December 15th, 2010 § Comments Off § permalink
Social media is pretty awesome, for a variety of reasons. Right now, I’m in love with it all over again because Twitter reminded me I have been meaning to post about applesauce. Vanilla applesauce, to be precise, which I fed to several friends and then had for breakfast for the next few days and was very sad when it was gone. So I’m making another batch this weekend.
photograph by little blue hen
Applesauce is a great way to use up the half-dozen apples you have kicking around from a ten-dollar binge at the Sunday market (not that this has ever happened to me, or anything); it’s one of the dishes that I suggest for people just getting into cooking or who have disability issues, because it’s very forgiving.
At its heart, applesauce is just apples, water, and heat. I prettify it up quite a lot, but you could do worse than just heating water and apples together. Take your apples, however many — at least two, I’d say — and core and quarter them. I leave the skins on so the color and vitamins stays in the sauce, but if you like a silky-smooth or pale applesauce, you’ll want to peel them. Put the apple slices in a saucepan; they cook down a lot, so don’t worry too much about the size as long as they’re not tumbling out the sides. Pour in some water or apple cider, maybe half-way up the apple pile. If you want, add a few tablespoons of lemon juice. Turn heat to medium, cover, and go call your mom to say hello. When she gets to the part of the conversation about the neighbors you’ve never met, about ten-fifteen minutes later, take the cordless into the kitchen and stir the apples, making a perfunctory effort to ensure all the apple slices have come into contact with the water. If it seems dry, add more water, maybe a half-cup. Cover and flick through yesterday’s paper. Stir again.
The apples should be getting mushy; try smushing them up against the sides of the pot. If not, don’t worry about it. Add another half-cup of water if you think it needs it. Splash in a hefty dose of vanilla extract and stir. Cover and let cook for another ten minutes; taste. Add sugar and ground cinnamon to taste. Look around shiftily and pour a little more vanilla extract in. Stir, cover, cook until the apples are well and truly sauce. You can use an immersion blender or a food mill to puree the sauce; I generally don’t bother, but the peels I encounter might be more a problem for someone else. (I don’t know your life. I’m not going to judge you for not wanting apple peel in your sauce.) Eat warm, with ice cream or Greek yogurt.
If you have leftovers, applesauce keeps for a few days in the refrigerator and reheats very well.
October 11th, 2010 § § permalink
Google Analytics informs me that a lot of people come here because they are searching for “apple chips homemade”. While it is true that I wrote about them a while back, there’s not much I can do to follow up on that. But it’s apple season now, and I am having a baked apple with honey syrup for breakfast, with some fresh-baked bread that B. made yesterday, and I feel I should share. Well, not the breakfast itself, that is mine, all mine, but I will share the …it’s not a recipe. It’s guidelines. Suggestions. Some friendly advice.
photograph by leoncillo sabino
Last time I wrote about apples, I insulted Red Delicious, and I stand by that. The apple I’m having is a Gala, which are my favorites, and which I tend to buy just from habit, but Braeburn, Empire, and Jonathan varieties are also good choices. They hold together and don’t go grainy or mushy, both of which are primary characteristics to prize in whole baked apples (which is a slightly different beast than baking slices in pastry).
Partially core four apples, leaving some flesh in the bottom. Pack the hole with brown sugar, chopped golden raisins, dried cranberries, and cinnamon. Bring a cup of apple juice or cider, a few tablespoons of honey, a cinnamon stick, and a few cloves to a boil and simmer briefly. Pour the syrup over the apples, and bake for twenty to thirty minutes in a 350-degree oven.
April 5th, 2009 § Comments Off § permalink
There is a nonzero amount of my time spent in transit, where eating is clumsy at best and horribly messy and embarrassing at worst, and at computers, where eating is verboten (“do you want to break the internet?”). So snacks are important, especially tidy, self-contained ones.
This is the wrong season for this, as more delicate fruit begins to come into season, but I recently figured out how to make apple chips on my own, and it’s so simple that I’ve been eating them a lot.
photograph by garynoon1961
Apples are fibery, vitamin C-full deliciousness; if you get a good variety, they are incredibly sweet (I swear honeycrisps are sweeter than candy) — thou shalt not eat Red Delicious, which may be red but are not delicious, they are tasteless — and do many, many good things for your body.
All you have to do to make homemade apple chips is heat the oven to 200 F, slice an apple (I love Granny Smiths and Galas for this) as evenly as you can (if you have a mandoline, this is when you should use it) to fairly thin:
photograph by Dano
It will almost certainly be easier to halve the apple vertically and slice half-moons than to cut it horizontally, but if you have better fine-motor skills than I do, by all means!
Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and lay the apple slices on the paper; do not overlap them. If you want them extra sweet or flavored, sprinkle granulated sugar/cinnamon/nutmeg/cloves lightly on top. Put in oven, bake for an hour before checking. When dry (lightly browned and curling at the edges), you can either put the slices on a rack, to ensure complete dryness, or move the slices into containers immediately. Grab on your way out the door in the morning.
November 29th, 2008 § Comments Off § permalink
12:30 — The kitchen’s a mess and I have apple cider boiling down on the stove. I’m hoping to have pie in the oven in three hours. Countdown starts now.
photograph by h3nr0
1:00 — Counters are clean, cider is reduced by a third, about to add 2 sticks of chilled butter to 2 ½ cups all-purposes flour, 1 tablespoon sugar (we’re running low; the apple filling will be made with brown sugar this time, I think), and 1 teaspoon salt. I have two foolproof ways of keeping my crust flaky, which requires chunks of butter to remain solid in the dough: one, start with frozen butter, which melts more slowly, and two, putting plastic sandwich bags over my hands and simply rubbing the butter into the flour. Possibly the latter is only worthwhile if you have constantly-cold hands like me, though.
1:25 — Cut the butter in; added ¼ cup icy vodka and ¼ icy water, mixed it in and added tablespoons of cold water until it came together in a mass. Split the dough in half and put each disc into plastic wrap; now they’re chilling in the fridge and before I start peeling apples I am having lunch.
2:00 — Apple-peeling time now. Oh, god. I have over a dozen pieces of fruit to dismember. Although there are worse ways to do it than with a cup of tea and The West Wing playing on my laptop.
2:20 — Apparently homemade boiled cider only thickens to a syruplike texture after you turn the heat off. I feel like that’s valuable information to have in my arsenal.
2:30 — Six apples done, three more to go, and then I get to mix them up with the spice mixture. Nutmeg: a good idea or no? This calls for pondering.
2:50 — Almost perfect timing, the last apple slices and the last episode of season one.
3:10 — Apple filling is mixed and I’m putting on Casino Royale, which I’ve not seen. Yes, I bake as an excuse to watch DVDs.
3:25 — One day, I will learn to roll out pie dough without covering myself with flour. One day.
3:35 — Bottom crust rolled out! Only two small patches needed once I got it into the pan, too. I am calling this a tentative success so far.
4:00 — Pie. Is. In. The. Oven. WOO-HOO!
5:00 — Do I really have to wait for the pie to cool before I slice it? Really?