Tag Archives: walnuts

Apple Walnut Pancakes

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A friend of mine gave me a bag of small, crisp red apples the last time she came for dinner and somehow, I’d lost track of them.  I should have known they’d been sitting in the fridge, waiting for me to get around to making something with Fall written all over it.  Would it be apple nut muffins, a new take on a Waldorf salad, or perhaps an apple butternut squash soup?  I couldn’t decide until last weekend when I knew I’d be in the kitchen making macarons and decided to treat the menfolk to breakfast.  I’m not the one who normally makes breakfast on Sunday, so my offer was met with surprise and instant nods of, “Yes, please!”  Neither my husband or son would turn down pancakes even if they had a healthier twist than those my husband usually makes.  Besides, I knew I’d get to experiment a bit and it’s always fun to find out just how a particular recipe will end up.

If you have a jar of dulce de leche sitting around, it’s amazing what a little bit of it can do to a nice stack of hot ones on a cool Fall morning.  Initially, it was to have ended up filling the macarons, but it didn’t make it past the pancakes.

Who knew?

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Gourmet’s Rye Walnut Rolls

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I don't know that I've had walnuts in anything that I didn't like.  I just like walnuts.  I like the bite on the side of my tongue that doesn't come when I chew into a pecan which is much more sweet.

Walnuts in cookies, salad, and pasta get my full, undivided attention, so it seems reasonable that I'd like them in bread, too.  And what a surprise that the bread isn't sweet, or filled with raisins and flavored with cinnamon.  But I wouldn't complain if that's what was put in front of me.  How could I?

No, it's a savory bread, and one filled with onions, too.  As I worked my way through this recipe, I wondered about how thyme, or a bit of cheese might taste.

And bacon.  Life is too short to not include a bit of pork fat when one can.

But I resisted, so it looks like I just may have to revisit this recipe, the third of four I've chosen to bake this month and featured in Gourmet.  I've enjoyed making bread once a week so far this month and am considering keeping up with it since the possibilities are endless and I have so much to learn.

I love possibilities.  They're just hovering out there, waiting for someone to take notice.

Unfortunately, it takes some motivation, doesn't it?  And my motivation failed me after I purchased the rye flour I was happy to have in my pantry for these lovely rolls.  It was to have been used in a starter that I promised to make and never did.

I'll get around to that one of these days, but in the meantime, it was nice to have the rye flour just waiting.

This recipe for Rye Walnut Rolls is the third of four for
the month of February as part of "Let Us Eat Bread," featuring recipes
from Gourmet's "Roll With It."  Our bread baking group includes:  Judy of No Fear Entertaining, Courtney of Coco Cooks, Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen, and our fearless leader, Sandy of At the Baker's Bench. 

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Chunky Chocolate and Walnut Cookies

Chunky Chocolate Walnut Cookies

I try not to post sweets two days in a row.  I know it’s not like there’s a rule somewhere that I should be following, so it must have happened without my realizing it.  In much the same way that sweets are savored when they’re available around here, I plan when they’ll be posted as well, hoping to break the stream of savory recipes I always have ready and waiting. Well, it sounds good, anyway.  In my next life, I’ll be Martha.  Okay, so maybe not.

It’s not like you can gain weight looking at photos, right? They show up on the computer screen and look great, but looking isn’t synonymous with ingesting or digesting. Jumping up to grab a snack bar, more of this or a little of that after drooling over aforementioned food on your computer screen does not count in this particular situation.

If you’re my youngest son, evidently, you don’t gain weight actually eating cookies, either, and I must confess; I’ve been trying to fatten him up. With half a year until his 17th birthday, he’s just over six feet and weighs in at a willowy 146. I know it’s all about HGH, and I had my opportunity to bask in the glow of eating and not gaining decades ago, but clearly that time has passed.


