Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Well, now it’s really fall.  In fact, with snow in the forecast, some might say fall is over and gone.  Luckily there are still some wonderful apples in the markets, and on Saturday while shopping at New Seasons I had a taste of a phenomenal ripe pear.

The other day it was the apples that inspired me, though.  My mother used to make applesauce every fall and the bowl full of heirloom apples on the counter was too good to resist.

Applesauce is an uncomplicated dish, but before I got started I thought I’d look around for some inspiration.  The Gourmet Cookbook had just the thing — a simple recipe with a touch of calvados (brandy made from cider quality apples).  I just happened to have a bottle of Clear Creek Apple Brandy on the shelf, too.

Brandied Applesauce

(loosely adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

1 pound assorted firm and flavorful heirloom apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces

½ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice

½ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon orange zest

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons apple brandy

Combine apples, orange juice, sugar, zest and cinnamon in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove lid and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, 5-10 minutes.  Add the apple brandy and simmer for about one minute more.  Remove from heat and mash with a fork or a potato masher until it is a chunky sauce.  Cool (the juices will thicken as the sauce cools).

Makes about 1½ cups.  Can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Of course, I had to make a few changes to the original recipe — I used fresh-squeezed orange juice and orange zest in place of water and lemon zest, and substituted brown sugar for the white granulated sugar.  I think it turned out perfectly, let me know what you think.

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I just finished reading a wonderful book — A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg.  Molly is the creator of the smart and tasty blog Orangette and the owner, along with her husband Brandon, of the Seattle restaurant Delancey.  I plan to eat at Delancey on my very next visit to Seattle.  I promise.

Anyway, as I was saying, I just finished reading A Homemade Life.  Every chapter tells a story and includes a recipe, and I pretty much want to cook or bake every recipe in the book.

Not wanting to put my exploration of these dishes off too far, I chose to start with one of the simplest — not that most of the recipes are complicated, but this one is particularly simple.  There are only 4 ingredients, and all but the tomatoes are something most of us have in our pantries all the time:  olive oil, salt and ground coriander.

The tomatoes are those Roma tomatoes, the ones that you can find year-round in most supermarkets.  I ran out to get some.

Preparation is quick — slice the stem end off each tomato and cut them in half lengthwise.  Toss them with the olive oil, spread them on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and coriander and put them in the oven (which you have preheated to 200 degrees) and let them roast.

The only thing challenging about this recipe is that it takes a while.  The tomatoes roast in a very slow oven for 4 to 6 hours.  Yes, 4 to 6 hours.  The nice thing is that you don’t need to do anything to them while they are roasting, just check in on them now and then.  I roasted mine for the full 6 hours, and honestly, they could probably have even roasted a bit longer.  I think they turned out perfectly.

I’ve used these tomatoes in at least three dishes since making them — we added them to a duck ragu that was tossed with homemade fettuccine, to a saute of chard and caramelized onions, and served them with scrambled eggs, for breakfast.

They even taste good on their own.

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Sweet and sour chard

I have to start with an apology.  Work seems to have been getting busier and busier and I have dropped the blog ball for the last few weeks.  I am sorry!  I will try to do better — I promise.

A sign of how bad it’s been is that I made this incredibly good sweet and sour chard weeks ago, and have not had the time to post the recipe.  I also have to admit that my photos of the dish are sorely lacking.

But, here goes.

Chard.  It’s piled up in the grocery stores here right now, and massively piled up at the farmer’s market too.  It’s not one of those vegetables that I have always eaten, but now that I do eat it I wonder why I waited so long to start.  There’s something about the taste, the texture, how it adapts to so many flavors — not to mention how good it is for you!

*photos taken with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone.

The night I invented this dish I was also making an incredibly tasty dish of chicken thighs and figs (yes, I know I should post that recipe, too — for those of you who must know, I found the chicken recipe in the Zuni Cafe Cookbook) and wanted something tangy and flavorful to serve alongside that.

Here’s what I made.

Sweet and sour chard

(serves four as a side dish)

1 generous bunch rainbow chard (you could also use kale or another kind of chard)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ cup chopped onion

3 large cloves garlic, chopped

1 large tomato, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup golden raisins

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon coarse salt

½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes

Prepare chard by cutting off stems and chopping them, then removing the stems from the leaves (you don’t have to do this for the full length of the leaf, just near the bottom where the stems are widest) and chopping them.  Chop the leaves coarsely.  Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan.

Add onions and stir until they begin to wilt.  Add garlic.  Stir until it also begins to soften.

Add chard stems, tomatoes and golden raisins.  Stir until the tomatoes begin to release their juices.

Add chard leaves, vinegar, honey, salt and hot pepper flakes, stir to mix and cover the pan.  Let the mixture cook for about 15 minutes, over medium – low heat , stirring occasionally, until chard has softened and is no longer tough.

And it was good.  Don’t just take my word for it — try it yourself.

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