Archive for October, 2010

I have  been searching my kitchen high and low for this recipe for the past three years, only to be disappointed.  Finally my mom dug up the original copy that she had and shared with me about 5 years ago!  A crumb topping is my favorite way to make (and eat) an apple pie – I could probably eat a whole pie plate full of crumb topping actually.  I have no idea where this recipe came from, but it is the best I’ve found yet.  I’ve spiced it up a little bit, and it is now perfection.  I think I’ll go have another piece now…

Crunchy Crumb Apple Pie

1 refrigerated pie crust or enough dough for a 9 inch pie pan

For the topping:

½ cup plus 2 T all-purpose flour

½ cup packed light-brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 stick (1/2 cup) cold butter, cut in small pieces

For the filling:

7 medium to large tart apples (about 3 ¼ lb)

1 T lemon juice

½ cup granulated sugar

3 T all-purpose flour

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp allspice

Have ready a 9-inch pie plate and a baking sheet.  Place oven rack in lowest position in oven.  Heat oven to 450 degrees F.  I use Emile Henry pie pans – they’re also THE BEST.

Line pie plate with pie crust, flute or crimp edges.

Topping:  mix flour, sugars and cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Cut in butter, or rub in with fingertips, until mixture forms moist, coarse crumbs that clump together easily.

Filling: peel, half and core apples.  Cut in 1/8 inch thick slices.  Place in a large bowl, add lemon juice and toss to coat.  Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl, sprinkle over apple slices and toss to coat.

Layer apple slices in pie shell, mounding them higher in center.  Pat topping evenly over apples to form a top crust. Place pie on the baking sheet to catch any drips.

Bake 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake 45 minutes longer or until a skewer meets some resistance when center of pie is pierced and topping is golden brown.  If topping browns too quickly, loosely cover the pie with a piece of foil.

This is great right out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some whipped cream.  Enjoy!


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This meal provides a little bit of planning, but it was a great fall weekend dinner.  It’s adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home.  It’s hard to get my husband to eat pork unless it’s stuffed with something because he always things it’s too dry, so this recipe may become a part of my pork repetoire. 

Fig-stuffed Roast Pork Loin

Pork Brine, cold (recipe to follow)

One 2½-pound pork loin roast

1 large fennel bulb

Canola oil

½ cup  ½-inch cubes ciabatta or other artisan bread

1 tsp minced garlic (I used minced garlic out of the jar because that is what I had on hand)

1 T finely chopped shallot

1 cup Fig and Balsamic Jam (recipe to follow)

¼ cup chicken stock (I used ready-made chicken broth)

½ tsp finely chopped thyme

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Pour the brine into a container large enough to hold the pork loin and add the pork.  Refrigerate for 10 hours (no longer or the pork may become too salty).

Remove the pork loin from the brine and rinse under cold water.  Pat dry with paper towels.

Using a long thin knife, make a horizontal lengthwise cut all the way through the center of the loin.  Let the meat rest at room temperature while you prepare the stuffing.

Cut the stalks from the fennel and trim the root end.  Remove the thicker outer layers.  Separate the bulb into individual layers and cut into batons about 1 ¼ inches long and ½ inch wide.  You need ½ cup fennel.

Set a cooling rack over a small baking sheet and line it with paper towels.

Heat some canola oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat.  Add the bread cubes and cook, tossing to brown on all sides, 1 to 2 minutes.  Transfer the bread cubes to the lined rack.

Pour off any excess oil, leaving just a light film in the pan, return the pan to the heat, and add the fennel.  Cook until tender with just a little bite left, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and shallot and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in the jam and warm through, then add the bread cubes, chicken stock, thyme and salt and pepper to taste, stirring until thoroughly combined.  Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. put a roasting rack in a small roasting pan and put it in the oven.

Meanwhile, use your fingers to widen the cavity in the meat enough to hold the stuffing.  The book suggests using a piping bag to fill the pork loin, but I just used my hands to stuff it.  It ended up being a two person job, but it worked out in the end.  Although a little messier than Thomas Keller’s pictures!  Tie the roast with kitchen twine.

Season the loin on all sides with salt and pepper.  Heat some canola oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the loin to the pan and brown on all sides.

Transfer the pork to the roast pan and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 135 to 140 degrees F (if you prefer your pork less pink).  Remove from the oven and let rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes for medium-rare to medium.  Despite what your mother might say, pork does not need to be white all the way through!

Remove the string and cut the loin into ¼-inch thick slices.  Arrange on a platter and sprinkle with sea salt.

Per Thomas Keller’s suggestion, I served this dish with a side of rapini or broccoli rabe.  However, I did not use his recipe because I needed something quick at this point.  Although not my favorite, Rachael Ray always has pretty easy recipes.  I used her recipe on the Food Network’s website, which can be found here.  It turned out that cooking it in chicken broth really cut the bitterness in the greens.  It was the first time I had prepared rapini, and I thought that it complemented the sweetness of the pork quite well.

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The second part of my weekend with apples was a slow-cooker applesauce.  Since I was busying myself with too many other baking projects that day, I needed to do the applesauce in the crock pot.  I used this recipe from www.allrecipes.com.  I used about 12 apples, but kept all of the other ingredients the same.  It turned out to be pretty tasty, but perhaps a bit too “spiced”, even with the additional apples.  Cutting the pumpkin pie spice in half is probably sufficient, and maybe even the sugar, but it all depends on your taste.  I prefer my applesauce to taste a bit more natural.  I will tell you one thing though, this was VERY easy, and tasted so good while it was still warm!  Perfect, healthy snack for a fall afternoon.

