Julie’s Apple Butter

The cooking club members gathered at Julie’s house this past week to relax and enjoy the beautiful fall we have had this year.

2013 Fall

We had a fall assortment of dishes; tomato bisque, mini pepper appetizers, apples with salted pumpkin caramel sauce, fresh grapes, pumpkin bread, and sweet potato pie. We also got an lesson on how Applejack liqueur is made from fermented apples that freeze in the winter. I mixed my 1/2 shot of Laird’s Applejack with warm apple cider. My legs got a little warm and numb with that 80 proof concoction.

applejack

Afterward, we commenced to making Julie’s family apple butter recipe. She cut the original recipe down for an easy undertaking.  Julie likes using Pink Lady apples.

Julie’s Apple Butter

6 C diced apples (about 6 medium to large apples)

1 2/3 C apple cider

1/4 C apple cider vinegar

1 1/3 C sugar

2/3 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp cloves

1/8 tsp allspice

Peel, core, and dice 6 medium to large sized apples to make 6 cups.

pink lady apples

Place in cooking pan and add the cider and cider vinegar.  Place on high heat until boiling for about 20 minutes, stir occasionally. Reduce to medium heat and add the sugar and spices, mix well and stir occasionally.  After another 20-30 minutes reduce the heat again to medium-low and cook for another 40-45 minutes. The apples will be soft and with a brown syrupy liquid. Remove from heat then mash the apples to eliminate the lumps. Place into jars and either process for canning or place in refrigerator for up to one week (if it lasts that long :))

cooking it down

Patty’s Points:

1.  Since the cooking process is 1 1/2 hours, we had to leave Julie’s house before seeing the final product. I made a batch at home tonight. It was easy to let it cook on the stove while I did other chores around the house.

2. I couldn’t find Pink Lady apples at my local supermarket. I found this website on the best apples for making apple butter. I chose Fuji apples from the list. The apple should be a softer type apple

3. I used my apple corer-slicer-peeler and the process went very quickly in prepping the apples.

apple peeler

4. I used my hand emulsion blender when the apples had cooked through to mash the apples into butter.

emulsion blender

5.  It is a very sweet butter with the sugar and the apple cider combination. You could easily decrease the sugar to one cup or less to your taste. I also substituted the spices listed in the recipe with 1 tsp of apple pie spice. What a yummy, smooth and sweet butter. It was yummy to top on buttered, whole wheat bread.

apple butterI had never made apple butter before this week. I felt my midwestern roots when making this classic recipe. A  flashback to childhood.

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Will and Kate cook

The royal couple took over my kitchen the past two weeks. Will and Kate.

Will and Kate

My daughter Kate, home for the summer, had surgery before heading off the vet medicine school this fall. Her boyfriend, Will, came to visit this past week. While we were at work, they cooked up dishes they never had space or time to make in a tiny college kitchen. She is putting a dent in this cookbook I am sending with her to school next month.

America's Test Kitchen Quick

Courtly Calzones

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F

10 oz frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry

4 oz each of crumbled goat cheese, ricotta cheese & shredded mozzarella cheese

1 oz grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 egg yolk

2 minced garlic cloves

3/4 tsp dried oregano

1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

1 lb pizza dough, room temperature

1 egg beaten with 2 Tbsp water

Combine all the ingredients down to the pizza dough and set aside. Divide the dough in half. Roll out each pizza dough on a floured board. Transfer the round dough onto parchment paper. Divide the filling and spread onto one half of the dough leaving a one inch border. Fold over the dough for the edges to meet making a half-moon and crimp the edges to seal. Cut 5 slits atop the pie dough then brush with the egg wash. Slide the calzones with parchment paper onto a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes turning the sheet halfway through the time. Cool 5 minutes before serving. Makes 2 calzones, 4 servings.

Will calzone

Will’s Calzone

Kate calzone

Kate’s Calzone

Kate’s Comments:

1. Kate is not a fan of spinach unless it was mixed with lots of cheese. The cheese mixture called for four kinds of cheese: parmesan, mozzarella, goat, and ricotta mixed with an egg to bind it altogether = yummy. She just didn’t care for the spinach, the cheese didn’t hide the flavor for her.

2. Will had a better handle on the pizza dough and was less afraid to stretch and form into a circle for the calzone base. Kate admits she was more afraid of the dough.

3. Kate overfilled her calzone with filling as it oozed out of the edges.

4. The cookbook had great pictures on how to form the calzone, pinch the edges and vent the pie top.

in the oven

 Chivalrous Chicken Parmesan Roll-ups

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F

1 chopped fine onion

3 Tbsp olive oil

6 minced garlic cloves

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

1/2 C chopped fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

6 oz shredded  mozzarella cheese

1 oz grated Parmesan cheese

6 chicken cutlets, 4 oz, 1/4 inch thick

1/2 C panko crumbs

Sauté the onions and garlic in 2 Tbsp olive oil for about 3 minutes until translucent. Add the tomatoes and simmer about 3 minutes, then add half the basil, salt and pepper. Set aside briefly before placing half of the mixture on the bottom of a 8-inch square baking dish.

