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Archive for the ‘Apples’ Category

As the wintry weather continues to approach (it’s scary to say approach since it feels like beyond the winter I’m used to), I’ve been craving comforting meals in the warmth of our apartment. It’s funny because although I’m living in one of the bustling metropoles of the Northwest Territories (there are four, I am told, in total), the town is small at 3000 people, and has a couple of stop-lights. I cannot find half the spices I want in the grocery store (not even things you’d expect, like dried thyme), yet the baking isle is stocked with as many varieties of flour as your usual grocery stores in Ontario, or more. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that many people here take the time to bake their own bread and make their own preserves with the slower pace of life here. The smell of baking bread is not uncommon in the neighbourhood, and people definitely take baking their bread seriously – hence the large variety of flour available.

Tonight, as I thought about the chili we’d be having for dinner, I decided it was time to bake a Sunday night dessert. It’s apple season, so I’ve been going wild with apple-themed things, and this is no exception. It’s an upside-down apple-cinnamon and brown sugar cake, the perfect consistency to have with a hot chocolate, tea, or early afternoon coffee. It was completely invented in our kitchen, since the one cookbook we have here does not have a similar recipe, and we don’t have regular access to the internet (only at the library and those few times at school when we have free time). So, this is the first new recipe born out of Hay River!

Ingredients

2 eggs, beaten, in a medium bowl

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup melted butter

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

2 apples, sliced

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 or 400 if your oven is on the cold side.

Grease a medium rectangular cake pan (we used a pyrex oven dish, maybe 6 inches by 9), and sprinkle with a bit of brown sugar.

Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved, and then add melted butter.

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre, add the wet ingredients to the well, and carefully incorporate all ingredients together, removing any lumps that are formed.

Toss the apples in the cinnamon and half the brown sugar and mix the remaining brown sugar with the butter. Line the bottom of the pan with apples, and cut the remaining apple slices into small chunks and reserve them. Sprinkle half the brown sugar-butter mix over the apples. Cover with half the cake batter, and sprinkle the remaining apples and brown-sugar butter over top. Top with the remaining batter.

Bake on middle rack in oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired, and toffee syrup if you’re feeling particularly fancy – although it’s not necessary!

-Sitelle

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Surprise! Welcome to my Northwest Territories Kitchen. I’ve somehow found a new place to call home, amidst the tail-end of the boreal forest treeline, on the shores of the Great Slave Lake. I think this is going to be a great year for Gourm(eh) on my end – I’ll be exploring Canadian food from the Northern perpective, something I’ve always wanted to do. There are still a few weeks of fishing left (hopefully) before we break until the ice can hold us safely. The rose-hips are lonely without their leaves, just waiting to be picked and turned into jelly. The days are getting shorter at an unbelieveable rate – and although I’ll miss the sun, I’m really excited for the northern lightshow, with a mug of hot chocolate.

I’ve been here for a week now, and while I was hoping to share a traditional dish right away, I’m going to start with this tarte la francaise, in hommage to all the wonderful francophone people I’ve met in the community. Without an internet connection of my own, I’m dependent on the public library, and neighbours around me, who have generously offered me their internet connection. Tired of going up to see them for their internet, I decided to pay them back with a warm little apple pie tonight, like my Grandmother makes in Normandy.

1 shortcrust pastry

1-2 tart apples, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced

1/4-1/2 cup whipping cream

2 Tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

pinch nutmeg

1 egg

Make the short crust pastry at least 30 minutes in advance, and refrigerate. Preheat oven to 400f. Slice apples finely with a sharp knife. Dip in a dilute lemon juice solution and drain so they don’t brown.

Once oven is ready, roll crust out to 3cm wider diameter than a tart dish (or a pie dish). Place in dish, and press edges down to have a nice thick outer crust. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Freeze for about 10 minutes.

Arrange apples on cooled crust in a thin layer. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes until apples begin to soften and crust becomes lightly golden on edges.

Meanwhile, whisk the cream, egg, sugar, and spices together, and refrigerate until apples are softened.

Spoon cream mixture over apples and bake for another 25 minutes or so, or until set and slightly golden.

Enjoy with vanilla-infused whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Bon appetit,

-Sitelle

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Just this fall, I have made endless desserts with apples – and I have been challenging myself to make a different one each time. The most difficult thing about that is the fact that most of the time I only have a short period of time in which to make these, so inevitably, that reduces the scope possibilities.

