Posts tagged apples
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

apple cobbler

apple cobbler

The very first time Andrew and I had dinner, we were, technically on a non-date. He had just moved to the city and it never occurred to me that our getting together was anything more than a new person looking for a familiar face to break bread with. I remembered how it was for me to move to New York – I didn’t know a soul, save for my roommate who pulled investment banking hours and spent her remaining free time with her boyfriend. It was lonely, stressful and overwhelming. I thought perhaps he might be going through the same thing and wanted to see a familiar face.

granny smiths

I, on the other hand, had other ideas. While I didn’t want to project an obligatory date, fearing rejection and embarrassment, I picked what I thought to be the perfect restaurant for a nice dinner that was relaxed enough to be construed as casual, but suggested subtle date-like hints. Braeburn was that restaurant – it had everything I wanted: lovely, thoughtful and comforting food; gracious and knowledgeable staff who knew the difference between attentive and overbearing; a room large enough for a few tables, but small enough for a quiet conversation; and a cozy, welcoming, and warm ambiance. Braeburn has and continues to strike me as a place that wants you to feel more like you’re in someone’s home than a formal restaurant, and I mean that in the best possible way.

lots of peels

Continue reading apple cobbler.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

applesauce

my mother's kitchen light

And so we’ve officially ushered autumn in. Everywhere I turn – apples, apples, apples. Everyone keeps telling me about apple picking, my farmers market has more apple stands than I know what to do with, and I’m coming into a small apple fortune come Monday night when a friend plans to bicycle over a portion of her forty pound bounty, and I’m hoping to get busy with some apple butter, which reminds me I should get a food mill and some Bell jars stet.* But that’s a story for another day. Today is all about apple sauce that I made while at my parents’ house a few weekends ago.

quartered

You see, my mother, like me, gets overly excited about fall produce and before she knows it, her house is drowning in apples as if she’s about to start her own apple stand. But you and I both know that a human being can only eat so many apples a day and before you know it, they start to get all mushy and mealy. And then you throw them out, and that’s just tragic. Tragic, I say.

cored

So I found myself staring at piles of apples that I knew, (just knew!) were going to go to waste and that my mother would kick herself for allowing that to happen. I figured apple sauce might be a fun way to use them, and since I’ve never actually tried my hand at it, I decided to trust Elise’s recipe (since hers never fail me) and attempt one of my childhood favorite treats. So while my mother was napping, or running errands (I can’t recall which), I grabbed some apples and got to work. And by work I mean I cut and cored the apples, threw them in the pot with the remaining ingredients, brought everything to a boil, reduced heat, and let everything simmer for half an hour. In fact, while the apples were cooking, I got started on dinner and didn’t even tend to the pot once. Not a single time.

ready

If I’d known apple sauce was so easy to make, I would have never bought it in the first place. And the taste, the flavor, the apple-y intensity that a pre-made version can’t even approximately deliver – are well worth the minimal effort apple sauce requires. Besides, no scented-candle can make your house smell as cozy and welcoming as that cinnamon-apple smell that will envelop your house. If anyone finds a way to bottle it, let me know – I’ll be your first customer!

apple sauce
apple sauce

*Whoa, that was a long sentence!

Continue reading applesauce.

Friday, September 3, 2010

tarte tatin

tarte tatin

I can’t help, but cheat on summer a little. I’m just so tired of being so hot all the time, of dreading to turn my oven on, of running air conditioner non-stop. I’m even sick of tank tops (gasp!), and white wine (blasphemy). I’ve been sweating for three whole months, and now I just want it to stop, you know? This heat thing is getting old. East coast folks, are you with me?

tarte tatin

What I want are things that belong firmly to autumn. I want to take a walk in the rain in my jeans and a sweater with a scarf around my neck while holding hot cider in my hand. I want to stand over a huge pot of simmering apple sauce and smell the cinnamon. I can’t wait for that morning chill in the air, and that first red leaf I spot on the ground. Fall is full of such good things, it’s no wonder I’m more than ready for it.

nekkid apples

I have been long entertaining visions of tarte Tatin, but someway or another it always eluded me. I first had it when I was backpacking through France right after graduating college. A friend and I found ourselves in Nantes and after speaking with a few locals about where they like to have dinner, managed to find our way to the restaurant. I don’t remember much of the meal other than it was very good, rustic French home-cooking. There was little pretense and the focus was on making real, honest food that people might want to eat at the end of a long week. I remember thinking it was delicious.

tarte tatin tarte tatin

When we got to dessert, I ordered a tarte Tatin. I didn’t really know what it was, but I knew I liked tarts, and after our waiter said something about apples, which my limited French picked up, I was sold. I thought what I was ordering was a tradition French apple tart, a favorite pastry of mine. What arrived on a plate (accompanied by a glass of Sancerre) was something altogether different. The apples were not splayed out in a meticulously thinly sliced array, but instead sat atop a pastry – quartered, brown, and caramelized. At their bottom was this thick amber-colored syrup. The puff pastry had soaked a bit of that syrup where the two met. It was a strange and unexpected sight, and before I gave myself a chance to analyze this unfamiliar pastry, I grabbed a fork and dug in. I can still taste that first, revelatory bite. I even remember the plate the tart arrived on – white, with tiny blue flowers around the border.

tarte tatin

You would think that this would have been the first thing I would have made upon returning to the United States. You wouldn’t think that nine whole years would pass before I’d actually get around to making it. Well, embarrassing as this is, nine years did pass. And I finally got my act together and made the tart for my book club dinner. I can’t tell you why it took so long, but I am sometimes horribly disorganized, and, well, there it is. I have no excuse, just some lost time I need to make up. And so should you. Perhaps this weekend, as you welcome fall, this could be just the dessert to bring to your Labor Day barbecues. Summer won’t mind, I don’t think. It’s had three whole months to reign over us and I think it needs to move over and give fall a chance. I’m only trying to be fair.

tarte tatin
tarte tatin

Continue reading tarte tatin.

Friday, March 19, 2010

haroset

haroset

All right folks, this will be short and sweet here. Work’s been crazy and I am actually writing this to you on my lunch break – the nerve. I keep trying to sit down and put my thoughts together, but there’s just so much to do during the day and after work, that by the time I get home, I’m a bit spent. I also need to apologize for these hideous photos. The night I took these – my photo mojo was seriously off. I tried so many different angles, lighting options, camera settings, and in the end, it just wasn’t happening. I had to accept the fact that on some nights, your photos will look disgusting. Like these.

However, what’s exciting is that Passover is right around the corner. I like to think of Passover as sort of a Jewish Thanksgiving of sorts. Done right – you have amazing food, memorable meals with family and friends and an opportunity to get a little creative in the kitchen with all the holiday dietary restrictions. It’s a challenge to get so creative that you wind up not missing chametz, or the “forbidden” foods. And with all the cooking to be done for the holiday week, this dish should be the least of your worries. It practically makes itself and it’s also incredibly delicious. Make lots because everyone will want to spoon some on the side of the plate and kids will be eating double that. Allowed to sit overnight, the flavor meld better and develop. Ideally, you’d make this ahead.

haroset

The traditional Ashkenazi haroset is little more than apples, walnuts and honey with a few other ingredients, all mixed together. Apples and honey are nothing new in the Jewish tradition – it’s the thing to eat on Rosh Hashana – for a sweet and prosperous New Year. As for the haroset preparation, there’s really nothing to it – you simply toast some walnuts for a few minutes until they’re fragrant and crunchy, and chop them up finely. You then peel a couple of apples, core them and chop those as well. Some folks prefer their haroset minced, but I like mine on a chunkier side. That way you can really taste the apple texture. And while a lot of versions like to add a few glugs of Manishewitz, or a fortified kosher wine, I prefer to add pomegranate molasses, which gives my otherwise Ashkenazi haroset a Middle Eastern twist. A pinch or two of cinnamon and your haroset is done – provided, of course, you let it sit in your fridge overnight.

haroset

And with that, I shall return to my spreadsheets and Power Point slides. I know what you’re thinking – lucky duck! Don’t be jealous now – sometimes life just isn’t fair.

Continue reading haroset.

Friday, November 20, 2009

apple cranberry pie with honey-bourbon caramel

friendship apple cranberry pie with bourbon caramel

Everyone has their favorite pie. The one they swear by. The one they are tempted to make every Thanksgiving. And this is mine. There are pumpkin pie lovers and pecan pie lovers and sweet potato pie lovers. But for my money, nothing beats a good apple pie at the end of a great meal.

friendship apple cranberry pie with bourbon caramelfriendship apple cranberry pie with bourbon caramel
friendship apple cranberry pie with bourbon caramelfriendship apple cranberry pie with bourbon caramel

This entry has been a week in the making. A full week of me staring at the computer screen trying to say something meaningful and eloquent and a propos Thanksgiving. But here’s the rub – I’m so beyond eloquence where this pie is concerned, I’ve rewritten this oh, maybe twelve times? I’m not even joking. So let’s try something here for a change.

friendship apple cranberry pie with bourbon caramelfriendship apple cranberry pie with bourbon caramel

