In between, of course, lots of cooking. We made two kinds of butternut squash soup - one with ginger, one with apples, both delicious. We hosted a birthday party for my mom and cooked her a grand French feast: coq au vin, haricots verts, Yukon Gold potatoes, plenty of wine and champagne, and flourless chocolate cake with raspberry sorbet for dessert. Heaven, all of it.
We've also had more kale than we know what to do with; I've taken to making smashed potatoes and kale, kind of two steakhouse sides in one, which feels rich and special though it's easy as any mashed potato could be.
Last week came a bag of concord grapes, which turned in grape sorbet, which has since sat in our freezer. I guess a sorbet on its own, especially at the end of October, isn't super appealing. My dream is to make peanut butter ice cream, swirl it with the grape sorbet, and sandwich that between two shortbread cookies. Sandwich ice cream sandwich! Alas, see first sentence. Where does the time go?
One thing I've been cooking a lot of in the past month is apple crisp. Boy, we had a bumper crop of apples with the CSA. Pounds of them. And pears! I made one apple cake, didn't like it too much (nor did the hubby), so went back to crisps.
I love this recipe - it's superb with tart apples, but they don't have to be super crisp or fresh. I made it mostly with Macintoshes, which tend to disintegrate, and it's like eating apple sauce with a crumble topping. Make it with a mix of apples for the best flavor. We also received some hard, tart, very red-skinned apples (Rome? Winesap?) which were great.
Best Apple Crisp
1/3 cup light brown sugar (less if you like - and make your own!)
2 1/2 tbsp flour
2 tsp cinnamon (5 or 6 shakes)
Shake or two of salt
8 cups peeled, cored, and coarsely sliced apples (or mix of apples & pears, but use a little less sugar)
Juice of half a lemon (about 1 1/2 tbsp)
1 tbsp cognac, bourbon, rum, or brandy
1 or 2 tbsp apple cider or juice (give or take - depends on juiciness of apples)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup rolled oats (I've been using quick - accidental purchase - and they also work here)
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp butter, cut into small chunks
(Optional: 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. I love adding them, husband doesn't.)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Find an 8 x 8 glass pan, deep-dish pie pan, or similar-sized casserole dish.
- In a large bowl, stir together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt until blended. Stir in the apples, lemon juice, cognac, and apple cider and toss until the apples are coated with the brown sugar mixture.
- Spread the filling evenly in the pan and bake for 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the topping: in a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt and nuts, if using. Add the butter chunks and blend in with your finger tips or a pastry cutter until they're well incorporated. You can add more butter if you like, but don't add less than 5 tablespoons - the topping won't hold together and will end up mushy after baking.
- Sprinkle the topping over the apples until no apples peek through. You might have a bit left, depending on what size pan you use.
- Increase the oven temperature to 375 F and bake for about 25 minutes more, until the filling is bubbly and the topping is nicely browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes before you serve (lets the filling set up a bit, and keeps you from burning your mouth!).
- This is great served with vanilla ice cream / creme fraiche / plain yogurt / whipped cream.
- Adapted from The All-American Dessert Book by Nancy Baggett