Evidently, he’s inherited both my husband’s and my skinny genes.  Goodness knows we’re no longer using them.  And that would be genes — not jeans — because he’s not one for skinny jeans.  Instead, when shopping for pants, we have to decide just how small the hip size can be to maintain some modicum of bagginess he prefers, and a belt takes care of the rest.

What does this have to do with food, you ask?  Cookies.  It’s about cookies.  And this week, Chunky Chocolate Walnut Cookies, to be specific.  Yes, it’s Week Three, and I’m still making cookies for my boy.  I think it’s because it’s a helluva lot easier than committing to exercise regularly even though I’ve been sort of trying to maybe think about possibly getting off my rump to do that, too.  I logged about 10 miles walking last week.  Not bad, right?

Does it count that when I got home from my 4-mile walk yesterday, the first thing I did was reach into the bag of cookies I’d made for my son last week?  I only had one.  Truly.  I did.

They’re rich, they’re chocolatey, and if you’re me, then your tastebuds sing when you bite into a piece of walnut, too. No pecans in these babies.  They’re light and soft and have given me pause about milk chocolate since I’m a devout fan of dark chocolate.  Did I mention the chunks are dark?

Mmmm….

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Apple Walnut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I believe that I’m a muffin person more so than a cupcake person.  Muffins seem to be less work, more humble, and are at least somewhat capable of providing flavor without a lot of sugar so I can dupe myself into thinking that the morsel I’m about to pop into my mouth is good for me.  Then I can have two.

With butter.

Realistically, the only other big difference between a muffin and a cupcake is frosting, isn’t it?  Well, and all those cutesy decorations everyone’s putting on cupcakes these days.  Both muffins and cupcakes are transportable, which makes foisting the leftover onto unsuspecting co-workers expected, but when you travel with top-heavy cupcakes, don’t they usually end up on the floor of your car when you brake to avoid the bumper of the person in front of you who didn’t see the red light because she was putting on her make up while driving?  Muffins would survive that trip to the floor unfazed and looking just as comely as they did before the mishap.

But I think I’ve found a happy medium.  Something with pieces of fruit, nuts, some spice…and a lovely cream cheese frosting.  Humble, not cloyingly sweet, and very satisfying.  And yes, sporting a bit of a decoration as well.  Have you ever made your own apple chips?

You won’t have to grab a second because these are anything but bite-sized.  In fact, you’ll need a friend to share one with.  I’m sharing mine with Fanny of Foodbeam for SHF:  Cupcakes the Final Chapter.  They’re definitely…

Not.  Just.  Pretty.

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Apple Cranberry Walnut Tart in Phyllo

What do you do when you have a partial bag of cranberries left in the freezer from Thanksgiving, green apples the men in your house conveniently forget to eat, and a box of phyllo that needs to be used?  You can either do a Google search for the three ingredients to see what comes up, or, you finally decide to see if that recipe in the December issue of Martha Stewart Living will pan out.

Since I thoroughly read Living, and ended up making nearly our entire Thanksgiving meal from that issue, I never quite got around to making the Cranberry, Apple, and Maple Phyllo Tart.  There was something about it that just didn’t seem right.  But I loved the idea that it was quick, easy, and not as heavy on calories as a few other desserts I’ve had my tastebuds working overtime, wishing they had a bite or ten.

But I finally got around to putting a tart together.  Although it wasn’t exactly the same as the original recipe (I never intended for it to be) I believe my rendition still allowed me to decide whether I’d make this particular combination of flavors into a tart again.  It’s a pretty tart tart.  You know, tart.

