Archive for ‘Sweets’

January 16, 2014

Apple Crisp for Alan

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“Apple pie!” This is Alan’s answer every time I ask him, “what should I make for dessert?” It might be that I don’t make desserts very often and he just gets excited and shouts out the first thing that comes to his mind. He constantly badgers my mother to make him an apple pie, clearly not understanding the work that goes into it. My mother’s pie is the best, but you don’t just whip up a pie. There’s a process. It’s work. No store-bought crust in her recipe!  It’s all homemade. In fact, my mother’s is so good, I’ve strategically never bothered to learn how to make one. I’m willing to wait for holidays and special occasions to indulge in a couple of slices. Alan however, is not so satisfied to wait. This apple crisp is a speedier solution to get my mother off the hook, and can be made any time.

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We have the best local farms with delicious apples during the Fall and Winter. I think Manoff Farms in Solebury, PA has the best assortment. Who knew there were so many to choose from? I’ve tried baking with a several kinds and have found that any combination of Jonagold, Rome and Fuji apples are perfect for baking. Of course, Granny Smiths work great as well.

Serve this warm with your favorite ice cream. There are so many ice cream flavors beyond vanilla that are delicious with apple crisp. Dulce de leche, maple walnut, butter pecan and cinnamon would all be delicious. If only I had leftovers to eat now, sigh.

I should mention that this recipe was adapted from a number of sources. Many called for more butter, can you imagine? The Barefoot Contessa uses multiple citrus juices. I think the lemon is only necessary to keep your apples from turning brown once sliced. I’ve never looked at it as an additional layer of flavor. Some don’t use oatmeal in the topping (heaven forbid!)… while others use raisins or more spices, like nutmeg or allspice. I like it simple, so this is what I came up with.

INGREDIENTS

For the topping…

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups oatmeal (not quick cooking)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter – ice-cold and diced

For the filling…

  • 5lbs apples (about 10 apples) – peeled, cored and cut into thick wedges
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp dried cranberries (optional)*

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a large casserole and set aside. I use a Le Creuset Oval ceramic dish that is about 9″ x 14″ x 2.” Glass Pyrex would work fine as well.

To make the topping, combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. Or you can use a pastry blender and combine it by hand. Either way is fine, just make sure your butter is ice-cold. You want it to look a bit dry and crumbly. The butter should be in smaller pea-sized pieces. Set it aside.

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To make the filling… prep your apples and put them in a large bowl. Fold in the remaining filling ingredients with the apples and pour into your prepared pan.

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Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples.

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Bake in your preheated oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it’s browned and golden on top and the apples look bubbly.

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Serve warm with ice cream of choice and enjoy!

No picture of a bowl à la mode? We ate it all before I could take the picture. Uh oh.

* I should mention I love the random tartness of the few cranberries in this. You could omit them altogether (I know it’s a small quantity) or even add as much as a 1/4 cup. 

July 9, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet

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I was buying strawberries from the local farm daily this season. And we ate them by the quart, daily. I did nothing creative, short of mashing them up with a fork and mixing them in my morning yogurt or pouring that same concoction on top of frozen yogurt. Their juicy, sweet deliciousness was all we needed. No sugar, nothing. The plain strawberries were perfect.

Alas, strawberry season has come to a close where we live. I’m ok with that. Not because I ate my weight in strawberries, but looking at it in a more positive light, it means we’re one step closer to tomatoes and corn. And I’m happy to announce that we just had our first peaches of the season. Delicious!

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I felt obligated to muster up one creative strawberry concoction with the last of the berries, so I opted for Dave Lebovitz’s Strawberry Rhubarb sorbet. If you haven’t made sorbet, you must give it a try. It’s simple to make, and a healthier dessert choice. In the past I’ve made both mango and blackberry sorbet. Both are equally refreshing summer treats.

Adapted from Dave Lebovitz

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 lb rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 4-5 stalks)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

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Put the sliced rhubarb, water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves completely. Cover and allow to simmer until the rhubarb is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and bring to room temperature. If you’re impatient like me, once the bowl cools slightly, place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so.

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Meanwhile, hull and slice your strawberries. Place them in the bowl of a food processor along with the cooled rhubarb and lemon juice. Puree until the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a container or bowl, cover and refrigerate until chilled completely. Emphasis on completely. I recommend making the mixture the day before you plan to make the sorbet.

Following the instructions on your ice cream machine, pour the chilled strawberry rhubarb mixture into the bowl of the machine and blend.

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If you can keep everyone from eating it right out of the machine, place it into an air-tight container in your freezer. For my next trick, I think I will be trying peach sorbet. How yummy will that be?!

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