Despite this, leafing through cookbooks and fellow foodblogs, I have managed to keep it relatively creative. I made this recipe with apples that were picked off a tree and wild blueberries from the Byward Market in Ottawa. What a delight!

The great thing about this cobbler is that it is versatile and can be consumed for breakfast, snack, or dessert!

Ingredients – 6 portions

-1.5 cups all-purpose flour
-1/2 cup rolled oats
-pinch salt
-1.5 tsp baking powder
-1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
-1/2 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
-1 egg
-1 Tbsp milk or cream
-1 Tbsp sugar + 1/2 tsp cardamom, mixed

-3 cups diced apples
-1-2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
-1/2 cup walnut or pecan bits
-juice from 1/2 lemon
-2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
-2 Tbsp brown sugar (optional – omit if you like desserts that are not very sweet or if your apples are very sweet)
-1/2 tsp cardamom
-1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 375F. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and oats together. Cut butter into flour mixture until small lumps remain. In a separate bowl, mix maple syrup or honey with egg. Pour into flour mixture, and quickly form into a ball. Cover and refrigerate while you cut the fruit.

Core and cut the apples into small pieces. In a bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice. Add the blueberries, and then the flour, brown sugar, nuts, and spices. Toss until the entire mixture is covered.

Lightly grease a deep 8-inch square baking dish (I often use casserole dishes). Place fruit inside. Divide the dough into several pieces (I like to do 5), and flatten them with the palm of your hand. Place one in each corner of the pan and one in the middle – most of the fruit should be covered. Now, lightly brush the milk or cream on top of the crust, and then sprinkle the whole top with the cardamom sugar.

This recipe is absolutely delicious with vanilla yogurt, frozen yogurt, or ice cream! Or, if you haven’t tried apple-based desserts with a slice of sharp cheddar, this might just be the time.

-Sitelle

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Although this particular recipe is my own invention, it is based on an idea my mother came up with. And the best part is that it’s more delicious, easier, and more novel than the usual crumble (well, perhaps not after this post – but I’m ok with that). With this dessert, not only do you have the delicious crumble topping and the warm apple, but you also have a flakey crust. And the trick is that the crumble topping is made primarily with wholesome granola!

All the pies I made 20 minutes ago have already vanished – which I take to mean it was a success.

In September I moved to Montréal, and I shared these pies with my new house-mates. They were made with apples I picked right off a tree during my lunch break while working in the field at a switch-grass farm. I hope you can enjoy these pies often during the cold winter months!

Ingredients – makes 6 small 4-inch pies

-1 quantity sweet shortcrust pastry

-4 apples, cored and diced
-1 tsp cinnamon
-2 Tbsp brown sugar
-1/4 cup pecan pieces

-1 cup granola
-1 Tbsp flour
-1-2 Tbsp brown sugar
-1-2 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

Directions

Prepare your sweet shortcrust pastry 30 minutes in advance. Preheat oven to 350. Grease 6 small tart pans (I used the small 4-inch tin pans available at the supermarket). Roll out dough after it has rested, and cut it into 6 circles to fit into the pie shells. Prick the crust on the bottom and sides, then place in the oven for 15 minutes to partially blind-bake it.

Meanwhile, crush the pecans into small chunks. Mix with the cinnamon and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, mix the granola, flour, brown sugar, and butter. Once the crusts are set, quickly cut the apples and mix into the brown sugar, pecan, and cinnamon mixture. Place 1/6 of the apple mixture in a heaping pile in each pie, then top with the granola topping.

Bake for 45 minutes, until the apples are in their melt-in-your-mouth stage. Serve alone, with vanilla yogurt/ice cream, or lightly sweetened whipped cream!

-Sitelle


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The last of the apples I picked in September are starting to become snowy, so I decided to transform the apples into something baked.  I’ve been inkling for muffins, and since oatmeal muffins are near my favourites (must be the Scot coming out in me), I decided to search the Internet for some not-to-sweet apple oatmeal muffins.  In the end, I tweaked a recipe that boasted to be “very comforting and old-fashioned”.  I substituted almond milk for regular milk, upped the apple content, and added a few extra spices.  The end muffin was lovely – gently spiced, but not too sweet and it was nice and moist: a perfect breakfast or afternoon snack.

Apple Oatmeal Spice Muffins

(makes 12 large, 16 medium muffins)

 

Ingredients:

2 eggs

3/4 cup almond milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats

1/3 cup brown sugar (+ 2 tbsp extra for a crumble topping)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder (yes, that’s not a typo, tablespoon)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/2 tsp extra

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

3 tart apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and fill 12 muffin or tins with medium sized muffin cups.