Mix the cheese and basil mixture together in a bowl and set aside. Place the cutlets out and mound the cheese mixture at the wider end leaving an inch at the narrower end. Roll it up and place into the square baking dish seam down. Place the remaining sauce atop each cutlet and sprinkle with panko. Drizzle with the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil. Bake about 15-20 minutes until chicken reaches 160 degrees with a meat thermometer. Serves 4-6.

chicken pounding boy

Princely pounding of the chicken cutlets

crutch girl

Princess posing with crutches

Chicken Parmesan Roll-ups

The Royal Dish

Will’s wise words:

1. Will liked pounding the chicken. I showed him how to wrap the chicken in plastic and use the flat side of the meat tenderizer to pound the chicken cutlet flat.

2. Kate made her own cutlets by slicing a chicken breast in half. She was so proud she aced the technique after following the picture directions.

3. More cheese.  One point Will and Kate both agreed upon. The recipe called for 1/2 C parmesan, 1 1/2 C mozzarella cheese and 1/2 C fresh basil divided into the filling and the topping. The flavor of the cheese was hidden by the tomato sauce and panko crumbs. They decided that whatever the recipe called for in cheese, that they should double it.  It is always better to have more cheese and not need it than to not have enough cheese and wanting more.

4. The oven temperature was pretty hot at 450 degrees, browning the crumbs too quickly. After 5 minutes they turned down the temperature to 375-400 degrees.

4. Scrumptious and served with a side of spaghetti.

We’re back to being commoners again. Thanks from dropping by Will and Kate!

British food rocks! Really.

I went to my second cooking class this week. I had purchased a silent auction item at the Sunset at the Ritz benefitting the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the ALS Association at The Kitchen Table. I had eyed the cooking classes for several months, trying to figure out which one to take. My summer has been busy, but I saw a break in my schedule this week and leapt at a recently added class celebrating the Olympics and British Food.

Chef Tom, surveyed the class on who had been to England and if they had a memorable meal. Most said the food was horrible, citing fish, chips and beer as the highlights.  Chef Tom taught us that the Brits were big on:

pickling, smoking

beer, ciders, tea

custard,  pies, savory puddings

beef

Sunday was the day to serve a grand meal as Monday was wash day and gave the cooks a break to clean up and eat the leftovers. Our menu was crab and asparagus salad, roast beef, savory Yorkshire pudding, horseradish cream, mint peas, gravy and a bread pudding.

The Kitchen Table pre-made creme fraiche (fresh cream) that we used for the salad dressing and the horseradish cream for the beef. Also pre-made for us was a veal stock for the gravy.

The first item we made was the bread and butter pudding with Bailey’s (oh yeah). We made a creme anglaise (English cream), a custard mixture similar to one for an ice cream. We layered apricot jam, circles of brioche, rum-soaked raisins, all soaked with the creme anglaise to ramekins. They were popped in the oven while we constructed the rest of our meal.

Next was to build our Yorkshire and pour into ramekins with lard in the bottom (oh yeah), make the horseradish sauce, and truss our beef. After those tasks we constructed our salad with a creme fraiche, lime and grainy mustard dressing.

After we munched on our fresh, lovely salad, with Paco y Lola, 2010 white wine we returned to the kitchen to braise our beef, make our gravy, and heat our buttered, mint peas.

Chef Tom’s Tips:

1) Creme fraiche is easy to make at home and tastes better than store-bought. Heat 1 C cream to 105 degrees in saucepan, remove from heat and stir in 1TBS buttermilk. Place in shallow container, cover with plastic wrap and leave on the countertop, warm area and stir every 8 hours for 2 days until thick. Refrigerate once set.

2) When removing bread and butter puddings from ramekins place the sharp knife along the edge and turn the ramekins, do not move the knife up and down. The pudding edge will come out smooth not jagged.

3) Don’t play with the beef, leave it in the pan to braise on all sides; let is rest after oven baked by tenting it with foil all before slicing it.

4) Good lump crab can be purchased canned. When added to the salad don’t break apart the crab, be gentle with it.

Patty’s Points:

1) I loved the horseradish. Now I want to buy one. It’ll go great in my sauerkraut (see https://thefearlesscookingclub.com/2011/09/). My husband loves horseradish cream with beef. It was so fresh.

2) I loved the Yorkshire pudding. I know crazy huh? all those carbs and lard? They puffed up so beautifully. Chef Tom said it was the cold egg batter poured into the hot ramekins with hot lard, popped into the oven that made them puff up.

One student in the class said this class was then next best thing to going to the Olympics (which was on her bucket list). It was fun. I learned great techniques and a little bit more about England.

The class found it fascinating and maybe scared (?) that I had a food blog. I assured them that I only make fun of myself in this blog. I made a few mistakes in the kitchen, using the wrong pan a couple of times. Chef Patricia set me straight and was a great resource in the kitchen. I bonded with another macaron fan and I have already lost her e-mail to send her my most recent macaron recipe. Send me a message okay?

A Mother’s love: Alfajores.

I tasted my first Alfajore cookie a few years ago when my husband brought home a box from a business trip in Argentina. It was love at first bite, melt in your mouth deliciousness.

