting to know what you’re cooking.

Continue reading

Apple Cinnamon Pecan Bread

When you live in San Diego near the coast, it’s easy to have a hankering for a visit to a small, old-fashioned town at this time of year — one you might find on a drive through the mountains and tucked up against the peaks amongst a few pine trees.  In an hour’s time, it’s quite possible to fulfill that desire with a trip to Julian to shop for antiques, enjoy a hearty country meal, and take home a Julian Apple Pie.  Situated just outside the Cleveland National Forest at an elevation of nearly 5,ooo feet, it does snow there from time to time, so if you’re lucky and have chains for your tires, you can check a snow day off your list as well — or better yet — get snowed in so you can stay at one of the cozy B&Bs there.

On the way to Julian, if you blink, you’ll miss the tiny town of Santa Ysabel, but rarely does anyone miss Dudley’s Bakery which has been an institution there for nearly 50 years.  At one point in time, the only way anyone could enjoy their amazing selection of bread was to wait in a line on the weekend with all of the other city dwellers out on a weekend drive.  Now, their bread is available in a wide variety of locations across Southern California.  Lucky for me, our local Henry’s market sells it, and once in a blue moon, I’ll see my favorite Julian Apple Nut bread — a slightly sweet, rich brown boule of bread I love to toast and butter for breakfast.

With that in mind, I decided to make some apple nut bread and was surprised to find that unless I wanted a non-yeasted batter bread, it might not be all that easy.  I wanted chunks of apple, the nice crunch of nuts, and cinnamon, of course.  Something not all that different than a loaded cinnamon roll or even raisin bread  would be perfect — no glaze.

Mmm…

p.s.  I’m supposed to be posting Christmas cookies, but am left posting things I baked before my knee surgery.  With good luck, I’ll be in the kitchen soon, or coerce my husband to do it.  We’ll see!

Continue reading

Spiced Upside-Down Apple Cake

Spiced Upside-Down Apple Cake

The very last issue of Gourmet sits in a stack along with the most recent issues of Saveur, Bon Appetit, and Food & Wine — all barely touched.  Holiday catalogs I’d rather not receive lay scattered in the mix as well reminding me that I should probably pay attention.  How can it be the end of November?  The month has flown by and with it my favorite season of the year, leaving only a few days to think about recipes I’d like to try this year for Thanksgiving.  Outside of making a simple list of traditional dishes and leaving it to sit on the kitchen counter, I’m still not prepared.

I’ve accepted that this just won’t be the year to try yet another way to mash and flavor potatoes with the likes of parsnips or roasted garlic, white truffle oil or black truffle shavings.  I won’t have to wonder why a stuffing recipe calls for freshly made cornbread that has to sit on the counter for a day before it can be cubed and tossed with other ingredients to make an herby stuffing.  And I’ve decided that deep-frying a ton of microscopically thin onion rings to flavor a new spin on the classic green bean casserole won’t be happening, either, even though it was quite a fabulous recipe.  No, we’re going to be relatively conservative this year which is why I was able to spend some time in the kitchen today trying a new recipe with some of my favorite flavors:  apples, pecans, and cinnamon with a hint of orange.

David Guas’ Spiced Upside-Down Apple Bundt Cake was perfect from the moment I saw it in Food & Wine’s “Last Bite.”  Even though I’ve never owned a bundt pan, it was the least of my worries because the recipe calls for buttermilk.  Whenever I buy buttermilk,  it gets pushed to the back of the fridge and is forgotten until long after the date stamped on it, then ends up down the drain.  Not this time!   I found it with a day to spare — not that I could tell given its characteristic pungent smell.

How does one tell whether buttermilk is sour when it always smells badly?  It’s a very good thing that it works so nicely as a cooking ingredient, don’t you think?

Continue reading

Waldorf Salad sans Mayo

<img alt="waldorf salad sans mayo"/>

We’ve been eating quite a bit of soup and salad lately.  With the business of our lives, it often seems to be the only way to make sure we don’t fall into the take-out habit, or worse, microwaved frozen food.  Call me a food snob — or better yet, consider that it’s not challenging to make a healthy meal that doesn’t take a lot of time and goes easy on the wallet.

Picture this:  my husband and I pass through the house each morning getting ready for work and I begin to think about any excuse not to have to stop at the market on the way home.  I mull over the contents of the veggie bin while I’m brushing my teeth, and search my fuzzy memory for ingredients  that may be languishing in the pantry.

“There are carrots I could make some soup with,” I begin staring into my mirror.

“That would be good,” he mutters, peering into his mirror,  busy with his own routine.

“And there are those apples you forget to eat on a regular basis.  I saw a recipe for a salad I want to try — but I’m not quite sure what condition the celery is in.  Do we have lemons?”  I call from the closet as I’m trying to figure out what to squeeze myself into for the day.

“Anything you make will be good,” he says from his side of the closet, “and I have been eating an apple a day.”

I head down the stairs, give a quick look in the fridge, and grab my coffee before running out the door and calling my goodbyes feigning success in the accomplishment of a dinner plan.

Jump ahead 11 hours.  It’s about 6PM and we’re both home.  Our son has come downstairs to graciously share himself with us, then flops on the couch to figure out what we’ll watch that evening.  My husband and I start peeling and chopping, sauteeing and blending.  On most days within an hour of arriving home — give or take a half hour for diversions — we’re all in the family room  talking about the day, slurping soup, eating salad and enjoying a DVRd show one of us has lobbied for.

On one such night, we tried a new spin on an old classic:  Waldorf Salad.  When I think of why I’ve never liked it, the mayonnaise would be the reason.  As much as I enjoy most salads, slathering a fatty dressing on one has never appealed to me.  If you’re like me or at least interested in something seasonal, but more healthy, try this.  It will be a part of our Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Continue reading