In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, and ground spices). In a separate mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs.  Whisk in the milk and oil, stirring until just blended.  Gently fold in the dry ingredients followed by the apples. Spoon batter into the muffin tin, dividing evenly among the cups.

Combine the reserved brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the muffin tops. Bake in a preheated oven for 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack.  A delicious breakfast or mid-afternoon snack!

Bon appetit!

Catherine

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The last time I made apple sauce was when I was about 10.  I was at my cottage for Thanksgiving.  My grandmother, having put the turkey in the oven, decided she needed some foliage to liven the table, so we went for a walk with a few of my cousins.  We happened across an apple tree along the side of the road.  Realizing that the only creature enjoying these apples were worms, we decided to pick a few. The apples, while fresh, were rather tart and slightly inedible.  Not to be deterred, my grandmother suggested we transform the apples into applesauce for our turkey dinner.  So we did, and it was delicious.

Last weekend, my department went apple picking in the Annapolis valley.  The sun was shining (dare I confess I got a sunburn in late September?) and the apples were crisp.  The trees were overflowing with ripe fruit, with countless varieties to choose among. I left with more apples than I knew what to do with.  While I’ve been enjoying an apple over lunch, I decided to recreate my memory of apple sauce.   Next up, perhaps a tarte tatin?

The apple sauce was a delight – especially with some blueberries and pecans mixed in.  I decided to sweeten it with Nova Scotia honey and spice it with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.   I made it earlier this week, but after a bowl or two forgot about it.  When I tried it again 96 hours later, the apple flavours had really intensified.  So if you are more patient than me, I recommend letting it sit for a few hours before you dig into this snack.  Next time, I’ll make a larger batch and freeze half, so I can have delicious apple sauce on hand!

Apple Sauce

Ingredients:

Apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped (about 1-2 per serving)

Water

Honey

Your favourite spices (I used  about 2 teaspoons total of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger for six apples)

 

Directions:

Place the chopped apples into a large pot, and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pot with 1/2 to 1 inch of water.  Bring to a boil.  Add a few tablespoons of honey (depending on the tartness of your apples and your desire for sweetness) and season with the spices.  Simmer over low heat until the apples have juiced up and are really soft, about 20-30 minutes.  Puree in a blender, until it reaches your desired texture.

Bon appetit!

-Catherine

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A few years ago I found a recipe for a root vegetable salad I’d never seen before as I flipped through my Larousse Gastronomique. I was immediately intrigued at the combination of a creamy old-fashioned garlic dressing with the crisp and earthy vegetables, and decided to give it a shot.

Since then, I have tried all sorts of vegetable combinations. I love how colourful and fresh the salad is. Accompanied by a hard-boiled egg or grilled piece of meat, it can make a full lunch.

Living in Montréal now, I have begun to explore the local food scene. I visited the market in Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue (a suburb on the western side of the island) on Saturday, and was delighted at what I found. Basically everything that went into this salad came from this market!

Ingredients – for 4 servings

-1 beet, finely sliced into half-circles
-1/2 small head fennel, finely sliced into strips
-1-2 carrots, cut into match-sticks
-1 celery stalk, cut into match-sticks
-2 medium tomatoes, sliced into rounds
-1/2 an apple, cut into thin wedges
-juice from 1/4 lemon or lime
-4 whole large leaves of lettuce (optional)
-a handful of toasted pumpkin seeds (optional), for garnish

-1.5 Tbsp cider vinegar
-1.5 Tbsp grain mustard
-1.5 Tbsp cream
-pinch fresh minced tarragon or dry tarragon
-cracked pepper and salt to taste

Directions

Wash and peel then finely slice all ingredients (feel free to leave all the peels on if you like – some like them and others don’t), leaving the apple for last. Drizzle lemon juice over apple to keep it from browning. Using a very sharp knife will help as well. Keep the beet separate so as not to colour everything in advance.

This salad can be assembled either on side-plates (the way that keeps it looking more special), or in a large, shallow bowl. Arrange the veggies however you like, over a leaf of lettuce if you choose to do so.

To make the dressing, mix the vinegar and mustard. Once thoroughly mixed, add the cream and mix some more, adding the tarragon at the end. Drizzle over salad, and add salt and pepper to taste.

The key to success with this salad is finely chopping all the ingredients. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

-Sitelle

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