I saw a recipe for Alfajores last year from Relish May 2011. The article mentioned that these cookies are a traditional Mother’s Day cookie. Any mother who loves to bake will have no trouble making these cookies for their children because it is all about love. I’m an empty-nester so I shared these cookies with my husband who had no complaints.

Patty’s Points:

1) The half flour, half cornstarch combination was a first for me. It made the cookie melt in your mouth.

2) The dough was very tender, but rolling the dough in the cornstarch was easier to accomplish than I thought. I used a biscuit cutter to cut out the cookie. I used a metal spatula to lift the cookie disc off the cutting board so as to not damage it.

3) The boiling of the can of sweetened condensed milk was an interesting method to caramelize the sugars for the filling. If I use this method again I would place the can on some type on metal sieve or plate in the bottom of the pan. My pan had a film on the lining of my pan from the can and stained the bottom of my pan.

The cookie was melt in your mouth delicious, great with a cup of tea or coffee.

Now that I have accomplished the basic Alfajore recipe I am ready to move on to different flavors like from 6 Bittersweets website for Chocolate Nutella Alfajores. I absolutely love Nutella so looks like a great recipe to try next.

I also sent a Mother’s Day wish out to my children at my other blog site May 8,2012 posting at the patty beat . Check it out! Happy Mother’s Day.

Eggs-cellent

The Fearless Cooking Club celebrated spring with all things eggs. As mentioned in my blog a couple of weeks ago, eggs are a hot ingredient everywhere in comfort food recipes. Cholesterol aside, eggs are making a comeback as a excellent protein.

All club members brought a dish that used eggs and we had quite a variety of choices:

  • Deviled eggs – two versions
  • Aioli with vegetable chips
  • Brioche
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Cheese Soufflé
  • Holiday egg casserole
  • Mediterranean Spinach bake

We had cooking lessons with the soufflé, hollandaise sauce, and the aioli. One member broke out the 1943 original Joy of Cooking to make soufflé the old school way. Irma Romabauer’s tip was to not butter the soufflé dish although another source said to butter the soufflé dish. I am going to withhold any opinion because I’ve never made a soufflé before. Further research for perfection to come later.

The eggs benedict, Anne Burrell, from Secrets of a Restaurant Chef on the Food Network version was accessed. It was a fabulous recipe that was very similar to the Joy of Cooking recipe I’ve used in the past. The hard part is putting all the ingredients together and getting it served onto the table warm.

Poached eggs can be made in advance and kept in cold water bath while the hollandaise is made.

Hollandaise is a hand whipped egg yolk, lemon juice and butter mixture. We followed the Anne Burrell recipe to a “T” and it turned out fabulously. I was just watching The Pioneer Woman on Food Network and she made hollandaise in the blender. That was a new and inventive technique I hope to try in the future!

We invited friends and family members in sharing all the creations. As you can see there was a lot of food to eat! Happy Spring!

Next month we will be celebrating Greek Easter which is celebrated after the Traditional Christian Easter. I’ve never made Baklava before so we will be getting a lesson in that.  I will also be checking out a Cookie Cutter Club bi-annual meeting. Stay tuned in April.

Soup Swap Party

The Fearless Cooking Club gathered yesterday today to celebrate January as National Soup Month and January 21, 2012 as National Soup Swap Day. If you want details on how to organize your own soup swap, check out my fellow blogger Soup Chick‘s website.

The Fearless Cooking Club members are more about socializing than having rules to follow, so it was a long afternoon soiree of enjoying each other’s company and partaking in different types of stews and soups. The spouses and a few additional couples were invited making a houseful of 14 people celebrating all things soup. Char and her husband  Dwayne were spectacular hosts and their home was the perfect setting for this occasion.

Our rules were that each club member made two batches of soup: one was pre-made and packed in 1-pint containers ready for freezing and sharing; the other batch was brought in a crock and ready to serve. Each member went home with four pints of soup.

I absolutely love soup, but in preparing for this cooking club adventure I realized I never had a favorite one to share. I surveyed Soup Chick’s blog and tested three recipes before deciding on which one to bring. I am known in the group for alway trying something new, hence the name as Fearless Cook. It took some research and cooking trials for me to find a recipe to share with a group of people. I tried a Spicy Ground Beef and Bean Soup with Cabbage and Spinach from Kalyn’s Kitchen that was awesome and a Apple Pie Soup from Soup Chick. I eventually chose to make African Chicken Peanut Stew. It was fabulous so I think I have found a signature soup recipe for me. It was kind of a cross between a traditional stew and a Thai type dish. I served it with rice and cilantro. It was a pretty hearty stew at that, one serving was pretty filling.

The soup choices were:

Italian Wedding Soup with sausage and kale

Walkabout Split Pea and Ham

Bruce’s Beef Stew

African Chicken Peanut Stew

Black Forest Potato Soup

As you can see it was quite a variety of soups and stews.

A soiree it was. Wine, bread, crackers, and lots of water to cleanse our palates. After all the tasting, we had coffee and light desserts to cap off the afternoon. My freezer has four kinds of soups to get my husband I and through the busy week of work. Bon appetite!