Sunday, September 23, 2012

Apple-picking and Applesauce

Chris and I went apple picking this weekend. So much fun! I love apple-picking, have enjoyed returning a couple of years in a row now to Stribling Orchard in Markham, Virginia, and we had an absolutely gorgeous Saturday to go. After picking a half-bushel of apples, I am now, of course, looking for different “apple orchard experiments” to do with our pickings. But, 2 standbys for apples are always applesauce and cinnamon-brown sugar sautéed apples.

Simple (Apple)Sauce

10 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 ¾ cups plus 1 oz water
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Simmer over medium-high heat until the apples are completely soft. Use a potato masher or hand mixer to blend apples until as smooth as desired. Serve warm or cool and refrigerate in an airtight container. This applesauce can also be frozen.

Cinnamon-Brown Sugar Sautéed Apples

Apples, peeled and sliced
Brown sugar
Quanties for this dish have to be all to your preference. Put the apples in a large skillet. Add butter and brown sugar as you desire. Sauté over moderate heat until the apples are tender. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Penne, Peas, and Neufchatel Cheese

Tonight I made a pasta recipe titled “Creamy Pasta Salad with Bacon, Peas, & Bell Peppers,” from the website An Edible Mosaic ( As a side note, if you are cruising An Edible Mosaic, the writer’s philosophy on food is nicely stated. It also looks like she has a cookbook out, so take a look.

Here is my take on the salad, served simply over lettuce, with roasted golden beets on the side:

Penne, Peas and Neufchatel Cheese
(Adapted from An Edible Mosaic’s Creamy Pasta Salad with Bacon, Peas, & Bell Peppers)

8oz penne pasta (or other preferred pasta)
½ teaspoon salt, plus more for cooking pasta
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
4oz Neufchatel cheese (American Neufchatel cheese is a lower-fat alternative to cream cheese)
½ of 1 onion, finely diced
3-5oz greek yogurt, to taste
1 Tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 ½ Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 red bell pepper, diced (or orange or yellow)
1 shallot, halved and thinly sliced

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside. Whisk all ingredients from ½ teaspoon salt through thyme leaves in a large bowl until completely mixed. Add peas, bell pepper, shallot, and pasta and stir until coated. Serve chilled.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chimay and Sausage Stew

Recently I was looking for a quick new recipe to try and I had a few andouille sausages that I wanted to use up. I chose a dish that I had just pulled out of the July issue of Food & Wine for a Hungarian Sausage Stew with Ale and adapted it to my preferences (and my refrigerator). Rich, with a little kick, and great paired with the rest of the Chimay I opted to use as the ale, I will keep it in the repertoire. Chris made one suggestion, though, that I think I’ll take him up on next time. He decided that instead of serving it simply as a stew with crusty bread on the side, he would really like it spooned over rice. I think this is actually a really good idea – having that nice bed of starchiness (rice or couscous, for that matter) could round out the meal nicely and balance the kick and textures. You could even add some spinach to the stew for something green. Or add a lightness with a simple green salad on the side. But, however you choose to serve it, I recommend getting the big bottle of ale, tipping it back for a toast before drinking the rest and enjoying your meal.

Hungarian Sausage Stew
(adapted from Food & Wine, July 2012)

5 slices center cut bacon, cut into about 1/4 in pieces
1 large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
12 oz andouille sausage (or, as the original recipe calls for, kielbasa or chorizo)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon paprika
1 ¼ pounds plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cup Chimay or other ale
1 bay leaf
freshly ground pepper
quick-cooking rice or couscous

In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium-low until slightly crisp. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and bell peppers and cook until softened and lightly browned. Stir in the sausage slices, red pepper, and paprika and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer until softened and they begin to break down. Pour in the beer and add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then turn down to low or moderate-low, cover lightly, and cook about 15minutes more. While the stew is finishing, cook the rice or couscous. Season the stew with salt and pepper and serve scooped atop the rice or couscous.