October 23, 2009

White Bean Soup with Salsa

Apple season is passing, the leaves are falling, and people are sneezing.
It's cold and flu season again.
We don't know about you, but soup is a cozy cure for all sorts of ailments. And even if it doesn't completely banish the sniffles, there is a lot to be said for the comfort factor of soup - especially when it's homemade.

This recipe came from a Heart and Stroke foundation calendar that arrived in the mail. It's a little different, super healthy (packed with fiber and protein), and kind of fun to make (especially if you have trouble keeping the top on a blender...).
1 1/2 cups dried white kidney beans or navy beans
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp chili flakes
8 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock will also work)
1/2 cup uncooked whole wheat macaroni
  • Soak beans in water for about 3 hours. Drain and rinse.
  • Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and chili flakes. Cook until softened.
  • Add beans and stock to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for about 1 hour.
  • Puree soup in blender or food processor (this can get messy... Amy had to break out the windex to scrub down the window afterwards).
  • Return soup to pot. Thin with water if desired. Add pasta and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.
  • Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with a spoonful of salsa.

October 21, 2009

Apple Pie

"Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness."
- Jane Austen

Does anything say harvest time quite like apple pie? There's nothing like a crisp, crunchy apple picked from an aging tree. A sweet, succulent tartness is captured in every bite.

We had two big bags of apples picked from the orchard around the corner. We put our muscles to good use lugging the fruit back to the entrance of the farm - it seemed like we'd been overzealous in our picking.
Those apples were gone so fast... And many of them disappeared into this pie!

Find your favorite recipe! We used leftover pastry from the Upside Down Apple Pie. We'd stashed some in the freezer.

The Pie
We read through a few recipes and then decided to be creative. There aren't really set amounts - jut mix together the ingredients common to most recipes, add a little love, and put it in the oven. Really.

Here are some guidelines:
8 cups (2 pounds) apples - thinly sliced, peeled
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon

  • Toss the apples and lemon juice together in a bowl (the lemon juice helps prevent browning), and then throw everything else into the mix.
  • Put pastry into pie plate, put apple filling on top of pastry, drape more pastry on top and cut steam vents in the center.
  • Bake in bottom third of oven for 15 minutes at 425 F... reduce heat to 350 F and continue baking for 40 minutes (or until filling is bubbly and apples are soft when pierced with knife)

  • Brush the rim of the bottom pastry with water before draping on the top pastry - this helps them to stick together
  • Brush the top of the pie with a little bit of milk to make it a golden brown

One last big apple pie thought:
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe."
- Dr. Carl Sagan

October 2, 2009

Upside Down Apple Pie

Jean Pare is a Canadian culinary legend. When looking for an apple pie that would be a definite winner, her "Pies" book was the first stop in the cookbook cupboard. There are 11 apple pie recipes listed in the index... think of all the experimenting that must have gone on in her kitchen!

Start with a recipe for basic pastry. We used Pare's but there are millions online. 

1/2 cup Walnut halves
1/3 cup Brown sugar

1 cup Granulated sugar
2 tbsp All-purpose flour
1/2 tsp Cinnamon (times 4... this is a crucial flavor-boosting ingredient!)
1/8 tsp Salt
2 tsp Lemon juice

5 cups Apples - peeled, cored, & sliced (McIntosh works well)
  • Line a 9 inch pie plate with a wide circle of foil
  • Take two 2-foot long pieces of foil and attach them with a drug-store fold (we had to use Google images to figure out what that meant... basically, line up the two pieces so that they're slightly overlapping, and then fold a few times so that you get one big piece) - press into pie plate, grease 
  • Spread the walnut halves on the bottom of the pie plate, and sprinkle with brown sugar
  • Combine the next 5 ingredients in a large bowl
Don't forget this stuff!
  • Add apples to sugar mixture, stir to coat... and pile into pie plate
  • Roll pastry and place over top of apples (we found it easiest to roll out the dough on wax paper, and then we simply flipped the pastry onto the pie)
  • Fold the pastry edges under the pie plate and flute (make nice little dents with your thumb)

  • Turn up the foil around the edges - it should be a few inches high... cut slits in the pastry and put the entire strange-looking-set-up into your pre-heated oven 
  • Bake at 350 F for about 50 minutes (until apples are cooked)
  • Now comes the fun party! Cover the pie with a large plate and FLIP IT 
  • Remove the foil carefully

Delicious when served warm... and with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream!