Kitchen Project: Applesauce

We had a blizzard. My office was closed for days. I am nursing a foot injury and was leery of venturing outside. So, I was scrounging through my rapidly depleting pantry and fridge for ingredients to embark on some sort of cooking project.

I had some ideas:

Beef broth. Yes! Great idea! Alas, no beef bones.

Chicken broth. Yes! Great idea! And I have roasted chicken parts in my freezer! But, I also have several enormous jugs of frozen chicken broth already taking up space.

Lemon curd. Yes! I love lemon curd. I already have a jar in my freezer.

Homemade fresh mozzarella. Yes! I made cheese curds a couple of months ago and they are waiting patiently in my freezer to be stretched into cheese. Of course, they are frozen. I cannot work with frozen curds. I have no patience.

Bread: Yes! No, no, no, no, no. I cannot live with fresh bread in the house. It will be devoured. I am enduring limited exercise right now and my psyche cannot handle a total bread binge. So, this also rules out cookies, quick breads, any sort of delightful carby baked good.

Applesauce: Ugh. Applesauce? Well, I had a huge bag of apples that would otherwise likely turn brown and rot. So why not? I decided to make a cross between a true applesauce and something more akin to apple pie filling. It worked! I now have several bowls of a mildly sweet, tart, highly spiced apple-pie-type filling. It’s delicious and I have been enjoying it dolloped over oatmeal or stirred into my Greek yogurt in the mornings for breakfast.

It’s so easy I urge you to try it. And, the best part, you can customize it anyway you wish. Make it chunky, make it smooth, make it crazy-sweet, whatever suits your fancy. I happen to like it tart with just a bit of sugar and plenty of spice — cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and a splash of vanilla.

applesauce

Applesauce: (made in a 6 quart slow-cooker)

  • 15 or so apples of any type (a mix is great), cored and cut into chunks. I left the peel on.
  • Toss apple chunks into slow-cooker. Sprinkle with sugar (a mix of brown and white) and any spices you wish. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours. Stir. Add more sugar and/or vanilla to taste.
  • Eat with a spoon.

Wooing My Man

Beef. Bacon. Wine. Cognac.

Brown the hell out of that beef. Crisp up that bacon. Deglaze the whole darn thing with cognac and then drown everything in wine and let it simmer. The aromas of browning bacon and beefy wine welcomed my husband home after 6 hours of shoveling snow yesterday.

wine going in

I was very much rewarded when he walked into the house and, before peeling off his wet gloves and boots, he took one huge whiff, grinned and said, “now that’s what I’m talking about! You are my darling, gorgeous, queen-of-all-things-wife who does no wrong and deserves an enormous 5-carat rock, which we shall go out and purchase toot sweet.” Ok, it’s possible I might be leaning heavily on some creative license here …

brown beef

Boeuf Bourguignon is my husband’s absolute favorite meal. So, while he was shoveling and shoveling and shoveling, I was having a grand time in my kitchen, flinging wine and bacon fat and singing along to the new Adele CD.

IMG_1075Happy husband, happy wife. 🙂

More to come on the wine we opened and decanted  —  A 2006 Saint-Julien Bordeaux.

Whole Fish

I love whole fish on the grill. Crispy skin, moist meat, a bit of char … oh my. Well, it’s winter and it’s cold, but my craving for whole fish — head and all — doesn’t disappear when grilling season sets. Sometimes I can convince my husband to bundle up and brave the frigid temperatures to tend the grill, but whole fish is just as easy in the oven.

Whole Fish

Whole Fish Wrapped in Grape Leaves: 

Ask your fish monger to clean and scale the fish for you. Bronzino is always a good choice as is red snapper or black bass (above). Salt and pepper the entire fish, stuff with a few lemon slices and fresh herbs, then wrap tightly in grape leaves. The skin certainly won’t crisp up with this method, but you are guaranteed moist fish! Drizzle the whole darn thing with olive oil and bake in a 400 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes (for a 1 1/2 to 2 pound fish). Unwrap and enjoy.

Recipe adapted from the cookbook Zahav by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook

Curry, Curry Everywhere!

I won’t lie, this was a bit of a project, but definitely worthwhile. Of course, now my house, my clothes and even my kitty smell like curry, but in a good way.

The spiced, curried meatballs were wonderful. I used grass-fed beef at 15% fat and I cannot figure out why they were so incredibly soft and meltingly tender. Perhaps the yogurt folded in with the meat? Regardless — success! These little balls of heaven were flavorful enough on their own, but nestle them into a vat of spicy Indian curry and it’s a showstopper.

Indian meatballs

I paired the meatballs with a curried beet and carrot salad, a sweet and sour tomato chutney and an herbed yogurt sauce. I look forward to making this meal again and serving it to friends for a full review.

Grape Paste?

Sigh. My grape jam is, in all actuality, more of a paste. I tried to stir some into my yogurt the next morning but alas, it never came off the spoon. I’ll have to use this batch on a cheese plate instead, much as you would a quince paste.

Kindergarten paste texture aside, the color is gorgeous and the taste is fantastic —  unlike any store-bought grape jam I’ve ever had. It’s bright, fresh and simply tastes of juicy, ripe concord grapes. Back into the kitchen I go.

Concord Grape Jam

Concord Grape Jam

Concord Grape Jam Recipe: I did skip the step that requires peeling all the grapes. I tossed them in whole and pulverized them with an immersion blender instead. This worked very well to breakdown the skins, but it did rain sugary grape juice all over my kitchen. BIG MESS. I’ll be peeling all the grapes next time.