Posts Tagged ‘apple’

Garden Vegetable Soup

As with the last episode of Good Eats, Alton’s goal in this episode was to develop kid-friendly recipes; this time, though, he tackled soup. The first soup he made was a vegetable soup. This soup starts by heating 4 T olive oil in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add to the oil 2 C chopped leeks (be sure to wash them well), 2 T minced garlic, and a pinch of Kosher salt.

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Leeks, garlic, and salt added to hot oil.

Cook the leeks and garlic until they have softened.

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Leeks and garlic after sweating.

Next, add 2 C peeled/chopped carrots, 2 C peeled/diced potatoes, and 2 C green beans, broken into bite-sized pieces.

Increase the heat under the vegetables, cooking them for 4-5 minutes. Pour in 2 quarts of chicken or vegetable broth; Alton says he is fine with using purchased broth here. Of course, homemade would always be better, though!

Once the broth is in the pot, increase the heat to high, bringing the broth to a simmer. When simmering, add 4 C peeled/seeded/chopped tomatoes, 2 ears of corn kernels, and a few grinds of black pepper.

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Corn, tomatoes, and pepper added to the soup.

Turn the heat to low, place a lid on the pot, and simmer the soup for 25-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are fork tender.

To finish the soup, stir in 1/4 C parsley and 1-2 t fresh lemon juice.

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Lemon juice and parsley stirred in.

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A bowl of Alton’s vegetable soup.

This is a pretty basic vegetable soup recipe, and I have to admit that I assumed it would be quite bland. I also was unsure of whether Ted would like it, as he is not a huge tomato fan. Ted and I, however, were both pleasantly surprised at the amount of flavor in this soup! The individual vegetables maintained their textures and vibrant colors, and the soup had a bright, fresh vegetable flavor. The lemon gave the soup a perfect pop of much-needed acidity. The only thing you may need to adjust is the amount of salt, depending on how much you sprinkle in when sweating the leeks and garlic. This is a super easy, healthy recipe that you easily could make with kids in the kitchen, and it is a great way to eat a bunch of fresh vegetables.

Grape Gazpacho

Now that the weather is cooling off, we really aren’t in gazpacho season anymore. The ingredients needed for Alton’s grape gazpacho, though, are available year-round. Gazpacho is always better if allowed to sit for a few hours before eating, so plan to make this a few hours ahead.

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Tomatillos, cucumber, and Granny Smith apple.

The soup begins with seeding and chopping one cucumber.

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Seeded cucumber.

Place half of the cucumber in a food processor and the other half in a large bowl. Next, peel, seed, and chop a Granny Smith apple, placing half of it in the food processor and the other half in the large bowl.

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Peeled apple.

Chop 1 C husked tomatillos, and do the same as with the cucumber and apple, placing half of the tomatillos in the food processor and half in the large bowl.

Add the following ingredients to the food processor:  1 pound green grapes, 1 C toasted walnuts, 1 C plain yogurt, 1 C white grape juice, 1 t rice wine vinegar, and 6 mint leaves.

Pulse the ingredients in the food processor nine or ten times, until blended but still maintaining some texture.

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Mixture after pulsing 9-10 times.

Pour the mixture from the food processor into the large bowl with the cucumber, apple, and tomatillos, stirring to combine.

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Blended mixture added to bowl of fruit/vegetables.

Cover the soup with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for two-three hours before eating.

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Green grape gazpacho.

As with most cold soups, this one comes together super quickly, and it is super convenient since you can make it ahead of time. This soup was just okay for me, though it did have some interesting flavors. I found that it really called for the addition of some Kosher salt. The soup was certainly light and refreshing, and the walnuts gave it some body. I would definitely prefer this soup in warmer weather, as it has a slightly sweet and tart flavor from the grapes and tomatillos. This is another healthy and easy recipe that kids could certainly aid in making, but this wasn’t a favorite for me.

