Monthly Archives: September 2010

Apfelstrudel

I made this last weekend for part of our Oktoberfest meal. I made it easy by using a pre-packaged puff pastry, but an ambitious individual could certainly make their own puff pastry in addition to making the filling. We served this with plenty of fresh whipped cream, and it only lasted 2 days between the 2 of us!

Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel)

1 puff pastry sheet
3 T. raisins
2-3 T. golden rum or bourbon
3 medium green apples, about 1.25 pounds
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 c. butter, separated (3 T. butter + 5 T. butter)
3/4 c. fine bread crumbs
1/2 c. walnuts, coarsely chopped

Set puff pastry out to thaw according to directions. You’ll want it chilly but malleable when it comes time to roll out.

Combine raisins and rum in a small bowl.  Peel, core, and slice the apples into quarter-slices about 1/4 inch thick. Place them in a large bowl and add sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg; toss and set aside.

In a large pan, melt 3 T. butter on medium-high heat. Add the bread crumbs and stir to coat; continue to stir while the crumbs toast, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.

Heat oven to 400 F.  Melt the remaining 5 T. butter. Roll out the puff pastry sheet to approximately 9 x 13 inches. (I did this on parchment paper that was generously floured.) Brush half of the melted butter onto the puff pastry. Sprinkle and pat the bread crumbs on top of the buttered pastry.

With the long edge positioned left to right, sprinkle the walnuts down the center of the pastry from top to bottom, in a column about 4 inches wide. On top of the walnuts, place the sugared apple slices compactly and somewhat stacked. Pour the raisins, rum and all, over the apple slices and distribute evenly.

Wrap the edges of the pastry over the top of the apple column, which may require some flour, stretching, and patience. Pinch the ends closed best you can. Brush the remaining melted butter over the top of the strudel, and make a few slices across the top to vent and for aesthetic.

Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet in the top third of the oven for about 30 minutes, until pastry is golden brown and baked through.  Let cool at room temperature for half an hour or longer before dusting with powdered sugar and carefully slicing with a serrated knife.

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Filed under Desserts, Fall

Oktoberfest at home

Beer tents, German food, accordians and tubas, and the smell of onions and vinegar and sausage and strudel.  These are some of the good things I think of when I think of Oktoberfest.

The bad? The ticket price. The muddy, littered fairgrounds. Small children running around with limited adult supervision. Poor beer availability. Overpriced lukewarm German food that is produced en masse and served from carts with plastic silverware.

I’m really not this pessimistic about everything in life, I swear. But instead of braving the cool, cloudy weather, I made Oktoberfest at home. 


*I apologize for the atrocious photo quality that comes
from poor lighting and using a standard P&S.*

From left: spaezle, schnitzel with onion gravy, beer bread, varm kartoffelsalat, BEER, and apfelstrudel!

N’s favorite was the chicken schnitzel, but I personally looooved the warm potato salad. This is certainly not what one might consider a healthy, balanced supper… but it certainly was delicious. :)

I will be posting the recipes for the spaetzle, strudel, warm potato salad, and beer bread throughout this week, just in time for fall!

Chicken schnitzel (serves 4)
Adapted from a variety of recipes, including this one and one from Cooking Light Everday Favorites

2 large chicken breasts, approx. 1 pound
3/4 c. flour
1 t. nutmeg
salt and pepper
1 beaten egg + splash of milk or cream
1 t. mustard
1/2 t. lemon juice
1 1/2 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. shreadded or grated parmesan
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
4 T. butter
3-4 T. vegetable or peanut oil
1/2 large onion, sliced

Cut in chicken breast in half. Flatten one half at a time in a plastic bag or between plastic wrap with a meat tenderizer, hammer, or rolling pin. Set aside to rest.  Get out three shallow containers, and make the following mixtures: flour, nutmeg, and S&P; egg, milk, mustard, and lemon juice; and bread crumbs, parmesan, and garlic.  In a large skillet, heat 2 T of the butter and all of the oil on medium-high until it sizzles and bubbles when you throw some water drops in. 

Working with one flattened piece of chicken at a time, coat it thouroughly with the flour mixture, then dip in the egg mixture. Repeat the flour and egg mixture again (yes, this is messy and sticky!), and then coat generously with the bread crumb mixture. Throw it in the frying pan. Repeat with a second piece of chicken. 

Once two pieces are in, add half of the onion slices to the pan and allow to fry in oil. Flip the chicken once the breading on the bottom is crisp and golden brown, after 4-5 minutes. 

After the first two pieces are done, add your remaining 2 T. of butter to the skillet and let the oil and butter reheat.  Repeat the process with the remaining two pieces of chicken.

