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Making apple sauce at home is way easier than you think

apple sauce

Here’s my own version of quick and easy apple sauce!

My daughter is home sick today. Stomach bug. Fun! So we are currently limited to what our family doctor calls the BART diet. Bananas, apple sauce, rice and toast.

Ada hates bananas. And for some reason she isn’t feeling toast today. (though she has eaten 100 saltines…) which leaves us with apple sauce and rice. And of course, I am out of apple sauce. But I have apples… so I figured, why not? I’ll just make my own. Now in the interest of full disclosure, my father makes the best apple sauce in the world. He picks the apples from the tree in the yard, cooks them down forever, has a whole ricer setup… My version is nowhere near that much of a production. But it was still good. And easier than trying to figure out how to run out to the store and get a commercial version when your kid is home alone sick. Plus I like to think I have apple sauce making in my blood.

Here’s how I did it:

Cut up 4 apples (or less… whatever you have on hand)
Add 3/4 cup apple juice or cider
½ cup coconut sugar (you can use regular— we just had this on had and I figured why not?)
1 tsp of cinnamon

Cook everything down for about 15 minutes till the apples are nice and soft. Then smash them with a potato masher till they reach the desired consistency. You can get a smoother version in a food processor, but I wanted chunks since this is going to be my daughter’s dinner tonight.

Soup to nuts this takes about 30 minutes and is So. Much. Better. than sauce from a store… You may never go back to store-bought again!

Monday, Monday (on a Wednesday!) or more links about what to do with all of those damned apples…

apples

Ok so now it’s mid October, and we spent a recent weekend really living the following locavore dream:

Head down the road to a local farm with close friends and a gaggle of kids, pick waaaay too many apples, grab some produce at the farmstand, stop by the fish market on the way home for the main course, and a delicious dinner (all sourced from within 30 miles or so) is had by all.

But now it’s a week later and we still have So. Many. Apples. Every year I somehow forget that I don’t need 75 apples on my kitchen shelf, so I go crazy picking tons of apples, and then I get home and reality sets in. Because while it is totally delicious, one can only make so much curried apple soup in a fortnight.

So the next two weeks are gonna be all about apples in this house. How shall I cook them? Let me count the ways, whilst you click on the links for the recipes:

Clearly, there will be glazed apple cider donuts.

I am also thinking we should make some magic apple plum cobbler. Because any dish that has the word “magic” in it is alright by me.

For cocktail hour this time of year, one should always consider serving up a nice apple smash.

Mark Bittman helps us get healthy with this lovely apple slaw.

Ummm… did I hear you say caramel apple upside down cake?

And while we’re on the topic of bittersweet candied apples

Last but not least, before you roll into bed stuffed to the gills with deliciousness, I give you braised and bruleéd apples with ice cream. You can thank me later.

#stillsummer

summer corn soup

The most delicious, and simple, corn soup you will ever make. Make some quickly before the corn goes out of season…

Just looking at this photograph makes me a bit wistful for the lazy summer days in Maine… But to be honest, the corn is better down on Long Island. So the post-Labor Day version of this soup promises to be even better than the bowl pictured above.

We had a few extra ears of corn from dinner one night, so my husband, who is extremely adept in the kitchen, invented this chowder for the next day’s lunch. I constantly thank my lucky stars that I had the good fortune to marry a man who loves to cook. And now you all can share in my good fortune.

Corn chowder á la Josh

4 ears of corn
2 Tbs butter
large spoonful of sour cream
2/3 cup milk
pinch salt
a bit of chopped dill and bacon for garnish (if you’re feeling it)

Boil the corn for 4 minutes, then cut the kernels off and toss them into a pan with all of the rest of the ingredients. Cook till the butter melts. Throw the whole thing into the blender and blend till smooth. Top with a bit of dill and some broken bits of bacon and enjoy. Makes 3 good sized bowls of soup.

Quite possibly the best chocolate cupcakes ever…

chocolate cupcake

To be honest, we devoured most of the cupcakes without frosting (they are that good!) but I saved one or two to frost and enjoy in the traditional manner.

The other day, my daughter bounded into the room and declared, in no uncertain terms, that we were going to be making chocolate cake for desert. Nevermind that our dinner guest only eats raw food, or that it was about one hundred thousand degrees out (who wants to turn on the oven?)

I decided to leave her to her own devices, hoping that her mind would wander and that we would be back to watermelon slices in no time, but no such luck. She went online, found a recipe that she decided would be perfect and set out to make up a shopping list.

So we did it, switching to cupcakes when I couldn’t find the cake pans in our mess of a cabinet, and I must admit they were quite possibly the most moist and tender, melt-in-your-mouth cupcakes I have ever eaten. Which made me check out the blog that my daughter found (on her own… my little girl is growing up… sob!) and I now have a new favorite that you should all check out: AddaPinch.com.

We made a couple of changes– we used half cacao powder and half unsweetened chocolate because, well, I had the cacao powder sitting around and I felt virtuous using it at least partially. We also used chocolate frosting instead of the buttermilk one called for, but I’m sure either flavor would be equally delicious and, as I mentioned, we barely used frosting at all as these little cakes were SO MOIST!