With things finally settling down slightly for Ted’s health in December, I was able to devote a little more time to my Good Eats project. Already skinny, Ted had lost over 30 pounds after his second cancer surgery, bottoming out with only 131 pounds on his 6’1″ frame. Needless to say, weight gain became the goal in our household, and I cooked anything and everything that appealed to him, even remotely. Thankfully, some of the recipes from the last few episodes I was blogging about did have some appeal to Ted. Most recently, the recipes I tackled were all from Alton’s episode on puff pastry.

Puff pastry can be a tricky beast, but its difficult nature can be avoided by following Alton’s puff pastry rules and process.

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A box of frozen puff pastry.

Puff pastry is composed of numerous alternating layers of butter and pastry. The first rule of puff pastry is to avoid condensation during the thawing process. To do this, wrap your sheet(s) of puff pastry in a paper towel.

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Puff pastry sheet, thawing. Soon to be wrapped in a paper towel to avoid condensation.

Wait 15-20 minutes before gently trying to unfold the pastry sheet; if the sheet offers any resistance, give it more time to thaw. From this point, give the pastry a check every five minutes. Once you can unfold your pastry sheet, gently fold it into a triangle shape, and allow it to thaw for a few more minutes.

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Puff pastry, continuing to thaw in a triangle shape.

Once ready to go, unfold the sheet all the way, crimping the seams with your fingers.

Your puff pastry is now ready for use. It is always a good idea to place a sheet pan in the freezer (or outside, if it is cold enough). That way, if your pastry gets too warm, you can quickly cool it down.

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Chilling a sheet pan.

If your pastry gets too warm, you will know it, as it will begin to stick and get difficult to work with.

Fruit Tart

Alton’s first puff pastry recipe is for a fruit tart. To make two individual tarts, begin by thawing one sheet of purchased puff pastry as described above. Also, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Once your pastry is ready, sprinkle sugar over both sides, and gently roll the pastry with a rolling pin to flatten the seams. Place two small saucers diagonally on the pastry and cut around them with a pizza cutter.

Note:  you will have some excess pastry to discard. Alton emphasizes that using a sharp tool is critical, as you do not want to damage the delicate layers of pastry. Once you have your two circles of pastry, place them on your already-cold sheet pan and put them in the refrigerator.

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My cut-out puff pastry circles.

Meanwhile, peel, core, and quarter a Granny Smith apple.

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Granny Smith.

Using a vegetable peeler, make wafer-thin slices of apple. To avoid browning, quickly place the apple slices in a mixture of 1 C water and 1 T lemon juice.

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Apple slices in water/lemon juice.

Once your apple is sliced (you will not need a whole apple), pull the pastry circles from the refrigerator and flip them over so the cut side is facing down; this will allow for maximum puff because the healthy edges are facing up. Prick the centers of each circle with a fork, avoiding the edges. “Docking” the center of each pastry circle will allow steam to escape from the centers, which will prevent them from puffing. This will give a nice puffy edge to each tart.

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Docked puff pastry circle.

Place a piece of parchment under your pastry circles and sprinkle them with sugar. Decorate the tops of each tart with your thin apple slices, positioning them in an interlocking spiral, and bake your tarts for 15-20 minutes.

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Thin apple slices arranged in an interlocking spiral on the puff pastry circle.

You want to bake them until they are golden and their edges are crispy.

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Apple tarts after baking – golden and with crispy edges.

While your tarts are still warm, microwave some apricot jam for ~30 seconds, or until just loosened up.

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Apricot jam, microwaved just until loose.

With a pastry brush, gently dab the jam all over your tarts, being careful to avoid disrupting your pretty apple slices. Let your tarts cool for at least four hours.

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Finished fruit tarts.

Alton prefers his tarts at room temperature, but I warmed ours up. Ted and I each ate a tart for breakfast. One tart was the perfect size for one person. Sure enough the tarts were pretty, not overly sweet, and they perfectly demonstrated the best of puff pastry. The puff pastry was flaky, buttery, crisp, and light. I could definitely see making these again. They were very easy and a great introduction to working with puff pastry, which I have had little experience with. For alternative fruit toppings, Alton recommended trying pears, mangoes, strawberries, or nectarines. I would like to try making these with nectarines in the summer.

