27 June 2007

Apple Crisp

My grandmother gave me a fruit of the month club membership as a Christmas gift, and I've used the resulting goodies for baking recipes several months. This month it was these gorgeous looking apples. As soon as my bb (best beloved) saw them, he suggested exactly what I'd been thinking: apple crisp!

I concocted this recipe with input from, primarily, Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone", as well as Williams & Sonoma's "Essentials of Baking" and of course, my good old Betty Crocker cookbook. As always, I recommend using organic ingredients whenever possible.

Mmm... it's baking right now and it smells SO good...

Apple Crisp

6 T butter, cut into half-inch pieces
2/3 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c chopped pecans (could also try chopped walnuts)
1/4 t salt
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t ground cinnamon

Whisk all ingredients except the butter together in a large bowl. Add the butter and use a mixer with a paddle attachment or your fingers to work it into the remaining ingredients, until the butter pieces are thoroughly coated and the rest of the mixture is coarse and crumbly.

5-6 large apples, peeled, cored, and diced
2 T packed brown sugar
1 T lemon juice
1 t ground cinnamon

Make the topping and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375F.

Put the apples into a 2-inch tall, about 2-2 1/2 quart gratin dish and gently toss with the filling's remaining ingredients, evenly coating the apples. Cover the filling with the topping.

Place the dish on a baking sheet to catch any dripping juices and place in the middle rack of the oven for 30-45 minutes, until apples are tender, juices are bubbling and the top is golden brown. Once cooled, can be covered and stored at room temperature up to two days. Reheat in a 250F oven for 15 minutes (also good cold or microwaved). Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, but also tastes incredible just on its own.

23 June 2007

Cowboy Eggs

Every family seems to call this recipe a different name, but in ours, it's cowboy eggs. The name comes from my grandma. It is one of my favorite breakfast recipes. Using a nice big slice of bread is key to making this especially good.

Cowboy Eggs

2-3 T butter
2 eggs
2 slices of bread
garlic powder
black pepper

Turn a glass over and use it to cut a hole in the middle of the slices of bread. Put a heavy frying pan (cast iron, if you have it) on the stove over medium heat. Melt 1 T of the butter in the pan. Use pats from the rest of the butter to dot one side of the bread slices, also buttering the cut-out round. Place the bread in the pan, butter side down, and crack the egg into the hole in the bread. Season the egg to taste. You may need to reduce the heat slightly. Butter the other side of the bread. Place the cut-out toast in the frying pan and butter its other side.

Flip the cowboy egg when the white is almost set, flipping the cut-out round as well. Only cook the egg on its other side for a couple minutes, if you like a runny yolk, which is great to sop up with the cut-out toast. Serve immediately.


Last night, I made one of my favorite cookie recipes, and it's so good I have to share. It's quick and easy, and the cookies stay nice and soft the next day - perhaps even longer, but we wouldn't know. If your cookies last more than two days, you have a ridiculous amount of willpower and should allow yourself to relax more. :)

Anyhoo, all credit goes to the excellent dessert cookbook, "Chocolate on the Brain", by Kevin and Nancy Mills. If you're a chocoholic like me, I highly recommend this book. It has everything from varied cookies and brownies to impressive-sounding tortes and mousses and so forth. Whatever your mood, you're bound to find a chocolate dessert to fit your needs. And happily, these "Lava Cookies" will suit just about any mood.

Supposedly, this makes 36 cookies. I've never gotten more than 24 out of them, whether from batter-testing or making them a little larger than the book indicates. If using self-rising flour, omit the baking powder and salt.

Lava Cookies

3 squares (3 oz) unsweetened baking chocolate
6 T butter plus enough to grease two cookie sheets
1 c sugar (not a typo)
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 c powdered sugar

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heavy saucepan over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside when the chocolate has almost fully melted; the heat of the pan will melt the remaining chocolate.

