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Gone Apple-Pickin’

7 Jun

For the next several months, as I gear up for the release of my book, I’m going to be doing most of my blogging at the book’s website, as well as on my Yankee blog. Come find me!

Cider: The Other White Wine

12 Apr

I’m just lazily linking over to a post I did for Yankee last week. It’s a quick look at the totally under-appreciated world of hard cider, inspired by a recent trip to Montreal:

http://www.yankeemagazine.com/blogs/foodblog/cider

In other news, my publisher is really getting behind The Apple Lover’s Cookbook, which now has it’s own Amazon page and ISBN number (0393065995)!! Wow, wow, wow. You work on something for years and then it’s real and it seems unreal. Norton has ordered a very healthy printing run (or, at least, healthy for first-time author), so if you have any inclination to pre-order the book, it would go a long way toward them deciding that they didn’t make a mistake.

Setting aside the usual anxiety, impostor syndrome, and angst about promoting, there are moments when it feels very good.

We are also dealing with some unrelated stressors: a house about to go on the market (will it sell?), a cat with advanced kidney disease (is this the end?). My energy is completely scattered. But having lived through some Much Bigger Problems, at least we have these in perspective.

Waldorf Salad

21 Feb

Late in the game—the book has already been designed, laid out, and copy edited once—my editor and I decided that The Apple Lover’s Cookbook really needs a Waldorf Salad recipe. I wanted it to be substantial, though, and not mayonnaise-y like the traditional salad. Adding rotisserie chicken and using a blend of Greek yogurt and mayo in the dressing solved those problems. I also wanted lots of walnuts, some lemon, and tarragon, and halved red grapes instead of raisins. I kept the celery and the apple, but left the fruit out of the creamy dressing so that it still looks pretty.

Waldorf Salad

Apple Notes: You want apple varieties that resist browning. Some examples: Cortland, Ginger Gold, Spigold, and Fuji.

Active time: 30 minutes; Total time: 30 minutes
Makes: 4 servings as a lunch entree, 6 as a side dish
Notes: If you don’t like tarragon, you can substitute parsley, chervil, or chives. A 1 1/2 pound rotisserie chicken will give you enough meat for this salad.

For the dressings:
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/3 cup (about 3 ounces or 100 g) reduced fat Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon (see Notes)
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (about 1/2 ounce or 18 g) minced sweet onion, such as Walla Walla or Vidalia

For the salad:
2/3 cup (75 g) walnut pieces
1/2 pound (226 g) breast and/or thigh meat from a rotisserie chicken (see Notes)
1 1/2 large celery stalks (about 4 ounces or 113 g), very thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup (about 6 ounces or 175 g) halved seedless red grapes
1 medium salad-friendly apple (about 6 ounces or 170 g, see Apple Notes) cored and cut into thin wedges.
6 ounces butter lettuce

Equipment: 8- to 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet

1. First, make the dressings: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon lemon juice with the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Set aside. In another small bowl, stir together the yogurt, mayonnaise, tarragon, honey, lemon zest, remaining salt, and pepper. Stir in onion. Set aside while you prepare the salad.

2.  Toast walnuts in skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until brown and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Pour into a medium bowl and let cool as you prepare the chicken: Remove any skin and tear the chicken into 2- or 3-inch strips. Add to the bowl with the walnuts. Add the celery and the yogurt dressing and stir so that everything is evenly covered.

3. In your serving bowl, toss the lettuce, grapes, and apple slices with the lemon-oil dressing. Spoon the chicken mixture over all. Use your hands to lightly fluff the leaves and grapes, just to make it look pretty. Serve on chilled salad plates.

Pennsylvania Apple-Apricot Kuchen

17 Nov


IMG_4597

Originally uploaded by Amy Traverso

Active time: 30 minutes; Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Makes: 8 to 10 servings

For the dough:
2 1/3 cups (330 g) flour
3/4 cup (225 g) sugar
4 teaspoons (40 g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (4 g) table salt
15 tablespoons (213 g) butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs (about 55 g each), at room temperature

For the filling:
1 lb. (454 g, about 2) firm-sweet apples (such as Golden Delicious or Jazz)
2 tablespoons (30 g) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
2 tablespoons (30 ml) apricot jam
Garnish: 2 tbsp (4 g) sliced almonds mixed with 1 teaspoon (5 g) sugar and 1/4 teaspoon (0.5 g) cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350º, and position rack in center of oven. Butter and flour a 9- or 10-inch Springform-style pan with removable sides.

2. To make dough, sift dry ingredients into the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer). Add butter and mix at medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Add eggs and mix until ingredients form a ball, another 30 seconds (dough will be very soft). Using a spatula, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into two equal pieces, wrap each in plastic wrap, and chill 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, peel, core, and slice apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar and lemon juice over apples and stir. Set aside 10 minutes.