Stacked Puff Pastry with Cherries

Next up in Alton’s puff pastry arsenal is his stacked puff pastry. When I watched this episode of Good Eats, this was the recipe I was most intrigued by. For Alton’s recipe, you’ll need two sheets of thawed puff pastry (see how to thaw above), one egg beaten with 2 T water, 1 can of drained pie cherries, and 1/2 C of bread or cake crumbs. You may want to slightly stagger the thawing of your puff pastry sheets, as you will work with one sheet prior to the other. Place your first thawed puff pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

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Thawed puff pastry.

Using a ruler as a guide, cut a 1-inch wide strip off of each side of the pastry, reserving them for later; these will be your walls. Use a pizza cutter to cut your walls.

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1-inch strips cut from each side.

Dock the center of the remaining center square of pastry with a fork. Since this will be the floor of your pastry, you do not want it to rise. Brush the edges of the square floor with egg wash, but not within 1/4″ of the very edge.

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One egg beaten with 2 T water.

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Pastry floor, docked with a fork and edges brushed with egg wash, avoiding very edges.

Place two wall strips of pastry on opposing sides of the floor, cut side out. Dab egg wash on the corners and place the other two walls on top. Dab the corners with more egg wash, and fold the tabs over. This will give you a square-shaped floor with raised walls all around.

Place the floor and walls in the refrigerator while you get the second thawed sheet of puff pastry. You will need to cut a “roof” for your floor and walls, which should be approximately 7 x 7 inches. Again, do your cutting on parchment paper to avoid sticking. Fold your roof in half (over a piece of parchment) and use scissors to cut some slats.

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Slats cut in roof.

Place the roof in the refrigerator with your assembled floor. While your puff pastry cools off, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Add your cake or bread crumbs to your drained can of cherries, and allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes. The crumbs will absorb the excess moisture from the cherries.

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Pie cherries.

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Pie cherries and crumbs, sitting for 10 minutes to absorb excess moisture.

You are now ready to complete assembly of your stacked pastry. Spoon the cherry filling onto the pastry floor, avoiding the walls. You want to use more filling than you think you will need. Egg wash the walls, avoiding their very edges.

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Cherry filling spooned onto the floor. Use more than you think you need.

Place your roof on top of your floors/wall, cut side down to allow for maximum puff, gently pressing the edges. Egg wash the roof, avoiding the cut edges.

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Egg-washed roof.

Bake your pastry for 30 minutes before decreasing the temperature to 350 degrees for an additional 30 minutes. Alton’s stacked cherry pastry looked quite perfect, with a pretty lattice top. Mine looked a lot more like a puff pastry bouncy house.

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My stacked puff pastry looked a lot like a bouncy house.

I quickly realized that I had not put enough filling onto my floor, as there was a gap between the roof and the filling. Also, I thought the filling would be better if it were slightly sweeter. I would like to try this again, using cherry pie filling in place of the tart pie cherries, and adding a sprinkle of sugar on top of the egg-washed roof. Though my stacked pastry was far from perfect, I still found it fun to make, so I think I’ll have to give it another go. And, the puffy magic of puff pastry was certainly on display with this one!

Salmon Turnovers

I made the final recipe from this episode on Christmas Eve. Salmon turnovers seemed like a perfect thing to share with my parents, as we began our Christmas celebration. Alton’s recipe calls for 1 C cooked rice, 1/2 C sauteed mushrooms, 1-2 T dill pickle relish, 2-3 scallions, 1 T parsley, Kosher salt and pepper, 1 sheet of puff pastry, 1 egg beaten with 2 T water, and 1 can of boneless/skinless salmon. To make my dinnertime prep easier, I cooked my rice and sauteed some mushrooms early in the day; I sauteed my mushrooms with some olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. To make the filling, combine the rice, mushrooms, relish, scallions, parsley, salt, pepper, and salmon in a bowl.

One sheet of puff pastry will yield four turnovers. Since we were having guests, I thawed two sheets. You will have excess filling, even with making eight turnovers.

