Apple doughnuts….Yum!

December 2011, pg. 123

Apple Fritter Done

Apple Fritter Rings recipe

The apple fritter rings were a hit!  I made them Sunday morning for my parents and P.  Everyone was excited about apple fritters, but I had a three sets of eyes staring at the apple rings.  “Don’t apple fritters have chopped apple in them?”  I must admit, I’ve never seen apple fritter rings before but, I was pretty excited to try them.  Yes, they were fried but the dough to fruit ratio was very favorable in my eyes.

I used an apple corer for the first time and it worked like a charm.  I also used powdered buttermilk and put a ¼ cup less of water than what the directions called for.  I finally learned my lesson with powdered buttermilk: You don’t need as much water as the directions call for.

Enlarged center holes on bottom.

Enlarged center holes on bottom.

I recruited P to fry the fritters for us.  Hot oil and I don’t get along.  In hind sight having two people make the fritters was much easier.  I peeled, cut, battered, and put the cinnamon and sugar on the fritters.  P fried the fritters.  We were an amazing apple fritter ring team!

Apple Fritter Frying

The fritters were delicious.  We each ate 2 or 3 warm fritters.  The apples were cooked perfectly inside.  We made the center hole larger after the first batch because, there was not a center hole in the apple fritters and the dough in the center wasn’t cooked.  The batter was nice and thin around the apples.  Again more fruit than batter per bite is better.

Apple Fritter Inside

We had leftover fritters and tried them cold, and rewarmed later that day.  I would highly recommend only making enough apple fritter rings that will be eaten in one sitting within 30 minutes of being fried.  The apple fritter rings are amazing fresh but do not make good leftovers.  They are a great addition to a brunch or weekend breakfast!

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Thanksgiving Stuffing!

Simple Stuffing with Apples, Raisins, and Walnuts

November 2007, pg. 100

I almost forgot to take a picture...Oops

I almost forgot to take a picture…Oops

Simple Stuffing Recipe

After vegetables have softened in step 2, stir in 2 apples (such as Gala or Granny Smith), cut into 1-inch pieces, ½ cup of raisins, and ½ cup of coarsely chopped walnuts. Cook until apples start to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add wine and continue.

*adapted from Everyday Food, Issue #47, pg. 101

This year, P and I went to his parents’ for Thanksgiving and his mom asked if we would bring the stuffing. I told her that would be perfect since I needed to make the apple and raisin version of the simple stuffing recipe for the blog. Before making the stuffing I showed P the recipe and he requested that I also add walnuts, so I did. We also brought homemade double-vanilla ice cream, blueberry scones, and homemade bread.

The night before Thanksgiving I just wanted to relax after a full day of baking the other items we would be contributing to the holiday weekend. I convinced myself to get up early the next morning and make the stuffing. I woke up at 7 am Thanksgiving Day giving myself 2 hours to shower, make the stuffing, eat breakfast, and pack the car. It took us 3 hours to get all of our chores done. Maybe next time I will take the advice given at the beginning of the recipe and make the stuffing the night before, so we can leave on time. But there were no worries of showing up late for dinner just missing out on playtime with our nieces.

The stuffing was very easy to make, it just took some time with all of the chopping. I must admit that I did roast the bread a few days before, eliminating that step the morning of. I chose to put two Gala apples in the stuffing and a cheap Chardonnay for the called Chard. It was definitely a cooking wine and not drinking wine. We had a glass later that night and decided the rest of the bottle would be used to cook with and not drink. I also used our own chicken stock instead of canned chicken broth. I honestly didn’t measure the amount required to saturate the bread but seemed to be less than the 29 ounces the recipe called for. I put the stuffing in a 9 x 13 inch Pyrex dish that was buttered and I covered it with buttered aluminum foil. NOTHING went inside our turkey.

The simple stuffing with apples, raisins, and walnuts was a hit! We had way too much food at our Thanksgiving table but everyone tried the stuffing and some even went back for seconds. The following day we had leftovers for lunch and the stuffing disappeared. Another success!

Fantastic salad with some fatal flaws

Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad

anything with pine nuts is good

anything with pine nuts is good

This is a very yummy recipe.  It has bright flavors from crisp apple, sprouts, and vinegar, but it also has an earthy, roasty flavor from the pine nuts.  We made this at the beginning of November and D said he was really looking forward to a month of rich Thanksgiving flavors.  I was too.  It’s been fun to delve deeply into Thanksgiving for a whole month.

There are several strikes against this dish as an actual Thanksgiving side: First, there are no instructions to make it ahead of time, and that’s tough for a lot of cooks.  Second, it takes one large bowl, one large pot, one collander, one medium bowl, one cutting board, one or two knifes, two cookie sheets, the oven, the range, and at least four or five paper towels.  So unless you made absolutely everything else ahead of time, you love doing dishes, and no one else is bugging you to do anything just before the meal, this isn’t a good choice for your average Thanksgiving.  It should be noted, however, that I don’t usually have the average Thanksgiving.  My parents have between 20 and 30 people over.  So maybe my perspective is a touch skewed.  Overall, I think this is a nice side dish for a Thanksgiving-inspired meal, but not the feast itself.

One note about the apple instructions:  They are confusing as written. They tell you to quarter the apple then quarter it again.  And make 8 chunks?  From looking at the picture in the magazine, I determined that they actually mean quarter then thinly slice crosswise, similar to how you cut the brussels sprouts.