As they finish frying, you can stack the schnitzel and fried onion slices in a baking dish (I used a bread pan!) and keep in a 200 F oven. I do this while I brown my spaetzle and make my gravy.

For the onion gravy: (no source, I pretty much threw this together at the last minute)
2 T. butter
1/2 large onion, sliced
2-3 T. flour
1 c. chicken stock
splash of lemon juice
1/3 c. sour cream or heavy cream

Once your schnitzel is fried up and resting in the oven, melt the butter over medium heat, scraping with a spatula to pick up all the remaining browned bits and onions. Add onion slices and allow to sautee for 3-4 minutes until beginning to soften. Add flour (start with 2 T.) and whisk together; continue to stir for about 2 minutes over medium. Slowly add in the chicken stock while whisking, and bring up to a light boil. Simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the gravy thickens a bit, before reducing the heat to medium-low; stir in lemon juice and sour cream, and continue stirring for 2-3 minutes to heat through. Serve on top of schnitzel and spaetzle.

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Filed under Chicken, Fall, Main dishes

a lovely reprieve

N and I didn’t have a honeymoon.  I had been at my job for only 5 weeks and didn’t have any leave, plus we were strapped for cash from moving and being unemployed and, oh, having a wedding.

We’d hoped to save for a year and then go somewhere fun and adventurous. A cruise, maybe. But one thing led to another and before we knew it, we had bought a house, built a garage, and been filled with the desire to get rid of some debt.

 

We decided to explore our surroundings instead. We opted for a weekend after Labor Day, since cabin rates and fishing guides (and gas) tend to get cheaper as summer winds down.  We chose the Turtle Flambeau Flowage, a location with a few hundred acres of shoreline and thousands of acres of water and wilderness.

And deer. That’s the unzoomed picture of a deer. It was just standing there as we drove by.  Here’s the zoomed pic:

As much as I hate this saying: I know, right?!?!” Intense. They’re everywhere.  I’ve lived most of my life in places where it’s perfectly acceptable to fill your deep freeze every fall with multiple deer you shot yourself, and I was *still* completely overwhelmed with all the deer. I’d bet we saw 150 deer (or they could’ve been the same ones, just saw them multiple times?) in the 4 days we were up there.

Anyway, back to more tranquil stuff, like trees changing colors and the view from the cabin porch at sunrise and waterfalls. It was a lovely reprieve and we wish we could’ve stayed longer.

 

I love how the center line inexplicably disappears for 25 miles or so along the north side of the flowage.

 This also met two of my “101 in 1001” goals– take a “honeymoon” vacation and treating N to a fishing trip!

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Filed under Marriage, Optimism

easy cornbread porkchops (with applebutter bbq)

A couple of porkchops. Your favorite meat seasoning.  An egg. And leftover cornbread.

Okay, so I realize that some people will say, “Leftover cornbread?! What is the heck is that?!”  I know, I know. Almost a travesty not to eat it all, every morsel, regardless of however much else has been eaten when you’ve got fresh, warm cornbread right there in front of you.

If you’re slack-jawed and hog-tied at the idea of leftover cornbread, work with me here.

I came up with this spontaneously, working quickly with what I had in my fridge and cupboards, and it’s pretty good. Not fantastic, but great for an under-30-minute meal. Pair with potatoes or rice, a veggie, maybe a slice of re-fried cornbread, and you’re golden.

I did not get a picture of the applebutter sauce I whipped up in a small saucepan, but no matter- it looked like any other thick barbeque sauce.
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Cornbread Porkchops
Serves 2

2 large porkchops (or 3 small chops)
salt and pepper
2 T. oil (or nonstick spray)
1 cup leftover cornbread, broken into crumbs
1 heaping tablespoon meat seasoning
1 egg
splash of milk (optional)

Salt and pepper porkchops well; set aside. In a small shallow dish or bowl, combine cornbread crumbs and seasoning. In another small dish, whisk egg and milk until light and fluffy.

Heat oil in a large skillet or frying pan until crackling.  Wash or dip one pork chop in the egg mixture, sure to soak all side; dip into cornbread crumbs, again coating all side and even pressing on breadcrumbs to make an even, thick crust. Lay breaded chop in the oil; repeat with the second porkchop. Brown on each side for 3-4 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low and fry until cooked through. Serve with applebutter sauce or other favorite bbq sauce.

Applebutter Sauce

1/2 c. applebutter
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. minced onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 T. brown sugar
1 T. worcestershire sauce
1 T. water

Whisk all ingredients together in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low until warmed through, stirring occasionally.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Condiments, etc., Main dishes

tomatoes galore

I love tomato season. Happiness is a crisp breeze fluttering the kitchen curtains while I’m leisurely stirring a big pot of tomato sauce.

Everyone knows how to make a fantastic tomato sauce for pasta and general Italian cooking. Beside, I have no recipe to share; I add a little of this, a little of that, and eventually we come to a sauce that might have more basil or less oregano or a handful of finely-diced veggies thrown in as an afterthought.

Maybe that’s why I love cooking with tomatoes so much- the fresh homegrown ones are always good, and there are no rules to follow, no fussy prep-work or standard recipes to follow.

New to me this year was making tomato paste. In the past, I’ve canned stewed tomatoes, or a basic tomato sauce or salsa.  N has been bugging me to try making ketchup though, and to make ketchup one must make tomato paste.

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I read on the internet (so it must be true) that Italian women would peel and seed their tomatoes, mash up the flesh, and leave the resulting juice out in the sun on wide shallow trays for 2 or 3 days to make tomato paste. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m slightly in love with that idea.

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Alas, I took the easy way out and slow-roasted my tomatoes before and after running them through the food mill. I sliced about 12 tomatoes and laid them out in two large baking pans on parchment paper (picture above), and roasted at 300 F for an hour. Then I let the ‘maters cool to room temperature and ran them through a food mill. The resulting juice went back into one of the baking pans, which I coated lightly with olive oil, and sat in the oven at 285 F for 4 hours.

I turned off the oven around midnight and let it cool til 8am, when I set it back at 285 F and cooked the tomatoes for another 4 hours. Throughout both periods, I was lightly stirring the tomatoes about once an hour. After a total of 8 hours of cooking, my tomato juice had turned into this:

Now this is tomato paste. A hearty sprinkle of kosher salt, a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of sugar, and we’re set. The result: rich, earthy tomato paste with which to thicken sauces, to toss on freshly-boiled pasta with a little parmesan, to spoon out and spread on thick pieces of crusty toasted bread.

And, of course, to make ketchup with. I haven’t gotten there yet… but in the meanwhile, I may need to make more tomato paste.

12 large ripe tomatoes yielded one pint of tomato paste for me. I spooned in the paste, tapped it to help it settle, and topped it off with a healthy pour of olive oil, some kosher salt, and a few pretty leaves of fresh basil.

To use, pour off most of the oil along with the basil leaves into a small dish, and scoop out what you need from the side of the jar. When you’re finished, settle the remaining contents down tight again, and pour back the oil and basil, adding more oil if needed to cover the entire top surface of the paste to keep it fresh.

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Filed under Clean Eating, Condiments, etc., Summer

grilled creamed corn

With summer beginning to tie up its loose ends, harvest-time is upon us. Now is the time for laboring in the fields (or farmer’s markets), gathering up every morsel the summer has provided before winter sets in.

This creamed corn recipe is a perfect accoutrement for any grilled meat or veggie meal. You set the corn on the grill right as you turn it on, when the grill is blazing on high to warm up. Rotate it a few times every few minutes, and take the slightly blackened cobs inside to whip together a creamed corn while the burgers are simmering.

Simple, filling, good. My favorite kind of late-summer dish.

Grilled (or roasted) creamed corn
adapted from Macaroni & Cheesecake

4 ears corn, shucked
1 T butter
1 T flour
3/4 c whole milk (can use skim milk but it won’t be as rich)
2 T fat free or reduced fat cream cheese
kosher salt and fresh black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper

To Grill Corn:
Turn grill on to high. Arrange the corn on the oiled grate and grill, turning occasionally, until the kernels are golden-brown and softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Cut the corn from the cobs.

For the Creamed Corn:
Heat a large skillet on the grill or on your stovetop (medium-high). Melt the butter and whisk in the flour to make a roux. Gradually whisk in the milk and cream cheese and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the corn kernels; season with S&P and the cayenne and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Note: I “mush” the corn a bit with my heavy wooden spoon, which I think adds to the creaminess and simulates the consistency of canned creamed corn a little bit.

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Filed under Summer, Vegetables

One Month; One Year

Four weeks- nearly one month- since I last posted. “What is up with THAT?” one may ask.

(Though I really doubt that many noticed, considering my nearly non-existant readership, and for that matter, very little read-worthy material on this blog anyway. But that’s okay.)

I spent three long weeks attending training for my job in Washington, D.C. DC is a great city, but being situated out in Arlington with unceasing motion sickness on the metro and no body to share the city with = not as much fun.

But, I’m back! And right in time for our one year wedding anniversary. That’s right, I’m spending the night of my anniversary… updating my blog. No worries- we celebrated last night and all day today!

Honestly, I’m ready for some alone time. (But just a little.)

Anywhoo… I am still here, and still in the kitchen. Never fear, world wide interwebs.

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Filed under Marriage