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Two sheets of puff pastry.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Thaw your pastry, as written above, and place it on a piece of parchment. Cut each sheet of pastry into four equal squares.

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Puff pastry sheet, cut into four even squares.

Place a generous spoonful of filling on the middle of each square and brush the edges with egg wash. Fold the pastry over the filling, forming a triangle, and use a fork to securely crimp the edges.

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Filling scooped in the center of each pastry square.

Use a paring knife to cut two slits in the top of each turnover, and brush the tops with egg wash.

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Vents cut in the top of each turnover, and tops brushed with egg wash.

Bake the turnovers for 30 minutes.

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I think the turnovers appeal to someone!

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The finished turnovers.

We all thought these turnovers were really good, and they would make a nice weeknight meal. The pastry was light and crispy, and the filling had a nice mixture of flavors. You really could use any filling you would like for these. I enjoyed Alton’s salmon concoction. According to the episode, Alton’s favorite turnover filling is a combo of Manwich mix and cheddar cheese. My brother and sister-in-law heated up leftover turnovers in the oven the following day, and said they reheated very nicely. The previous night, I had placed them in a paper bag in the refrigerator to allow the pastry to breathe. Alton’s turnover recipe has inspired me to make turnovers more often. They are so easy and really delicious. Puff pastry is really not difficult to work with if you follow Alton’s basic rules:  1) Keep it cool. 2) Use a sharp tool for cutting. 3) Dock the base. 4) Vent the top. 5) Always put the cut side down. 6) Rest before baking.

 

I have been sort of forced into a project hiatus, as we moved this week. It is quite amazing to see just how much stuff you can accumulate after living in a home for five years, as well as how much of a process it is to move a mere three miles. As I type, I still have boxes on either side of me, but the kitchen items are largely put away, so that is a good start! A few days prior to moving, I tackled the recipes in the 28th episode of Good Eats, but I am only now getting to writing the post about them. It actually has worked out well since this episode is about pickles and you want to let them sit a bit before really eating them anyway. Plus, I am a huge pickle fan, so this was a fun episode for me to do. My mom and I have made pickles nearly every summer for the past several years, and they are a great way to taste seasonal produce year-round.

AB’s B and Bs

Bread and butter pickles are first up in this episode. While I like pretty much any type of pickle, I tend to prefer pickles that are more on the savory, rather than the sweet, side. To make Alton’s version of these, you combine half of a sliced onion and two thinly sliced cucumbers in a spring-top jar.

Whole cucumber.

Whole cucumber.

Sliced cucumbers in a jar.

Sliced cucumbers in a jar.

Cucumber slices in a jar. Note:  I forgot to add the onion to the jar initially, so I ended up adding it after I had put the brine in.

Cucumber slices in a jar. Note: I forgot to add the onion to the jar initially, so I ended up adding it after I had put the brine in.

I somehow managed to forget the onion completely, so I added it after my pickles were all completed. Oops. I opted to slice my cucumbers by hand, but a mandolin would always be a great choice. The brine for these pickles is made up of water, cider vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and pickling seasoning. All of these ingredients go into a saucepan, are brought to a boil, and are simmered for four minutes.

Water, cider vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and pickling seasoning make up the brine.

Water, cider vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and pickling seasoning make up the brine.

Simmering brine.

Simmering brine.

Alton says you only need to boil your brine if you are using whole spices, as it results in better spice extraction. Once your brine has simmered, pour it gently over the cucumbers in your jar.

Bread and butters.

Bread and butters.

AB's B and Bs.

AB’s B and Bs.

Let the pickles cool to room temperature before closing the top. You may have extra brine (I did), and you may want to top the jar off after the pickles have cooled. Stick these puppies in the refrigerator, and they will keep for up to two months. I am quite happy with my bread and butter pickles. They have been in their brine for 10 days now, and they are really crunchy and flavorful. They are probably my favorite bread and butter pickles that I have ever had, as they are very well-balanced. They are tart and sweet, but not overly so. They also look pretty in the jar, and would be a great addition to a sandwich. Plus, they take mere minutes to make. Alton has done bread and butters proud with this one.

