I was chatting with a colleague this week about cooking and baking and cookbooks. He said he inherited a cookbook and maybe should find it and cook from it. When I told him I have 50+ cookbooks he asked “how do you know which recipe to use?” That question has been haunting me all weekend. I wanted to bake bread. I wanted to bake cookies. I needed to make quiche for a church event. Which recipes to use? I was perusing several cookbooks and found there are too many choices. I make a list for each cookbook on what I want to try and then go to the next book. Reading cookbooks has always been enjoyable but having too many is like 31 flavors and asking a toddler to choose chocolate or vanilla!
I was reading and rereading through my Fleischman’s Yeast Bread booklet. This has been used for so many years that the cover is no longer attached. Choices, choices, choices! I thought about making the sour dough starter. I thought about making Lucia buns and a chocolate yeast cake. After an hour or so I settled on the Apple Crumb Coffeecake. We have some older apples that need to be used. So after several cups of coffee and cookbook browsing on a lazy Saturday morning I bake.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (equivalent to one package active dry)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup butter
2 eggs at room temperature
2 large apples, cored, peeled and sliced
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
6 tablespoons butter
In mixer bowl mix 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt and yeast. In a Pyrex glass measuring cup put the water, milk, and 1/3 cup butter. I nuke this in the microwave for 1-2 minutes until 120 degrees. I use a thermometer as I have been known to kill yeast with too hot liquids. Gradually add the liquid to the dry ingredients and beat two minutes on medium speed. I am using the regular paddle and not the dough hook for this. The recipe is in the section on “no need to knead”. Add eggs and 1/2 cup flour or enough to make a thick batter. I used the total of 2 1/4 cups at this point. Beat at high speed for 2 minutes. Spread evenly in a 9 inch square pan that has been greased or sprayed.
Meanwhile I am cutting up apples and sprinkling a bit of lemon juice on them. Arrange these on top of the batter in the pan. I have not yet made the crumb topping either. So I melt the last 6 tablespoons of butter (not the best way to make crumb) and add the 2/3 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. This makes a paste vs. a crumble and I diligently spread this onto the apples. Cover and let rise for about an hour. It should double in bulk.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 35-40 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Looks good. Mine bubbled up a bit on the edges due to the melting of the butter in my crumb/paste.
Next on the baking list was quiche. My standard quiche is 4 eggs and 2 cups cream/milk/half-and-half per 9-inch pie. Add whatever else you fancy, cheese, onion, bacon, etc. Here’s the final product:
Fall is in the air! I know this because I have gotten out a bunch of cookbooks and have gone to the library and checked out a few as well. I think about baking; I bake; I think about baking some more.
Apples: we bought some nice locally sourced Gala apples as these are one of our favorites for eating. It is a portable fruit. Hubby goes off to work with an apple, a piece of cheese, and granola bars, none of which is homemade. We then bought five pounds of more apples, also locally sourced, with the express purpose of making apple pies, muffins, tarts, etc.
So this week’s apple recipe is an Apple Crisp. This is from King Arthur Flour’s 200th Anniversary Cookbook. They had posted one on line but I think that may be different. Not sure. Anyway this is a good one. I did add my own flair to it, though.
4 cups chopped apples, peeled (KAF said this was about 8 apples, so I peeled, cored, and chopped exactly 8 apples.)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon gingerbread spice mix (my addition: original recipe called for 3/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp allspice)
1/2 cup butter, softened (I melted mine)
2 Tab. chopped candied ginger (my addition)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (my addition)
Put chopped apples in lightly greased (or sprayed) 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle on the cranberries and the candied ginger. Blend the dry ingredient and add the butter. Melted butter (somewhat cooled) mixes in nicely. Stir until all ingredients are not dry. Put this on top of the apples. I patted it down like a crust. Bake 35 minutes at 375 degrees F.
This came out well. Hubby said it had a “grown up taste”, not sure what that means. The topping was crispy and contrasted with the apples very well. In future I would reduce the brown sugar to 3/4 cup sugar as I think the topping doesn’t need that much sweetness. We did not have ice cream in the house and that would add a nice finish to this Crisp.
I have made mini apple pies in a cup cake pan. The recipe is http://www.livewellbakeoften.com/mini-apple-pies/. I found this by googling apple pies looking for tarts. The only adaptation I made is to brush the tops with water and sprinkle on some cinnamon sugar. I also used 3 cups of chopped apples instead of 2 1/2. I used Macoun apples. If I make these again, and it is likely I will, I would reduce the sugar by half and increase the amount of apples to 4 cups.
2 9-inch pie crusts (I used store bought because I haven’t gotten around to making my own.)
