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Posts Tagged ‘Apples and Pears’

This was something I had made with the intention of posting it back in January as part of the Dark Days challenge.  The challenge host got exceptionally busy, so the challenge died.  Clearly, I wasn’t going to be keeping up with it anyway, so while I’ll miss the fun in participating, I also completely understand that life sometimes gets in the way.

But, this soup reminds me of all that I loved about the challenge.  Throwing together a meal of entirely local ingredients is a true challenge, even in this part of the country.  It takes planning and creativity, but it pushes you to cook things you wouldn’t ordinarily.  Like this soup.  Probably not something I would have made if I had my whole pantry and everything in the grocery store available to me.  But, it is absolutely delicious.

It’s relatively simply, hearty, and great for a cold winter’s day.  I topped mine with crumbled bits of Marin Sun Farms pancetta and served it up with a crisp Sonoma rose.  Absolutely delightful.

I took a lot of liberties with the original to work within my local parameters.  It’s a simple recipe and lends itself well to tinkering.

Apple and Parsnip Soup
Inspired by the The Kitchn

3 Granny Smith apples (about 1-1/2 pounds), peeled and cored, and diced into small pieces
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
About 1-1/4 pounds medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
1-2 bay leaves
a few sprigs of thyme, tied
5-6 cups liquid (recipe recommends chicken broth, I just used water and had no problem)
1/4 cup or so of cream or half and half

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and sauté until they start to brown, about 10 minutes.  Add parsnips and sauté for three more minutes. Add the apple pieces and saute for a few more minutes.

Add the broth or water, the bay leaves and thyme and bring to a boil. If you are using water, not broth, add some salt in there before you bring it to a boil – probably a tablespoon or so, maybe a bit less. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes.

Allow the soup to cool slightly. Fish out the herbs.  Purée until smooth, either by working in batches in blender or using a hand blender, thinning with more broth/water by half-cupfuls as desired.  Taste it – if the parsnips are really strong, you might need a dab of honey in there.  Return soup to pot and bring to simmer.  Remove from heat and whisk in the cream.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The original recipe recommends serving it with some sauteed, diced apples.  A commenter suggested crushed marcona almonds, which sounds lovely.  But, I have to say, completely perfect with some crumbled fried pancetta on top.

 

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Beef stew.  With Belgian beer.  Need I say more?  Probably not, but since I’m verbose, I will.  This is a really good beef stew recipe.  It’s a classic Belgian dish.  I’m sure it’s particularly delicious with frites, but I’m not quite that ambitious, so I served it with bread.  The person who recommended the recipe to me suggested I add in a couple diced, peeled apples.  Which I did, and which is what made it extra awesome.  So, I suggest you do the same.  The apples and the onions break down into a rich, thick brown sauce, that’s sweet and savory.  For beer, use a good Belgian brown ale.  I used Moinette Bruin, above, but Leffe Bruin would also work.

Carbonade Flamandes
Recipe from this website

Ingredients
4 pounds boneless stew meat,
such as chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter (I used olive oil)
3 large onions (about 2 pounds), thinly sliced
2 bottles (12 ounces each) Belgian beer
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1-1/2 tablespoons red currant jelly (or brown sugar)
1 tablespoon cider or red wine vinegar
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and diced into 1 inch chunks (optional, but highly recommended)

Directions

Season the beef cubes with the salt and pepper and dredge with the flour. Shake off any excess.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter or oil in a large dutch oven or heavy, oven-proof pan over high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add the beef cubes and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Work in batches so as not to crowd the beef cubes, or they will steam instead of sauté.  Add additional oil or butter if necessary.  Once browned, set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter or oil to the skillet and melt over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook stirring occasionally, until browned, about 15 minutes.  If necessary, raise the heat toward the end of the cooking time.  It is important to brown the meat and the onions evenly to give the stew its deep brown color.  The trick is to stir the onions just enough to avoid burning the but not so often as to interrupt the browning process.

Deglaze the pan with the beer, scraping with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits.  Add the beef back to the pan as well as the apples and bring to a boil.  Add the thyme and bay leaves.

The recipe recommended simmering covered, over low heat until the meat is very tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.  I did this and it was fine, but if I do it again, I’d put it in the oven at, say 325, for longer – three or four hours.  It’s really going to depend on the meat used, but I think mine was a bit tougher.  Before serving, stir in the red currant jelly or brown sugar and vinegar; simmer for 5 minutes.   Adjust the seasoning as needed and serve, preferably with more beer.