Kinda Sorta Sours

The second pickle recipe Alton makes in this episode is very similar to his bread and butter pickles, but it is more on the sour/savory side. Again, to begin these pickles, half of a sliced onion and two thinly sliced cucumbers go into a jar. I had run out of spring-top jars, so I used two regular quart canning jars. Note:  I had to make additonal brine to fill both of my jars.

Onion in the pickle jar. Didn't forget it this time!

Onion in the pickle jar. Didn’t forget it this time!

Thinly sliced cucumber.

Thinly sliced cucumber.

Cucumbers and onion in two quart jars.

Cucumbers and onion in two quart jars.

The brine this time includes water, cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and pickling seasoning.

Brine of water, cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and pickling seasoning.

Brine of water, cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and pickling seasoning.

In contrast to the bread and butter brine, this brine has less sugar, more salt, more mustard seed, less turmeric, more celery seed, more pickling seasoning, and the addition of champagne vinegar. The process is the same, except you add four crushed garlic cloves to the jar before adding the brine to the cucumbers and onions.

Four crushed garlic cloves into the jar.

Four crushed garlic cloves into the jar.

Simmering brine.

Simmering brine.

Brine poured over cucumbers.

Brine poured over cucumbers.

Kinda Sorta Sours.

Kinda Sorta Sours.

Let the pickles cool before closing, top them off with more brine, and put them in the refrigerator. These, too, will keep for up to a couple of months. I like these pickles quite a bit too. They have the same pleasantly crunchy texture of the bread and butter pickles, but they are much more savory. They really are almost sour. They would also be great on a sandwich. For a more savory cucumber pickle, this is the one to try.

Firecrackers

If you are looking for a more unique pickle to try, try making Alton’s Firecrackers. What are Firecrackers? They are crunchy, spicy, sweet, zesty pickled baby carrots. To make these, Alton tells you to put a half pound of baby carrots in a (you guessed it) spring-top jar. I weighed out a half pound of baby carrots and they only filled my jar half-way, so I wound up using about a pound of baby carrots.

A pound of baby carrots in the jar.

A pound of baby carrots in the jar.

To make the brine, you combine water, sugar, and cider vinegar in a saucepan. To this, you add onion powder, mustard seed, Kosher salt, chili flakes, and dried chilies.

Brine ingredients:  water, sugar, cider vinegar, onion powder, mustard seed, Kosher salt, chili flakes, and dried chilies.

Brine ingredients: water, sugar, cider vinegar, onion powder, mustard seed, Kosher salt, chili flakes, and dried chilies.

Bring the brine to a boil, simmer it for four minutes, and pour it over the carrots.

Simmering brine.

Simmering brine.

Brine over carrots.

Brine over carrots.

Firecrackers.

Firecrackers.

Let them cool, close the top, and refrigerate them. My firecrackers are 10 days out and they are only getting better. They are crispy and tangy, and the natural sweetness of the carrots come through. There is also a decent amount of residual heat. I ate some of these on a salad for lunch and they were great. I highly recommend these, especially if you like a little kick to your pickles.

Summer Fruits

Alton’s next next recipe is quite different because it is for fruit pickles. This was my first fruit pickle attempt. Alton calls for you to pickle one Bartlett pear and one red plum. Seeing as it is January, I could not find a red plum, so I substituted an apple (Fuji, I think) for the plum.

Bartlett pear and an apple.

Bartlett pear and an apple.

As with the cucumber pickles, slice the fruit very thinly and add it to a spring-top jar. In a saucepan, combine water, sugar, and rice wine vinegar and simmer this until the sugar dissolves completely; no need to boil this one since there are no whole spices.

Simple brine of water, sugar, and rice wine vinegar.

Simple brine of water, sugar, and rice wine vinegar.

Sugar almost dissolved in brine.

Sugar almost dissolved in brine.