3. Press one ball of dough into prepared pan so that it covers the bottom. Cover with sliced apples. Top all over with small dabs of jam. Divide the remaining ball of dough into 10 equal-sized balls and distribute evenly in top of apples (the dough will rise up around filling as it bakes). Sprinkle with almond garnish. Bake until dough is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove to cooling rack and let cool 10 minutes, then remove sides of pan and serve.

Apple Crack

6 Nov

Apple CrackI’m not even  a fan of Seth Rogen movies, but I can’t stop pointing out this apple’s obvious resemblance to a plumber whenever someone comes over (friends, MassPIRG, Fed Ex). For example: “Hey, if I finally do eat this apple, does that make me an assmunch?”

Also, lesson: Don’t get soapstone counters if you’re not prepared to oil them semiweekly.

The Maine Line

20 Oct

MainerunAh, Portland. It’s my favorite food town in New England. Not to slam Boston—I’m very grateful to live here. But Portland makes me giddy. There’s that sense of home-grown pride that you find in Seattle and Portland, Oregon. Chefs can afford to take more risks and run smaller, more personal restaurants. They don’t have to turn out so much comfort food to make the rent. The farm-to-table networks are strong, the local aquaculture is abundant.

Of course, with all these treasures comes a fair amount of foodie preciousness and pretension. Behold the local rutabaga. Worship it! And I got a near-horrified response from the staff at Rabelais Books when I asked if they had any old-school microwave cookbooks. But that’s the price you pay to hang in a town with a restaurant devoted to fries cooked in duck fat. Incidentally, the fries were as perfect as always, though a salad with poached egg and duck confit was just bad. Bland meat that seemed more braised than confited. Overcooked egg, wan dressing. Stick with the sandwiches, which are excellent.

Back to the Rabelais—the local food/cookbook store. Aside from the microwave snafu, the staff was really helpful, especially when I told them that I’m obsessed with apples. Turns out the store is a drop-off spot for a CSA devoted entirely to rare and heirloom apples like the Keepsake, the Pomme Gris, and the Chestnut. Can you imagine? All apples! You know how with some dogs, when you hit that right scratch spot on their bellies, they start pumping a leg (we call it “playing the banjo”)? That’s how I felt when I heard about it.
Incidentally, I was in Maine to check out a newly renovated resort in Cape Elizabeth called Inn by the Sea. It was a press tour, which means we stayed the night for free. Take my advice in light of that information, but I really did think the place was terrific and fully plan to return on my own dime. Such a short trip from Portland, but set along a gorgeous mile-long beach on one side (the photo above was taken on my morning run) and a large pond on the other. The chef, Mitchell Kaldrovich, made one of the tastiest scallop dishes I’ve had in ages, served atop a silky parsnip puree.

Back in the Game

20 Oct

Things have been a little quiet around here lately. To be honest, I’ve been on tenterhooks, waiting to hear back from my editor on the apple cookbook, which I submitted last month. Friends and family kept asking, “Any word yet?” and I kept gulping Valium saying, “No, still waiting.”

Well, great news: She likes it! She really likes it! I’m so relieved and fully reenergized to get back into gear here. First off…news from Sunday’s visit to Portland, Maine…

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5 Aug

I am seriously backed up, in the blogging sense. The problem is that I just agreed to a final deadline for my apple book: August 26. And I’m frantically working. BUT, I will get back with a real post today tomorrow [Ed: sigh], promise, and it’s a good one, about an underground supper club event I attended last weekend in the wilds of practically-Central-Mass (yes, she sometimes leaves the I-95 loop)!!!

Apple-Pear Cobbler with Lemon-Cornmeal Biscuits

14 Jul

I’ve been working on an apple cookbook for W.W. Norton for far too long, and am devoting the next several weeks to finishing it up. Here’s a recipe from yesterday’s session—one of my favorites so far.

Pale, but tasty!

Pale, but tasty!

Apple-Pear Cobbler with Lemon-Cornmeal Biscuits

You know you have a good dessert when, after spending all day in the kitchen developing it, you still choose to eat another serving instead of a proper dinner. This is a fresh and unexpected take on a New England classic, topped with tender but crunchy cornmeal biscuits, laced with lemon and glazed with cream and sugar. The apples and pears in the filling are fully complementary (remember: fruits that sweeten together can be eaten together!), and really pop with a hit of lemon juice.

Active time: 35 minutes; Total time: 65 minutes
Makes: 8 servings

For the filling:
2 1/2 pounds firm-tart apples, such as Granny Smith or Newtown Pippin
1 1/2 pounds ripe pears, such as Bosc or Bartlett
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small cubes

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