 

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It’s a cold and rainy weekend here, so I wanted to make something comforting and satisfying.  In preparing the sausuages, I loosely followed this recipe from Food & Wine.  For the mash, I was inspired by this Martha Stewart recipe for mashed parnsip and apple, and this Ina Garten recipe for pureed celery root and apple.  Since there seems to be a bunch of recipes floating around online for mashed parnsip and celery root as well, I saw no good reason not to just throw them all together.

This is a pretty forgiving, easy meal, so I’m not going to bother with precise measurements or instructions.  Just throw things into a pan, and you’ll probably be fine.

Braised Sausages and Grapes

Add a few Italian sausages to a skillet and add water.  Simmer for about 6 or 7 minutes, longer if they are really big, turning a few times.  Drain. 

 Turn the heat down to medium and put the sausages back in the pan.   Add a splash of olive oil and some minced shallot to the pan.  Saute for a few minutes, turning the sausages, and allowing the sausages to brown. 

Add about 1/4 cup of wine (I used red).  I’m sure vinegar or broth would be fine too.  Scrape up the sticky bits from the bottom of the pan.  Pour the grapes into the pan and season with salt and pepper.  Allow the dish to simmer for a couple minutes, adding another splash of wine to help it all come together.  Remove from heat and serve.

Apple-Root Vegetable Mash

Peel a large apple, a 1 pound celery root, and a couple parnsips.  Chop into 1-2 inch chunks.  Put into a pan with about a cup of water and a good pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  Let the vegetables cook for 20-30 minutes, until soft.  Drain and add everything back to the pan.  Add a splash of cream or milk and a good pat of butter.  Mash with a potato masher until it reaches desired texture.  Add extra butter or salt if needed.

I served everything with some braised broccoli rabe, which I made by sauteing it in some olive oil, a few cloved of minced garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. 

To drink, some lovely Syrah from the fabulous Bonny Doon vineyards, a favorite of my husband’s.

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I know a lot of people rave about their KitchenAid mixers.  I like mine.  It’s useful.  But I don’t want to marry it.  My kitchen isn’t that big so it can’t just sit on the counter, and sometimes it feels like pulling it down from the top of the fridge is more work than just stirring the batter by hand.

So, here is a super delicious dessert that requires no mixer.  It’s good.  Really good.  The recipe itself is really basic and perfect as is, but would probably also be lovely with some cinnamon added, or maybe even some minced fresh rosemary.

Buttery Apple Cake
Recipe by Martha Stewart

Ingredients
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 pound Granny Smith apples, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Heavy cream, for serving (optional, I skipped it and instead went for a dusting of confectioners’ sugar)

Directions
Make the cake: Preheat oven to 325. Coat an 8-inch springform pan with cooking spray; dust with flour, tapping out excess. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread apples in pan; set aside.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk, oil, and eggs in a medium bowl until smooth. Pour over apples. Bake until set and pale golden brown, about 40 minutes.

Make the topping: Stir together butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a small bowl. Remove cake from oven, and pour topping over cake.

Bake another 25 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.  Remove sides of pan, and transfer cake to a serving plate.

Serve slices drizzled with cream or a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

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A slightly more sophisticated looking dinner than last week, using very similar ingredients.

And, this soup rocked.  Butternut squash, pear, and turnip?  Yes, please.  I already had one standard butternut squash soup recipe, but now it has competition in the rotation.  You can definitely taste the pear in it, though the spicy turnip balances everything out, keeping it from being too sweet.  The recipe looks simple, and I was tempted to add some leeks or garlic or something.  I didn’t, and I found I didn’t need to.  It works perfectly just as it is.

The fancy floating pear was pretty easy to do, so try it out and impress your guests with your oh-so-Martha presentation.

On the side, a mix of mustard greens and salad greens.  I dressed it with olive oil and cider vinegar (not local), with a tiny splash of maple syrup (a local-to-them gift from family in Massachusetts).  The maple dressing was really good on the bitter, spicy mustard greens.

All and all, a delicious winter meal.

Pear and Autumn Vegetable Soup
Recipe by Martha Stewart

Ingredients
4 small Bartlett pears (about 6 ounces each), plus an additional larger pear to use for the garnish
1 sugar pumpkin or butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 turnip (about 3 ounces), trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 sprig fresh sage
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, white if you have it

Directions
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Cut the larger pear into paper thin pieces, using a mandoline or sharp knife.  Pick out the seeds and stem.  Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, cut 2 medium pears lengthwise into paper-thin slices.  Arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake about 1 hour, or until the pears are dry.  Cool completely on a wire rack. 