Meanwhile, to the jar add slivered ginger, a sprig of fresh mint, and half of a lemon, thinly sliced.

Thinly sliced lemon added to the sliced fruit in the jar.

Thinly sliced lemon added to the sliced fruit in the jar.

Apple, pear, ginger, and lemon in the jar.

Apple, pear, ginger, and lemon in the jar.

Fresh mint.

Fresh mint.

Mint added to the jar.

Mint added to the jar.

Once the sugar has dissolved in the brine, pour it over the fruit, let the pickles cool, close the lid, and refrigerate them.

Brine poured over fruit.

Brine poured over fruit.

Summer Fruits.

Summer Fruits.

Alton recommends serving these over ice cream or with pound cake. So far, we have only eaten them plain, but I think they would also be fantastic in a spinach salad with some walnuts, beets, and goat cheese. These pickles are fun because they are completely different. They are lightly sweet, but also quite tangy. The fruit has not gotten mushy, which is what I was concerned about. The flavor of the mint really comes through, especially in the pear, and it is really quite a nice pairing with the fruit.

Hurry Curry Cauliflower

The final recipe in this episode is for pickled curried cauliflower. To start these pickles, crush some whole cumin and coriander seeds. I did this with a mortar and pestle.

Whole coriander and cumin seeds.

Whole coriander and cumin seeds.

Crushed cumin and coriander seeds.

Crushed cumin and coriander seeds.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the crushed spices. Along with the spices, add curry powder, ginger, and a smashed clove of garlic.

Coriander seed, cumin seed, curry powder, ginger, and garlic in oil

Coriander seed, cumin seed, curry powder, ginger, and garlic in oil

The spice mixture.

The spice mixture.

Cook the spices until they are fragrant and the oil has turned yellow. To the spice mixture, add one head of cauliflower florets and toss to coat them.

Cauliflower florets.

Cauliflower florets.

Cauliflower added to spice mixture.

Cauliflower added to spice mixture.

Curry-coated cauliflower.

Curry-coated cauliflower.

Meanwhile, in a container with a tight-fitting lid, combine water, rice wine vinegar, cider vinegar, sugar, and pickling salt; shake this liquid until the salt and sugar have dissolved. If you do not have pickling salt, you can substitute Kosher salt, but be sure to add 1.5x as much.

Water, rice wine vinegar, cider vinegar, sugar, and Kosher salt shaken until dissolved.

Water, rice wine vinegar, cider vinegar, sugar, and Kosher salt shaken until dissolved.

Once the cauliflower has softened slightly, add it to a spring-top jar and pour over the brine.

Brine and cauliflower combined.

Brine and cauliflower combined.

Hurry Curry Cauliflower.

Hurry Curry Cauliflower.

Close the lid and refrigerate. These, too, are more unusual pickles. When we first tasted them after a few days of pickling, we agreed that they were our favorite of the five types of pickles in this episode. Tasting them again after 10 days in the brine, we still like them, but not as much as before. While all of the other pickles seemed to improve with more time in the brine, these seemed to just increase in vinegar flavor, while their delightful curry flavor diminished somewhat. Don’t get me wrong… they are still really good. The cauliflower has maintained it’s crunchy texture, they are really tangy, and the curry flavor is in the background. They would be good on a relish tray (Do people do those anymore?).

Overall, we liked all of these pickles and I think they are all worthy of being made again.

All five types of pickles on a plate, along with some summer sausage. Clockwise from the top:  Kinda Sorta Sours, Firecrackers, AB's B and Bs, Hurry Curry Cauliflower, and Summer Fruits.

All five types of pickles on a plate, along with some summer sausage. Clockwise from the top: Kinda Sorta Sours, Firecrackers, AB’s B and Bs, Hurry Curry Cauliflower, and Summer Fruits.

After 10 days of pickling, Ted ranked the pickles from best to worst as:  Firecrackers, B and Bs, Summer Fruits, Sours, and Cauliflower. I ranked the pickles as:  B and Bs, Firecrackers, Sours, Summer Fruits, and Cauliflower.