2 1/2 cups apples, chopped
1/4 cup sugar (in the future I would use 1/8 cup)
2 Tab flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Cut the pie crust into 12 circles about 3 1/2 inches. I used my Pyrex custard cups as the cutter. Press these circles of dough into your regular sized muffin pan. Use the leftover dough to make strips for the lattice tops. I found that four strips are needed for each mini pie.
Mix apples and other ingredients all together and spoon even amounts into the dough cups. Fashion the lattice to each. I then brushed the tops with water and sprinkled with a tiny bit of cinnamon sugar. Bake in 425 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes or so and then carefully remove to a cooling rack.
I made an apple pie with a crunch topping. I was trying to make a crumb topping but it was very crunchy, tasty but very crunchy. I had a bunch of apples that needed to be made into a pie or a brown betty. Hubby voted for pie. There were some Empire, some Gala, and some Granny Smith apples. I sliced up about eight of them which made 4 cups. I had a pre-made, bought pie crust, just one so I had to make a topping.
I made the Cinnamon Add-a-Crunch topping from my handy-dandy Quaker Oats cook booklet. Thinking on it now, the “add-a-Crunch” should have given me a hint as to the outcome! I love crumb toppings that use melted butter. Makes it so much easier to mix than “cut together with fork until resembles…”
1 1/4 cups quick or old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup wheat germ (I actually have this! It’s great to sprinkle over the waffle batter before you close the lid on the waffle iron.)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
The actual recipe says mix this together and cook in skillet for 5-7 minutes and then spread on cookie sheet to cool. I figured it would cook on the pie so I just mixed it all together and added 1 cup of chopped walnuts as well.
Make your apple pie. Spread this topping on top. Bake your apple pie. Voila! Very pretty.
My pie was tasty but the apples did not meld together in any fashion. I had to serve this in bowls. I may have forgotten to pat the top of the apples with butter, but that can’t have been the problem. I never cook my pie fillings first and other apple pies have turned out like pies. I don’t make apple pies frequently enough to experiment like America’s Test Kitchen. I have had this same problem once or twice before which I attributed to the type of apple and/or size of the apple slices. But I sliced these apples in thin slices.
We ate the pie. We enjoyed the pie. It just wouldn’t have won any prizes!
This is another recipe from Eating Well Magazine Winter 2003. I had all these ingredients and it is supposedly a meal made in 30 minutes. Well, it took me 40 minutes, and an additional 8-10 for the sides.
2 apples, peeled and slice thin
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided (These are what the recipe calls for. My amounts were approximations because I do not take the time to measure out oil for adding to skillets for sauteing and the like.)
3 teaspoons butter, divided (see above note)
1 1/2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste (see note above for salt and pepper as well)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast; I had thawed four for this recipe and have no idea how much they actually weighed. Be sure to thaw the chicken!)
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
First make the apple compote: Take two apples, peel them, and slice thin. Put in a bowl and mix with the lemon juice and cinnamon. I cooked this in a little oil and butter in my cast iron skillet. That took about 5 minutes to cook. Set aside and keep the compote warm. Add 5-7 minutes for peeling the apple and squeezing and zesting the lemon. And another 2 minutes for cleaning the skillet and finding a bowl to hold the compote.
Mix 1 teaspoon of herbs with the salt and pepper. This does not look like enough seasoning but it is. Place chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with mallet until 1/2-inch thick. This went rather smoothly. I got to use the meat mallet Hubby had found that is all of one piece. It just won’t do to be pounding meat and have the head of the mallet go flying across the kitchen! Anyway, sprinkle both sides of the flattened chicken with the seasoning mixture.
Heat the remaining butter and oil in the skillet. Heat over high heat. Add half the chicken and cook until no longer pink 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to platter and repeat with the other half of the chicken. Here is when I begin to get the idea that perhaps this recipe was made for 6 chicken breasts…did say it served six. Too bad, for Hubby and me I have the four. When chicken is done, remove to platter to keep warm.
Add broth, lemon zest, and remaining herbs de Provence to the skillet. Cook stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring to boil and cook for about 3 minutes until slightly reduced. I kept cooking a few more minutes because it did not look reduced to me. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve with the apple compote.
The magazine suggested serving this with orzo and green beans. I served it with leftover sweet potato mash and cooked mixed vegetables from frozen. If one were to make the orzo and beans this meal would take longer. The entire time I was focused on the cooking the chicken and compote. Next time around, I won’t have to keep referring to the recipe and that may shave 5 minutes or so from the prep and cook time.
This is a tasty chicken dish. I will make this again. I may leave out the apple compote and make a savory lemon sauce/gravy to pour over, or maybe an orange sauce! I think orange would complement the Herbs de Provence very nicely.