Here’s one meal where I served leftover stuffed acorn squash with this salad as a side:

it's just ridiculously seasonal, really

it’s just ridiculously seasonal, really

Finding balance

Apricot and Cheddar Chicken Melt with Apple, Grape, and Celery Salad

apricot and cheddar melt with side of apple, celery, and grape salad

yin and yang and cheese

This, my friends, is why I lov(ed) Everyday Food.  A chicken apricot cheddar melt.  That’s not a recipe you see everyday (pardon the indirect pun).  Everyday Food was a great magazine for interesting and creative recipes that didn’t require liquid nitrogen.  This recipe takes a chicken sandwich and makes it a wonderfully balanced, sweet-and-salty treat.  You take a baguette, spread it with apricot preserves, add a marinated and broiled piece of chicken and some deli ham and some white cheddar, then broil again to melt the cheese.  That’s the basics, but I really need to break this recipe down to showcase its genius.

(If you’re really especially interested in this recipe, you may also want to check out the video that Sarah Carey did.)

First, the baguette.  The recipe calls for you to cut up one long baguette, but I came up with a fun substitute.  I bought a couple of rolls from the Vietnamese bakery in my neighborhood (sometime, when I’m thinking of abandoning ship and moving to the suburbs, I need to reread that sentence…”I bought a couple of rolls from the Vietnamese bakery in my neighborhood”).  This place sells banh mi and the rolls of french bread they go on.  The rolls are $1 for a roughly 8-10 inch roll.  Such a deal.  It’s about the size of the roll your sandwich comes on at Jimmy John’s, if that helps.  A base of tasty french bread helps ground the sandwich.  It’s just crunchy enough to hold on to chicken and gooey cheese, but with just enough softness to keep the aforementioned goo from rocketing off of the bread the second you bit into it.

Second, the apricot preserves.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that just about any sweet and sour jam, preserves, or jelly would be good here.  I’m thinking peach, pineapple (aka sundae topping masquerading as jam), and maybe cherry or blackberry, depending on how sweet they are.  Traditional strawberry or grape would be far too sweet.  I could definitely see hot pepper jelly on this one for a hot and sweet variation.  Either way, the sweet and sour jam balances the salt in the cheese and the savory chicken.  It also adheres the chicken to that lovely baguette.  Sarah Carey makes her own apricot jam in the video.  Good for her…

Third, the marinated chicken and the deli ham.  In a lesser recipe, this would have been just any old cooked piece of chicken.  The marinade elevates this piece of meat.  It is made from white-wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic cloves, and salt and pepper.  The marinade adds some tang from the mustard and keeps the chicken from being bland. I can’t remember how long I marinated the meat.  The recipe says you can marinate up to 24 hours in the fridge.  The recipe calls you to split four chicken breasts in half horizontally to make two big, flat pieces of chicken.  It’s somewhat frightening to drag a knife a mere inch underneath the flesh of your palm.  Sarah shows this in the video.  She either has a way sharper knife than me or no fear.  The ham adds a certain hamness that only ham can provide.  If you love ham, you’ll understand that last sentence.  If not, think of it as adding salt.

Finally, the cheese.  B lives in the land of white cheddar.  I do not.  Also, as long as I’m on the subject of things I can’t find at the store that Everyday Food calls for, can some other cooks from outside of New England please back me up when I say that those chocolate wafer cookies do not exist?  How many recipes call for those things?  So so so many.  Have I ever seen them at the store?  No.  I’m starting to think they are an East Coast thing or a prank.  Back to the sandwich.  You take those well-balanced ingredients and broil them all to hot, tasty, crunchy, yet gooey perfection.  What a sandwich!

For as much as this is a balanced sandwich, it’s balanced richness.  In steps the salad.  This salad is fresh and bright.  It cuts through the richness of the sandwich.  It is a Waldorf salad without the mayo. D actually recognized it as a Waldorf salad without being prompted.  It is nicely balanced on its own between the bitter, crunchy celery and the sweet, softer grapes and apples.  Plus pecans. Pecans for the sake of…pecan-ness.  (I’ve used the word “hamness” and “pecan-ness” in this post.  This project is highlighting the gaps in my vocabulary)  Is there a word for that nut texture just shy of crunchy?  Whatever the word is, that’s what it adds.  Then you balance the sweet fruit and bitter veggie with a sour dressing and it all comes together.  I could see bringing this recipe to a picnic in the summer.  It doesn’t have any mayonnaise, so you (read: me) wouldn’t have to stress out about leaving it out.

Apple-Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake

www.marthastewart.com/312862/apple-cinnamon-upside-down-cake

September 2007, pg. 119

Let me just start this post by telling you that I am a big time baker.  I started baking (mostly pies) when I was around 12 or 13.  My dad still asks me to make apple pie whenever I spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with him.  I also don’t tend to shy away from recipes because they look too complicated or involved.  As a result, I consider myself a pretty experienced home baker.  However, I have never made a cake like this.  AND boy was it worth it!

First and foremost, the smell was just incredible.  Even as a batter you could tell it was going to be the perfect fall treat.  Once it started baking, the smell of cinnamon (so much cinnamon!!) and apple permeated the apartment.  You could also smell hints of the caramel-y brown sugar.

Once it was out of the oven and cool enough to flip, it came out of the pan perfectly.  This is one of the few instances so far where I honestly believe my finished product looks even better than the one in the magazine.

image

Look at how perfect and glossy and gooey that is!!! We chose to eat it warm with just a little bit of home made whipped cream.

image

I think this is the perfect sort of recipe to entertain with.  It was relatively simple to create, the most involved part was fanning out the apple slices on top of the brown sugar and butter mixture.  But it was just so beautiful and decadent looking.  I’m pretty sure that’s what you call “wow factor”!

I’m excited how this project is making me branch out from my normal cooking and baking patterns.  There is so much more to discover!