 

 

It’s a Wonderful Waldorf

I live in Washington state. It is Fall. Could the timing be any better for me to happen upon the “Apple Family Values” episode of Good Eats? I love apples, but I sort of refuse to eat them in the summer. In fact, I see the commencing of apple eating as my concession that the fall season is indeed upon us. As a Washington apple eater, my new personal favorite apple is the SweeTango, though a good Honeycrisp is hard to beat. They are expensive, but so worth it.

I will admit that I was not overly enthused to make Alton’s Waldorf salad. My impression of Waldorf salad has always been that it is a dated, over-mayonnais-ed salad from a famous hotel. Boy was I wrong about this one, as Alton’s take is well worth making.

For Alton’s Waldorf salad, he recommends that you use three apples:  two Ginger Golds or Fujis and one Red Delicious. Ginger Gold apples are not readily available in our area, so I used Fuji apples in their place.

Two Fuji apples and one Red Delicious apple.

Two Fuji apples and one Red Delicious apple.

Ingredients for Waldorf salad (minus apples, toasted walnuts, and salt).

Ingredients for Waldorf salad (minus apples, toasted walnuts, and salt).

Alton suggests that you cut the apples in half, and use a melon baller to scoop out the core. This works like a charm, and I will be using this trick in the future.

Apple, cored with a melon baller.

Apple, cored with a melon baller.

After coring and chopping the apples, you toss them with some cider vinegar.

Chopped apples, tossed with cider vinegar.

Chopped apples, tossed with cider vinegar.

Following the vinegar, you add some mayonnaise to your apple mixture, tossing to make sure the apples are thoroughly covered.

Vinegar-coated apples with mayonnaise.

Vinegar-coated apples with mayonnaise.

Apples coated with mayo.

Apples coated with mayo.

You add some Kosher salt and pepper for seasoning.

Apples with vinegar, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.

Apples with vinegar, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.

Meanwhile, you toast some walnuts on the stove, and throw them into the mix.

Toasting walnuts.

Toasting walnuts.

Next, you throw in some golden raisins, curry powder (I used hot curry powder for some extra kick, though maharajah curry would also be excellent), some celery, fresh mint, and red onion.

Apple mixture with toasted walnuts.

Apple mixture with toasted walnuts.

Apple mixture with walnuts and golden raisins.

Apple mixture with walnuts and golden raisins.

And some hot curry powder.

And some hot curry powder.

Plus some celery.

Plus some celery.

And some mint chiffonade.

And some mint chiffonade.

Some red onion tossed in.

Some red onion tossed in.

In the episode, Alton tells you to shred the red onion, while the online recipe calls for julienned red onion. I just sort of chopped my onions into thin strips. Also, the online recipe tells you to chill the salad for at least an hour prior to serving, but Alton does not mention this in the episode. I chilled my salad for 30 minutes, at the most.

The final mixture.

The final mixture.

To serve the salad, you spoon it onto Romaine lettuce leaves.

Wonderful Waldorf.

Wonderful Waldorf.

We had this salad with a potato soup, but it could easily serve as an entree itself. I really loved this salad and will be making it again. It has so many wonderfully contrasting flavors and textures. The sweetness of the apple paired with the crunchy walnuts and celery, fresh mint, astringent red onion, and sweet-hot curry powder was delicious. My only complaint with this salad was that my red onion was quite strong, and almost overpowered some of the other flavors in the salad, but red onions tend to greatly vary in their potency. I also opted to use hot curry powder, as we tend to like a little spice in our food. I may have to try the Maharajah curry powder next time, as its sweeter flavor would probably pair nicely with the apples. Since we had the Waldorf salad as a side to our soup, we had leftovers. I anticipated that the texture of the salad would become one-note overnight, but the salad was just as good the following day, so do not be wary of having leftovers with this one.

