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Archive for November, 2010

Chunky Applesauce

My friend Margaux, shared her family’s recipe for applesauce on her blog, Sweet and Savory Kitchens, a couple of weeks back and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about applesauce, since. The smell in your kitchen and that unremarkable old-fashioned taste, just reminds me of being a kid, for some reason. My mom must have made applesauce when we were kids. I would like to have homemade applesauce simmering on the stove everyday during Autumn, just so I could enjoy that lovely smell.

Applesauce is a great way to use up the apples that are maybe a bit too bruised and dinged up or that may have started to get a bit softer. We went apple picking a few weeks back and I was a feeling bit “appled-out”, I think I may have eaten one too many whole apples, so I thought this would be a great way to use up the last of them. This applesauce is great on its own as a side dish, it’s a wonderful and healthy snack or dessert, you can serve it over vanilla ice cream or yogurt, spread it on toast and you can eat it warm or cold. It’s just a great homestyle dish that is incredibly easy to make.

I like the flavor from the spices and how it pairs so nicely with the apples, if you are a purist and just want to enjoy the apple flavor, leave out the spices. I also tend to like my applesauce on the chunky side, so I hardly mash mine up, though some folks love a smooth pureed applesauce, whatever you like, this recipe is super simple and in no time your house will smell so good, you won’t want to leave.

Chunky Applesauce

Chunky Applesauce

3 to 4 lbs of apples, peeled, cored and sliced ( I think I used about 8 apples, a couple different varieties*, left over from apple picking)
Juice of one lemon
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup organic dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons organic pure cane sugar
3 whole cinnamon sticks (3-inch sticks)
2 whole star anise
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

As you are slicing and peeling your apples, place them in a large saucepan. Once you have all of your apples in there, place the saucepan over a medium-high heat, add the lemon juice and water. Stir in the sugars and add in the spices and the salt. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil then lower to a low-medium heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the apples are thoroughly cooked. They will start to mash-up and breakdown on their own. Once your apples are fully cooked, and soft, remove the pan from the heat and remove the cinnamon sticks and star anise. Mash it up with a potato masher or a large wooden spoon, it won’t take much. Leave your sauce as chunky as you would like. If you like a very smooth applesauce you can blend it in your blender or food processor. Serve warm or cool.

This applesauce will keep a few weeks, covered in the refrigerator or it can easily be stored in your freezer.

* Be sure to choose a good quality sweet cooking apple such as – Cortland, Empire, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, HoneyCrisp, McIntosh, Pink Lady, Rome, Fuji, Ginger Gold or Jonathan. I think I used a combination of golden delicious and McIntosh, not entirely sure since I was apple picking with my high-energy 3-year old nephew, Noah.

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Warm Millet Salad with Delicata Squash, Crispy Tofu and Spinach

Looking at this recipe, it may seem labor intensive and difficult, it really isn’t. You are doing most of the steps simultaneously. This was my first attempt at cooking with delicata squash. It had a really great taste and it was perfect in this dish. A bit on the firmer side, this squash really holds up to being tossed around in the salad. My only complaint is, from everything I read, the skin of a delicata squash is meant to be edible, apparently it is very thin, like the skin on a zucchini. I have to say, I found the skin on the squash I cooked to be one of the toughest I have ever came across on a squash. I am curious if it was because the squash I was roasting, was on the larger side compared to some of the others I saw, or maybe I needed to cook it much longer than I did, though I doubt that was the case. We just peeled the flesh away from the skin when we were eating the wedges that we served on top, no big deal.

If you haven’t tried millet yet, I can’t recommend it enough. A naturally gluten-free grain, millet is loaded with protein and is very versatile. It has a slight sweetness to it and a nutty flavor. Great in dishes like this, as cereal, in soup or in stuffings, there really are so many things you could do with it. Like many other grains, it is great sweet or savory. It is very fluffy when cooked and it is super easy to prepare.

I am quite proud of this dish, it is really hearty and loaded with flavor. On top of all of these things, it is both vegan and gluten-free. Like many of the recipes I share, there are many variations you could take with this. This would be great with quinoa, as well and would work with any winter squash variety you have on hand. You could add dried cranberries, apples or raisins and you could substitute kale or arugula for the spinach. You could even add a chopped toasted nut like walnuts or almonds. Have fun and experiment, these types of dishes are my favorite, each time you make it, can be a new experience.

I served this as our main dish, but it would make a great side and would be the perfect item on a dinner party that includes a vegan.

Warm Millet Salad with Delicata Squash, Crispy Tofu and Spinach

Warm Millet Salad with Delicata Squash, Crispy Tofu and Spinach
Serves 4-6

1 medium to large delicata squash
1 cup hulled organic whole millet, uncooked
2 cups water
1 14 oz package of extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4 – 1 inch cubes, drained and pressed to remove as much liquid as possible
5-6 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
olive oil, enough for drizzling on squash and pan frying your tofu
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped

Dressing:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup olive oil
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Prepare your dressing by adding all of the above ingredients to a small bowl, whisk to combine, set aside.

Preheat your oven to 425º F. Cut the squash lengthwise into quarters, scrape out the seeds, then slice the squash into bite-sized, moon-shaped pieces, about 1/2 inch thick each. Drizzle with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes (depending on how big the pieces are) in a single layer in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet or until the flesh is tender and the edges have begun to brown. Cube the flesh of half of the squash and place in a large serving bowl.

While the squash is roasting, prepare your millet. Toast the millet in a dry, medium-sized pot over medium-high heat for about 3-5 minutes, until it begins to brown and become fragrant. Add 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until the liquid is mostly absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Once the millet is done, remove from the heat and keep covered.

While the squash and millet is cooking, take a large frying pan and coat the bottom of it in olive oil, a couple of tablespoons will do. Heat the pan to a medium-high heat and make sure it is hot when you put the tofu in (it should sizzle). Once all the tofu is in, sprinkle it all with a dash of salt and fresh ground pepper. Now leave them alone in the pan for about 6-7 minutes. Shaking gently to keep them from sticking. Once they being to brown and get crispy, turn them. Continue this process until the tofu is cooked to your liking.

Once the tofu is cooked, remove the tofu to a plate lined with paper-towels to allow some of the oil to be absorbed. Meanwhile, with the remaining oil in the pan, keep the heat at a medium-high and add the spinach, cook for a few minutes until wilted.

Hopefully if timed correctly, when your spinach is done, your squash will now be ready and your millet will be done cooking. Add your cooked spinach to a large serving bowl with the cubed squash and add the cooked millet, tofu and chopped sage. Toss gently to combine all the ingredients. Drizzle the dressing over everything and toss again to combine. Top the salad with the remaining squash wedges. Serve on plates with a wedge or two of squash. Salt and pepper to taste.

Delicata Squash

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