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I picked up a peck of “windfallen” apples the other day for 5 bucks.  They’re not the prettiest apples for eating, but they’re great for baking.  So I set off on Saturday to use a bunch (I still have a large bowl full I need to figure out something to do) with a few fall recipes.  The first was applesauce made in the slow-cooker, then an apple cake for breakfast the next day, and also an apple-pear crisp for dessert that night.  I ended up with granny smith, red & golden delicious, and braeburn.  The assortment of flavors complemented all of these recipes.

David Lebovitz’s recipe for the apple-pear crisp called for grappa-soaked raisins.  Since I did not have any grappa in the house, I used red wine, and I think the taste turned out well.  It wasn’t my favorite crisp, but it was tasty and the husband enjoyed it.  I think I just prefer what I grew up with – an apple crisp with an oat streusel topping.  This recipe is adapted from Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes.

Apple-Pear Crisp with Wine-Soaked Raisins and Polenta Topping


¾ cup raisins

3 T red wine

6 medium apples

4 medium ripe pears

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract


¾ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup walnuts, almonds, or pecans, toasted

½ cup packed light brown sugar

2/3 cup polenta or stone-ground cornmeal

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled

To make the filling, in a large bowl, combine the raisins and wine and let stand until most of the wine has been absorbed, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Peel and core the apples* and pears and cut them into 1/3 inch slices.  Add the apples and pear slices to the wine-soaked raisins along with the granulated sugar and vanilla.  Toss well, then pack the mixture firmly into a 2-quart baking dish.

To make the topping, in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, nuts, brown sugar, polenta or cornmeal, and cinnamon a few times to combine.  Add the butter pieces and pulse until the butter is finely broken up.  Continue to pulse until the mixture just begins to clump together.

Scatter the topping evenly over the fruit.  Bake until the topping is nicely browned and the fruit is tenders, about 50 minutes.

*Note:  I like to use an apple peeler and corer, like the one pictured here: Progressive International Apple Peeler and Corer  It makes preparing dishes like crisps, pies, applesauce so much easier!

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On Friday night I had the pleasure of volunteering with the Lauren and Kat, the ladies of Panna Dolce  at the Meals on Wheels Celebrity Chef Ball at Macy’s on State Street.  There were approximately 50 food establishments in attendance, serving everything from lamb and feta sliders to braised short ribs with black truffle polenta to, of course – french macarons!   A French macaron, not to be confused with a macaroon, is a meringue-based cookie made with egg whites, almond flour and sugar.  They are then filled with things like buttercream or jam to create a little sandwich cookie.  Panna Dolce served up a delicious cinnamon-caramel flavor and a more traditional chocolate buttercream.  Below are a couple of pictures from the event.  Product can be purchased directly from their website, www.pannadolce.com, or at The Goddess and the Grocer, the Neiman Marcus holiday catalog, and next month a select number of Whole Foods.  They also make great party favors and hostess gifts, so I encourage you to peruse through their website for something sweet!

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One of my favorite vendors at the Wheaton farmer’s market is Pappardelle’s pasta. http://www.pappardellesonline.com. They have something different every week, and I have yet to be disappointed. Just the smell of the cooking pasta is enough to make you hungry! Below are two recipes with some of their creations.
This first recipe is from the Papparadelle’s website. It uses the Lime Cilantro Linguine with chicken in a citrus cilantro sauce.  The sauce was a bit thin, but would make a great marinade for chicken or fish like tuna steaks.  I also topped the dish with some crumbled queso fresco.  The dish was different, but tasty.

Lime Cilantro Pasta with Chicken in a Citrus Cilantro Sauce

1 lb. Pappardelle’s Lime Cilantro Pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup water
½ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, finely minced
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Combine orange juice concentrate, water, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, tomato paste, garlic, soy sauce and ginger in bowl. Mix thoroughly.

2. Put chicken in plastic zipper lock freezer bag. Add half of the orange juice mixture, refrigerate and marinate for 30–60 minutes.

3. Grill or broil chicken on both sides until cooked through, but moist. Slice into bite-sized pieces and reserve.

4. Heat remaining orange juice mixture in small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes.

This next recipe is one I came up with on my own.
Garlic Chive Fettucine with Seared Scallops in a Garlic Cream Sauce

½ lb fettucine

1 lb large sea scallops

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 tomato, chopped (I used the last lonely golden tomato from our garden.)

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

2  T unsalted butter

¾ cup dry white wine

2 T pasta


¾ cup heavy cream

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ cup chives, chopped

Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until almost al dente, about 5 minutes.  Drain in a colander, reserve 2 T pasta water, then transfer back to the pot, cover.

Saute bell pepper and tomato until tender, about 3-4 minutes.  Add to pot with pasta, cover.

Pat scallops dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, then add scallops. Increase heat to high and sear scallops, turning over once, until golden brown and just cooked through, 2 minutes total. Transfer to the pot with noodles and keep covered.

Add wine to skillet and deglaze by boiling, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, 1 minute. Stir in garlic, pasta water and cream and boil until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in chives and pour sauce over noodle mixture.

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Ever since I saw this post on a friend’s site, www.betsylife.com, I’ve wanted to try making a homemade pop tart!  I was also intrigued because Betsy got the recipe from one of my favorite food blogs – www.smittenkitchen.com.  My husband coaches football, and during the season they have meetings on Sunday mornings.  Since they’re not out on the field, but sitting around a table, I always try to make a little something to eat.  It’s the perfect opportunity to try out new recipes, although I’m not sure a bunch of football coaches are the best critics….since they’d probably eat anything.  I did sneak one for myself when they came out of the oven, however, and they were delicious!

The recipe can be found here.  I filled mine with the cinnamon sugar filling suggested in this recipe, and Nutella.  I also made them a slightly smaller size, probably around 2″x4″.  Enjoy!

Pop Tart

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