Peal the remaining pears.  Halve lengthwise and core.  Add the pears, squash or pumpkin, and the turnip to a 4 quart stockpot with the sage and a teaspoon of salt.  Cover with water (at least 4 cups) and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Discard the sage.  Carefully transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and puree in batches.   Return the soup to the pot and bring up to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Whisk in the cream, salt, and pepper.   Serve with the dried pears as a garnish.

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The challenge with relying on the farmers market is that you never know what you are going to get.  When I made my trip yesterday, it was my first in nearly a month and things had changed a little.  Some of the vendors that I rely on weren’t there and a few others were carrying a different mix of produce.  I had gone with the expectation that I’d make some sort of vegetable enchiladas with my favorite roasted tomatillo salsa.  Except no tomatillos or chilies were to be found yesterday.

So, I loaded up my backpack with a bunch of stuff and tried to think through a plan on my walk home.  A quick look in my Flavor Bible confirmed my suspicion that fennel and apple would taste nicely together and I set to work.
 

I relied on this recipe from Food & Wine in executing my vision.  The fennel sausage comes from The Fatted Calf and all the other produce comes from various vendors at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market.  The salad is a mix of arugula, radicchio, and delicious local walnuts, dressed with a lemon vinagrette (though my olive oil is not local).  While the cider is from the Farmers’ Market as well, the wine I used, admittedly, was purchased at Trader Joe’s, but hails from Healdsburg.

Braised Sausage with Fennel and Apple
Inspired by this recipe from Food and Wine

Ingredients
4 fennel sausages, approximately 1 pound total
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
1-2 heads of fennel, thinly sliced.  Mine were quite small so I used two, but if you find a big one, it’s probably enough.
1 large leek, thinly sliced
1 cup of cider
1/4 cup of dry white wine (or more cider, chicken stock, or even just water)
a pat of butter
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Place the sausages in a large skillet.  Add a half cup of cider and a half cup or so of water…just enough so they are at least halfway covered, but not so much that they are completely covered.  Simmer on medium high heat for about 7-8 minutes or so.  Remove from pan, cover, and set aside.  At this point, there may still be some liquid in the pan, but either way, it’s OK.

Reduce heat to medium and add a pat of butter.  Add the leek and saute for a few minutes.  Add the wine and let that simmer, scraping up the carmelized bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the apples and fennel, and cook for about 4 or 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.  When they start to soften, add the remaining cider.  Season with salt and pepper.  Simmer for another minute or two, until it starts to reduce.

Add the sausage and any juices that are on the plate.  Cook for another minute or two, until the sausages are warmed up again, and you are ready to serve.

I garnished mine with a few fennel fronds just before serving.  I really liked the dish.  I’ve never been a big fennel fan, but I liked it here.  I think the apples made it sweet and the fennel cut the sweetness of the apple, so it didn’t taste sugary.  Great combo!

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Last night, I got all Top Chef on this soup recipe.

I made it a bunch of times last year, and it is so delicious.  However, in a stunning act of stupidity, I somehow managed to break my hand blender and I haven’t replaced it.  So, no soup for me!

Instead, I deconstructed it and baked it.  All the ingredients, just wrapped up in a pie crust (the crouton!).  Delicious.

Butternut Squash and Apple Galette

Ingredients
Approximately 5 cups cubed butternut squash
2 apples, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
2 shallots (I’m sure some onion would work too)
4 ounces shredded smoked cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Olive oil, salt & pepper
1 pie crust (I use Martha Stewart’s pate brisee – you just need half this recipe)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400.  Place the butternut squash in a baking dish and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, until it just starts to soften and brown.  When it’s done, take it out and turn the heat down to 350.

Meanwhile, saute the shallots or onion in a tablespoon or so of olive oil on medium heat for 3-4 minutes until soft.  Add the apples and saute for another 5 minutes or so.  Add a pat of butter and some salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

Roll out the pie shell to about a 12 inch circle or so, and sprinkle the center with half of the grated cheese, leaving a 2-3 inch or so border all the way around it.  The nice thing about galettes is that no precision is required…think rustic-chic. 

Spread the apple-shallot mixture on top of the cheese.

Toss the butternut squash with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.  Then spread the squash down on the gallete.  Finish with the rest of the cheese.

Wrap up the sides and seal everything in.  Gently beat an egg and brush it over the pastry dough.  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350.

 

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My experiment paid off.  It really did taste like the soup.  It might be a little neater to eat if the squash was mashed up and spread out, but it was good with the chunks.  I think a bit of sage tossed in during the roasting stage would have also been nice, as would replacing some of the squash with parsnip.  In any event, a delicious dinner and would make a lovely vegetarian main course.

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