Apples.
Butter.
Honey.
Bourbon.
Caramel.*

friendship apple cranberry pie with bourbon caramelfriendship apple cranberry pie with bourbon caramel

These should be your five reasons (like you need more) to make this pie this Thanksgiving**. I know what you’re about to say, “But Olga, I’ve never made this pie before, can I subject my guests to a first time experiment?” My answer is an unequivocal YES. And YES. And YES, AGAIN. You can. You should. You must. And here’s another thing for you to consider. I have SO much faith in you, that I’m absolutely positive you will be victorious and create a pie that your family and friends will talk about for years to come. You might even set a new bar in pie-making.

friendship apple cranberry pie with bourbon caramel

This pie is oh-ever-so-slightly more fussy than your regular apple pie in that you make the honey bourbon caramel before coating the apple slices. You will want, and I warn you here, to sit on your couch and lick the remaining caramel in the pot. For that, you make take five minutes because one must never let a good thing to go waste. In the time that you’re licking the caramel out of the pot, you also let the apples absorb the caramel a little more, so it works out fine. But then, you must waste no time, and put your pie together and bake it.

friendship apple cranberry pie with bourbon caramel
friendship apple cranberry pie with bourbon caramel

I suggest, while your pie is baking in the oven, that you sit down and have a filling snack. Perhaps a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or maybe some warmed up beans with toast and a runny egg. But eat something because the smell of this pie will render you incredibly hungry. And you don’t want to torture yourself because a hungry cook is an angry cook and we all know what happens when one cooks angry.

friendship apple cranberry pie with bourbon caramel

One other thing I forgot to tell you is the matter of decorating your pie. Because this is a holiday, a simple pie crust top with some vents won’t do. You should make dough leaves. Or use a cookie cutter with an autumnal theme. Or, if you have some other cookie shape, use that. The more random – the better! I remember when I made this pie last year, we spent a good portion of dinner laughing at my choice of decorative accent. And this time around, I’m tempted to do it again, eventhough I have leaf shapes, but where’s the fun in that?

friendship apple cranberry pie with bourbon caramel

*You might have seen this honey-bourbon caramel before. I simply decided to use it here again. I’m very happy I did.

**If anyone has any last minute Thanksgiving questions, I’ll be answering until Turkey Day itself, but on the very day I’ll be cooking all day, so I won’t be around. Shoot me an email or leave a comment below if you have any questions.

Continue reading apple cranberry pie with honey-bourbon caramel.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

apple cranberry pie

last picture before i broke the camera

This entry is over three weeks late. I can’t quite begin to tell you the drama of how the pictures before your eyes were the very last I took with my camera before I banged it on the corner of the table and it had stopped working (the one above is the very last photo prior to the incident). On Thanksgiving Day of all day. On the day when I was finally going to pull out all stops and show you just how awesome a roast turkey can be. How incredible and simple a cranberry sauce is. How awesome, tasty, seductive even my famous porcini mushroom soup is. Thrice I have made that soup and thrice I’ve been unable to take pictures of it, for whatever reason. But back to my camera agony – yes, the camera broke immediately after I took a glorious shot of the apple pie and then, then it was all gone. The camera unwilling to turn itself on, the sheer terror that had overcome me, the frenetic pace of the morning (cooking since the early hours) – it all just came unraveled.

If I sound like a bit of a techie geek, I suppose it’s proof enough that for the last three weeks, I’ve been walking around like the living dead, somewhat. A bit off kilter, somewhat out of my element – as if I was missing a limb. After the camera was fixed, coincidentally I discovered that the battery went dead – and it took me another week to get the battery (weeknight and all do not allow for any kind of errands).

little did i know of the dangers that lurked ahead...

It was a dear consolation that the pie turned out well. Particularly after my summer pie crust scare and panic. Having never really failed at a baking project, the crust of the summer was a disappointment and a warning that not all could go smoothly in the kitchen.

with cranberries

While I’ve done almost no cooking in the last three weeks due to work, I still have to post this recipe. It came from the Martha Stewart cookbook I very much love and use when I cook – I find that there are very few books I actually want to own. The crust in this recipe was everything I wanted a crust to be – buttery, flaky, easy to work with!! Making the filling was easy enough though I found that I needed fewer apples than what the recipe called for – I used about 5 apples, which I think is less than 3 lbs. I added about a cup of cranberries on my own – but you can keep this cranberry-free if you think it’ll be too tart.

Now that my camera is fixed, I can start taking pictures again, however, who knows when I cook next? And with a vacation right around the corner (San Antonio, Texas, here we come!!) I am hoping to at least capture some of the sights, sounds and tastes for you all to enjoy.

happy pate brisee

Continue reading apple cranberry pie.