Mix the sugar, eggs and vanilla together in a large bowl until pale yellow and frothy. Add the chocolate mixture and mix on low just until blended, about 15 seconds. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix on low about 10 seconds more, or just until blended. Cover and put in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. (Note: you can freeze the batter overnight if you're preparing ahead. Why you would do this, I don't know, but that's what the book says.)

Place an oven rack in the middle slot and preheat the oven to 350 degrees (375 high altitude). Grease two cookie sheets with butter. Remove the batter from the freezer and use a teaspoon to shape the dough into one-inch balls. Roll the balls in the powdered sugar and place on the cookie sheet, four to a row, in three rows. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time, 10-12 minutes. They will spread out and have mottled brown-and-white surfaces vaguely resembling a lava field (hence the name). Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for three minutes bef0re transferring them to a cooling rack. Try to not eat them all the first night...

15 June 2007

Recent Recipes

At last, some time to blog! I've made a few things lately that I wanted to post. Since I last wrote, the aforementioned crab salad turned out pretty well; so did a spicy pasta sauce, and on another day, I finally invented the potato salad recipe I've always wanted and never been able to quite hit. So without further ado...

(The Cajun crab salad recipe will have to wait until I find the original recipe, as it had a great spice combination that I can't quite recall.)

Chicken Little's Revenge (Pasta with Spicy Vegetarian Chicken Sauce)
Serves 2

1 1/2 T olive oil
~ 1 cup Quorn vegetarian chicken bits
1 can organic diced tomatoes
2 large cloves minced garlic
1 chopped green onion
1/2 lb spaghetti
1/2 t cayenne
1/2 t ginger
1/4 t basil
1/4 t oregano
1/4 t chile chimayo (or regular chili powder)
1/2 t smoky seasoning (we like Northwoods Fire, by Penzey's)
1/2 t crushed red pepper
fresh ground black pepper

Fill a pot with water two inches from the brim, cover, and set to boil. Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan over medium heat. Let the oil heat for a couple minutes, then add the garlic, basil and oregano. Saute for another couple minutes, then add the chicken and all the other spices except the black pepper and salt. Saute, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until the chicken has browned a little; reduce the heat to medium-low if the garlic and chicken start sticking to the pan.

Once the water has come to a rolling boil, break the spaghetti in half and add it to the water; stir the pasta with the sauce spoon to help it not stick together. Reduce the pasta's heat to medium-high and boil about 5 to 7 minutes.

After you've added the spaghetti to the water, add the canned tomatoes to the saucepan. Stir well; if you reduced the heat, bring it back up to medium. Let the sauce simmer, stirring often. After a couple of minutes, grind a round of black pepper over the pan and add a little salt, to taste.

Once your pasta's done, drain it and divide between two bowls. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the chopped green onion. Pour the sauce over the pasta immediately and serve.

Ann's Favorite Potato Salad
Serves 4

1 - 1 1/2 lb russet potatoes
1/4 c light Ranch (or mayonnaise)
2 T horseradish mustard
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
2 hardboiled eggs (optional)
1 chopped green onion
1/2 t powdered garlic
1/4 t cayenne
1/4 t ginger
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t salt
1/4 t rosemary
1/4 t marjoram

Peel and dice potatoes. Steam or boil for 15-20 minutes, until tender but still a tad firm. Hardboil eggs for 12 minutes, then let sit in cold water for at least five minutes. Dice eggs.

Stir all the ingredients together. Adjust spices to taste. It's even tastier the next day.

02 June 2007

To Cake, Or Not to Cake...

Crab is the question. I have a yummy-sounding recipe for a crabmeat, egg and artichoke heart salad that I could serve with jasmine rice; or I could make some crabcakes. Considering how much I love crabcakes, it's difficult to break out of the routine. But I'm also quite partial to egg and artichoke hearts, so it's kind of a draw.

Fortunately, I have several hours to decide. Whichever I go with, if it turns out well, I'll post the recipe.