You are going to love them. I promise.

Chocolate Cupcakes
by Robyn Stone of addapinch.com

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup cocoa (we used 1/4 c cacao and 1/4 c cocoa)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon espresso powder
½ cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup boiling water

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325º F.
Place cupcake liners in muffin tin. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.

Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.

Evenly distribute cake batter. Each cupcake liner should be about ¾ths full.

Place in the oven and bake 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the cupcakes to cool completely.

Monday, Monday– or more links about summertime cooking

cheesecake

Amazing beautiful inspirational and surely delicious strawberry balsamic cheesecake from Adventures in Cooking.

This might be the easiest-yet-also-most-delicious ice cream sandwich recipe ever. (And it comes from the pastry chef at Del Posto to boot!)

I have traditionally always made a chunky gazpacho, but I’m thinking this year I may give this creamier version a try…

What is a summer picnic without deviled eggs?

If a salad that combines cucumbers, tomatoes and yogurt doesn’t say summer, I don’t know what does.

I think the crown jewel of this year’s strawberry season is going to be this strawberry balsamic creme fraiche cheesecake. Just sayin’…

This time of year, the hens are really laying the most sublime eggs. Who knew that most of us are not scrambling them to their true potential? Here’s what we all should know…

I’m thinking this is the summer that I take the popsicle to a whole new level involving coconuts, rainbows and chocolate…

Another thing I really don’t need but totally want, regardless

iphone meat thermometer

Don’t you ust love how the little orange loop/handle matched the orange part of the app of the phone? Photo by Mark Weinberg for Food52.

I wouldn’t say that I’m against tech stuff per se, but I do tend toward the vintage, handmade, analogue variety when I can get my hands on it. Hence the rotary phone, the vinyl LP’s, the hand stitched laptop sleeve… But sometimes you have to hand it to the super modern digital version of a thing. This range thermomenter that hooks up to your iPhone (or iPad) and gives you accurate temperatures, tells you when your roast (or hard candy, or home brewed beer) is ready to come out of the oven, and looks cute in the bargain is one of those exceptions to my rule.

You can even hook it up to your iPad in the kitchen and then have it send alerts to your iPhone so you don’t have to keep coming back to the oven to check the meat.

I would already own this if I didn’t have, oh, 4 or 5 oven thermometers in our kitchen drawer already. Though to be honest, I’m just one yard sale away from getting rid of all of them to make room for this baby…

Last night for dinner we had the 3 P’s (pasta, peas and prosciutto) and it was really good

These are three things that i know my 8 year old likes, so she can't object to trying them in combination... at least one time...

These are three things that i know my 8 year old likes, so she can’t object to trying them in combination… at least one time…

In my next life, I’m going to be one of those food bloggers who cooks meals during the day in my kitchen next to the picture window that floods the entire soapstone or reclaimed wood counter with lovely, even northern light. My masterpieces will be photographed in pottery dishes (handmade by my daughter, natch) with linen napkins and tiny vases of flowers casually placed nearby.

Unfortunately for you all, I have yet to be reincarnated and, as such, am just barely getting a shot off before the food gets shoveled into the mouths of my waiting family. (I include myself in that group, by the way.) But hey, if this isn’t authentic, I don’t know what is.

Flowers or no, this recipe, which I stumbled upon while searching Smitten Kitchen for I don’t know what) is delicious, fast, and easily elevated to culinary peaks simply by purchasing quality ingredients. We didn’t happen to have tortellini, so I skipped the part where you make the tortellini crispy (don’t worry, we’ll be doing that next week, I’m sure!) and used the shell pasta we had on hand. Add some top notch prosciutto and creme fraiche from The Bedford Cheese Shop (about as top as a person can get, in the notch department) and we were good to go.

Total home run, if I do say so myself.

Crispy Tortellini with peas and prosciutto
(from Smitten Kitchen)

In the skillet
3 thin slices prosciutto (optional)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 13-14 ounce package frozen cheese tortellini (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup frozen peas, no need to defrost
1/3 cup water

To finish
3 tablespoons crème fraîche or mascarpone
Juice of half a lemon, more or less to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few fresh mint leaves, cut into thin slivers
Grated parmesan (optional)

Heat a large, deep skillet with a lid over medium-high heat. If using, add prosciutto in a single layer and cook until curling and browned underneath, about 2 minutes. Flip over and let cook until browned on the other side. Transfer a paper towel to blot oil and cool.

Add oil to same skillet and heat it for a minute. Add frozen tortellini in a single layer and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, until they’re browned underneath. (We skipped that and just added al dente shells) Sprinkle with frozen peas and add water to pan. Be careful; it’s going to ROARHISS wildly. Put the lid on, and let them steam for about 5 minutes but don’t go too far because if the water cooks off too quickly, you’ll want to add a splash more. At 5 minutes, all water should have cooked off. Scoop pasta and peas into bowl. If you find any pasta has stuck, just add a splash more water over high heat to “deglaze” them off — loosen them with a thin spatula and toss them around until they’re crisp again.

Immediately dollop on crème fraîche so it melts over the pasta. Squeeze lemon juice over, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, crumble prosciutto over (if using), then slivers of mint and parmesan, if desired. Dig in. Give your freezer a pat on its back.

It ain’t over till it’s over…

turmeric latte

Is this turmeric latte the answer to all of my problems? Maybe…

Sure it’s March, the days are getting noticeably longer (though that’s about to be rolled back a bit this weekend) and it was 70 degrees in New York City today. But don’t let that fool you. It is still very much cold and flu season. And there’s something nasty going around which I am determined not to catch if I can help it. I’ve upped the family’s daily dose of elderberry syrup and am trying (trying) to get enough sleep.

But the thing that I think may be really keeping me sniffle free (thanks to my friend Rita) is this most delicious ginger and turmeric latte which has now become part of my daily ritual.

It’s filed with all sorts of great things: turmeric (anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, supports liver function, plus lots more) ginger (which we all know is a wonder herb when it comes to fighting colds and flu) and, of course, coconut oil (which is as close to a nectar-of-the-gods as you can get in health terms). Add to that it’s almond milk base and you’ve got yourself an incredibly delicious soothing velvety mug of heaven.

It’s super easy to make (unless you are crazy like I am and feel the need to make your own almond milk, which is without a doubt better tasting, but which involves a bit of advance planning as you have to soak the nuts overnight). Start warming up a cup of almond milk. Then grate a teaspoonful of fresh turmeric and the same amount of fresh ginger into a blender with a tablespoon of coconut sugar, a pinch of sea salt and 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and combine. Once you’ve got that going, add the warm almond milk and blend till the whole mixture is smooth and frothy.

Here’s the original recipe on Goop, if you want a more traditional format. But whichever set of instructions you choose to follow, just make sure you try this… You won’t be sorry!

Yesterday, at some point…

old stove pub

We have been passing this place by for years and finally, finally stopped in for dinner. Recently reopened, it’s a classic and slightly ramshackle Greek steakhouse with quite possibly the best and most gigantic perfectly pink-on-the-inside-charred-on-the-outside steak I’ve ever had. No surprise, as the kitchen is overseen by Colin Ambrose whose Sag Harbor spot, Estia’s Little Kitchen, is one of my all time favorite breakfast joints. Evidently the steak’s success is all about the crazy hot vintage stove. Sure, the main dish was $90, but it was dinner and then lunch again for all three members of my little family, and a happy trio we were.

We’ll be back again for sure.

Old Stove Pub
3516 Montauk Hwy
Sagaponack, NY 11932
631-537-3300
open year round

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Yesterday, at some point is a series of photographs that describe a moment I experienced during the previous day. The posts are meant to be stand alone images, though at times I can’t control myself, and I end up expanding the caption into a more lengthy bit of text. Hopefully the extra information is useful, or at least interesting. If not, feel free to ignore it.

Last night’s dinner: Stir-fried beef

Stir fried beef

Stir fried beef with snow pea pods– a favorite around our house.

I try to always have about a pound of good quality beef around… cut into strips and ready to throw onto the wok. (Yep, that same wok that spent years languishing unused on the shelf is finally coming into heavy rotation.) Because when you needed dinner to be on the table 15 minutes ago, this recipe can’t be beat.

Absolutely first thing to do is get your rice going. Next, start the beef soaking in soy sauce and sesame oil. Once that stuff is happening, you just prep and chop the veggies, heat up the wok and go. It’s amazing how fast you can get a delicious and semi-exotic meal on the table.

And if you play your cards right there may even be leftovers for lunch the next day.

Melissa Clark’s Stir-Fried Beef with Sugar Snap Peas

Ingredients

1 pound lean beef, cut into 1/4-inch strips
3 tablespoons tamari or dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, more for drizzling
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed (we sometimes use snow peas, when the sugar snaps are scarce)
3 fat scallions
⅔ cup chicken broth
2 ½ tablespoons Madeira or sweet sherry
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons peanut or olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
Rice, for serving
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Sriracha or other hot sauce, or rice wine vinegar for garnish
chili oil, for garnish

Preparation

In a medium bowl, mix beef, 2 tablespoons tamari, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Set aside. Thinly slice sugar snap peas crosswise into disks. Thinly slice scallions, reserving dark green parts for garnish. In a small bowl, mix chicken broth, Madeira, 2 tablespoons water, remaining 1 tablespoon tamari and cornstarch. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil. When pan is hot, stir-fry beef until browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer beef and any liquid to a plate. Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet and when hot, add garlic and white and light green scallion parts until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add sugar snap peas and chicken broth mixture, lower heat to medium and cover. Let cook for 2 minutes. Transfer beef and juices to skillet and stir-fry 2 minutes. Serve over rice, garnished with more sesame oil, sesame seeds, dark parts of scallions, and hot sauce or vinegar and chili oil.