10 Minute Apple Sauce

My mom used to make apple sauce in the fall. I remember her standing over the sink, her right arm spinning in circles as she turned the arm of her tattered food mill. Often, Mom would serve homemade (and sometimes store-bought) applesauce to my brother and me for breakfast. It was usually served in a bowl, and with a drizzle of heavy cream on top. I preferred my applesauce warm, and discovered that I liked it with a sprinkle of extra brown sugar. My mom could always make store-bought applesauce taste almost like homemade, with the additions of cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar.

When I watched Alton prepare his 10 Minute Apple Sauce, I was skeptical that it could taste anything like my mom’s homemade applesauce. To begin, you combine unfiltered apple juice, cognac or brandy (I used brandy), butter, honey, and cinnamon in a microwave-save container that has a lid. To this liquid mixture you add six peeled, cored, and quartered apples (three Golden Delicious apples and three Fuji apples).

Golden Delicious apples, Fuji apples, unfiltered apple juice, honey, brandy, cinnamon, and butter.

Golden Delicious apples, Fuji apples, unfiltered apple juice, honey, brandy, cinnamon, and butter.

You put the lid on your container and give the entire mixture a good shake. Once everything is good and mixed, you open one corner of your lid and microwave the applesauce on high power for 10 minutes.

Apple mixture, prior to cooking.

Apple mixture, prior to cooking.

After cooking, you blend the mixture until it is “almost smooth.”

Apple mixture, after baking.

Apple mixture, after baking.

My immersion blender is one of my very favorite kitchen gadgets, but it happens to be quite unhappy at the moment. Our Coonhounds also happen to love the immersion blender (they come running), as they recognize that the sound of the whisk attachment often means whipped cream for them. Since the immersion blender is currently out of commission, I threw the entire apple mixture into the blender and blended it until it was nearly smooth.

Final applesauce.

Final applesauce.

Alton says that this applesauce will keep well in the refrigerator for two to three weeks. I guess that isn’t an issue when your applesauce is gone in two days. This is definitely the fastest and easiest applesauce I have ever made. Was it as good as Mom’s? Tough to say, but it was pretty darn good.

Baker, Baker

The final recipe in this episode is for baked apples. Yet again, I think of my mom when I think of baked apples. She would make baked apples for us for breakfast or dessert. Sometimes the apples were sliced prior to baking, while other times they were whole, as in Alton’s recipe in this episode.

For these baked apples, you first combine your topping ingredients. In a bowl you combine oats, flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, ground ginger, and Kosher salt.

All of the ingredients for baked apples.

All of the ingredients for baked apples.

Oats, flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.

Oats, flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.

Into this mixture you add some butter with your hands, working until the mixture is crumbly.

And some butter.

And some butter.

Completed streusel topping.

Completed streusel topping.

The topping mixture goes into the refrigerator while you prep your apples. For this recipe you want to use Braeburn or Fuji apples. I used Braeburns for this recipe. You first want to cut the bottoms off of your apples; this will give your apples a level, stable base while you work on them.

Leveling the apples.

Leveling the apples.

Once the apples are level, you carve off the tops of the apples, using a paring knife. A melon baller is then used to scoop out the seeds and core of the apples. Once cored, you fill the apple reservoirs with honey and sprinkle the tops with the topping mixture. You pack down the topping, and then sprinkle on additional streusel, taking care not to pack the second layer of topping.

Cored and ready to go.

Cored and ready to go.

Reservoirs filled with honey.

Reservoirs filled with honey.

Apples topped with two layers of streusel.

Apples topped with two layers of streusel.

The apples are placed in a baking dish and go into a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until they are tender when squeezed with tongs. The apples need to cool for about 10 minutes prior to eating. We ate ours with ice cream on the side.

Baked apples, served with ice cream.

Baked apples, served with ice cream.

This recipe does make additional streusel topping, so I made baked pears the following evening.

The streusel topping can also be used for pears.

The streusel topping can also be used for pears.

These baked apples have all of the flavor of homemade apple pie, yet they are so much easier to make. When served with ice cream, they are truly a treat. The apples are tender to the bite and filled with a glorious almost-caramelized filling. For an easy, yet indulgent, treat, these are a great way to go. I can say that I would gladly make any of these recipes again.