If you’ve never worked with phyllo, it’s an interesting experience, depending on what the recipe you’re using requires.  In general, phyllo needs to be kept covered at all times, or it will dry out almost immediately.  Make sure you have a slightly dampened towel to cover the unused portion while you’re working and then well wrap any leftovers for future use.  It’s fragile, so it’s important to have patience (I have none) and to separate the sheets slowly to avoid tearing them. This is semi impossible, but builds character. If the box has been in the freezer too long, or has thawed, and then been refrozen (this seems to happen at the grocery store from what I can figure out…), the sheets can stick together in places, making it difficult to have patience with the process.  The good news is that if this happens to you, you can either throw out the sheet, or realize that you are using quite a few sheets, and the layers compensate for any tears that may have occurred.  It’s also important to consider (before you throw the mess across the kitchen) what you are making.  Often, the tears and imperfections in the sheets make no difference, making it less than important that you have absolutely no patience.  In fact, the torn sheets can be extremely lovely.

Oddly, I enjoy working with phyllo.   But I’ve had practice, too, so that helps.  In the case of this Apple Cranberry tart, I decided from the beginning to use a 8" x 3" cake pan with a removable bottom, so torn pieces were actually something I was working to achieve.  You’ll see.

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Here’s my version of the original recipe, linked above.

Apple Cranberry Walnut Tart in Phyllo

Ingredients

6-8 sheets of phyllo (17" x 12" each), thawed
1 stick (1/2 c.) unsalted butter, melted
1 T cardamom
1 T cinnamon
5 T pure maple syrup
5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into medium thin slices
1/2 c. walnut pieces
1-1/2 c. fresh or frozen cranberries
2 T turbinado

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Using an 8" x 3" cake pan with a removable bottom, brush well with melted butter and layer with phyllo sheets. To layer the phyllo, peel a sheet from the layers of phyllo.  Gently place the sheet into the pan and using the basting brush dipped in butter, "brush" the sheet into place until it presses against the pan.  Begin with the bottom and work toward the sides before moving up to the edge.  The sheet will most likely hang over the edges of the pan.  That is okay.  You can either remove the excess now by tearing it and patching it against the phyllo in the pan, or if you’d like to achieve a more "tailored" look, trim the edge with scissors.
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Remove a second sheet of phyllo and arrange it in the pan over the first piece.  Dip the brush in the melted butter then gently brush and press it into the first piece.  Make sure that each time another layer is added, the pan is completely covered. 

Repeat this process, making sure that the phyllo is completely covered with melted butter each time a new piece is added.  Any torn bits can be attached anywhere to the phyllo pressing it against a buttered piece.

After all the phyllo sheets have been fitted into the pan, begin making layers:  first a layer of apple slices, a sprinkle of cranberries, walnuts, spices and repeat two more times. 

Pour maple syrup over the top of the tart, followed by 2 T of the melted butter.  Sprinkle turbinado over all.

Place tart on a baking sheet that has been covered with parchment as the tart will leak a bit.
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Bake for 25 minutes.  Let cool for at least 20 minutes before removing the bottom and placing tart on a serving plate.
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Cut slices and serve with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
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Notes: This tart wasn’t very sweet.  So the combination of the tart cranberries, the tart apples and the low quantity of sweet ingredients makes it something quite different than apple pie.  Although the original version of the recipe called for additional maple syrup to be served over the top, I chose not to do that.  I served it with whipped cream, but we like our cream only barely sweet.  My immediate reaction was that I didn’t care for the cranberries in this.  I was surprised because I like cranberries.  But 25 minutes of baking time is only enough for them to plump up and look gorgeous.
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When serving, the tart does come apart as I expected it to.  I was surprised, however, that the next day, it did hold together a bit more.  I don’t know that I care, because the presentation of the tart uncut was what I was going for.

I know this can be improved upon, but still wouldn’t consider making the original recipe because it seems to be lacking something…substance?

If I was to experiment with Martha’s recipe again, I would consider the following:

  1. Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl to coat evenly.
  2. Try the spice IN the melted butter and then brush some over the phyllo layers.
  3. Make a thin mascarpone maple base in the phyllo before adding the mixed ingredients.
  4. Or, just served it with a large scoop of vanilla or dulce de leche ice cream.  Now THAT might be just right.